Perverse consequences

Doing something is not the same as doing something useful and can often have perverse consequences.

Exhibit 1:

I used to take bags to the supermarket most of the time.

Now I know they’re being canned, I never take them so I can stockpile them to use to line bins, hold shoes and dirty clothes while travelling, and the myriad other uses I find for so-called single-use bags.

Exhibit 2:

Two friends who own resthomes say they support the increase in caregiver earnings after last year’s pay equity settlement, as do I, but it hasn’t made it any easier to recruit and retain caregivers.

It has also made it harder to recruit and retain nurses who say the difference between their pay and that for caregivers doesn’t make the extra responsibility worth it.

Exhibit 3:

Proposed changes to tenancy law is designed to make renting more secure for tenants.

It will have the perverse consequence of reducing the stock of rental housing when landlords opt for Airbnb or other arrangements which give better returns with fewer hassles.

Exhibit 4:

Home Start grants were supposed to make it easier to buy their first house. But giving people more money without increasing the supply merely pushed up prices.

If government doing something has perverse consequences would it be better if they did nothing?


3 Responses to Perverse consequences

  1. J Bloggs says:

    The supermarkets are canning single use bags only partly because of the green pressure – they’ve also realised that by getting rid of plastic shopping bags, and requiring shoppers to BYO or purchase re-usable or paper bags, they save themselves a huge amount of money. I did a ballpark calculation using shopping bag figures provided in a Herald article last year, and worked out that the major supermarket chains are probably saving in the region of $10million/year in plastic bag costs, plus they get the profit from selling bags to desperate shoppers who’ve forgotten to BYO. And even if the shoppers are canny and get cardboard boxes from the pile supplied, the supermarket has still reduced their own recycling burden.

    Not bad when you can make those sorts of savings AND take the moral high ground at the same time…..


  2. adamsmith1922 says:

    Reblogged this on The Inquiring Mind.


  3. JeffW says:

    Politicians should be required to have hanging in a prominent place in their offices “Think of the Unintended Consequences”; sadly, very few of them ever do.


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