Public Policy Meets Complexity

Good intentions and the urge to get something done can lead to disastrous policy. This is true for everyone. But add the power of government to compel obedience and the need for politicians to harvest votes and champion causes, the "obvious solution" can as often as not make the problem worse. When "compassionate" government "needs to do something", watch out. Back around 1870, bridge builders noticed an illness affecting those who worked inside caissons on the river bottoms while building the bridges' foundations.  The illness was called "caissons disease" and was similar to the illness noticed in some deep miners.  The natural solution was to get ill workers into normal air pressure as quickly as possible.  Common sense, right?Not only wrong, but dead wrong.  The bends killed 14 workers on the Eads bridge over the Mississippi and 20 workers on the Brooklyn bridge.  It disabled several more, including John Roebling, the...(Read Full Article)

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