Most people are kind and gentle and want things to work out perfectly for everyone. These people have ideas about how that could come to pass. Sometimes they get into a position that allows them to influence how things work out.
Usually not well. The reasons are many:
If an intelligent life from another planet came and studied some of the things we do, that being would wonder how we got to the top of the food chain. The first observation would be that we seem not to have any real idea how to relate outcomes to their causes.
Take socialism. Of the hundreds of examples of it attempted, has even one shown a glimmer of hope of success? No. Why would anyone continue to believe it is possible? Because they are kind and gentle and want to help their fellow humans. Intentions do not automatically translate to results.
Having the people who benefit from the program’s operation are not good assessors. Objective measurement of results, against the purpose and the resources consumed, should guide future decisions. Milton Friedman once commented that measuring a program by its intentions rather than outcomes was a huge error.
I think we could all agree we would prefer people to be able to afford housing, to have enough income and to have good healthcare. I think we cannot agree on how to achieve that.
Housing is easy. But it won’t happen quickly. Perhaps a decade is needed to overcome the bureaucratic morass.
If you want more housing and thus more affordable housing, how does it make sense for governments to impose conditions that delay the start of construction? How does it make sense to cap rents and thus limit profits and the time to recover the capital invested? How does a biased tribunal system to arbitrate landlord tenant disputes make sense?
If you want more housing, notice that you cannot get it by chasing the landlords out of your jurisdiction. Some are trapped by old investments, but there will be no new ones. Public housing has generally been a disgrace. Intentions are not enough to operate a complex, capital intensive, business.
Same ideas apply to medicare. If you try to limit the price of delivery by limiting what doctors receive, you should expect fewer doctors in your jurisdiction.
Same again for jobs affected by minimum wage. If governments command the price to be higher, they should expect fewer jobs to be provided. Good intentions don’t make it happen
Understand disincentives. Overpriced items like low wage job openings, will reduce the number made available. Shortages of goods will increase price, like rents. The most effective incentive to action, is the removal of disincentives to that action.
If voters, assuming they have any influence at all, looked at bureaucratic rules and controls as proof of the failure of other policies, we would have fewer rules and controls. Sadly, no one connects the dots. They continue to look at intentions and ignore results. As intentions dominate there is a tendency for bigger and more powerful bureaucracies to appear. The oblivion spiral.
Be sure your personal good intentions and plans are supported by carefully monitored action.
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