The law of unintended consequences

Never fall for the the so-called “law of unintended consequences” excuse by government.

Firstly, intentions cannot be known with any degree of certainty. The logical demonstration is easy enough; Individuals can lie and individual don’t read mind. Of course you can always choose to trust someone’s pretend “intentions” but the very action of choosing to do so is a choice and this choice is the sole responsibility of the individuals making that choice. It certainly doesn’t absolve the lawmaker in any way.

Secondly, actions should only be judged by their consequences.If you have doubts; just ask the victims and those who are actually paying for the consequences. Whether they were intentional or not makes no difference to them.

This “law of unintended consequences” has been used quite a lot during the past decade by governments trying to move the focus away from the actuality of their policies to their supposedly good intentions. This is a very dangerous slope as we’re seeing more and more populist politicians (Bernie Sanders comes to mind) making ridicule promises while completely ignoring the consequences of the policies they advocate. As with misdirection in the field of magic, the whole purpose of this trend is simply to move the attention of the audience towards the good intentions of the politicians.

A great example of that is the price fixing of drugs by European governments in order to help keep the price of health care down. The actual consequence of this policy was that for the past three or four decades the spending in Research and Development by drug companies collapsed by two third. Governments tried – and failed – to offset this by financing some (about one third) of the research…with tax money obviously. The end result is that people are still paying the same price but via two different channels instead of one. The unfortunate consequence is that most of the new drugs are developed by American companies. European companies find it cheaper to just buy formulas and sell the drugs in their own markets.

Pretending that these policies actually work for Europe is incredibly short sighted. We live in a global market and judging these policies locally is always a mistake. Trying to impose the same policies in the US would have deadly consequences not only in the US but also in Europe and most likely in other countries who have knowingly made themselves dependent on US research.

This is just one example out of many. For the past century Europe has made the choice of impairing freedom for the sake for security. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Apple, AirBNB and a hundred others didn’t magically appear in the US by accident. Putting in place regulation impairing private companies in the US will have exactly the same consequences that the same policies had in Europe.  the systematic killing of entrepreneurship.
There’s a good reason why you don’t have a single European application running on your phone or your computer today. Pretending that countries of Europe “work” just fine with their ever increasing regulations and tax burden is ridicule. They don’t. They survive as a parasite would; fed by the incredibly creative engine of the United States.

Unfortunately we live in the world where the majority of people seems to favor reassurance over truth – this not only from the news outlets but also from their politicians. I don’t doubt people will elect more populists in the future. Whether or not the last bulwark against the dictatorship of the majority – the US Constitution – will hold is anybody’s guess. Out of the three branches of government the executive will fail no doubt. The legislative has been incredibly complacent and weak to the point where the constitutionalists in Congress could be counted on the fingers of one hand. It’s really no wonder then that the focus has been on the judicial branch lately. Ben Sasse’s lesson of civic aimed at Congress last week was brilliant and absolutely on target. Those who expect the Supreme Court to legislate are not doing it by accident. They know that in order to successfully achieve their majoritarian agenda the last domino has to fall.

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