Tag Archives: Law of Unintended Consequences

Regulation overload

Road signs in Mistissini, Quebec, showing stre...

Back in college I was a member of an inter-dorm council (Motto: “As boring as it sounds!”).  At one meeting there was a lengthy discussion about what traffic safety changes to make in response to a girl being hit by a car after walking out from behind a bus.  All sorts of things were considered — signs to slow down, a stop sign, speed bumps, etc.

One person (who might be the heartless author of this blog . . . details from that time period are sketchy) finally pointed out that if people walk out from behind buses without looking, then bad things might happen regardless of how many traffic safety changes are made.  A temporary silence followed, then they moved onto other business.  Yea!

I’m reminded of that when I think of the massive amount of regulations in our society.  I’m no anarchist, but there is a major flaw in the premise that if we just have enough regulations that nothing bad will happen to anyone, ever.  The Law of Unintended Consequences is a nasty thing.  You think you’ve solved a problem but you’ve often created one or more that are even worse.

See the IRS tax code for starters.  It is many times larger than the Bible and even less understood.  They try to close one loophole and create more.  A flat tax won’t be perfect, but it will be far better than what we have today.