by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Groundhog Day might amount to little more than a bit of early February fun, but Lawson Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute says the annual ritual highlights some interesting truths about Washington, D.C., as well. He explains in a column posted at Human Events.
All of this can be silly, but these critters do tell us something, and it’s not the weather. We Americans have a thing about getting the future “right.” We love rolling the dice attempting to benefit from our predictions. Americans spend more on gambling than on other leisure activities, like seeing movies, purchasing music, and visiting theme parks. We even promote shows where puppies and kittens “predict” Super Bowl winners.
It’s all harmless fun (a few problem gamblers aside). But when government sets out to create laws and regulations based on what it expects or hopes or predicts the future should or would be, we citizens often pay a steep price.
Government does this all the time. It hinders production of affordable energy in the hope of preventing future climate change. It limits access to experimental drugs because of the possibility of dangerous side effects. It restricts access to capital for industries it deems to pose risk of fraud. It prevents use of certain chemicals that could be harmful at levels not seen in common use.
This is all well-intentioned fear mongering run amok. And it’s not even consistent.
There is a certain hypocrisy among progressives when the “science,” which they often cite to justify interventionist policies, doesn’t fit with their parochial interests. …
… As I have said before, politicians lack the patience, and often the understanding, that sees wisdom in the humility of acknowledging the unknown. Instead of weighing the tradeoffs between perceived harms and benefits of a given policy, they succumb to the tyranny of the urgent. This grossly subjective approach to risk management has led to policies that waste our labors in the name of eliminating uncertainty.