While I would rather not comment on the absurdity that political discourse has become, I cannot stand by when the phrase “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” [TANSTAAFL] is being used to attack political opponents. The main purpose of TANSTAAFL is to remind people  to think outside the box and consider the entire picture.

TANSTAAFL is used by economists to discuss opportunity costs and how there are costs associated with even products or services that are advertised as free. The term is also used by scientists when discussing biological systems and energy systems. There is even a No Free Lunch Theorem in Machine Learning Systems.

In most instances, TANSTAAFL is used to encourage people to consider the consequences of decisions and how they affect the world around them. In Machine Learning, TANSTAAFL is used to remind programmers there is no perfect system. It is a reminder to avoid developing tunnel vision and consider other possibilities.