Show Us What We Spend on Power

Show Us What We Spend on Power

Electricity bills are confusing, and don't arrive until long after the damage is done. The fix to a system that's high in both costs and headaches lies in connecting consumers to their consumption--show people what they're using in real time, and make it easy to compare costs to kilowatts. More »

Zero Out Aid to Egypt and Israel

Zero Out Aid to Egypt and Israel

The tactic of using U.S. foreign aid to promote a lasting peace in the Middle East has not only failed, but has also sucked up scarce resources. U.S. foreign aid shouldn't be like a long-term, fixed-rate mortgage agreement. For larger strategic reasons, we should flat out cut aid to both countries and redirect the money toward other goals that have gone neglected. More »

Eat Warm Weather Produce Year-Round--Sustainably

Eat Warm Weather Produce Year-Round--Sustainably

Let's call it the Banana Problem: the trade off between eating locally and eating what you want. Savoring a banana means eating something that was shipped hundreds or thousands of miles, emitting greenhouse gases each step of the way. But innovations in greenhouse design and growing techniques are proving that tropical produce can be raised anywhere. Soon, we might be able to enjoy our mid-winter mangoes without a side of guilt. More »

Put Local Economies at the Center of Disaster Relief

Put Local Economies at the Center of Disaster Relief

In the first days after a natural catastrophe, nothing is more important than speed. But what enables a fast response--rapid access to the global economy--can also impede recovery, by excluding the local economy. So here's a simple idea that could mean the difference between merely spending on disaster relief and sustainably investing in it--start pulling in local efforts right away. More »

Turn PBS Into BBC One

Turn PBS Into BBC One

PBS has become a network to distract the very young and entertain the elderly. It's time to revitalize American public broadcasting. Instead of grinding out high-minded educational fare, PBS should devote its programming to intelligent fictional series, much like BBC One already does. It would give the network relevance and cachet among smart young audiences who are far too old for playtime, but not yet ready to settle down and fill a house with antiques. More »

Stop Close Reading

Stop Close Reading

Close reading, a practice common in our nation's schools, is about taking a chapter, a paragraph, or even a single sentence, and picking it apart to extract meaning and analyze an author's intent. It's a vehicle for teaching students about cadence and imagery, hopefully leading young minds to appreciate the complexity of authors' thoughts. We should end it. More »

Give Scientists Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Give Scientists Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Performance-enhancers are increasingly part of our modern existence, despite our instinct to ban them. So why don't we use them for good? If it brings us closer to curing cancer or solving global warming, we should let scientists and researchers use drugs like Adderall or LSD that boost productivity and creativity. More »

Learn to Love Speed Cameras

Learn to Love Speed Cameras

Critics say traffic cameras evoke Big Brother. They worry that a system that can take a photo of your license plate as you drive through town can also track your general movements. They say cities with cameras are more interested in raising revenue than improving public safety. I say bring on the surveillance. More »

Lease Your Energy

Lease Your Energy

The average cost of a residential solar system is around $30,000, too steep for many would-be environmentalists. Enter solar leasing, in which homeowners pay a flat monthly fee in exchange for solar panels and maintenance. Solar leases cut energy bills by an average of 15 percent, while simultaneously insulating users from fluctuating energy prices--making going green a whole lot more affordable. More »

Send Losing Teams to the Minors

Send Losing Teams to the Minors

Watching exorbitantly overpaid people dwell in mediocrity is an American sports fan's lot in life. But it doesn't have to be. Enter relegation: a multi-tiered system in which the bottom teams get demoted to a lesser league, and their spots are filled by the lesser league's top teams. Already thriving in many of Europe's professional soccer associations, relegation makes every game count; just as the best teams must win to reach the top, the worst must win to escape the bottom. More »

Give Congress iPads

Give Congress iPads

America would be better off if its elected representatives had a clue about technology. As lawmakers increasingly confront issues like online privacy, net neutrality, and broadband capacity, their legislation will shape the future of gadgets and communications that many don't even understand. How to do it? One way to start is with Apple's iPad. It's innovative, user-friendly--and has a filibuster-proof battery. More »

Teach Media Literacy

Teach Media Literacy

The logical outgrowth of high school civics, media literacy courses in our public schools would help students weed out incendiary polemics and agitprop from the whirling online maelstrom, and become informed and thoughtful citizens. More »

Eat Better Meat to Feed the World

Eat Better Meat to Feed the World

Intensive grazing--in which herds are kept dense and moved frequently--can restore damaged grasslands in dry, impoverished regions, creating fertile farmland and reversing desertification. More education efforts and livestock lending programs in the developing world, and a stronger example in the U.S., could prevent future food shortages. More »

Criminalize Credit

Criminalize Credit

Curing an addiction is never easy. And when an entire nation--its federal government, states, municipalities, and the people themselves--are all hooked, ending the habit is next to impossible. But the United States is hopelessly dependent on credit. And like stopping other serious addictions, only one solution will work--go cold turkey. We should abolish credit. More »

Forget 3-D, Here's How to Save Movies

Forget 3-D, Here's How to Save Movies

For decades, television has been slowly strangling cinema attendance. 3-D, we're told, will save movie-going, at least for a few more years. But why think so small? It's time to take it to the next level--or rather, the next dimension. Chris Orr offers a modest proposal to fix the film industry. More »

Declare Super Bowl Monday a Holiday

Declare Super Bowl Monday a Holiday

We should dedicate the day to promoting a broader culture of physical activity, and use it for things like community flag-football tournaments and charitable 5Ks. A civic holiday with this kind of focus would not only alleviate hangovers, it would remind us that sports are supposed to be something participatory--something we engage in rather than watch. More »

Create Taliban Unemployment Insurance

Create Taliban Unemployment Insurance

Military officials estimate that money, not ideology, is a prime motivation for young fighters. Why not trade a livable wage and training programs to insurgents interested in a new line of work? More »

Conduct an Internet Census

Conduct an Internet Census

Political opinions favored by the young, rich, educated, and white get more traction online. We need a census of Internet users to understand the discrepancies between the blogosphere and the ballot box. More »

Make Candidates Submit Military Records

Make Candidates Submit Military Records

Enough with the phony war records, politicians. It's time to make one change to election law that would end this charade: have candidates submit their military records to the Federal Election Committee. More »

Idea of the Day Show Us What We Spend on Power

Show Us What We Spend on Power

Electricity bills are confusing, and don't arrive until long after the damage is done. The fix to a system that's high in both costs and headaches lies in connecting consumers to their consumption--show people what they're using in real time, and make it easy to compare costs to kilowatts.

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