Good Intentions and Bad Results

By:  Ralph R. Reiland
01/02/2013
       
Good Intentions and Bad Results

Launched in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the “unconditional war on poverty in America,” now in its 49th year, might arguably be the most expensive and longest running example of Thomas Sowell’s warning that “good intentions tell you nothing about the actual consequences.”

Launched in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the “unconditional war on poverty in America,” now in its 49th year, might arguably be the most expensive and longest running example of Thomas Sowell’s warning that “good intentions tell you nothing about the actual consequences.”

“If there is any lesson in the history of ideas, it is that good intentions tell you nothing about the actual consequences,” stated Thomas Sowell, economist at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Similarly, Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman warned of the mixture of good intentions and big government. “Concentrated power,” he cautioned, “is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.”

French writer Albert Camus (1913-1960) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. “The evil that is in the world,” he asserted, “almost always comes from ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.”

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), British essayist and novelist, stated it more boldly: “Hell isn’t merely paved with good intentions; it’s walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too.”

In Brave New World, a prophetic novel published in 1932, prior to Stalin’s purges and before Hitler came to power in Germany, Huxley described a tyrannical future where totally controlled and dehumanized slaves would “love their servitude.”

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Ralph R. Reiland (photo)

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