. . . from Facebook two years ago. . . .

The self-fulfilling prophecy often rests on a more basic trap: the self-reinforcing policy.

You support a policy because you are alarmed at how awful x is, so you support policy A, which you say fights x. But policy A increases x. So when x increases, you double down on policy A. Demand more measures of an A-ish nature, and continued support of policy A. Because x!

This makes you a fool, of course, but most of us are fools about something, and it is impolite to call each other foolish, since there never would be an end to it. So, in politics, folly increases.

Here are some examples:

1. Low-skilled worker unemployment is bad, since it leads to crime, drug-use, family breakdown, and, of course, more unemployment. So, policy A: Raise the legal minimum wage rate! This of course increases unemployment, as economists have explained for two hundred years, requiring more state aid. But most people don’t listen to economists except when economists back up their prejudices. And since state aid is obviously designed to help the afflicted, we are not unreasonably distracted from noticing that policy A is responsible. Now focused entirely on intentions, not on means or results, when someone like me suggests getting rid of A, oh, the outcry! Raise A instead! This ensures more unemployment, more state aid, and a great deal of Pharisaic posturing. Forever and ever amen.

2. Terrorism is bad. Terrorists often come from foreign lands. So policy A: ‘let’s fight terrorists over there, not here!’ But bombing innocent weddings and children and the like in the War on Terror increases resentments that lead to terrorism here and elsewhere in the First World. But terrorism spurs resentment here as well, thus increasing support for policy A, the War on Terror. Which ramps up the violence, and. . . .

3. The latest contagion is bad. Undoubtedly. The standard way to deal with this is to quarantine the infected, isolate the at-risk population, and let the healthy part of the population get infected and handle the disease with their immune systems, and then build up herd immunity. But that is not a very woke way of doing things, so a new policy, let’s call it . . . A . . . would isolate the healthy population. Now, that is taking x seriously! Of course, we are now on a new course, and we aren’t concentrating on the at-risk populations, like those in nursing homes, and are even sending those who should be quarantined into nursing homes, leading to alarming death rates. This panics the proponents of the new policy A, so they demand . . . more of policy A, not the older policy, which is so passé — or should I say ‘pass-A’? The panicky folk demand evermore A, which prevents herd immunity. But when suppport for A diminishes, and a return to normalcy occurs, the number of cases of infection increase. Entirely to be expected, but it is ‘proof’ of a need for more A! So, A is re-introduced. Sure, it’ll decrease herd immunity and mean that more people will die later on, but hey: ‘at least we tried’!

Policies that reinforce themselves by their ‘failure’ are the favorite kind of policies of fools. Whole ideologies congeal around them. And certain unscrupulous people encourage them in full knowledge.

It is so easy to manipulate fools.

And since it is folly to tell fools of their folly — what is the percentage in that? — folly is self-reinforcing.

And it is my own folly that I persist, since there is a good chance that when they come to take me away to the new concentration camp — let’s call it camp A — many of the people I have called fools will shout huzzahs.

Making me the biggest fool of all.

So folly is bad. . . .

twv, July 3, 2020 (Facebook)