But even if some of them are in it to serve us and trying to help, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
When government intrudes and we allow self interested political officials to make decisions on our behalf which we could better make for ourselves, freedom suffers, and frequently unintended and harmful consequences result.
So whether the politicians are acting in a self interested or sincerely public spirited manner, the outcome is often the same when they purport to "serve" us instead of encouraging us to serve ourselves. They are doing harm to our society as a whole, and we are allowing them to do so.
If you doubt what I say, look at the mess we're in today.
Thus, the debates underway for 2014 about raising the minimum wage and reducing income inequality are instructive in revealing what Frederic Bastiat long ago called the immediately "seen" and the foreseeably "unseen" consequences of our decisions and actions.
Of course, we can see the immediate impact of raising wages, but we usually choose not to foresee that the money must come from somewhere, aka the unseen provider, and is no longer available to spend or invest as the provider would otherwise choose.
It's government mandated redistribution, pure and simple.
Obama Care and the Good Intentions Paving Co. is appropriately and understatedly subtitled 'Perhaps you've noticed that the great plans of politicians tend not to work out as promised:'
"ObamaCare is a nearly perfect example of the Good Intentions Paving Co. at work. A president and the leadership of his party decide that it would be a fine thing to bring universal health insurance to the nation—what a sweet notion, really—except when they enact the law it turns out to bring in its trail confusion, anxiety, probable loss of employment, added personal and public expense, and aggravation all round.
The Good Intentions Paving Co. has a highly efficient public-relations department, which is especially good at giving its projects promising titles. Consider affirmative action. The firm's executives who put that intention into play thought that by lowering college-admission standards for members of minorities, injustices would be redressed and the climb to equality secured. How could the Good Intentions executives have known that colleges would in turn lower their academic standards?
Now the American university, at least on the humanities and social-sciences side, is mired in the deepening mediocrity brought on by the establishment of departments for African-American studies, women's studies, "queer theory"—everything but a Department of Homelessness.
Leave a child behind? Perish the thought. Or so the folks in charge of education at the Good Intentions Paving Co. must have concluded when they instituted their No Child Left Behind program. The program would entail constant testing, would hold the feet of teachers to the fire of palpable achievement, would bring everyone through the primary-grades educational system up to the mark. How bad could that be?
Yet again, though, good intentions went askew. The children were educated chiefly to take tests, some school superintendents cheated in reporting their schools' test scores, the teachers unions went ballistic over what they felt were the impossible demands made upon their members. The plan of the Good Intentions Paving Co. once more didn't quite pan out. . . .
Only because it encourages—one might even say incites—feelings of virtue in those who are swept up by its projects does the Good Intentions Paving Co. stay in business. Meaning well, after all, ought to count for something. Unfortunately, when it comes to public policy, good intentions are only slightly better than bad intentions, and not always even that. The reason is that the Good Intentions Paving Co. has never been greatly interested in side effects, in the collateral damage that good intentions so often bring with them. Nor has the firm's record been notable for taking into account human nature, with its obstinate refusal to obey the dreams of politicians, however alluring they may seem.
The Good Intentions Paving Co. is unlikely ever to be put completely out of business, but one must do what one can to slow its progress. A good place to start may be when making a New Year's resolution for 2014, vow to resist the firm's newest projects and policies, however warm and fuzzy they might appear. For instance, President Obama seems to have his heart set on raising the minimum wage. Sounds nice. Surely a step in the right direction. The boys at the Good Intentions Paving Co. are behind it all the way, which is reason enough to believe that it will affect hiring practices in the most deleterious way and cause who knows what other damage."
Freedom is a wonderful thing.
The Constitutionally guaranteed individual and equal opportunities enjoyed by We the People to live our own lives as we so choose, including the pursuit of our individually chosen dreams, will inevitably and properly result in different paths taken and different outcomes for each of us.
That's what happens in a free society, and that's the morally correct way to live.
It's a "freedom" thing.
Accordingly, when evaluating proposed government actions, let's each resolve to do our best to see what is foreseeable but perhaps immediately otherwise unseen, if not hidden by the government knows best gang, and take control of the "Good Intentions Paving Co." in 2014 and beyond.
Our kids and grandkids are depending on us, and not government, to do just that and thereby enable them to conduct paving operations for themselves and "build their own individual roads as they go."
At least that's my take.