Skip to main content

For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe the horse was lost;
and for want of a horse the rider was lost;
being overtaken and slain by the enemy,
all for want of care about a horse-shoe nail.

-Benjamin Franklin 1758

It has also been called the 'butterfly effect' and it is the stuff of parables, showing that small actions can result in large unanticipated consequences. Large or small, actions clearly do have consequences which in turn produce other consequences. Several decades ago, New York City learned that simple neighborhood cleanup and repair, such as fixing broken windows, keeping he sidewalks swept and cleaning graffiti off the walls, had the effect of reducing the overall crime rate.

I recently wrote about how the federal minimum wage rate was used in various Kentucky statutes as a benchmark. (fn 1) The impact of a change in the minimum wage rate affects the availability of Kentucky tax credits and development grants, the amount of wages that can be garnished to collect a debt and the annual budget of the Commonwealth's many property valuation administrators. These are side effects unrelated to the main purpose of the minimum wage itself.

It also seems likely that the Affordable Care Act will have many unexpected consequences.  The number of individuals who lack health insurance drops directly as the uninsured sign up for coverage on the new ACA insurance exchanges, are newly qualified for Medicaid or can be covered under a parent's policy to age 26. Also, because of the individual mandate, more people have enrolled in employer sponsored health insurance that had been available before the ACA but which  previously had been declined. Many who were qualified to receive Medicaid before the Affordable Care Act but who did not enroll before do enroll now because of the increased publicity surrounding the issue. (fn 2) This all has the ripple effect of increasing health insurance coverage in unexpected and indirect ways.

It also seems likely that increased healthcare insurance coverage will have the effect of reducing the future costs of other insurance like automobile coverage and workers' compensation. (fn 3) Minor job-related injuries or injuries resulting from automobile accidents may be paid for by expanded general healthcare insurance rather than through the car or workers' compensation insurance coverage.

It's all very complex, interrelated and difficult for the human mind to anticipate. It is the ripple effect, but is there any general rule that applies to help us understand it and to give us guidance? I like to think that good produces more good and neglect multiplies itself as in the parable of the horseshoe. “A stitch in time saves nine,” is a parable of the ripple effect in positive terms.  Sometimes the effects are mixed, or at least ambiguous.

The Christian Bible clearly articulates an attitude toward life and a duty toward our brothers and sisters that calls for looking after the less fortunate that relates to modern public policy issues. (fn 4) “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these; you did not do for me.” Matthew 25:45.

It has been said that a window washer hanging for the side of a thirty story building can see farther because of his higher vantage point, and not because of any superior intelligence. It might be wise to trust what those with a higher vantage point have tried to teach us. Do good in small things and the good will be magnified through the world in ways we cannot comprehend.

-------

1. Side effects of minimum wage in Kentucky

2. Obamacare Might Be Covering Way More People Than Previously Thought

RAND Changes in Health Insurance Enrollment Since 2013 (PDF)

3. GEICOBAMACARE? The ACA Could Save You Money On Car Insurance

How Will the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Affect Liability Insurance Costs?

4. An Argument For Tax Reform Based on Judeo-Christian Ethics
Alabama Law Review, Vol. 54, No. 1, 2002

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site