TINSTAAFL & Political Cons

| Opinion | February 13, 2020

by Rob Werner

“TINSTAAFL” – “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” This isn’t family, business or social gatherings but promised rewards for “freely” participating or doing something.

We never learn. We’re offered rewards for attending seminars or supporting something. Attendance doesn’t require purchase but even the strongest minds can be messaged, mislead and convinced to buy when they should say, “no way!”
Timeshare purchasers overlook the real costs and maintenance expenses. Investors at Free Wealth Management presentations share their wealth.

We know TINSTAAFL, yet repetitively succumb to sales hacks. Politicians and our entrenched bureaucracy have raised the con to new heights. Seventy years ago, the press lamented one needed to be wealthy to engage in elected public service. Today, elected politicians are dominated by millionaires via “public service.” It’s “pay to play!”

Two themes dominate every election cycle. The first, “Aren’t you a good person?” Don’t you care about police, firemen and our military? Don’t you care about our veterans, teachers and children? More recently, don’t you care about our environment, animals and the homeless? It’s hard not to care about something.


We can’t trust spokesmen to be honest. Teachers lie, and officers abuse their positions for financial gain.

The second theme is free lunches. Promises are not obligations. It’s an oxymoron to be an honest politician.

California primary ballot has a new Proposition 13 for school and college construction. The old 13 limited tax on real property to one percent of purchase price subject to a two percent annual increase. Over the years propositions appealing to good people raised rates a quarter percent. Provisions in the old Proposition 13 are expected to face revisions in the general election but are changed here as well.

Major cons of the new 13 are hidden provisions. Its language modifies future local school bonds, raising the property tax ceiling for schools and colleges by forty percent. Then as a boon to developers and to promote dense housing it mandates the reduction and in many cases the elimination of developer fees by local school districts. Did Developers fund the proposition and pay off the legislature? Ultimately these fees will be paid by additional property taxes.

Choosing to name the bonding issue Proposition 13 is sleight of hand diminishing understanding of the old Proposition 13. Almost every election cycle we are presented with new school construction bonds. Despite most passing, the attitude is there is never enough. No real analysis of efficiency and productivity of bonds is ever presented. There is no determination of need versus want of public facilities. No one looks at profit making or vested interests in the bonds.
We hear constant complaints of horrendous student loan obligations yet place more debts on the next generation.

The real TINSTAAFL is in understanding that someone must pay for this. One way or another some of that cost will be passed back to everyone. Because bond repayment includes interest, their actual cost is far more than the face amount. People who don’t own property pay via increased rents and other expenses. Some unable to pay the increase will lose their home or apartment. The homeless rate will increase. Then there could be a housing bond for homeless children. It never ends.

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