The Joy of Unintended Consequences

Pat McMahon Contributor
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Full story: The Joy of Unintended Consequences – Ricochet.com

It’s the unintended consequences that oftentimes have the most profound effect. Some 20 years ago, the meddling class in Washington gave us the “Luxury Tax,” which proposed to sock it to the rich by taxing items that only the rich could afford, such as yachts. The unintended consequence? People declined to buy the yachts and some 21,000 boat builders lost their jobs. A more recent example would be the “Cash For Clunkers” initiative, which restricted the supply of used cars when the government took the “clunkers” that were turned in and destroyed them. The result? Shortages begat price increases, so the overall cost of used cars has risen 10 percent. This hurts the people who can least afford the increase, but that’s the cost of what passes for “progress” these days.

Sometimes, however, an unintended consequence can be a good thing. Take the recent elections, for example. Against all empirical evidence, the left has taken counterintuition to dizzying heights and convinced itself that the American electorate has repudiated not its collectivist dogma, but rather its presentation. It’s as if Germany had concluded that the Allies went to war because they disliked Hitler’s mustache. The result? Clarification. Bracing clarification of the sort usually reserved for the final courtroom scene on the old television shows like “Matlock,” or “Perry Mason,” where the villain finally spills his diabolical guts for judge, jury, the audience at home, and just in time for dinner.

So imagine my reaction when an environmentalist, a member of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change no less, confirmed that which many of us have said all along but which the left refused to admit; that the environmental movement has about as much to do with the environment as the IRS has to do with the Sisters of Mercy. Quoth IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer:

First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole.

So its not about the environment. It’s about wealth redistribution. A corollary conclusion? Cap and trade is not about energy policy. It’s about wealth redistribution. The “Bush Tax Cuts”? Obamacare? Impending initiatives regarding your IRA, or 401K? A bazillion weeks of unemployment benefits? “Immigration Reform”? All different avenues to the same address, referred to by some as wealth redistribution, but universally known as the slaughter house of human freedom.

The midterms have scared the left into unusual moments of candor as an unintended consequence. For us, an intended consequence should be the defining of terms and the framing of the debate. Let them explain, in the absence of Constitutional limits which they have already rejected, what limits they would place on government? Let them explain why, if the government can reach into your light sockets, your toilet, your refrigerator, your car, and your healthcare, why it shouldn’t be able to also reach into your pants at an airport? Let them explain, after decades of a war on poverty that has impoverished generations, just how much more of our descendant’s money is needed and why? How many more regulations, how many more executive agencies, how much more of our liberty do they require before we can stick a fork in this sucker and call it done?

The people are paying attention now. This is a defining moment. Even the collectivists are defining themselves. They have presided over an explosion in government power that is choking the private sector and threatens to bind the individual in the awful chains of dependence. Hold them accountable. Make them explain. And don’t let them define the terms of the debate.

Pat McMahon