Three Crazy Ideas for Getting the Economy Back on Track

Some of Harvard's finest minds were asked recently to come up with prescriptions for getting the economy rolling again. Most of their suggestions were not too controversial: more financial regulation, a carbon tax, investments in public infrastructure.

But three caught my eye as real game changers, and I'm not sure for the better. What do you think?

Flatten the U.S. tax code. The tax code needs a complete, bottom-to-top rewrite and should include a consumption tax or a high-deductible flat tax, says Ken Rogoff, Harvard's Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy. At the very least, he says, most people should be paying higher taxes.


Home Price Insurance. Homeowners should be able to buy into a national insurance plan to protect them against sharp losses in property values when the economy craters, says Eric Belsky, managing director of Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. The resulting economic carnage from foreclosures and to personal wealth is devastating, and worth hedging against, he believes.

Web-based work transformation. The Internet can provide more efficient work solutions, but what is possible hasn't even begun to be tapped, says Jonathan Zittrain, of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Looking at public sourcing efforts such as Amazon's Mechanical Turk -- where people accept small jobs for micropayments -- Zittrain wonders how this model writ large would change our concept of the workplace and the workday. Says he:

"I do think this could stand to transform economic dynamics -- in the way in which it can turn almost anything into an economy."
Read the whole list published by the Harvard Gazette, Bright Ideas: Harvard Experts Offer Ideas to Get the Nation Back on Track.

Crazy stuff, or crazy enough that they just might work? Should we be considering more "out there" approaches, especially since the traditional avenues we are following seem to be taking a long, long time to show results?

(Image by Flickr user respres, CC 2.0)