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Jonah Goldberg and the effects of interventionism

August 30, 2004

Neocon Jonah Goldberg writes about how government intervention to solve problems creates new unintended problems, in these cases campaign-finance laws and how obesity has been increased by the anti-tobacco crusade and feminism. He attributes it to late Senator Patrick Moynihan, but he could have mentioned Mises as well. He of course do not want to apply this to neocon foreign policy, but he is still unusually insightful.

"In medicine an iatrogenic condition or ailment is one that is caused by the physician, either deliberately or by accident. Give too much medicine, or the wrong kind, and the negative consequences are iatrogenic. The late Sen. Pat Moynihan coined the phrase "iatrogenic government" to describe problems that were created by the intent to cure. What he had in mind was the tendency of the drug war to create more problems than it solves. But the same thing goes on all the time...... ......But the point is that when social engineers attempt to make things better, they're just as likely to make things worse or create new problems. This is more than the law of unintended consequences, because "iatrogenic government" implies that our political physicians can't stop meddling with the patient, even when their meddling is causing the problems."

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