Unintended consequences

Although often cited, but rarely defined, we are generally familiar with the “law of unintended consequences. Prohibition in the 1920s United States, originally enacted to suppress the alcohol trade, drove many small-time alcohol suppliers out of business and consolidated the hold of large-scale organized crime over the illegal alcohol industry. Since alcohol was still popular, criminal organizations producing alcohol were well-funded and hence also increased their other activities. Similarly, the War on Drugs, intended to suppress the illegal drug trade, instead increased the power and profitability of drug cartels who became the primary source of the products. Funding of the Afghan Mujahideen and the destabilization of Afghanistan contributing to the rise of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The introduction of exotic animals and plants for food, for decorative purposes, or to control unwanted species often leads to more harm than good done by the introduced species – think rabbits in Australia and kudzu in the Southern USA.

Until roughly a decade ago, most car companies used wiring insulation that was petroleum based. The introduction of soy-based wire insulation was meant to have a twofold benefit: It was less expensive for automakers and, because it used soy instead of oil, it was better for the environment. It also seems to be an acquired delicacy for NYC rats and suburban squirrels. As the covid pandemic changed the patterns of NYC dining, rats were required to improvise. They seemed to have discovered soy-based wire insulation and even though “normal” is returning, e.g., restaurant garbage bins and litter, the soy-based insulation remains popular. NYC auto mechanics are reporting significant increases in wiring repairs.

Just thought you’d want to know that the “law” remains active.

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