I was sitting here, listening to the local news on talk radio (What can I say? The current wip requires talk radio.) when a soundbite had me seriously contemplating tossing the laptop through the window. Someone was explaining why he was going to vote for Bernie Sanders. His main reason was simple. He is a father and he’s going to vote for Bernie so his kids can have a free college education.

At that point, two things happened at once. I stopped — barely — before I grabbed the laptop and tossed it through the window and I wanted to bang my head against the wall. Following close behind those was a voice in my mind chanting “TANSTAAFL! TANSTAAFL!”

You see, that’s the problem I have with a lot of those who are so enamored with Bernie. They love hearing that their taxes will be decreased — or done away with — while those of the “Wall Street speculators” would go up. They love the idea of their children going to college without having to pay tuition. They embrace student loans without interest. What they don’t do is stop long enough to think critically about the promise of free education, even if only for state universities, and whether or not it would really be free.

Hence the chanting of “TANSTAAFL” in my mind.

For those unfamiliar with it, TANSTAAFL stands for “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” You’ll find the acronym in Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.

“Gospodin,” he said presently, “you used an odd word earlier–odd to me, I mean…”

“Oh, ‘tanstaafl.’ Means ~There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.’ And isn’t,” I added, pointing to a FREE LUNCH sign across room, “or these drinks would cost half as much. Was reminding her that anything free costs twice as much in long run or turns out worthless.”

“An interesting philosophy.”

“Not philosophy, fact. One way or other, what you get, you pay for.”

So, if Bernie manages to get elected and manages to get Congress to go along with forcing state universities to offer free tuition and if the states go along and not take the federal government to court and if, when doing so, the courts back the feds and not the states — whew, already there are a lot of “ifs” for the program to overcome, aren’t there? — where do the Sanders supporters think the money is going to come from? Someone is going to have to pay for it. After all, colleges have to pay for their buildings and programs, pay their instructors, pay their bills, maintain their facilities, etc., etc., etc. That’s a lot of money and there isn’t an alumni association around that can step in and fill the void of loss of tuition from students.

So where would the money come from?

According to the Sanders camp, it will come by “imposing a tax on Wall Street Speculators”. But who are these speculators? They are those “who nearly destroyed the economy seven years ago.” Okay, I can see how some would stand up and applaud that statement. It’s a pretty safe bet to say there are few who like what happened back then. Yet, the statement is also very vague. So let’s look further at what the Bernie site says.

“If the taxpayers of this country could bailout Wall Street in 2008, we can make public colleges and universities tuition free and debt free throughout the country.”

Hmm, now it’s even more vague. “Taxpayers.” That’s like “speculators”. Hot button words without definition. No one wants to think they might fall into either when it comes to who would have their taxes increased to cover this new “free” tuition. But let’s face facts, it sounds good but the reality is taxes will be increased. Anyone who happened to have been invested in the stock market falls under “speculators”. Do they fall under who Bernie means? Probably not but when you look at his website, a case could be made for either side.

What bothers me is those who embrace his promises without looking at what the potential impact of them would be. Free college tuition means taxes will have to be raised. Much of the monies for state universities come from — wait for it — state funds, raised by state taxes in one form or another. Now you have a presidential candidate telling states not only that he wants to do away with tuition at those universities but that the federal government will have an even bigger say in how those universities are run because the state will be forced to accept more government monies to keep the doors open.

Sorry, Bernie, but there are things the Feds need to keep their hands out of.

Then there is the very real possibility that, no matter what Bernie wants, the tax load for this move would fall on taxpayers like you and me. Tell me now that the tuition is free when my taxes and yours go up to cover the costs. Even if it doesn’t fall to our tax bill, what happens if you raise the taxes on these so-called speculators? It increases their monetary output. That means they, understanding how business and economics work, will pass that increase on to their customers. High priced goods and services will result. Again, that passes the bill for the so-called free tuition on to you and me.

How is that a “free” education?

Just because you don’t have to write a check for something, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is free.

At best, Bernie wants to pass the cost of someone’s education on to others. Tell me this, do you really want to help foot the bill for someone who wants to get a degree in something that has no real world application and little to no hope of helping that person land a job? Do you want to help foot the bill for someone who doesn’t know what they want to do with their life when the grow up? Beyond all that, do you want to have to pay, through taxes and fees, for the court costs that will happen when and if the Feds try to enforce this on state schools?

So, for all those who love Bernie because he’s promising freebies — and, in doing so, promising a redistribution of wealth — ask yourselves what the real impact on you will be. Look beyond what he says and down the line of “if you do A, then B will follow.” Are you willing to pay the consequences, short and long term for such actions?


I’m blogging today at Mad Genius Club. Please take a moment and check out that post.

And to prove i’m a proud capitalist, here’s some promotion for a couple of good friends as well as for myself. Here are three books for your consideration.

The first is Changeling’s Island (Baen) by Dave Freer.

Teenager Tim Ryan comes into his own as he faces danger on a remote Australia island where magic lurks in land and sea.

Tim Ryan can’t shake the feeling that he is different from other teens, and not in a good way.  For one thing, he seems to have his own personal poltergeist that causes fires and sets him up to be arrested for shoplifting.

As a result Tim has been sent to live on a rundown farm on a remote island off the coast of Australia with his crazy grandmother, a woman who seems to talk to the local spirits, and who refuses to cushion Tim from facing his difficulties. To make matters worse, Tim is expected to milk cows, chase sheep, and hunt fish with a spear.

But he’s been exiled to an island alive with ancient magic—land magic that Tim can feel in his bones, and sea magic that runs in his blood. If Tim can face down the danger from drug-runners, sea storms, and the deadly threat of a seal woman who wishes to steal him away for a lingering death in the land of Faery, he may be able to claim the mysterious changeling heritage that is his birthright, and take hold of a legacy of power beyond any he has ever imagined.

Officially out today, although I know it started shipping before now. 

Next up is Sword And Blood (Vampire Musketeers Book 1) by Sarah A. Hoyt.

The France of the Musketeers has changed. Decades ago, someone opened a tomb in Eastern Europe, and from that tomb crawled an ancient horror, who in turn woke others of its kind.

Now Paris is beset by vampires, the countryside barren and abandoned. The Cardinal has become a vampire, the church is banned, the king too cowed to fight.

Until now, the three Musketeers, Athos, Porthos and Aramis have stood as a bulwark against the encroaching evil, their swords defending the innocent and helpless.

But last night, in a blood mass, Athos was turned into a Vampire. And a young vampire orphan has just arrived from Gascony: Monsieur D’Artagnan.

Things are about to get… complicated.

Today is the “official” release date.

Finally, Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) by yours truly, written under the pen name Sam Schall, is available for pre-order.

War isn’t civilized and never will be, not when there are those willing to do whatever is necessary to win. That is a lesson Col. Ashlyn Shaw learned the hard way. Now she and those under her command fight an enemy determined to destroy their home world. Worse, an enemy lurks in the shadows, manipulating friend and foe alike.

Can Ashlyn hold true to herself and the values of her beloved Corps in the face of betrayal and loss? Will honor rise from the ashes of false promises and broken faith? Ashlyn and the Devil Dogs are determined to see that it does, no matter what the cost.

Release date for Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) is April 18th.


About the author

Writer, proud military mom and possessed by two crazy cats and one put-upon dog. Writes under the names of Amanda S. Green, Sam Schall and Ellie Ferguson.


  1. The government will pay for this the same way it pays for all its other free lunches — by printing more money. All they need to do is start “forgiving” student loans, which isn’t a big change, considering that millions of Gender Studies majors were never going to pay that money back anyway. (If only they’d majored in Basket Weaving, they’d leave school with a useful skill!)

    A few years into Bernie’s term, Starbucks will only accept applicants with Master’s degrees, and Bernie will then demand that colleges provide free Master’s degrees to all comers.

  2. You lost me at taxpayers bailing out wall street.

    What I saw was that the government borrowed a chunk of money by issuing debt, crammed that money down the throat of distressed institutions in the form of loans and ownership interests which ,if the Treasury numbers are to be believed, made a massive profit. I don’t see the ‘taxpayers’ bailing out anyone, all I see is the Government borrowing money from ‘Wall Street’ and acting as a speculator, albeit in the manner of Mafia speculation (take the deal or we will destroy you) instead of Wall Street speculation.

  3. “Wall Street speculators” at the very least would probably include mutual funds in which people put their 401K money.

    I know a couple of Sanders supporters who didn’t like that I pointed that out.

  4. There’s another issue that someone else, Mike Rowe, I think, pointed out: what are we going to do with all these newly-minted college graduates, when there are good jobs to be had in machining, welding, and trucking (among other things)?

    I, for one, would have liked to have learned about machining before going off to getting a college degree. If I could work CNC machines as a college student, both part-time and during the summer, while working on my BS and PhD, I would likely not have the debt I have today.

    And, who knows? Perhaps I’d be a happy, well-paid machinist to this day! (Assuming that the siren song of mathematics didn’t continue to seduce me, of course…)

    As it is, I have gobs of debt, but I’m nonetheless thankful for two things: (1) Those gobs of debt are the result of getting a STEM degree, so I don’t have to wonder how I’m going to be employed with a “Grievance Studies” or “Academic English as a Second Language” degree, and (2), I somehow managed to get it with only 1/3 to 1/4 the debt of those who tend to get “Grievance Studies” degrees at Harvard and Yale…granted, by degree isn’t as “prestigious” as those degrees, but still…

    And I *really* need to write a post sometime about how immoral the $15/hr minimum wage is. (Hint: I wouldn’t have gotten that part-time $8/hr jobs, which started me on the path of increasing my experience and wages, if that job had started at $15/hr. Sure, I couldn’t support my wife and two children on $8/hr, but then, I couldn’t support them on $0/hr either.)

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