Your Dead Ideas Here!

To mark the official launch date of my new book, "The Tyranny of Dead Ideas," we're kicking off a contest here for the top Dead Ideas you think need to be exploded in American society. After all, while I focus on six big Dead Ideas in the book, there are surely dozens more in our public life, and probably hundreds if not thousands in our business and personal lives. Let your creative juices (and angst) flow -- tell us why your Dead Idea nominee needs to be blown up, the damage it's currently doing, and anything else that helps people understand the urgency of rethinking. Submit your nominees in the comments here, or email me at the site. I'll showcase the best Dead Ideas from readers in the period ahead. Winners will get signed copies of the book, as well as other forms of everlasting recognition tbd....


Blogger Bill Karwin said...

Dead Idea: privatizing an industry makes it more efficient

While it's true that a for-profit business is motivated to reduce costs to reach their goal of increased profits, that's not the same thing as efficiency. Efficiency should also include delivering a good product or service. Too often, businesses cut costs by cutting quality or reducing service. For example, consider the medical insurance industry.

Government-run organizations don't have a profit goal, but they can have a mandate to provide high-quality service while justifying costs. There's nothing inherent in public administration that makes it inefficient. That has to do with the workers and the leadership. Besides, what are we comparing that supposed "inefficiency" to? Private-sector health insurance works with a stacked deck, by denying coverage for the sickest Americans and denying service to those they do cover, through technicalities and red tape.

January 6, 2009 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Woody Fawker said...

Dead Idea: Collectivism

Tried and failed, all the world over - Your collectivist ideas are dead Matt.

Why? Becuase collectivism defies human nature. People produce based on incentive and your ideas strip people of inceptive. Who aspires to live off Government hamdouts for the rest of their lives? What person works a job only to be taxed to death in order to pay for your expensive government social programs? Come'on man, get over your hippy pipe dream ..

Collectivism does not work for the citizens, it works for the career government bureaucrats. Is that what you aspire to be?

What the hell is in the Air in LA that makes you people so bat-shit crazy? I suppose O2 deprivation from all the smog diminishes brain function. Or is it the all the illicit drugs you are on?

Pass the bong bro, you have had enough.

January 8, 2009 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger loch said...

Dead Idea: GDP is a good measure of economic health.

This is wrong for many specific reasons but basically because GDP does not measure much that relates to quality of life. For instance, GDP rose when the Exxon Valdez went down and rises for most calamities, including 9/11. Are these good for us? It's time for a measure of economic health that results in a healthier country for all of us, not just the wealthy few.

January 9, 2009 at 1:29 PM  
Blogger Wayne said...

Job growth isn't so great if all we get are lousy jobs.

Cutting taxes doesn't mean a growth in the standard of living for anyone but those who are impacted by taxes the most. You know, the rich.

January 9, 2009 at 6:09 PM  
Blogger MLSchrad said...

Good question, Matt. I stumbled across your blog looking for examples for my forthcoming OUP book on The Political Power of Bad Ideas--which is all about the allure and failure of alcohol prohibition in the US and Europe. But I guess that idea has been dead for ages. To that end, some colleagues have suggested to me that other prohibitions (curtailing the rights of others) are likewise misguided or "dead." Read: the war on drugs (and even smoking tobacco), prohibiting gay marriage, etc.

Speaking to some of your arguments, I'd also suggest Bryan D. Jones & Walter Williams' recent book on "The Politics of Bad Ideas"--in which they highlight the dead ideas of 1) supply-side economics (cut taxes --> miracles occur; aka trickle-down economics), and 2) "starving the beast": tax cuts --> deficits --> demands for bigger budget cuts --> policymakers move quickly to slash budgets.

January 10, 2009 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Dead idea: high drug company profits are necessary to fuel research into new drugs.

Drug companies spend as much on marketing as they do on research. Much of the basic research for new drugs (finding molecular targets, etc.) is already government funded. And, after all that, the majority of new drugs are for conditions (high blood pressure, cholesterol) that already have an ample number of treatments.

And Woody- Really? Really? In 2009, you're still running around yelling "Commie! Pinko!"?

Is conservatism really THAT bereft of brainpower?

January 10, 2009 at 4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dead Idea: Religion is a force for good.

Religion does not bring peace to its followers, but instead promotes conflict. It's a refuge for ignorance and the enemy of scientific progress. Their supposed charitable works is a rationalization for tax-exempt status. This costs us billions in lost revenue and saps our civic efforts by claiming the mantle. By nuturing religion in this country we have given power to the most dogmatic and irrational leaders.

By resurrecting the "wall between church and state" and ridiculing the "If I believe it, it must be true" mindset, our leaders can talk about the practical solutions to our problems without cowtowing to myriad the bad ideas out there. When results are the only real measure of a belief than America can move forward.

January 21, 2009 at 9:04 AM  

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