It's called the "Law of Unintended Consequences" -- the fact that politically motivated, well-intentioned (but poorly conceived) legislation results in situations that wreak havoc far beyond what was originally supposed to be remedied. A classic example -- and fortunately one of the least serious -- is the congressional toilet. As a conservation measure, the government decreed that all new toilets use no more than one gallon of water per flush. Because politicians are neither plumbers nor experts in fluid mechanics, they failed to visualize the fact that a single gallon would frequently not be enough water to complete the flush, with the result that the toilets require two or three flushings, thereby using more water than older toilets.
Unfortunately, legislation currently under consideration or recently passed indicates that the inability to think beyond the high sounding rhetoric of the moment continues to be a reality in multiple areas affecting the lives of our citizens; and the consequences could be much more threatening and tragic than an annoying toilet.
The hybrid automobile is currently being touted as the ideal transitional solution to the problems of fossil fuels and air pollution. Major auto manufacturers continue to introduce new versions, to the accolades of the politicians and the press. It is predicted that in the near future there will be more than a million on the road. Unfortunately, there are some inherent problems that few seem to be considering.
The hybrid vehicle utilizes an internal combustion engine in conjunction with an electric drive and a battery array. By alternating between both power sources, the car achieves substantial mileage and cuts down on emissions. What nobody seems to be talking about are the potential problems associated with the batteries.
Batteries contain some pretty nasty stuff, including lead or other heavy metals, acid, and carbon-related components. All batteries have a finite life, and these are really BIG batteries. With a million and more hybrid cars on the road, battery disposal could become a major problem as regards hazardous materials and pollution. When even conventional 12-volt batteries require careful disposition, it's hard to imagine, at present, how we are to go about recycling or disposing of so much potentially dangerous waste. Two things are certain -- it's not going to be cheap, and it's not going to be easy.
Comprehensive immigration reform involves amnesty or some other process for legalizing millions of illegal immigrants already in the country and bringing them into the mainstream, either through limited visas, guest worker programs, path to citizenship or some other means.
What is being missed by the politicians who see today's illegals as tomorrow's voting block is that their entire appeal to the unscrupulous employers who hire them is the fact that they fly beneath the radar. Frequently willing to work for less than the minimum wage, they are not given benefits, insurance or, in most cases, workman's compensation. Sad as it may be, this is their primary competitive advantage.
All else being equal, few employers would choose an employee base unable to speak or read their language -- especially in industries where serious problems can result. Several years ago, the top executives of an industrial plating firm in the Chicago area were convicted of murder when Polish émigré workers died after being subjected to toxic fumes because they could not read warning signs.
The minute illegals are inducted into the system and are on the record, their costs rise and their desirability drops. Ironically, any path to legalization will, in many cases, effectively disqualify them for the job opportunities they sought here in the first place.
Obamacare carries so many unintended consequences that it is hard to know where to begin. In fact, more are being discovered every day. One particularly egregious example, though, is the effect that healthcare rationing would have on the older population. Most senior citizens politely disagree with Senator Tom Daschle's "duty to die" philosophy and refuse to believe that they should bear patiently with the pains of old age when modern medicine has the capability of relieving them.
Under rationed healthcare, those with the wealth and means to do so can seek treatment at exclusive off-shore facilities or through other private means -- much as affluent Canadians and others currently do in the United States.
Those less fortunate or without the financial resources but equally possessed of a will to live will have to make do with a black market of dubious practitioners and spurious cures. The same progressives who justify their extreme pro-abortion stance on the fear of women being relegated to "back-alley abortion mills" have just enabled the creation of an equal or more horrendous curse to prey on our older and least defensive citizens.
Nothing destroys the Utopian dreams of ideologues faster or more completely than reality, but the dreamers never seem to learn, even as the dream becomes a nightmare. It would be better for all concerned if we could, at last, funnel their energies into something a little more harmless -- like designing toilets.