Repercussions as a Matter of Course

Government can hardly ever do just one thing. Its action has repercussions, and these repercussions have repercussions, and so forth. Even when the government’s initial action may seem compassionate or productive, it is highly unlike that the repercussions will prove likewise.

Of course, private action also has repercussions, some of which may be unpleasant or even harmful. But in the private sphere, the likelihood is much greater that people will respond to the negative feedback of adverse repercussions by finding diverse ways to rectify mistakes that have been made, whereas in the government sphere any bad action will either generate no negative-feedback incentive for rectification of mistakes or will, instead, only set in motion a Misesian series in which one cruel or destructive action becomes the initial link in a series of reactive interventions, each as adverse as the proceeding ones, if not worse.

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Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, the University of Economics, Prague, and George Mason University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.

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