In economics, I learned about a concept called the free-rider problem. If a good or service is free then people will take advantage of that good or service every chance they get. Nothing is really free, so I should clarify that to mean no additional cost. For example, how many of us eat way too much when we go to an all-you-can eat buffet. You're full before you're done your first plate, but you already have plans to go back for more.
Water in BC is another example. I know some other provinces charge for water usage, but I'm not sure which do and don't. So at first I was thinking this was a great benefit to living in BC. With the free-rider problem though, there is no incentive to reduce the water used. Someone has to pay for the filtering, storage, and delivery. That "someone" ends up being us all collectively through taxes. In a pay system I could actually take measures to reduce my usage as it's in my best interest. I don't care if my neighbor takes 2 hour showers or leaves the water running while he brushes his teeth, because I don't have to pay for it.
Another example that is hitting closer to home now, is health care. As my wife wraps up her schooling this month, it is becoming apparent that a shortage of nurses does not translate into a hiring of nurses. Part of the problem is that management in any government organization is better served by maxing out the departments budget rather than providing better service. The other part of the problem is that because we've paid for the service we're more than likely to use it. Increasing the strain on a health care system already under pressure while mismanagement of the limited funds makes the situation worse.
So I'm left asking if free is really in our best benefit. We've already seen the effects of a pay system in the US and it was also plagued by its own set of problems. However, at least there my wife would have no problem finding work.
Just something to mull over. I'm not offering any solutions, although I do have my opinions on how the system could be improved. I'm still positive that my wife will find work soon.
Has anyone else encountered problems from those so-called free services?