Hidden Impacts Can Occur

I was sitting at Avo's with a notebook and a cup of Colombian writing this column when Seymour Sharpe plopped down across from me. "Whatcha writing about this week?" he asked.

"Thinking about unintended consequences," I said.

"You mean like how a law passed for one thing might affect something else?" he asked. "Like how Judicial Watch is going to use the RICO [Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization] statute for organized crime against Clinton and his cohort? Or how the Americans with Disabilities Act has made it easier for mothers with strollers to cruise downtown shopping or people with purchases to get through doors?"

"I was just thinking about my fingernail," I said. "I mashed it with a rock about four months ago. It used to be the flimsiest one I had, always chipping and bending, but now it's grown back extra thick and I can use it to frail with."

"Can't write a column just about a fingernail," he said.

"Well I also took the kids to City Park last week," I answered. "They played on that big cannon that has a plaque saying nothing signifies peace like a silenced gun."

"Depends on how it was silenced," he said. "If it was superseded by a newer, improved model, then peace hasn't been obtained, just profit."

"Exactly," I said. "Besides which the kids just used it to play war with. They certainly aren't learning peace from that." I took a sip of coffee. "I was also going to write about how people around the state have condemned Poudre School District's policy requiring HIV-positive kids to get approval from authorities before playing sports."

"I read that's to protect the coaches from having to make arbitrary decisions and possibly getting sued," he said.

"That's the reasoning," I said, "but the State Epidemiologist said there's been no evidence of any transmission during a sports event."

"Oh," said Seymour. "Then that makes them sound simply reactionary."

"That's what a lot of people are saying," I responded. "We're uninformed. But I think the State Epidemiologist and the other medical people are either uninformed or lazy. There is also a blood shortage on right now, but they won't take my blood. I donated regularly up until three years ago. Then I couldn't pass the questionnaire."

"Why," he asked. "Did you suddenly start shooting heroin?"

I shook my head. "Right after I got out of high school, I had um, presidential relations with an intravenous drug user. For awhile, none of the forms asked about that. Then one questionnaire asked if that has happened in the last 5 years. Six months later, the next questionnaire asked if it was in the last ten years. Then twenty. The final one just asked if I'd ever done it. I handed them back the form and walked out the door. Seems to me if the medical community, or at least the lawyers in charge of protecting the blood supply, are that concerned about transmission, then parents, teachers, and administrators ought to be rightly concerned about their children."

"That seems plausible," he said, "except it doesn't have much to do with unintended consequences."

"I know," I said, "which is why I'm still sitting here."

"Hey," he said. "How about if they've changed the rules now that they know more. If they had, you'd never know because you're not reading the forms any more. That's an unintended consequence. Once someone quits giving blood, they'll never start up again. There's your column. I'll see you later."