"There is no such thing as a free lunch" (alternatively, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch" or other variants) is a popular adage communicating the idea that it is impossible to get something for nothing. The acronyms TANSTAAFL, TINSTAAFL, and TNSTAAFL are also used. The phrase was in use by the 1930s, but its first appearance is unknown. The "free lunch" in the saying refers to the nineteenth-century practice in American bars of offering a "free lunch" in order to entice drinking customers. The phrase and the acronym are central to Robert Heinlein's 1966 science fiction novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, which helped popularize it. The free-market economist Milton Friedman also popularized the phrase by using it as the title of a 1975 book, and it is used in economics literature to describe opportunity cost.
Examines the economic "stimulus" proposals being made by candidates and incumbent politicians
Biographical essay, including multiple quotes from fellow authors and significant excerpts from Heinlein's novels and stories
Explains the two meanings of TANSTAAFL: the scarcity of economic resources (and the need for tradeoffs) and the expectation of some kind of reciprocity when something is offered for "free"
From keynote address at Fifth International Conference on Drug Policy Reform; examines why, 20 years after Friedman's admonition against Nixon's drug war, the government continues its attempts at enforcement, in spite of the observable, predicted results
The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch" as of 20 Nov 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.