Monday, February 11, 2013

Law of Unintended Consequences

There was a great deal of fuss over President Obama's health care plan when it was passed last year. Much of the debate was on how it would be paid for and who would be covered and whether private insurance would be phased out. What was not discussed were things like cutting the hours of part-time workers to ensure that they do not trigger certain provisions in the health care law. Yet that is what the state of Virginia is currently looking into and, while it does its research, is cutting the hours of its part-time work force to ensure that it does not trigger anything.

So, while the law was intended to help provide health coverage for all citizens, it is now inadvertently creating a situation whereby people are unable to earn their normal paychecks for fear it may end up costing them or the state more money. I am sure that many proponents of the legislation will argue that this was either unforeseen or the fault of the state of Virginia (though I find it hard to believe that Virginia is the only state that is currently working to figure it out) but that does little to help those workers who are now being punished by circumstances beyond their control. And, considering the glacial pace at which government typically works, I cannot imagine they will be having a solution anytime soon.

So, the intent was to help the underprivileged or underserved and yet the unintended consequence is actually harming them. This is one reason why all legislation should be carefully considered rather than rammed through regardless of possible (unforeseen) consequences. Somehow, I doubt that those who pass these laws (and are unaffected by them) will do anything to remedy the situation - at least not anytime soon.


  1. Blast from the past...1984 coincidentally enough:

  2. What's the old saying about history repeating itself because we never learn from it? Good link, Michael. Thanks!