Recently, my wife started a major “some-assembly-required” project at our home. At a stage when the question was becoming whether to finish or take things apart again and return them, the chance to do something she very much wanted to do came up. So she left the rest to me, but apologized that she didn’t mean to dump that extra work on me. That is, the adverse consequences for me were just an unintended byproduct of her choice.
After magnanimously accepting my wife’s apology, my next thought was that while her imposition on me was unintended, it was not unpredictable. It was a completely predictable consequence of her choice. That the intent she had in mind did not include imposing costs on me left unchanged the fact that it did so.
That recognition, in turn, got me started asking questions about the law of unintended consequences when it comes to government policy, my favorite version of which is “every government ‘solution’ has unintended adverse consequences, and that fact always comes as a surprise.” FULL ARTICLE