Nice Moments in Unintended Penalties (Vol. 5)

Listed here are much more of Purpose‘s “nice moments in unintended penalties”—tales of when one thing that sounds like a terrific thought goes horribly fallacious. Watch the entire collection right here.

Half 1: The Transcontinental Tango

The 12 months: 1862.

The issue: There is no railroad connecting coastal elites!

The answer: Pay rail corporations for every mile of monitor laid for a model new transcontinental railroad.

Feels like an important thought, with the most effective of intentions. What may presumably go fallacious?

Whereas Congress has by no means been nice at maintaining a tally of spending, it is even worse at it throughout a Civil Battle. With nobody wanting, the Union Pacific unnecessarily lengthened the route, including miles of monitor and pocketing nearly half one million {dollars}.

After two and a half years of development, the Union Pacific laid monitor all the way in which from Omaha to…40 miles exterior of Omaha.

I choo-choo-choose to screw taxpayers.

Half 2: Burning Money

The 12 months: 2012.

The issue: An over-reliance on fossil fuels in Northern Eire.

The answer: A subsidy for warmth generated from renewable sources.

Feels like an important thought, with the most effective of intentions. What may presumably go fallacious?

Effectively, it seems the speed paid by the subsidy was higher than the price of the gas getting used—so the extra wooden pellets you burned, the higher your revenue. Voila: the “Money for Ash” program, with farmers heating empty buildings simply to gather a paycheck.

Within the fallout, Northern Eire’s first minister refused to face apart throughout any inquiry, the deputy first minister resigned in protest, the Northern Eire Meeting dissolved, and the chief department collapsed for nearly three full years.

To not point out an entire lot of taxpayer {dollars} up in smoke.

Half 3. All proper, fantastic. We’ll do the cobra factor

The 12 months: Uhhh…a while within the 19th century? Perhaps? Undecided. Won’t even be true. Who is aware of?

The issue: The English colonial metropolis of Delhi is infested with venomous cobras.

The answer: Give cash to anybody who brings in a lifeless cobra.

Feels like an important thought, with the most effective of intentions. What may presumably go fallacious?

It did not take lengthy for folk to appreciate that the bounty paid for a lifeless cobra was higher than the price of elevating a cobra. As soon as metropolis officers acquired wind of profitable snake breeding farms, they repealed the bounty—main cobra farmers to launch their now nugatory snakes into the wild. Web consequence: extra cobras than ever, quite a lot of wasted money, and a e book by a German man with a title that sounds prefer it’s straight out of G.I. Joe.

Whereas the veracity of the cobra story is tough to pin down, an identical story was documented in Hanoi beneath French colonial rule—solely this time the problem was rats, with a bounty paid for each rat tail dropped at the authorities. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than officers started to note rats with out tails, having been let out by rat catchers with a primary understanding of economics.

However don’t fret, we discovered our lesson and it by no means occurred ag—

In Fort Benning, Georgia, the place the feral pig inhabitants was uncontrolled, the bounty—for some brow slapping cause—was pig tails, which as soon as once more…blah, blah, blah…extra pigs.

They finally discontinued the bounty, so don’t fret, all the things is swine now.

Nice moments in unintended penalties. Good intentions, unhealthy outcomes.

Written and produced by Meredith and Austin Bragg; narrated by Austin Bragg.

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