"Indeed, it is fair to say that the acid deposition program ranks among the most spectacular success stories in all of American environmental regulation. Because the costs of the program have been so much lower than anticipated, the cost-benefit ratio seems especially good, with compliance costs of $870 million compared to estimates of annual benefits ranging from $12 billion to $78 billion—including reductions of nearly 10,000 premature deaths and more than 14,500 cases of chronic bronchitis"

— Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler:Nudge Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness.

Amazon Kindle: Your Highlights

"The findings, which are the fruit of an immense federal project involving 440 scientists from 32 laboratories around the world, will have immediate applications for understanding how alterations in the non-gene parts of DNA contribute to human diseases, which may in turn lead to new drugs. They can also help explain how the environment can affect disease risk. In the case of identical twins, small changes in environmental exposure can slightly alter gene switches, with the result that one twin gets a disease and the other does not."

Far From ‘Junk,’ DNA Dark Matter Proves Crucial to Health - NYTimes.com

ashleylovespizza:

discoverynews:

20 Everyday Things We Have Because Of NASA
Landing MSL Curiosity on Mars has caused controversy about NASA’s budget. Many people are upset that NASA’s mandate serves no practical purpose, and the money could be put to better use. Every year, NASA publishes a list of items developed because of NASA’s work. Here’s a short list from Business Insider:

Artificial limbs    Baby formula     Cell-phone cameras    Computer mouse    Cordless tools     Ear thermometer    Firefighter gear    Freeze-dried food    Golf clubs    Long-distance communication    Invisible braces    MRI and CAT scans    Memory foam     Safer highways    Solar panels    Shoe insoles    Ski boots    Adjustable smoke detector    Water filters    UV-blocking sunglassesNASA did not invent:    Tang    Velcro    Teflon

(h/t alexob)

I didn’t know about Tang NOT being a NASA innovation.  But I enjoy using a computer mouse so much, I’ll forgive them.

ashleylovespizza:

discoverynews:

20 Everyday Things We Have Because Of NASA

Landing MSL Curiosity on Mars has caused controversy about NASA’s budget. Many people are upset that NASA’s mandate serves no practical purpose, and the money could be put to better use. Every year, NASA publishes a list of items developed because of NASA’s work. Here’s a short list from Business Insider:

Artificial limbs
    Baby formula
    Cell-phone cameras
    Computer mouse
    Cordless tools
    Ear thermometer
    Firefighter gear
    Freeze-dried food
    Golf clubs
    Long-distance communication
    Invisible braces
    MRI and CAT scans
    Memory foam
    Safer highways
    Solar panels
    Shoe insoles
    Ski boots
    Adjustable smoke detector
    Water filters
    UV-blocking sunglasses

NASA did not invent:
    Tang
    Velcro
    Teflon

(h/t alexob)

I didn’t know about Tang NOT being a NASA innovation.  But I enjoy using a computer mouse so much, I’ll forgive them.

(via ashleylovespizza)

whakahekeheke-deactivated201309 said: Nice tumblr. A welcome break from the usual partisan politics! Where I question the judgement that these government things are "good" is: what are we comparing them to?? See, the gov is a territorial monopoly and uniquely funded by individually involuntary taxation. And when it does something, we often can't see the non-gov alternatives for such services that would otherwise exist. IE to say they're "good" we need a cost-benefit analysis that accounts for direct cost + opportunity cost.

Hi and thank you! A very interesting question, and good points. Here is my thinking on the matter:

1) In economics terms, we look for “greatest marginal utility.” - ie, the biggest bang for the buck. This is sort of what you’re referring to, I think. As in, “sure, this is good, but is it the best use of our money?” That is an incredibly valid important point, that, basically, We are ignoring. I get that sounds a little weird, so let me explain. We are ignoring it because this isn’t a blog about whether the government is the BEST solution, ALWAYS. It’s a blog designed to illustrate government can do some good. That’s sort of a simpler, more fundamental point. That government should at least be considered as an option, because it is actually able to do some good. Many people believe that government is simply unable to do any good, so they wouldn’t even put it up for consideration in a conversation about comparing potential marginal utilities. 

2) It’s true we can’t often see the non-governmental alternatives to a possible course of governmental action. However, I would actually expand that a bit and say it’s often impossible to see how the alternatives play out on any actions on this scale, governmental or not. I view it as thus: if the government gets us to the moon, for example, it’s good. If private enterprise gets us to the moon, it’s good. In both cases, regardless of who got us there, measuring the utility of that against other possible endeavors is equally difficult. Would that money be better sent doing something else? Almost always, regardless of whether the government or private industry undertook the project, the answer would be yes. 

Society isn’t run by economists. Were it, the entire government would be organized against every single dollar being spent in the most effective way. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Alas, we’re nowhere near that. Right now, I’m simply arguing for government to not be wholesale removed from the equation as a potential doer of good. 

Anonymous said: Private Market Good - I'm sure there are a lot more things the private market has done to help people than the government ever will.

That may be the case. This, however, is a blog documenting good things done by the government. Knock yourself out starting that blog! 

This blog doesn’t argue that the government is the only source of good - that would be absurd. It simply highlights manifestly good things that the government has done. 

Anonymous said: If you focus weren't exclusively American (which I don't mind), I would love to help with this blog. I'm a municipal politician in the United Kingdom, and all though this project is US-only, I have to say that I think it's an absolutely fantastic idea. The greatest threat to western democracy right now is growing political apathy, especially among the young. We need more projects like this highlighting some of the fantastic things governments can, will and want to do for their electorates.

Thank you! Maybe start one in the UK!

Apathy’s one thing, and it’s no good, but what worries us even more is the increasingly pervasive belief that all government is evil and impotent, even in the face of pervasive evidence to the contrary. 

red-and-anarchist-deactivated20 said: All I have to do is look at the Title of your blog to realize you may be the most ignorant person on Tumblr. Have a good day

I am having a great day! Thank you! If you find a factual error in my posts, please feel free to highlight it and we’ll get it changed. 

"Although government officials make mistakes when choosing among nascent technologies, one success can outweigh many failures. Washington-financed research has made possible semiconductors, radar, the Internet, the radio, the jet engine and many medical advances, including penicillin."

A Ray of Hope on Climate Change - NYTimes.com

Anonymous said: Space Exploration!

I am a huge fan of space exploration. The challenge in using it for a government good example is there hasn’t been a clear ROI for the US yet, or at least I am still looking for some concrete numbers on the ROI of the research and whatnot. If you have any sources that you can point me to, I would be forever grateful!

Anonymous said: Here in NYC, I'd nominate 311 as an example of Government Good.

Agreed! But I am only doing Federal government programs. But as a New Yorker, man I love 311.