What Does Free Really Cost?

cost of free

An educational group unveiled a proposal to provide free preschool for every child in the United States. The cost of the program is $200 billion initially and then $20 billion per year. My first thought upon hearing this was, “that’s not really free is it?” If something costs $200 billion, that money has to come from somewhere. That got me thinking about what free really costs.

Many of us use free services provided by Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc. We also know that these free services are paid for by advertisers. n return for the free service, we have given up a lot of information including geographic, demographic, and psychographic information. We have given away so much information on these free services that they can tell us where we are, who who our relatives are, and what we will be doing a week from Tuesday.

In the case of the education program mentioned above, the proposal looks to the federal government to pay the cost. Of course that means the government will pay for it with our tax dollars, which ultimately means we are paying for this free service. I was at a meeting that talked about free services that state government offered. The programs are paid for by the utility companies, who collect a fee from us on every bill to cover the cost. Again, we are paying for the free service.

We all like free, but pay attention to how the free program is being paid for. You may find the cost is more than you bargained for.

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