A free rider is someone who uses a service for which someone else paid. In a free society, where everything is financed voluntarily, a person who uses the road, firefighters or a tornado warning siren without paying toward funding those services could be described as a free rider.
Just how important a stumbling block do you consider this to be?
When a local shopkeeper helps fund the road, he does so in order to make it easier for people to get to his store. Everyone wins.
If a local shopkeeper who refused to help fund the road gets the business of a customer who also refused to contribute toward the road, then do those who paid for the road lose? Who does the selfish shopkeeper trade with locally and with whom does he spend the money he got from the selfish customer? Does he exist in a vacuum?
If you still don’t like the fact that he didn’t contribute, you would be free to refuse to do business with him in any way.
Don’t you think a road that’s “worth it” would be built and maintained?
Firefighting is a similar situation. If your house is on fire your neighbor benefits when the fire department you contract with puts out the blaze. And if his house is on fire, but your fire department puts out the flames in order to save your house, he also gets a free ride. In that case he might get a bill for services rendered, and if he doesn’t pay, everyone in town will know and can refuse service to him. But aren’t you still getting the service for which you paid? Might nit-picking over whether someone else benefits unfairly just make you bitter?
Is it even possible for everyone to pay equally for every service they use? Not even under communism.
However, that’s only a problem if you insist on keeping a running tab to make sure everything is “fair.”
Scott Adams of “Dilbert” fame says fairness is just a concept invented so dumb people could participate in discussions. When I observe the world, I think he’s on to something.
Why not accept that you will be someone else’s “free rider” in some circumstances, and the roles will constantly change?
Besides, in a free society you’d have enough money that you would never have to live with the guilt of not paying what you feel you owe, nor would anyone force you to associate with anyone else for any reason.
Is the free rider really important enough for you to give up your liberty to foil him?
Farwell’s Kent McManigal champions liberty. Contact him at: