Skip to comments.Social Reform: Confusion or "Unintended Consequences?"
Posted on 08/01/2012 7:54:17 AM PDT by Ohioan
Social Reform: Compulsion, conspiracy & misguided idealism stimulate mass movements demanding change, yet are not ultimate cause for societal breakdown. Primary disaster mechanism, the 'unintended consequences,' results from conceptual confusion. Understanding confusion caused by conceptual myopia--the inability to see the forest for the trees--that is destroying the West. Essential difference between Social Reformers (Marx, Lenin, Hitler, Obama) & Political Reformers (Reagan, Thatcher & the Founding Fathers).
(Excerpt) Read more at truthbasedlogic.com ...
One frequently hears comments about the "unintended consequences" of Social Reform: Public initiatives, Government programs, intended to solve one problem, but unleashing a whole series of entirely new ones. The implication is that some not reasonably foreseeable mechanism has intervened. We would suggest that what is involved--the actual dynamics--are absolutely predictable consequences of misguided analysis; obvious consequences, only overlooked because of a conceptual myopia which, while having multiple causes, renders much of the public unable to see "the forest for the trees."
From the tenured Professor seeking fame in the Social Sciences, to the College Sophomore looking for a cause, to the aspiring journalist hoping for a Pulitzer Prize or some equivalent, to the ambitious politician trying to find the one issue that will distinguish him from the pack, there is great appeal in identifying & promoting a "necessary reform"--perhaps being among the first to recognize an "idea [cause], whose time has come." Unfortunately, few of such participants in reform movements ever demonstrate the slightest concept of how to approach a subject chosen for "reform."
The initial premise for virtually every great "Reform" of the past century was itself irretrievably flawed. This was true whether the "problem" addressed was, by nature, peculiar to each afflicted individual or actually common to a definable group. Consider, first, those which involved an attempt to solve problems inherently individual in nature, by collective action; that is, by arbitrarily classifying the individual with a particular problem as a member of a group of the afflicted, defined by the problem itself, before legislating for that "group" as a group--such as "poor people" or unwed mothers. In this approach, the Reformers, in their enthusiasm, scarcely paused to consider how a Reform might impact the intended beneficiaries, in other areas of individual interest or concern. Full of self-righteous fervor against imagined "injustice," they ignored the impact of the Reform on societal interests or concerns of a more general import. Thus it should be no mystery why, in virtually every instance, only social disaster followed.
It is a major fallacy to consider the "poor" as an aggrieved class. People are poor for a great variety of reasons. Many lack any of the essential aptitudes for success; others may have had the aptitudes, but suffered some setback, which for another great variety of reasons, they were never able to overcome. Then there are those, who have simply lost the incentive to apply themselves. Some may have violated some law or standard of conduct, which led to their ostracism from respectable contacts. The old Church managed Welfare system, discussed by Jefferson in his Notes On The State Of Virginia, & reprinted in Chapter 1 of the Debate Handbook (see below) could differentiate among those "in need," in ways that the present Welfare State can not. It could make ethical judgments, invoking traditional moral values--the now largely discarded incentives to constructive behavior.
Can any proposed reform, promoted by Government, actually provide a net social benefit? And, if so, what type of reform?
There is no great mystery here. While political efforts to alter society--to engineer major cultural changes--are virtually certain to do more harm than good because of the intellectual confusion discussed; when Government seeks to reform itself, it deals with what it actually knows or should know, with infinitely greater likelihood for success. This is the essential difference between the Reagan reforms in America and the "New Deal," "Great Society" & Clinton/Bush eras. It is the difference between what Margaret Thatcher achieved in Great Britain & what the Social Reformers in the Labour Party have wrought whenever they had the chance.