Saturday, June 27, 2009

Good Intention - Unintended Consequence

It's been reported that the low interest rates earlier in this decade unintentionally created the housing bubble that was the precursor of the current financial crisis. Similarly, I expect the current stimulus package, health care reform, and deficit spending will lead to subsequent unintended consequences. Unfortunately, it's difficult to foresee unintended consequences, since most are usually unexpected.

To make concepts more relevant to me, I like to think about examples from my own personal situations. Here's a non-financial example of an unintended consequence we experienced.

Since we live near a wooded area, we used to put up feeders for the birds in the winter. For a while, we had a number of cardinals, finches and chickadees come to the feeder. One day, as we were watching the birds feed, a hawk swooped from above and snatched a bird flying above the feeder. As one might expect, the hawk was simply hunting where there was a high density of targets. Much to our shock, we had inadvertently created a hawk feeder.

There was yet a second unintended consequence from our bird feeder. It also attracted raccoons, since food was scarce during that year. Eventually, one of the raccoons wandered closer to the house, managed to break into our attic and gave us an unwanted inhabitant. Eventually, a pest control company trapped the raccoon and we put metal vent plates over the eave openings.

Soon after these incidents, we removed the bird feeder, which we installed because of good intentions. Yes, the birds now get fewer handouts, but we still see birds and they are doing quite fine. However, we no longer have unintended consequences of hawks feeding on birds in our yard, nor have raccoons broken into our house.

For more on Reflections and Musings, check back every Saturday Sunday for a new segment.

This is not financial or nature advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

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1 comment:

Manshu said...

Wow! That's quite something and I don't think anyone could have foreseen this thing with the hawk.