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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

More "What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen"

Continuing in the "What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen" theme of Bastiat, 3 columns today in Townhall.com highlight this idea that the harm done by certain actions or thinking occurs without a clear connection. Sometimes the harm is never recognized.

John Stossel writes about the harm caused by trial lawyers and their lawsuits. In the pharmaceutical arena the unseen is the reduction in life-improving or life-saving drugs created by manufacturers who choose to not bring products to market due to fear of expensive lawsuits. Lawyers can assert in court with minimal proof birth defects due to a drug (that is how John WEdwards has made a great living). Then after the drug is removed from the market (or the company goes out of business), empirical data show no decrease in those birth defects that were alleged to have been caused by the defendant drug.

Thomas Sowell shows how "Studies prove..." may not be a credible introduction to any report. Sowell relates a personal experience of when he worked in the US Labor Department early in his career where his draft report for Sec'y Goldberg contained summaries of 4 studies, 2 that supported a proposal and 2 that disproved the proposal. Higher ups redacted the references to the negative reports in order for Goldberg to assert to Congress that "studies prove" their position. What was never seen maybe even by Goldberg is the opposite data.

Last, Walter Williams discusses the minimum wage. The simple concept that employers will use alternative means to produce a good or service with fewer employees when the cost of those employees in wages (and benefits) exceeds their production is unseen. Companies produce off-shore or replace human bodies with so the owner can earn a profit. Min wage proponents do not see that if the business does not turn a profit, investors will direct their capital elsewhere. And, of course, the entry level worker remains unemployed with nothing to place on their resume.

Read them all.

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