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There is no such thing as a free lunch

刊登日期: 2018.10.05
作者: Grace Tse  


Your parents might have told you something like this, “There is no such thing as a free lunch. You have to work hard so that you can support yourself when you grow up.” Do you agree with your parents? 

The saying “there is no such thing as a free lunch” (TINSTAAFL) or “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAAFL) is a famous adage widely used in economics since the mid-20th century. It means that if you want to get something such as goods or services, you need to pay for it in one way or another. Otherwise, will not receive it for free.

The phrase “free lunch” in the saying was not used to describe the practice of donating free meals to the poor. Instead, in the mid-19th century in the USA, to entice customers, saloons offered them foods free of charge if they bought a beer. However, customers ended up buying more beer because many foods were high in salt, and when they enjoyed a long, happy meal with their friends or families. 

While it is uncertain when the adage “there is no such thing as a free lunch”(世上沒有免費的午餐)first appeared, scholars believed that its popularity was due to two authors.

The first one was American Robert Heinlein. In his science fiction called “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” in 1966, he wrote,

“...‘tanstaafl.’ Means ~There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch ...”

The second author was the well-known American economist Milton Friedman. He published a book entitled “There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch” in 1977. 

Adage 格言
Economics 經濟學
Goods 貨品
Donating 捐贈
Entice 吸引
Saloons 酒吧
Free of charge 免費
Beer 啤酒

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