Some Austrian Perspectives on Unintended Consequences Lowell Gallaway ne of the most overused notions in this about-to-expire centur)~ is the concept of "unintended consequences." In its strongest form, it emerges as the Law of Unin- tended Consequences, a generalized explanation for a host of public policy failures in American society A seemingly inno- cent enough concept, it attempts to explain away why so many ventures into the realm of formulating public policy have gone awry, by asserting that things didn't happen the way policymakers thought and "intended" that they would. (As if this excuses the nonsense that has passed as policy in our time.) In the vernacular, this is nothing but a "cop-out," a deus ex machina that disguises the true source of failed public policy--a refusal to appreciate the full impli- cations and ramifications of public policy initiatives for human ac- tion. The choice of the words "human action" is not casual. It is symbolic, intending to call to mind the Austrian traditions of subjec- tivism and individualism. This is in contrast to the conventional social science approach of thinking in terms of mechanical analogues that seemingly parallel the physical, or "hard," sciences. The adverb Lowell Gallaway is
The Review of Austrian Economics – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 27, 2006
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