Paved With Good Intentions

You know the destination – from Strategy Page:

Complaints from the Congo are growing about the U.S. legislation intended to stop illegal mineral sales. The Dodd-Frank bill (also called the Obama Law) has a clause that prohibits the sale of so-called conflict minerals may have been well-intentioned but it was not well-thought out. Rather than run the risk of buying any minerals that might have been smuggled from the Congo, many major mining companies are simply refusing to buy minerals from central Africa. The result is a de facto embargo. There are few buyers for Congo’s valuable minerals, especially tantalum and tungsten which have many hi-tech uses. This has damaged the Congo’s economy, because the nation relies on mineral exports. According to some sources, China, which does not have to meet Dodd-Frank standards, is snapping up many minerals at very cheap prices.

Which, then, will eventually find their way in to products used by Americans because we import so much from China…and there is no way to separate out that bit of mineral inside your electronic gadget which was obtained in the Congo.  We have very much shot ourselves in the foot…as well as shot the poor people of the Congo, while at the same time given even more power and wealth to our enemies in China.  Good job, well-intentioned sob-sisters.

God gave us reason and He expect us to use it.  In a rather confusing world where there is always conflict, we are supposed to thread our way carefully.  Before we take a step we should be thinking about what may come after – will it have the effect we want?  If it does, will it also have some bad effects?  Will the good effects equal or outweigh the bad?  It is hard to get people to look even an inch in to the future…but it must be done.  If we go off half-cocked an allow emotion to rule our decisions, then we are bound to get it wrong…emotions have their place, but only as a spur to action…the action, itself, must always be in accord with the best reason we can muster.

We want to ensure that evil people do not profit off the sweat of poor, working people.  That is an admirable goal…a completely Christian goal.  But before we take an action designed to thwart evil we’d better be sure that it (a) thwarts evil and (b) doesn’t cause even more problems for the poor people we’re trying to help.  Some poor man in the Congo who breaks his back mining the goods of the earth deserves first priority on the benefit of those goods…how are we to get the benefit to him?  By cutting him off?  By making his primary customer the People’s Republic of China?  Come on, think clearly!

Perhaps instead of cutting off the Congolese mineral exports to the United States we should, instead, have put a tariff on it and plowed the proceeds back into to efforts to improve the lot of the miners?  Give them some schools and hospitals?  Just an idea…something to think about; and thinking is what we most need in the world…and it is what we have so little of these days.

I realize that thinking can be hard work – I further realize that the more we think, the less liberalism we’ll have.  This is why liberals are so opposed to thought and so insistent upon adherence to a party line.  Start thinking about what we want and what steps might get us there and all of a sudden there’s not much room for appeals to raw emotions which lead to stupid, counter-productive policies.  And just where would liberalism be then?  But I do believe it is a risk worth taking – we can become a rational world again.  We can recover the traditions of the Judeo-Christian West and start to think, and apply human reason to the problems of human life.  It has been done in the past, and it can be done again…just takes a little bit of courage.