Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003) was the United States Senator from New York when he wrote the essay “Iatrogenic Government: Social Policy and Drug Research” for The American Scholar (1993). Newspaper political columnist George F. Will wrote in 2015:
“Two phrases that Daniel Patrick Moynihan put into America’s political lexicon two decades ago are increasingly pertinent. (...) And sometimes, Moynihan said, social problems are the result of ‘iatrogenic government.’ In medicine, an iatrogenic ailment is inadvertently induced by a physician or medicine; in social policy, iatrogenic problems are caused by government.”
Moynihan had written that America’s “iatrogenic government” was making its drug problem worse. The term “iatrogenic government” has been only infrequently used since Moynihan’s 1993 essay.
adjective iat·ro·gen·ic \(ˌ)ī-ˌa-trə-ˈje-nik\
Definition of IATROGENIC
: induced inadvertently by a physician or surgeon or by medical treatment or diagnostic procedures
Wikipedia: Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Daniel Patrick Moynihan (March 16, 1927 – March 26, 2003) was an American politician and sociologist. A member of the Democratic Party, he was first elected to the United States Senate for New York in 1976, and was re-elected three times (in 1982, 1988, and 1994). He declined to run for re-election in 2000. Prior to his years in the Senate, Moynihan was the United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations and to India, and was a member of four successive presidential administrations, beginning with the administration of John F. Kennedy, and continuing through that of Gerald Ford.
Iatrogenic Government: Social Policy and Drug Research
DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN
The American Scholar
Vol. 62, No. 3 (Summer 1993), pp. 351-362
Baltimore (MD) Sun
June 28, 1993 | By GEORGE F. WILL
Senator Moynihan recalls this in his essay ‘’Iatrogenic Government’’ in the American Scholar quarterly. (Iatrogenic: “induced inadvertently by a physician or his treatment.") It is a timely story of the unintended consequences of unpalatable choices, and of choices more unpalatable than public policy might have made them.
The Leveling Wind:
Politics, the Culture, and Other News, 1990-1994
By George F. Will
New York, NY: Penguin Books
Moynihan says that “federal drug policy” — iatrogenic government — “is responsible for a degree of social regression for which there does not appear to be any equivalent in our history.” Today more Americans are imprisoned for drug offenses than for property crimes. However, Moynihan says, the “failure” of our drug policy is the success of our strategy to avoid the public health calamity that certainly would result from legalization.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan:
The Intellectual in Public Life
Edited by Robert A. Katzmann
Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press; Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press
In 1993, Moynihan published a probing assessment of America’s drug problem in The American Scholar under the title “Iatrogenic Government.” “Iatrogeic,” one ,may dimly recall, is a medical term referring to illnesses caused or exacerbated by the physician’s own interventions. As one may surmise from that title, Moynihan’s estimate of government efforts to mitigate the drug problem was less than sanguine.
Washington (DC) Post
The wisdom of Pat Moynihan
By George F. Will
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Moynihan enriched America’s political lexicon with “defining deviancy down” (defining as normal kinds of conduct previously stigmatized) and “iatrogenic government” (an iatrogenic ailment is induced inadvertently by a medical treatment).
Washington (DC) Post
Defining economic failure down
By George F. Will Opinion writer February 4, 2015
Two phrases that Daniel Patrick Moynihan put into America’s political lexicon two decades ago are increasingly pertinent. They explain the insufficient dismay about recent economic numbers.
Moynihan said that when deviant behaviors — e.g., violent crime, or births to unmarried women — reach a certain level, society soothes itself by “defining deviancy down.” It de-stigmatizes the behaviors by declaring them normal. And sometimes, Moynihan said, social problems are the result of “iatrogenic government.” In medicine, an iatrogenic ailment is inadvertently induced by a physician or medicine; in social policy, iatrogenic problems are caused by government.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Thursday, February 05, 2015 • Permalink