No. of Recommendations: 29
"A goat owned in common always starves." --West African proverb

That's a lesson that applies to more than goats. At the beach place where I'm staying right now, there are some "community" bicycles. They're "free," in the sense that the cost is just built into your rent, so that it doesn't cost any more to use them a lot than to use them a little. You just get a key from the front desk, and return it later -- or not. And, of course, the complex doesn't make any more money whether they're used a lot or a little. The result is that there are a lot of bikes locked up to the "community" rack, but the front desk doesn't have any keys -- they're all out with people who aren't using the bikes, but keep the keys anyway. Why not? It doesn't cost them anything.

The bikes are also kind of scruffy. They work, but there's a lot of rust and wear. Why not? The complex wouldn't make any more money if they were nicer. These "free" bikes make an interesting contrast to the shiny and abundant Schwinns that rent for $10/hour down at the beach. Why are they so shiny and abundant? Because the people who rent them out make more money by keeping them nice, and available -- and because the renters have an incentive not to keep them longer than they use them, because keeping them costs money.

You can also see this phenomenon in medicine. The dermatology office where my family goes has two sides. One does the work that's covered by insurance: Stuff that's mostly "free," in the sense that it's largely paid for by someone else. The other side does the stuff that's paid for out of pocket and isn't covered by insurance. Guess which one is nicer? Guess which one makes it easier to get an appointment? And, most interestingly, guess which one has the newest, and fastest-advancing, technology? Thanks to ObamaCare, we're heading toward the world of "scruffy bike" medicine. Is that where you want to go?

"Yes we do!" --Obama supporters

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