Waffle Fries and Waiting Lists: What Free Food at Chick-Fil-A Can Teach Us About Obamacare

May is a pretty special month. Not only do we cap it off each year with a Memorial Day to honor our military heroes, but May itself is officially recognized as “Armed Forces Appreciation Month.”

As such, it is hardly uncommon to drive around during the month of May and see business after business advertising “goodies” for military personnel and their families; from free food to discounts on auto maintenance to special deals on furniture and other household items. May is a great time to be a U.S. service member.

As someone who serves in the military and who also happens to hail from the Deep South, one could only imagine my delight at hearing that the evening of May 23 was designated as “Military Appreciation Night” at Chick-Fil-A. Indeed, my appetite had reached a fever pitch by the time my wife and I found a parking space at the Chick-Fil-A location closest to our home; a chicken sandwich, order of waffle fries, and a large cup of sweet tea would soon be mine to enjoy.

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Which is why one could also imagine my disappointment upon reaching the restaurant only to see a line of equally hungry service members and their families stretched back to the far corner of the parking lot…and to learn that we were at the end of it.

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Then again, perhaps I shouldn’t have been either surprised or disappointed. Because surely, everyone knows that when you offer something for free, most people are going to want to take advantage of it and hence this is what creates such long lines to begin with. And likewise, surely everyone also knows that when you offer something for free (or even subsidize it), it’s not really “free,” but the cost of that good or service has simply been transferred from the consumer to somebody else (in the case of Chick-Fil-A, to the company itself).

Surely, everyone is aware of these facts…right? Well, perhaps “everyone” should read “many people,” or at least “most people who have a basic passing knowledge of economics.”

One positive result of the current economic crisis in which we find ourselves is the fact that many people are now not only paying attention to current events concerning the economy, but are also revisiting many fundamental economic principles that, for too long, rarely have been given so much as a passing glance in current events discussions. Terms such as “supply,” “demand,” “government-subsidized,” and even “currency debasing” are now regularly infused into conversations about matters related to our financial situation. And this is a good thing.

Still, Americans can only look on forlornly as many of our elected officials either 1) fail to grasp or acknowledge the same basic economic lessons that many Americans have found themselves having to learn or re-learn, or 2) refuse to do so. For one reason or another, politicians simply don’t get it. That any elected U.S. official cannot comprehend that, as with the lines at Chick-Fil-A, when you offer free or subsidized health care, you ALSO get long lines due to the increased availability and hence increased demand (and eventually, increased cost) of health care is a sad, sad testament to the ineptitude of the American political process. That so many politicians who push unflinchingly and inexhaustibly for government-subsidized health care can look at nations like Canada and England and not learn a lesson from the single-payer economic disasters that have descended upon those particular health care industries is an ugly reflection on where we currently stand politically and ideologically.

Story after story of Canadians and Brits failing to get essential health care services provided to them due to the excruciatingly long waiting lists are well-documented. Citizens lining up to receive medical treatment that they do not need but simply want because “it’s free” end up denying other citizens with legitimate needs the very care that they require. These nations are veritable case studies in how a single-payer system wrecks health care industries and economies and why they should be avoided at all costs.

Going back to the Chick-Fil-A illustration, once my wife and I (finally!) reached the front of the line, we were presented with three (3) meal combo choices. This was another disappointment because anyone who knows anything about Chick-Fil-A knows that one big drawing card for them is their diverse menu options. Whether you like breaded chicken sandwiches and fried chicken strips or healthier options such as a grilled chicken sandwich, there’s literally something for everyone.

Not so when “free food” is offered and the menu is abbreviated. This is simply because those who are now footing the bill for the good or service are forced to choose and ration what specific good or service to offer because they can no longer afford to offer everything they used to. Example: Chick-Fil-A was offering a free spicy chicken sandwich meal option (my favorite!), but not a deluxe spicy chicken meal option for free. This is because of the added cost of having to purchase and have on hand plenty of extra lettuce, tomato and other “fixins’” that go into providing that menu option that ordinarily would be inventory-procured with money from actual consumer purchases. Again, this doesn’t happen when the company itself pays for or subsidizes the goods or services which they produce.

Same principle applies to “universal” government-subsidized health care. Any government, no matter how spend-thrift, is going to look for ways to cut costs for every service it provides, including medical coverage. Thus, if you are a pregnant woman about to give birth, under a single-payer, government-subsidized health system, you may very well find yourself on an airplane headed to a hospital in a different country to give birth while your water breaks. Because under such a system, an obstetrician or pediatrician may not be readily available to deliver your child, much less affordable.

(By the way, yes, the above example actually happened… …guess American health care isn’t so bad after all, unless you believe what ignorant demagogues and politicians tell you).

Long story short, a government-subsidized system that promises everything will often deliver very little, and it all goes back to increased production costs due to rising demand. Diversity of options is severely limited when the free market is not allowed to work and do what it does best; namely, create market-based solutions to real-world problems.

Why is this a big deal? Because the Supreme Court has decided that Obamacare should remain the law of the land in accordance with the whims of a few “enlightened” bureaucrats and regulators whose goal, ostensibly, is anything but economic prosperity for America. One can only hope that the American people will begin (or in some cases continue) to petition their elected leaders, even educate them, in regard to the basic principles related to free enterprise and limited government that have for so long upheld the highest standard of living in the free world.

I certainly intend to. And then I intend to further participate in the Great American Experiment by enjoying me some Chick-Fil-A.

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