Here is a typical case of someone who doesn’t “get” the concept of unintended consequences:
People DIE because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Should we let people DIE because we dont’ want to “skew the markets?”.
When you hose up market forces on a broad scale, you affect the productivity of millions — even billions (especially considering the worldwide influence of the US economy). A single minor little market downturn, a “hiccup” like a three year recession, can have far-reaching effects that can lead to entire industries in danger of insolvency. This sort of far-reaching effect can mean the difference between life and death for millions of people whose circumstances turn on the fine line between fed and not-fed, between medicated and not-medicated, because their particular corners of the world depend on a worldwide economy to determine the timing of their own local economy’s growth, to determine whether it will grow from third-world pesthole to sustainable growth today or three years from today.
A strong economy generates a lot of wealth. A weak economy destroys it. I’m talking about “wealth” in the economic sense of the term, derived from an older term for “well-being” — “wealth” meaning the resources for maintaining and improving quality of life. Because wealth deteriorates over time (shoes get old, food goes bad or gets eaten, et cetera), it must be renewed. A strong economy, by generating a lot of wealth, renews existing wealth and creates new wealth. The “velocity of capital” (another economics term) is a component of a strong economy — as money moves around, it serves as an economic resource used to provide incentive for the generation of wealth. I bring it up here to demonstrate the distinction between generation of wealth and “making money”, and that one person having more money than another on average (and even increasing the gap between the two, on average) doesn’t mean that there are not improvements in the quality of life for both — even if the average economic value of the liquid assets of one individual remains constant over time, money flowing through that person’s ownership can contribute to the generation of wealth in that person’s life, improving that person’s quality of life.
Manipulations of the market such as ham-handed redistribution of capital and confiscation of resources to prop up poorly conceived “universal” services has several major negative consequences. These are the two biggies that immediately occur to me (and should occur to anyone with even the most rudimentary understanding of economics):
It destroys many economic incentives to generate wealth. This leads to drops in the velocity of capital, which further damages the economic incentives to generate wealth. The people most affected, statistically, are those in the “middle class” range of the economy, though those who feel the most painful effects are those on the very bottom rungs of the economy, as the bare minimum wealth they may have been able to maintain to stay above the line between subsistence and death is eroded.
An authoritarian centralization of a service industry, such as healthcare, directly damages the private sector in that same industry, dragging it substantially away from a growth industry toward a “zero sum game” condition where in order to provide that service to one person it must be taken away from another. This becomes particularly devastating to quality of life as the number of people in the world in need of that service grows (thank you, breeders).
Thus, people on the bottom end of the economy get screwed from both sides by the “benevolent” policies of “universal healthcare”.
In order to grasp these problems, of course, you need at least three things:
some minimal familiarity with the concept of unintended consequences of an action within a complex system, and how they might come to pass
some minimal facility with basic arithmetic
imagination greater than that of the average dung beetle
See number 2 in there? That’s why it is just incredible to me that so many people who advocate a strong math background seem incapable of doing the math to understand the negatives of “universal healthcare”.