The best advice I can ever give you is to be very, very careful when it appears that what is in the best interest of society is precisely what's in your personal interest. If this is true, then you are a very lucky creature. When it is always true--you are unquestionably God's favorite. But what does it say about you if you believe it to be true, but it is not?
Consider the latest rage in the public finance of highways--tolls. The popularity line breaks down like this: If you are not subject to tolls, you are likely to favor them. However, when they are forced upon you, on a road that you used to drive for free, then you are probably not...especially when your demand for that roadway is inelastic. By inelastic, I mean when you are required to use the highway because your house and job are on opposite sides.
So who is correct? Are the people who complain about tolls because they have to pay them simply nimbys (not-in-my-back-yard)? Well, often no. Are those who favor tolls when they don't have to pay them part of the free-lunch crowd? Actually, usually yes. Here's why:
The simple truth is that tolls are a political solution to the public finance of highways, not a common sense solution. Because tolls are political in a free country, it is not wise to believe that everyone will one day be subject to them. Roads will be associated with tolls when the political benefits to the decision makers outweigh the political costs. Other roads will not be equipped for toll collection when the political costs exceed the political benefits. This situation is likely to produce one outcome, which flies in the face of fairness. It quite probably will cause those who are subject to tolls (because the decision makers received a net benefit) to pay for those who can never be subject to them (because the decision makers would have to pay a net cost). The "nimbys" don't want to be the only ones paying for highway use, and they don't want the risk of paying for everyone else's use in addition to their own. On the other hand, this is precisely what the free-lunch crowd wants.