Vote for results, not intentions

California’s $20/hour minimum wage for fast food workers went into effect this month, and the early results are negative. Companies affected by the law are laying off workers, putting off needed capital improvements and raising prices. Some are closing their doors altogether or opening new restaurants only in other states. Keep in mind that these companies have already been dealing with post-COVID-lockdown business losses, homelessness, crime, retail theft and loss of customers as people move out of the state’s largest and most populous cities.

The sentiment “We have to do something” drives disastrous decisions. Sentiment isn’t sense. Feelings aren’t facts. Loud protesting isn’t logic. Politicians exploit voters when emotions run high. They get elected on facile promises to “solve” deeply entrenched problems. And then, when they enact policies that worsen those problems (and create others), they protest that their intentions were good.

That’s not good enough.

Oregon’s drug legalization law was another example of sentiment over sense. In 2020, a state ballot initiative decriminalized possession of small amounts of hard drugs, including heroine, fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine. Proponents argued that stiff drug laws disproportionately affected minorities; nearly 60% of Oregonians voted in favor of the initiative. But between 2019 and 2022, opioid deaths in Oregon tripled. In March, the state’s legislature passed a new law recriminalizing possession of those drugs, which the governor signed last week.

History is replete with similar examples.

Closing so many of our mental health facilities sounded compassionate, and advocates insisted that they wanted the mentally ill to have “autonomy” and “dignity.” But it’s neither autonomous nor dignified to live in the streets.

Nearly 50% of the nation’s unsheltered homeless people live in California, and the numbers have increased dramatically (32% just in the past five years). The state spent $24 billion on programs to reduce homelessness between 2015 and 2020, but a recent audit revealed California neither tracked spending nor the impact of any programs.

But hey — the politicians had good intentions.

Now President Joe Biden is claiming (again) that he is going to “cancel” or “forgive” student debt. (His first attempt was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.) His efforts are not only unconstitutional usurpation of congressional authority and interference with contracts, they are lies. Perhaps worst of all, they exacerbate policies that caused the problem in the first place.

Biden is neither “canceling” nor “forgiving” debts; he is transferring those debts to other people who never entered into those contracts, never borrowed or promised to repay the money, and never received the benefits (such as they were) that the borrowers purportedly did. But they will be forced to repay other people’s debts in the form of higher taxes.

Biden’s loan “forgiveness” is this kind of wrongheaded policy on steroids. Colleges will be incentivized to increase costs if they know the government is passing those costs along to taxpayers. Ask yourself: What cars would people purchase if they were told the government would pay for the loan? What would happen if the government announced that taxpayers would be forced to pay everyone’s grocery bills?

Biden’s student loan policies are inflating a bubble. And bubbles burst.

Americans need to stop being swayed by politicians’ protestations about their good intentions and start looking at the results of flawed policies. If we do not, we are just as culpable for the inevitable disasters those policies produce.


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