The problem is not that people think debt is a free lunch.
Just look at the recent debate we've had over the deficit in the last couple weeks! Look at every debate we've had over public debt.
"Absurd" doesn't even begin to describe the view that the public is sanguine about debt. "Incomprehensibly out of touch with reality" might start to get closer.
The problem is that the public sees paying costs in the future as being much, much worse than paying costs now and the issue is often overly moralized. Paul Krugman likes to point out that in German (the Germans are especially antsy about public debt), the word for "debt" and "guilt" are the same.
That's a problem, if you're someone that cares about the economic way of thinking.
One of the reasons why the public does this is that they forget that "we owe it to ourselves". They see an extra burden because they see a future that is impoverished by debt payments, when in reality there is no extra impoverishment on top of the normal costs of a tax collected for the exact same expenditure.
The violinist analogy improved
7 hours ago