The Global Elite

30 Dec

The Power of Ideas

The difference between a good idea and a truly transformative one often comes down to timing. Here are four thinkers whose philosophies seem to have captured the intellectual moment:

ECONOMICS
Joseph Stiglitz
No one foretold the current money meltdown like Stiglitz, who sketched it back in 2003. When enterprises become too big and interconnected, he wrote in his book “The Roaring Nineties,” cockiness leads to risk taking—with dire results. He dubbed the problem “too big to fail.”

CLIMATE CHANGE
Peter Barnes
Making producers of coal, oil and gas buy permits to offset the CO2 emitted from their products would raise energy prices. Barnes would avoid a backlash by paying the fees to every American. If you use less fossil fuel and consume fewer products made with it, you’ll come out ahead.

PUBLIC POLICY
Cass Sunstein
Americans don’t always make the best choices for themselves. (Subprime loan, anyone?) That, Sunstein argues in his latest book, “Nudge,” is why governments need to design policies—like automatic opt-ins for 401(k)s—that push people toward better conclusions. Obama is already a fan.

MEDICINE
Dr. George Church
Taking a page from Wikipedia, Church, who launched the Personal Genome Project in 2006, is asking volunteers to disclose their DNA online, where scientists can correlate genes with diseases. The goal: personalized medicine—sooner than you think. More than 6,000 people have signed up.

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