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Unintended Consequences

Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

WHAM! It happened at one of the new pedestrian crossings in Traverse City, the signal light a solid red. I was minding my own business on a beautiful September day, lawfully stopped, when the impact turned the back of my Outback into a crumpled mess. I was so stunned it took a few seconds for me to process what had happened. Behind me was an F-150 and behind that truck was a utility truck owned by a tree service company. The utility truck had failed to stop, crashing into the F-150 that plowed into my car. There was no blood, but there was pain. Nothing to ruin your day like someone totaling your car. This particular crosswalk, with a fancy new signal light, was less than one block from a long-standing traffic light at a major intersection. Its placement was short-sighted and anyone with common sense knew it was—ahem—an accident waiting to happen.

US 37/31 hugs the south end of West Grand Traverse Bay. A couple years ago, the powers that be decided to facilitate folks desiring to cross the road to access the beach. Overnight (or so it seemed), little signs telling drivers to stop for pedestrians popped up at intervals. I, amongst many area residents, was incredulous, knowing the folly of assuming drivers who had long used the road without the impediments would notice the little signs let alone see pedestrians about to walk in front of them. There were a number of accidents (some serious) and near misses, so the next phase went into effect - manually operated signals. Again, we collectively shook our heads, knowing the problem had only been dressed up. While the pig put on bright red lipstick, the body shops got busier than ever.

Life is full of unintended consequences. I could make an extensive list of ills that have resulted from well-intentioned decision made by bureaucrats, politicians and everyday folks. When my father practiced medicine, he knew many of his patients were not able to pay their bills and left well enough alone. They paid him what they could, sometimes in chickens or firewood. Shortly after Medicare was enacted in 1966, the little hospital where my father admitted patients for surgery and medical care was told to close its obstetrical facilities. Afterwards, patients had to travel twenty miles or more to have their babies. Eventually, the little hospital closed. Dad said the golden age of medicine ended the day Medicare passed.

Fast forward twenty-five years. I witnessed numerous Canadians coming for care, particularly open heart surgery, to the hospital where I worked as a nurse. To a person, they said had they waited for medical intervention as required under the Canadian system, they might have died. They had great coverage back home, but no timely access to care for anything more major than the equivalent of a sore throat.

The ACA was supposed to give everyone insurance coverage, thus medical care. Indeed, people with pre-existing conditions who were previously unable to obtain insurance got coverage. I applaud this. Unfortunately, people failed to understand that having insurance does not ensure access to health care. There has been a cost to the ACA. We’ve all heard stories of people losing their employer sponsored insurance, losing their doctors, paying exorbitant fees, or forgoing the plan altogether, preferring to pay penalties. Under the ACA, ER physicians find themselves in the unenviable position of not getting paid if a patient complains about their care. I spoke with one physician who lamented addicts were coming to his ER and demanding narcotics. If the doc didn’t cow tow to the addict’s demands and the patient complained, the good doc didn’t get paid. A complaint (no matter how absurd) equals non-payment.

Unintended consequences are not limited to healthcare. Enter the movement to do away with corporate farms as decreed by one major presidential candidate. We own a corporate farm, set up as an S-corp for liability and tax purposes. We grow cherries on approximately 80 acres, hardly an agricultural behemoth, but by definition we are corporate. It is mind-boggling that someone with virtually no understanding of agriculture uses their platform to declare corporate farms are evil and therefore must be abolished. Next comes the land grab—there are already voices decrying private land ownership. Anyone know about the famines in the Soviet Union when Ukrainian farms were collectivized? Collective farming quickly turned the bread basket of Russia into a wasteland.

I’m still having some physical issues from the accident, but improving. Though we were paid for the car, we have not replaced it. All because bureaucrats decided it was a good idea to paint stripes and put up lights so people didn’t have to walk one block to an existing traffic signal!

I wish we all had the gift of seeing the long range effects of our decisions, well-intentioned or not. As I’ve often told our daughters, you can make a decision but the results are not under your control. We are so wise in our own eyes. Willingly, or unwittingly, our eyes are blind.

My poor Subie. It doesn't look so bad from here, but the whole back end was buckled. YIKES!

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