Unintended Consequences of Unintended Consequences…of Intended Consequences

 

Powerline blog alerts us to an impending food crisis in Great Britain and other disruptions in Europe arising from “green” policies: WILL “GREEN” ENERGY DESTROY EUROPE? Who knew getting rid of CO2 could starve people?!

Ignoring the details of this particular crisis there is a larger point about the hubris of political leaders to believe they can organize life into abundance. As Adam Smith observed over two centuries ago, life organizes itself around rules extant at the creation. Mankind, when properly understanding those rules, can affect things in beneficial ways for society, but cannot interfere with the operation of those rules to force alternative outcomes without suffering adverse consequences.

This is the dilemma of socialism/communism: Command economies with or without some protections for private property is like trying to permanently dam a river without outlet and without controlling the rainfall that feeds it. In the initial stages it seems to work and provide whatever benefit was intended by lake creation, but it takes increasing resources to keep raising the dam and maintaining its strength to pen the deluge, to transport water below the dam for whatever activity needs it after having stopped the river, and when resource run out, storms and flooding will eventually destroy the dam.

In contrast, working with the power of water one can create a reservoir, utilize the outflow for power, and provide water security even in generally desert conditions. But there is a difference between incrementally nudging Mother Nature and issuing a command; between working with natural forces and trying to stop them.

Maybe in the coming golden age of artificial intelligence, our combined computing power can game-play all the possible scenarios to develop new rules for life that assure abundance for all. But I doubt it. It takes the intelligence of the Creator to do so. That Progressives seek to supplant the Creator with a human master is neither surprising nor new. But all prior attempts have met with failure and caused widespread misery. Nonetheless, it appears that one of the rules of life is that someone will always try and must be stopped lest misery follow.

Humans controlling other humans does not lead to abundance. At best a society can adapt to control only by lowering its expectations to the production levels that a command economy can produce. Not only are there unintended consequences, there are unintended consequences of unintended consequences, and so on and so forth. We have to accept that we cannot know everything, therefore we cannot organize everything. That we can organize everything is the lie at the heart of the “Green New Deal” and all other economic policies reliant on the iron grip of government.

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  1. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Communism is nothing but a push for unintended consequences. Since greenhouses add CO2 for better plant growth, we might actually be living in a time of too little CO2. The earth has had more.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin: Maybe in the coming golden age of artificial intelligence our combined computing power can game play all the possible scenarios to develop new rules for life that assure abundance for all. But I doubt it. It takes the intelligence of the Creator to do so.

    It’s amazing that the world continues to produce people who think they are G-d–literally. And each time they appear, they leave destruction in their wake. I guess this will always be true–part of the human condition. We need to learn how to stop them.

    • #2
  3. Nohaaj Coolidge
    Nohaaj
    @Nohaaj

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    We need to learn how to stop them.

    Any lessons from history on how to stop them…? 

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    We need to learn how to stop them.

    Any lessons from history on how to stop them…?

    Hey, I’m asking the questions here! Seriously, I wish I could point to something, to anything, that would suggest there are steps we can take. I like what Tom Cotton said on the latest Ricochet podcast. After the 2024 elections, we have hopefully taken back the presidency and we need to be clear on our agenda and aggressively begin to enact it. No hesitation, no excuses. Even if we get majorities in 2022, we need to be more aggressive. What do you think, @nohaaj?

    Edit: Oops. I forgot whose post I was on. Still, I think I’d stick by my comment!

    • #4
  5. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    We need to give the Leftist what they want so the Right can be elected to give the Left what it wants.   So much for principles.   

    • #5
  6. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Socialism/Communism is mere self-righteous, self-aggrandizing thuggery designed to enrich the self while wielding intoxicating, boot-crushing, life-taking power over others. That’s why these elites love to shout down others and hear themselves talk for hours,

    We tolerate even small instances of it at our peril.

    • #6
  7. colleenb Member
    colleenb
    @colleenb

    The whole idea that humans can control the economy, weather, any big thing, etc, just amazes me. Did the Soviet Union have a five-year plan for inventing cell phones? Mao thought that killing all the birds in China would lead to more crop yield but it only led to more insect yield. I had a high school teacher (way back) who thought that maybe the Soviet Union could plan and control their economy if they had a big enough computer. He did not think about the new things that come up – making the same shoes in the same way one did 3 years ago just doesn’t work. Many people say now that the world is changing so rapidly but then turn around and think everything can be controlled. Weird.

    • #7
  8. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    colleenb (View Comment):

    The whole idea that humans can control the economy, weather, any big thing, etc, just amazes me. Did the Soviet Union have a five-year plan for inventing cell phones? Mao thought that killing all the birds in China would lead to more crop yield but it only led to more insect yield. I had a high school teacher (way back) who thought that maybe the Soviet Union could plan and control their economy if they had a big enough computer. He did not think about the new things that come up – making the same shoes in the same way one did 3 years ago just doesn’t work. Many people say now that the world is changing so rapidly but then turn around and think everything can be controlled. Weird.

    People are stupid.  Every time they try to predict any big system they get it wrong but this time they will predict it correctly.  

    • #8
  9. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    When the libertarian author Rose Wilder Lane visited the Soviet Union in the 1920s, she was still a Communist.   In Soviet Georgia, the villager who was her host complained about the growing bureaucracy that was taking more and more men from productive work, and predicted chaos and suffering from the centralizing of economic power in Moscow. At first, she saw his attitude as merely “the opposition of the peasant mind to new ideas,” and undertook to convince him of the benefits of central planning. He shook his head sadly.

    It is too big – he said – too big. At the top, it is too small. It will not work. In Moscow there are only men, and man is not God. A man has only a man’s head, and one hundred heads together do not make one great big head. No. Only God can know Russia.

    His comments, her other observations while in the Soviet Union, and her own thinking about the way that economies actually work convinced her that:

    Centralized economic control over multitudes of human beings must therefore be continuous and perhaps superhumanly flexible, and it must be autocratic. It must be government by a swift flow of edicts issued in haste to catch up with events receding into the past before they can be reported, arranged, analyzed and considered, and it will be compelled to use compulsion. In the effort to succeed, it must become such minute and rigorous control of details of individual life as no people will accept without compulsion. It cannot be subject to the intermittent checks, reversals, and removals of men in power which majorities cause in republics.

    https://ricochet.com/530704/archives/rose-wilder-lane/

    • #9
  10. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    colleenb (View Comment):

    The whole idea that humans can control the economy, weather, any big thing, etc, just amazes me. Did the Soviet Union have a five-year plan for inventing cell phones? Mao thought that killing all the birds in China would lead to more crop yield but it only led to more insect yield. I had a high school teacher (way back) who thought that maybe the Soviet Union could plan and control their economy if they had a big enough computer. He did not think about the new things that come up – making the same shoes in the same way one did 3 years ago just doesn’t work. Many people say now that the world is changing so rapidly but then turn around and think everything can be controlled. Weird.

    The “if we only had a big enough computer” delusion is still popular on the left. But the flaw is larger than you say: Even without technological change it is impossible for a central authority to have enough facts and enough understanding. But the left is not interested in the knowledge problem because the left desires power regardless of consequences.

    • #10
  11. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Rodin:

    Powerline blog alerts us to an impending food crisis in Great Britain and other disruptions in Europe arising from “green” policies: WILL “GREEN” ENERGY DESTROY EUROPE? Who knew getting rid of CO2 could starve people?!

    Ignoring the details of this particular crisis there is a larger point about the hubris of political leaders to believe they can organize life into abundance. […]

    Humans controlling other humans does not lead to abundance. At best a society can adapt to control only by lowering its expectations to the production levels that a command economy can produce. Not only are there unintended consequences, there are unintended consequences of unintended consequences, and so on and so forth. We have to accept that we cannot know everything, therefore we cannot organize everything. That we can organize everything is the lie at the heart of the “Green New Deal” and all other economic policies reliant on the iron grip of government.

    The immiseration of all but the new elite is a feature, not a bug. See also:

    The socialists were beaten in 1968 because the American and western European workers rejected the claim they were helplessly oppressed and needed the college radical vanguard of the proletariat to save them. The long march through the institutions has placed the campus radicals into positions to make the deplorables bow down and accept dependence, with the full collusion of the captured opposition and Lexus Leftist corporatists. 

    • #11
  12. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Rodin:

    Humans controlling other humans does not lead to abundance. At best a society can adapt to control only by lowering its expectations to the production levels that a command economy can produce. Not only are there unintended consequences, there are unintended consequences of unintended consequences, and so on and so forth. We have to accept that we cannot know everything, therefore we cannot organize everything. That we can organize everything is the lie at the heart of the “Green New Deal” and all other economic policies reliant on the iron grip of government.

    Interesting conclusion.  Does this apply to manipulating the human genome?

    • #12
  13. KCVolunteer Lincoln
    KCVolunteer
    @KCVolunteer

    Rodin

    Not only are there unintended consequences, there are unintended consequences of unintended consequences, and so on and so forth. 

    It may be mixing metaphors, but it is turtles all the way down.

    • #13
  14. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    A command economy in a large country, say no bigger than Switzerland but even more homogeneous, can’t replicate what the US did for most of its history.  How much of the rest of the world depended, one way or another, on the US innovation?   It’s over folks.  Some other place, down the road will have to figure it out all over again.  We could if most states and people  left Washington to run most of California, New York and the other socialist states, but we won’t.  We’d have to eliminate about 75 or 80 percent of the State governments so even that wouldn’t work.

    • #14