A Vicious Cycle

Written by Muriel McGregor on September 30th, 2009

As I was reflecting upon Bastiat’s essays, I was reminded of a book I once read called “That’s Not What We Meant to Do: Reform and Its Unintended Consequences in the Twentieth Century” by Steven Gillon. His basic argument was this: the government would identify a problem, then approve legislation to fix that problem. Out of that solution, however, came more unintended problems that subsequently also needed legislation to fix them. Thus, a vicious cycle was started and has become inescapable. 


The reality of this cycle is all too true. As government officials rush to get things done and make their mark during their term, they take a short-run perspective. Rather than taking the necessary time to fully research issues and think them through, politicians let deadlines and outside demands press them to quickly pass legislation.


In terms of immigration policy, this same method has been applied. Many of the policies were established with good intentions, but have become something of a hydra. For example, the policy which allows close family members to immigrate too, has led to entire extended families being allowed citizenship, many of whom are not educated and don’t even speak English. The allowance of all this immigration, however, has led to a dependence on the immigrants themselves. Like Sonia said in the movie “How do you make the invisible, visible? You take it away.” As a result, immigration policy has developed a series of contradictions. While I cannot offer any solid solution to this, I do believe that history has shown that life is perpetual change and that people are only trying to make their lives the best they can be amidst that change.


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