If a sick person goes to a doctor, and if the doctor gives the sick person a random amount of a random drug, then the sick person will probably become sicker. In order to heal the sick person, the doctor must give the correct amount of the correct drug. And the doctor must be careful about side effects and drug interactions. The wrong treatment is worse than no treatment.

The same is true of government programs. Government programs have side effects and interactions with other government programs. If the government tries to solve a social problem with a government program, then the government program may make the social problem worse. Or a government program might solve one social program but create a worse social problem. The wrong government program is worse than no government program. It is better if the government ignore social problems than if the government exacerbates social problems with bad government programs.

This is why socialists are more dangerous than libertarians and anarchists. The libertarians and anarchists recognize that bad government programs can do enormous harm. But many supporters of government programs seem oblivious to the harm which bad government programs can do.

When there is a debate about some government program, the supporters of the government program usually talk about the social problem which the government program is supposed to solve. The supporters of the government program say the social problem is serious and needs to be solved. But the supporters of the government program say very little about whether or not the government program is a good solution to the problem.

This is like a doctor who carefully examines a patient, determines that the patient has a serious illness, and then gives the patient some random pills.

The doctor's careful examination of the patient is wasted because the doctor is not careful to choose an appropriate treatment. Likewise, many supporters of government programs correctly identify social problems, but these efforts are wasted because they are not careful to choose an appropriate solution. Most of the proposed government programs to solve problems like sprawl, the high cost of drugs, the high cost of education, the shortage of affordable housing, dangerous working conditions, the gap between rich and pooor, nuclear proliferation, etc suggest that the advocates have identified the problem, but have not thought about what is the best way to solve the problem.

The libertarians and anarchists say that since bad government programs do much harm, therefore we should eliminate all government programs. This is like saying that since bad doctors do much harm, therefore we should eliminate all doctors. The libertarians and anarchists are wrong. But the libertarians and anarchists are less wrong than the socialists. I support the libertarians and anarchists in their attempts to educate people about how much harm is done by bad government programs.

Social problems can and should be solved with government programs. But great care must be taken when designing the government programs. We must make sure that government programs actually work, and that government programs do not have excessive side effects. We must recognize that people will change their behaviour in response to government programs.

For example, if the government gives money to unemployed workers, then unemployment will be less of a problem to workers, and so workers will make less effort to avoid unemployment, and so the unemployment rate will probably rise. With fewer people working, the total national production will be less, and so each person's share of the total national production will be less, and so the standard of living will be less.

Doctors have a hippocratic oath which says that the first priority of a doctor is to do no harm. Politicians and government officials should have a similar attitude. Politicians and government officials should be reluctant to create any government programs unless they are sure the government programs will do no harm.