I am prepared to believe that there may be some things (though not many of them) that are of such public benefit that they should be provided at the general expense. That is not to say that I think that if something is good it should be compulsory. Let alone that if it sounds like a good, that is justification for its being compulsory.
But when you are dealing with the state, “free” does not mean ‘free as in free speech’, nor does it mean ‘free as in free beer’. It means ‘compulsory’. If the government is advertising free beer, it wants everybody drunk; prepare to have your head held under if you don’t feel like a tipple just now.
Hence this Guardian headline, a classic of pusilanimity against spin:
The actual story is somewhat, er… more nuanced:
Parents could be required to provide their children with high-speed internet access under plans being drawn up by ministers in partnership with some of the country’s leading IT firms.
The initiative is part of a major push which could also see the parents of every secondary school student given access to continuous online updates on their child’s lessons, performance and behaviour as early as next year. So-called “real-time reporting”, which was first mooted in the government’s children’s plan last month, could be extended to primary schools within two years.
A sub less versed in the cult of the benign state might have abstracted that as:
“Big business bonanza: Parents must pay for children to be watched at home by online officials.”