Why the law of unintended consequences is the only law that always works
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Fresh Toast.
I remember a letter to the editor of a Californian newspaper in 1973 during Nixon’s “gas shortage” from a man who said he was sitting in his car in line at a “gas station” which, ironically, was referred to as a “gas station”. He said when he looked in the rearview mirror he saw the driver behind him was smoking a joint. He quipped that if we just legalized marijuana and banned gasoline, we could solve two problems.
Fifty years later we have almost solved the marijuana “problem” by almost legalizing it. I say we have nearly solved this problem, not only because the Feds and some states are lagging behind, but because most states have messed it up with over-regulation and over-taxation so that the black market continues. Good intentions are not enough.
Photo by Olena Ruban / Getty Images
I have quoted what I call that Iron prohibition law demonstrate how the contraband economy actually makes “drugs” stronger and more dangerous. Actually, I am sure that this is not always “unintentional”.
Obviously the frustrated driver was joking about the petrol ban, but there really was no petrol shortage. Nixon had panicked and put price controls in place that prevented the market from functioning. In a free market there are no long-term bottlenecks because prices will rise, upset consumers (voters), but eliminate lines that please voters. Accidentally?
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When the Colonial Pipeline to the east coast was hacked, pipes for fuel suddenly appeared due to another aspect of human nature. There was a “shortage” because everyone panicked and queued to fill their tanks, so inventory was moved to cars because … Another unintended consequence.
The pipeline hacking was possible due to a phenomenon called the Internet of Things. What could possibly go wrong? The Texas snowstorm in February was on the verge of ruining the global economy because Texan politicians wanted to pretend the Lone Star State was truly a lonely star. Ain’t no Yankees going to tell us what to do! An unintended consequence.
Photo by Spencer Davis via Unsplash
The Biden government has done an excellent job of making the COVID-19 vaccine readily available and free for everyone. What could possibly go wrong? But two groups are still reluctant to get their jabs. Ironically, they can be identified by race: black and white.
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Blacks have historical reasons to distrust the medical establishment Tuskegee Syphilis Study and general history of poor medical care. Whites think everything is a conspiracy.
What if, instead of being so proudly egalitarian, Biden announced that the rich could skip the lines by paying $ 100 or maybe more to record at country clubs? “Influencers” could pose in front of Ferraris while sipping champagne to get their jabs.
People would demand that everyone have immediate access.
Of course, “socialism” is the ultimate unintended consequence, but the point remains that good intentions do not necessarily lead to good results. On the other hand.
As with the Internet of Things, we are all connected in ways that we don’t understand or don’t even know. If we try to control everything, we can do just the opposite of what we intended. The law of unintended consequences.
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author of the Difference Between CBD For Dogs And Humans.