Which Unintended Consequences?

I suppose there's no point at this stage of the game than to identify myself as anything other than a liberal. Nevertheless, I truly appreciate the core conservative critique that the nobility of our intentions does not necessarily justify the harmful, concrete consequences that might happen to living, breathing people in pursuit of our lofty goals. In a way, this is the meaning behind "First, do no harm."

So with the implementation of Obamacare/ACA, conservatives have drawn attention to the fact that some people are probably going to end up with worse insurance. One can say that this is a small price to pay for the greater benefit to society, which I basically, if hesitantly, agree with. However, I wouldn't want to be the one to go to someone's door and tell them that their well being will take a hit on society's behalf. When we depersonalize negative consequences we fall into the trap of collecting these results under the value-neutral category of collateral damage.

Conservatives pledge fealty to the market economy because it could be the best system yet for raising living conditions on a wide scale. It's not perfect, but don't mess with it, the thinking goes. We saw how centralized command economies failed under communism. And yet ... yet: Is it not an unintended consequence of the market economy that we might destroy our planet? Is it not an unintended consequence of our current healthcare system that many millions can't receive the medical attention they need? No humane conservative wants these things to happen, but they do.

So, what I'm saying is that I don't have an answer. As with all things, balance and adjustment must be ongoing. But it does appear to me that liberals are not the only ones accepting unintended consequences that harm real people.


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