The two recent crashes of Boeing 737 Max airplanes with the deaths of all aboard were tragic. It’s understandable that government agencies around the world, with the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency being the last, have grounded all 737 Max airplanes until they know more.

Those government actions could actually cause more fatalities than they prevent.

The reason is the law of unintended consequences. Any action you take may, in the best circumstances, achieve what you intend. But people’s actions often cause unintended consequences that offset the good effects of the actions. Examples of unintended consequences, especially consequences of partially thought out government policies, are many. In this article, though, I’ll note two, on airline safety and car safety.


These are the opening 3 paragraphs of my latest article for Hoover’s on-line magazine Defining Ideas. The article is titled “Turbulence at Boeing.”

If you want to understand my reasoning, read the whole thing.