Some “unintended consequences” aren’t.
The order of the market is an unintended consequence of market participation. By buying and selling, we’re just trying to get what we want. But we also send signals that help other folks accommodate our values and plans, which then allows markets to form some semblance of orderliness.
In government, on the other hand, laws get advanced to help this person or that, or whole groups of people. But economists often note that the actual consequences of many policies are at great variance with their advertised benefits. These often negative outcomes we term (following F.A. Hayek) the “unintended consequences.”
It’s worth noting that sometimes politicians do intend those hidden, bad consequences.
Economist David Henderson brings up an instance of this:
One insurance agent I spoke to speculated that politicians and other government officials who support these regulations not only understand these effects, but also like them. Why? Because they cause more people to go without insurance and thus create a demand for government-provided insurance.
Henderson then cites a provision of Obamacare, now kicking in: Regulations mandating medical insurance companies to spend a prescribed percentage of premiums “on actual medical care.” The result will be, almost certainly, the demise of whole hunks of the health insurance industry.
Thereby increasing political demands for government-provided insurance.
Some of the folks who concocted this regulation, and some who voted for it, certainly knew the likely result. And welcomed it.
Politicians are not equally clueless.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.