“Every government intervention (in the marketplace) creates unintended consequences, which lead to calls for further government interventions.”
Ludwig von Mises
I’ve taken many courses in government and history, but an economics class was where I first really encountered this idea. While unintended consequences certainly apply to economics, the idea is as just as valid in most interactions. It doesn’t matter what the fly intended, if it brushes a web, the spider’s coming for it.
When wages were frozen by law during WWII, employers wanting to raise pay to keep the best workers began paying for employees’ health insurance. The increased benefit was not considered a raise in pay and was not only allowed but became the norm. Obamacare and today’s astronomical healthcare costs are unintended consequences of that decision.
But this blog is not about healthcare or the monetary cost of unintended consequences. It’s about something far more important and closer to home—freedom.
The Department of Homeland Security, headed by an unelected Secretary, has determined that misinformation, disinformation, and malicious information are the number one threat to this country. To battle this perceived threat, they have created a Disinformation Governance Board to monitor communications. Like most governmental agencies, they not only write the rules but are also judge and jury.
They say that they intend to guard us from “false” information disseminated by the Russians and the Chinese (implied in this is the notion that common people are too ignorant to detect foreign lies). That may be what they intend to do, but what unintended consequences will the creation of the board spawn?
What if citizens on social media start saying things about the government that the board decides is disinformation? Facebook jail could become a very real place where re-education takes place. What if textbooks are found to contain disinformation? The Department of Education could decide to end the States’ authority to decide curriculum altogether. What if any speech that doesn’t conform to what the President’s staff approves as truth becomes disinformation?
In the wake of the Covid pandemic and the incongruent and even contradictory information dispensed by federal and state governments, it’s easy to imagine that disinformation is anything the government is not promoting at the moment. After the shifting sands of the gospel according to Fauci, there’s no other way to determine “correct” information from one day to the next.
Congresspersons and Senators are calling this board “The Ministry of Truth” in reference to a similar body in Orwell’s 1984. The Attorney Generals of twenty states are calling it a danger to free speech and are preparing a lawsuit to oppose DHS’s decision to create this board, an action which they are calling illegal.
The official White House line is that our representatives are overreacting and spreading hysteria. Nina Jankowicz, who the government calls “nonpartisan” and “apolitical”, has said that Hunter Biden’s laptop was a product of disinformation and that the Covid Chinese lab leak story was misinformation invented to help Trump.
The government intends no harm—the board has passed the President’s sniff test. We should all take their word that their intentions are pure. After all, they only intend to protect us from our natural gullibility and foreign deceit.
Sic Semper Tyrannis