My in-laws make birthday and Christmas wish lists of the things they would like to get. While nothing says that we have to buy the things on the list, the lists do a good job in cataloging the current likes of that person. And if someone specifies a particular brand of jeans on his list, he can’t complain when you get him those jeans. After all, he said he wanted them.

Since Miss V’s birthday was coming up, we showed her how to create and maintain a gift wish list on Amazon. After a week, this list topped 50 items, 11 of which are rated highest priority. Buying just the highest priority items would easily cost more than $500 after adding in shipping and handling. What she has here is a very large number of wants and a very limited set of means to get them. To be fair, my wife and I have Amazon wish lists with 38 and 45 items respectively, but we’ve had our lists for 2+ years now. And while I have some $100+ big-ticket items on there, I bought the highest priced item myself. It’s good to have a job.

I bring up Miss V’s wish list to show a basic truth of life: our wants are often far greater than our means to acquire them. Most Saturdays, and some week days, she asks us, “What are we going to do for fun today?” If she could, she’d go out shopping for fun every day. Unlimited wants, I tell you. But we are trying to teach her that we have to live within our means, and that means working with budgets. Since her birthday is coming, she started planning a party, and we started putting limits on it. No, she can’t invite everyone from school and church to her party. No, we aren’t getting sushi for everyone. No, we’re not taking everyone out to a restaurant. No, we’re not spending $20+ on gift bags for each kid. We’re so mean.

Instead, we told her how much we were willing to put up for the party, and we limited the number of invitations to go out at eight. I don’t feel bad about not inviting someone when described as “that kid in my class with the brown hair, but I don’t know her name.” The idea about serving sushi was shot down twice, once because it would blow the entire budget to get everything she wanted, and also because not every kid her age likes sushi. Miss V has relatively adult tastes in food having grown up surrounded by adults. I suggested pizza since I don’t know of a kid that doesn’t like pizza. Pizza alone was half the budget. While the frozen pizza she suggested would certainly be cheaper, it would also taste like cheesy cardboard. Having nasty tasting food is not a good way to run a party, as is turning away kids hungry because you skimped on the food, which was her other suggestion.

So she was down to a fraction of her party budget to buy gifts and prizes for the other girls. This meant she needed to visit the dollar store to get what she wanted. Bliss for her, hair-ripping boredom for me, and I don’t have much hair left to rip out. What to do, oh, what to do? Ah-ha! I’ll send the wife! This will give me more time to play my games uh, clean the kitchen for her. Good thing she never reads this.

Since she is still a kid, Miss V expects us to pay for anything she wants. Each trip to the store results in many repetitions of “No, you can’t have that.” Each time TPK asks out loud, “What should we have for dinner tonight?” results in a request from Miss V to go out. Steak is the current favorite for her, but I think it’s the yummy garlic mashed potatoes that she likes better. But unhappily for Miss V, going out is a treat and not the norm, regardless of how much she asks. She hasn’t really realized that going shopping or eating out involves spending money because for the most part, it’s not her money.

This is a common misconception. Whenever I hear someone say “Health care is free in [country],” I always respond that it is not free. People think socialized health care is free in the same way that Miss V thinks dining out is free since the check doesn’t get paid directly out of her pocket.

I hear people say, “Health care should be a right!” But they are wrong, as I have explained before.

There are basically two rules to rights: you may not exercise your rights to restrict the rights of others, and you may not force someone else to pay for your rights. The old saying of “your right to swing your fist stops at the end of my nose” gives an idea of what is meant by not restricting the rights of others. You may not do murder since it deprives a person of life, nor may you kidnap anyone since it deprives that person of liberty. As for the second rule about rights, you have no right to the time and money of other people. The government reserves this right in the form of taxes, but individuals may not walk up to someone and demand five dollars. That is theft. But you may be surprised at how many people expect and demand your money.

You will hear more people ask for socialized health care. Recently, I’ve been seeing some TV commercials from (really AARP) about health care and social security. Here’s the commercial on YouTube.

“It’s time for health care and financial security for all,” says the commercial. “All Americans should have access to affordable health care, including prescription drugs, and these costs should not burden future generations,” says the AARP website. “It sounds great, but how will you pay for it?” says I. No matter how much you wave your hands, you can’t make health care and retirement become free for everyone, no matter how much you want it. Forcing other people to pay for your wants is immoral, regardless of how much you want it to happen.

All it proves is that we, like Miss V, have unlimited wants but only limited means to get them.

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