by Jim Rickards, Daily Reckoning:
Free riding is one of the oldest problems in economics and in society in general. Simply put, free riding describes a situation where one party takes the benefits of an economic condition without contributing anything to sustain that condition.
The best example is a parasite on an elephant. The parasite sucks the elephant’s blood to survive but contributes nothing to the elephant’s well-being.
A few parasites on an elephant are a harmless annoyance. But sooner or later the word spreads and more parasites arrive. After a while, the parasites begin to weaken the host elephant’s stamina, but the elephant carries on.