In Dogged Pursuit of Failure
The following policies have all failed consistently, for decades, yet are still actively pursued, with little or no evidence to suggest eventual success.
- Economic sanctions (Cuba, Iran, Iraq, etc.)
- Counterinsurgency (Algeria, Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc.)
- ESL education (actually slows language acquisition)
- War on Drugs (raises price, attracting more supply)
- Agricultural subsidies (negative ROI, other market distortions)
- Government housing (as opposed to successes like special zoning)
I’ll add more as I think of them — there are plenty — but it’s interesting to ask why these things would persist indefinitely, when they always fail. A big reason may be the lack of transparency that results from a lack of careful, consistent, widely published measurements.