Aftermath: The Unintended Consequences of Public Policies

(Cato Institute Press, 2014)

Book Forum
September 18, 2014 12:00PM
Hayek Auditorium
Featuring the author Thomas E. Hall, Professor of Economics, Miami University of Ohio; with comments by Jason Kuznicki, Research Fellow, Cato Institute; and Patrick McLaughlin, Mercatus Center, George Mason University; moderated by John Samples, Vice President and Publisher, Cato Institute.

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When government imposes new taxes, rules, or regulations, it creates outcomes that often differ from the original intent. In some cases, these outcomes are so severe that they render the policy a failure. The law of unintended consequences has taken on an increasing importance during the era of ever-expanding government, and this book explores four important examples: cigarette taxes, alcohol prohibition, the minimum wage, and federal income tax. Hall examines how the policies came into being, what underlying political considerations influenced the process, the unintended outcomes of the policies, and why many of these policies are still in place. Because many of these unintended consequences are seriously adverse, the author argues that the moral of these four key examples is that whenever a new government policy is being considered, much more detailed review must be given to the range of potential unintended consequences—a practice that is rarely or accurately undertaken.