I say this all the time: my main beef with government is that they never think about the unintended consequences of their actions…and when they do something stupid, they deny it, blame someone else or mostly, spend more money to solve the unintended problem they created.

That is applicable to the mortgage crisis, the “stimulus”, and why I am so dead set against universal health care.

Government is the master of solving a problem and causing three others.

And today’s Air Force One flyby in downtown NYC and Jersey City is a typical example of government not thinking through the consequences of their actions.

I wasn’t there this morning, but a consultant friend of mine was. He was on his cell phone outside a building in Jersey City on an impropmtu conference call with a client. He saw the first pass of a 747 and fighter jet chasing and heard the second one as he was trying to take cover. (Unlike most people, he concluded that the safest place would be in a lobby away from elevators, as outside there was the potential for some nasty debris if the worst happened.)  All around him he saw and heard panicked people evacuating the building. He didn’t know it was Air Force One because he could only see the underbelly. I think knowing it was Air Force One would have made it even worse.

Now why didn’t anyone in DC (I’m not blaming Obama…it would be excessively pathetic if this was at the top of his agenda for one of his countless meetings, however, these are people that Obama hand-picked for their judgment), see the potential of this action?

Here’s how I would imagine this playing out: First, somebody like a speechwriter would think it would be cool to have some video of Air Force One flying around symbols of America for either an intro video or backdrop video for a presidential speech. (Never mind that a full CGI treatment would  probably be cheaper than the fuel for the jets.)  But flying over fields is boring. But the topography of New York Harbor sure isn’t! And the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline are familiar to people all over the world.  So they asked to have a film shoot set up. (Oops…turns out it was for a new file photo…same diff)

Well, it’s a pretty big deal when the Commander in Chief’s office calls and asks you to do something…and when he’s signing the checks you do it. The pilots are scheduled, and the jets scrambled and away they went.

But one possible consequence was thought of…what we do a press release in advance…and what if some terrorist gets wind of it and is sitting on a boat in New York Harbor with a couple of Stinger missiles? Wouldn’t they love the symbolism? Wouldn’t that put the pilots in danger as well as the gazillion-dollar duded out airplane?

Easy. We don’t tell anybody besides a few air traffic controllers that we’re doing it!

I bet that nobody up the chain gave a nanosecond of thought on the impact on the people on the ground. Or the fact that 9/11 happened in Lower Manhattan. These guys aren’t of the Giuliani-every-day-another-9/11-can-happen mold. And the people on the ground are, well, just voters who have already served their purpose.

And presto! The unintended consequence of scaring the snot out of literally thousands.

This is common in government. One problem solved (no terrorist stingers) begets another, and then you have a non-sensical defense that it was a training mission (!) or the Dod did it/White House did it fingerpointing.

So why would this probably not happen in the private sector? Because somebody at the conference table during the planning would be thinking about possible costly PR disasters. Like this would have been if it was say, CocaCola instead?

Think about it. Coca Cola would have used Photoshop.