It was Monday morning, right after breakfast. We’d just opened a table and played once around the tub with no one catching anything more than a mid-teen level hand. Then I got the dice and embarked on a 45 minute – 40 rolls mini-monster.
As the hand progressed, and the bets got bigger and bitter, the table filled in and was soon packed with players standing elbow-to-elbow. I managed to overcome the usual breaches of craps etiquette – mid-hand buy-ins, people trying to squeeze in next to me, cocktail server interruptions when the dice were out, etc. And I was even doing a decent job of avoiding the chip mindfield in my landing zone. Until, of course, a gentleman straight out decided he wasn’t to play $50 Pass Line bets with $500 odds. And the $500 came in the form of a full stack of green chips. He was well-heeled, as the saying goes, and could have taken a few of the black chips out of his rack to take odds. But instead, he built a monolith at the other end that destroyed my focus.
The students on that end of the table asked him to use black chips, but he ignored them. I managed to get around his stack for three or four more tosses, then I asked if he would move them over a bit. He ignored me as well. Next thing I knew, the dice hit the back wall, rebounded, hit his chip-stack and rolled the seven. I’d estimate the player in question left $4000 or so on the table, although he’d taken more than double that amount off. Nevertheless, his actions had unintended consequences. Which gets me to that article, and here it is:
Have you ever been standing down in the hook with a bet in front of you; the dice were coming your way and they hit your chips and bounced onto a seven? You didn’t mean for that to happen, and it’s doubtful that the shooter did either. But it happened, and it’s a great example of the Law of Unintended Consequences.
In the social sciences, unintended consequences are outcomes that are not the outcomes intended by a particular action. The unintended outcomes may be positive or negative. I’ve seen the dice bounce off the chips and hit the shooters’ point before. But I don’t recall that happening often, and I remember every time it’s gone the other way.
That’s sort of the way it works with government regulation. It seems like every time there is government involvement or intervention, the long run result is almost always negative. Why is it that whenever the government attempts to get involved in business and free enterprise it always manages to get it wrong? The reason, I think, boils down to that Law of Unintended Consequences. The well-intentioned intentioned fool passes a rule without thinking it through.
Take the nation of Australia as an example. Australia is often cited for its ecological gaffs. For example, consider the introduction of rabbits to Australia. Australia had kangaroos, wallabies, bandicoots, and wombats. It had no rabbits. The idea was to provide rabbits for hunters and trappers. The rabbits would provide meat for the table and furs for trade. It sounded like a great idea. But rabbits have no natural predators in Australia, and they soon overran the bush and became nuisance pests, causing great harm to the environment.
Then there is the cane toad, a monstrous amphibian that weighs in at around four pounds and has a ravenous appetite. Introduced into Australia to control agricultural pests, it turned out that the toads will eat pretty much anything; not just insects, but small birds and mammals, snakes, eggs, and more. They have caused great harm to Australia’s national parks. They are so reviled in Australia that cane toad ‘sports’ have found their way into popular culture; sports such as cane toad golf, cane toad cricket, or cane toad skeet, where cane toads are used as balls or targets. The government encourages more “humane” disposition of cane toads, such as freezing, but then what do you do with them?
The gaming industry, of course, has had its own “unintended consequences” as a result of government intervention. Take, for example, the trend toward putting riverboat casinos in disadvantaged neighborhoods with the idea that somehow it will bring jobs and revitalize the area. I recall a time when my wife and I pulled into the parking lot of one of these casinos. She looked around and said “I remember this place.” I told her she’d never been to this particular casino as far as I knew. She said, “No, I saw it on the TV show – COPS. They were arresting a prostitute right over there.”
Does anyone really believe that introducing casinos into a neighborhood revitalizes that area in the real world? I mean, seriously. Take a look at Atlantic City. Instead of revitalization, you get casinos running what amounts to “cash your welfare check here and get a free buffet” promotions. Instead of community redevelopment you get what amounts to “no fly zones” where it is unsafe for anyone to be out at night.