Tracing consequences both seen and unseen.
Wirkman VirkkalaAgainst the Simple Scenario of Rescue
Posted at 6:03 pm on January 30, 2011, by Wirkman Virkkala

Social causation cannot be simply drawn on a line, so public policy cannot be conceived in a one-dimensional fashion. See a goal? Find a means. Stick to it.

No.

It doesn’t work, because each cause has more than one effect, and the selected effect, the end, is not all that must be considered.

You will often hear conservatives complain about progressives’ lack of understanding in this department, how those on the left too often have a one-dimensional view (more…)


Filed under: Unintended Consequences
Comments: None
 

Eric D. DixonI, Toaster
Posted at 5:20 pm on January 15, 2011, by Eric D. Dixon

This guy reinvents the lessons of “I, Pencil,” by trying to build a toaster from scratch:

[Cross-posted at Shrubbloggers.]


Filed under: Gains From Trade, Technology
Comments: 1 Comment
 

John W. PayneWhat’s the Biggest Problem for Blacks in America?
Posted at 1:37 am on January 4, 2011, by John W. Payne

Linguist John McWhorter argues that it’s the drug war, and I’m inclined to agree:

…[W]ith no War on Drugs there would be, within one generation, no “black problem” in the United States. Poverty in general, yes. An education problem in general—probably. But the idea that black America had a particular crisis would rapidly become history, requiring explanation to young people. The end of the War on Drugs is, in fact, what all people genuinely concerned with black uplift should be focused on, which is why I am devoting my last TNR post of 2010 to the issue. The black malaise in the U.S. is currently like a card house; the Drug War is a single card which, if pulled out, would collapse the whole thing.

That is neither an exaggeration nor an oversimplification. It comes down to this: If there were no way to sell drugs on the street at a markup, then young black men who drift into this route would instead have to get legal work. They would. Those insisting that they would not have about as much faith in human persistence and ingenuity as those who thought women past their five-year welfare cap would wind up freezing on sidewalk grates.

There would be a new black community in which all able-bodied men had legal work even in less well-off communities—i.e. what even poor black America was like before the ’70s; this is no fantasy. Those who say that this could only happen with low-skill factory jobs available a bus ride away from all black neighborhoods would be, again, wrong. That explanation for black poverty is full of holes. Too many people of all colors of modest education manage to get by without taking a time machine to the 1940s, and after the War on Drugs black men would be no exception.

And in this new black community, young black men, much less likely to wind up in prison cells or caskets, would be a constant presence—and thus stay in the lives of their children. The black male community would no longer include a massive segment of underskilled, drug-addicted ex-cons churning in and out by the thousands year after year, and thus black boys growing up in these communities would not see this life as a norm. They would grow up to get jobs, period.

And something else these boys would not grow up with is a bone-deep sense of the police—and thus whites—as an enemy. Because there would be no reason for the police to prowl through his neighborhood.

That’s from McWhorter’s latest piece in The New Republic, and the whole thing is well worth reading. It should come as little surprise that policies created and implemented as a cudgel against minorities have disproportionately harmed them, and it’s long overdue that Americans admit to themselves that the drug war has never been about public health or safety but about persecuting cultural groups that middle class whites didn’t care for.

Cross-posted at Rough Ol’ Boy.


Filed under: Drug Policy, Law Enforcement, Nanny State
Comments: None
 

Henry Hazlitt"[T]he whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson can be reduced to a single sentence. The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups."
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson
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