No such thing as a free lunch

Posted: Jan 03, 2006 12:04 AM

International Best-Selling Author Brian Tracy has done it again: written a book that sears the conscience and challenges conventional thinking with deep thinking.

In his 38th book, Something for Nothing: The All-Consuming Desire that Turns the American Dream into a Social Nightmare, Tracy describes how mankind's inborn nature to be "lazy, greedy, ambitious, selfish, vain, ignorant and impatient" without regard to others, has plunged our nation into crisis.

Of course, the propensity of humans to expect and even scheme about how to get something for nothing is certainly nothing knew to the human condition or to Americans.  And the devastating effects that such expectations and attitudes have on the individual and his personal character have been well-documented throughout history. As Thomas Jefferson once said, "The worst day of a man's life is when he sits down and begins thinking about how he can get something for nothing."

As any mother and father knows, perhaps the greatest challenge of parenthood is helping to create and shape little children who will spend their lives with a preference and propensity to give and earn, rather than to merely receive and take.

As Tracy points out, the best efforts of even the most loving and committed parents are often thwarted because we have failed to realize that one key ingredient in the recipe to raise children of character is to channel their natural drives into positive behaviors.  This is especially difficult when all-around us our society and the public policy that governs our everyday lives rewards and encourages the "me first with no concern for others" attitude that is destructive to both individuals and civil society.

But Tracy won’t allow lazy parents to blame society for poor parenting. “The responsibility for raising happy, healthy children lies with their parents.”  This is a point I drive home in my own book, Home Invasion where I remind parents (and myself) that I may not be able to control the overall culture, but I have the responsibility and privilege to determine the lessons taught within my own home.  Tracy also reminds us, “Many parents want to get something for nothing in child rearing. They want to be seen as excellent parents without paying the price that this requires.  How does a child spell ‘love’? Answer: ‘T-I-M-E!’ Something for nothing parents try to get by on the cheap, spending their precious and irreplaceable time in all the wrong places.  The solution to the problems of marriage and parenting is simple. Spend more time with the people you care about the most.”

Still, Tracy meticulously shows that one of the greatest threats to families, individual achievement and strong character development is big government fueled by insatiable appetites for power and money. He passionately describes the undeniable impact that public policy has in either supporting or hindering the development of an environment that allows individuals, families and societies to thrive. As a board member of The Heritage Foundation, Tracy knew exactly where the highest quality research on social issues and economic is located:  The Heritage Foundation's Centre for Data Analysis. He cites numerous studies by director Bill Beach and his fine staff that point to the policies and that are eating away at the heart and soul of our nation, including out-of-control taxing and spending, pork projects costing citizens billions of dollars, entitlement programs that will bankrupt our children, and countless regulations that squelch competition and freedom. For even more details on how government is creating a nation of folks who expect something for nothing, take a few minutes to scan through The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Dependency, available for free on

Long a champion of individual freedom, personal liberty and personal responsibility, Tracy is a well-sought-after speaker and consultant having served some 1,000 corporations worldwide.  He addresses a quarter of a million people each year in over forty countries, and has spent a lifetime observing, analyzing, and studying the human situation.

Tracy has used his experience to create an invaluable 245 page primer on psychology, economics, sociology, politics, philosophy, and even a bit of international relations. It's well-worth your time to spend a couple of hours reading what has taken him 30 years to compile into a useful life manual and one of the greatest practical social sciences books of our time.