Sunday, June 2, 2013

Stephen L. Carter - An Unintended Consequence of Obama’s Presidency

Stephen L. Carter is a conservative professor of law at Yale, where he teaches courses on contracts, professional responsibility, ethics in literature, intellectual property and the law and ethics of war.

 After two women trying to inoculate Pakistani children against polio were shot this week, some news accounts were quick to place blame: “Anti-polio workers started being attacked after a Pakistani doctor, Shakeel Afridi, ran a fake polio campaign in the city of Abbottabad to help the United States track down Osama bin Laden,” reported NBC News.

The World Health Organization, which employed the women -- one of whom died -- reports that 18 of its workers or their bodyguards have been slain since last July. Actually, Afridi’s campaign involved vaccination against hepatitis B, not polio, but that distinction has been lost amid rising resistance in North and South Waziristan.

“Polio is the vaccine with a long history of controversy among Muslims in many countries,” the New York Times reported last year, “so Pakistanis who were not familiar with the difference turned on polio vaccinators.” What we are seeing here, as critics of the tactic have pointed out, is an example of the law of unintended consequences. We spend a great deal of energy either denying or pretending we can evade this law, when instead we should be embracing it. At its core is a sensible call for modesty about our ability to predict the results of our preferred policies.

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