Dead Ideas


I just finished Matt Miller’s The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Letting Go of the Old Ways of Thinking to Unleash a New Prosperity. Among the “Dead Ideas” are:

  • Our kids will earn more than we do
  • Free trade is always good, no matter who gets hurt
  • Employers should be responsible for health coverage
  • Taxes hurt the economy
  • Schools are a local matter
  • Money follows merit

I think Miller offers some interesting points in re-telling the stories behind these ideas, and offers astute insight about where we might go from here.

This book is definitely worth reading.

2 thoughts on “Dead Ideas

  1. I’m not sure what to do with this genre of book. They seem to be predicated on the notion that actions A + B + C + D + E leads to X, and they then propose changing or doing away with A, B, C, D & E. Reality seems a little more complex – that it’s not only A B C D & E leading to X, but also F G H I J K (etc.) working in a complex system that lead to X. Tweaking, removing (or even adding) A B C D & E may or not be the relevant stimulus to move from X to X1, our newly desired outcome variant.

    Some examples: “We are running a deficit. We need more income for government. We need to (a) raise taxes so that people will pay more taxes, or (b) we need to cut taxes so that people will be motivated to generate more economic activity so more tax income will be generated.” (a) is predicated on the assumption that there is a relatively straightline between tax rate and tax revenue. (b) is predicated on the notion that tax rates function as economic incentives and disincentives. Both assumptions find evidence in the data – but are both conditioned by numerous other factors.

    Enough rambling, time to help with dinner.

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