In a tendency now bordering on suicide, the Left keeps proposing and sometimes enacting bills which violate the more important law of unintended consequences. In my reading on the subject, I could come up with only one good unintended consequence of anything and it had nothing to do with any liberal policy or belief. That unintended good consequence, in fact, had to do with the government largely staying out of the way and allowing the “invisible hand” of the free market to do its good. This is something recognized centuries ago, but which the Left seems hell-bent to disprove.
The problem, as I see it, is that liberals live, breath, and work in an insulated world of theory and models- certainly not the real world. Its why they think that something is the matter with Kansas or they, in derogatory fashion, label vast swaths of Americans “Fly-over country.” Its why they believe that anyone who does not think like the metropolitan, well-educated city dweller is incapable of logical discourse since we “cling to our Bibles and guns.” Yet for all the theorizing and model-making, history is littered with the excrement of liberal policies and laws that run the gamut from the universally bad to the disgustingly humorous.
Take the recent example of San Francisco adopting codes that endorsed so-called low-flow toilets. These were designed to decrease the use of water and create a host of environmental goods. On paper, it made great sense and I am sure there was some model proving its efficacy. But a funny thing happened when this became the law- sludge built up in the city’s sewer pipes whose foul smell soon found its way onto city streets and parks. San Francisco may be saving water, but their city smelt like…poop. Look at the bans on plastic bags. Again, San Francisco was at the forefront of this movement and banned them in 2007 in favor of cloth re-usable grocery bags. Chances are you see these more “ecologically sensitive” people using them at your local grocery store. Of course in every area that has banned plastic grocery bags the incidence of E. coli infection has increased. It seems those nice “ecologically friendly” cloth bags are also quite very friendly to bacteria and a host of other things that tend to make humans sick.
Electric cars sound like a great idea, as do hybrids. They’re great on gas mileage which means we use less gasoline and have to import less oil. But wait a minute! If I fill up less (or not at all in the case of electric cars), what will the state do for gas tax revenue? After all, electric cars and hybrids don’t have their own special roads. The state of Washington which highly encourages electric and hybrid vehicles has proposed slapping a fee (they like to say “fee,” not “tax”) on these vehicles to make up for the lost gas tax revenue. This is like CAFE standards which sound good in theory. We would all like fuel efficient cars. Unfortunately, the easiest way for an auto maker to meet these standards is to decrease the weight of the vehicle which means replacing stronger materials with weaker materials. You could throw in ethanol mandates as another member of the Leftist Hall of Shame.
These examples would be humorous if they weren’t also deadly as the high estimated number of people who died as a result of malaria worldwide after DDT use was banned illustrates. Never mind that its effects were way overstated by people like environmental darling Rachel Carson, what are a few deaths as long as DDT isn’t used? India, which basically refused to fall for the hysteria, decreased malarial deaths 99% after reintroducing DDT.
Everyone wants to see job growth in the country- or so the Left says. But then they construct obstacles to job growth. Cities like Chicago and Washington DC basically ran Wal-Mart out of town with their demands that they pay $15 a hour for someone to stand at the door and say, “Welcome to Wal-Mart.” Mind you, Wal-Mart is one of the largest employers in the country. The Bacon-Davis Act is another example of a well-meaning law with unintended consequences.
Affirmative action is a program that sounds great on paper. Its not quotas per se (wink…wink), but that is what it ends up being in practice for employers and colleges to avoid costly, time-consuming lawsuits. It is also a condescending treatment of minorities disguised as helping minorities. It creates victims where no victim may actually exist.
There are countless other examples along the way. Federal housing policies created during the New Deal and the creation of the FHA actually created zoning red-lining which effectively excluded low-income (that is, minority) people from certain areas. This then had to be corrected with another well-meaning set of laws to do away with the unintended consequence of the original well-meaning law. The Community Reinvestment Act created a cycle of granting loans to people who had no right receiving a loan of any kind in an effort to put minorities in homes. The result was the proliferation of risky loans that blew up in everyone’s faces in 2008.
The Left will counter that the Right’s policy solutions likewise have unintended consequences. But conservatism is defined as being cautious and moving slow on change. This has the advantage of gauging the results of slow change as one goes along. Further, it is built upon the two premises: if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it AND give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. The “if it ain’t broke” theory defines the Left’s preoccupation with net neutrality. Apparently there is a great need for America to have faster upload speeds of a video of their cat taking a dump on a toilet. The “fish philosophy” defines just about every other liberal policy.