Pathological altruism is "altruism in which attempts to promote the welfare of others instead result in unanticipated harm" with the proviso that while the altruist does not foresee harm that "an external observer would conclude was reasonably foreseeable." This can be summed up in the great Battle Cry of the Besserwissers: "What could possibly go wrong?" (Followed sooner or later by the plaintive "How were we supposed to know?")
This is also know to those with the Tragic View of Life as The Law of Unintended Consequences and it is the reason why the ukase of the self-indulgent that something is wrong iff it causes harm to another is unworkable as a basis for morality. What if the harm is unintended, but foreseeable by third parties? There is very little that may not cause harm to another, and that harm is not always foreseeable even to the well-intentioned. Oakley:
Empathy is not a uniformly positive attribute. It is associated with emotional contagion; hindsight bias; motivated reasoning; caring only for those we like or who comprise our in-group (parochial altruism); jumping to conclusions; and inappropriate feelings of guilt in noncooperators who refuse to follow orders to hurt others.Worse still, it leads to bad laws and regulations:
Ostensibly well-meaning governmental policy promoted home ownership, a beneficial goal that stabilizes families and communities. The government-sponsored enterprises Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae allowed less-than-qualified individuals to receive housing loans and encouraged more-qualified borrowers to overextend themselves. Typical risk–reward considerations were marginalized because of implicit government support. The government used these agencies to promote social goals without acknowledging the risk or cost. When economic conditions faltered, many lost their homes or found themselves with properties worth far less than they originally had paid. Government policy then shifted . . . the cost of this "altruism" to the public, to pay off the too-big-to-fail banks then holding securitized subprime loans. . . . Altruistic intentions played a critical role in the development and unfolding of the housing bubble in the United States.
If we propose a program because we feel good about it and that makes it true, then those who oppose the program must be wicked liars: possibly "Jews" or "international bankers" or even (dare I say it) "Republicans." It depends on what milieu one finds oneself in.
The problem with the intelligent design of the economy is not a lack of designs.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C.S. Lewis