Heartland Institute Fellow Leads Project on Unintended Consequences

Published December 1, 2005

Unintended consequences abound in politics and government, and in the private sector as well. Increased expenditures by school districts fail to bring the expected improvements in student achievement. High tax rates produce less revenue than lower rates. Higher spending on health care often correlates only to poorer health. The ban on DDT led to catastrophic increases in malaria mortality rates, and the Endangered Species Act has endangered species instead of saving them.

Soon, comprehensive documentation of such unintended consequences will be available. Dr. Jay Lehr, The Heartland Institute’s science director, and his associate James Jacobs have been contracted by the University of Michigan Press to edit a series of books about these and many other unintended consequences of government and private action. Topical areas include each of Heartland’s areas of major focus: health care, education, budget and taxes, and environmental science.

Heartland is pleased to participate in this important project, which could bring the folly of so many misguided public policies home to the average citizen who is affected by them.

Contributors are being sought from every walk of life who have encountered or become aware of stories that had interesting, if not momentous, unintended consequences. Politics is rife with them, but so is nearly every other field. Contributions to the book can be as short as 500 words or as long as 1,400. The University of Michigan Press intends to publish annual volumes beginning in 2006. The deadline for the first volume is April 2006. Approximately 100 contributions will be selected for the first volume.

Complete information on the project and instructions on how you can participate are available online at http://www.crystalballprize.com.

The logo for the Web site is the famous Post-It note, the unintended consequence of a product developed by 3M from a failed search for a new glue that would harden and not be sticky. The name of the Web site alludes to the plan of the University of Michigan Press to give an annual award to the individual or individuals possessing the most erroneous crystal ball in their work.