Thu 28

How to Fix Litter

What Max Reckons I’m an ideas man. Person. I’m a person of ideas. Not good ideas. I’m just willing to shake bad ideas for long enough that sometimes interesting things fall out. But the internet is tough for ideas people. I had an idea for a TV show where CEOs try to open their own packaging, but then I Googled “tv show where ceos open their own packaging,” and screw me, there’s a stupid Reddit post with the exact same idea.

Pre-internet, I would have happily regaled you with my entertaining CEO humiliation TV idea, never knowing that someone else had had the same thought. A bunch of people, probably. I would have suspected. But I wouldn’t have known.

Now I know, and it’s not just ruining great ideas for panel shows with a surprise redemption arc: You can’t think of anything without a quick search revealing that someone else thought of it first. By now every half-baked thought anyone ever had has been fingered into a phone, and the search algorithms are good enough to find it.

I have therefore decided never to research anything again. The internet is too consumptive anyway. Consumptive. I’m not sure that’s a word. But I’m won’t check. I’m just going to assume I created something brilliant and on point there. So here is my next idea, which I also will not research: We should fine companies for litter. I know what you’re thinking: Why do all Max’s ideas start with, “Fine companies?” Because inequality, that’s why. That’s beside the point. We should fine them for litter. Not littering. Fines for littering is already a thing. We need to fine them for having their logo wind up in a gutter, no matter how it got there. For example, if I wander through the city with a meal, discarding Coke cans and McDonald’s wrappers, we should fine Coke and McDonald’s.

You might be thinking this sounds a little unfair. Like, what did Coke and McDonald’s do wrong here, exactly. I’ll tell you: They failed to take accountability for the total footprint of their business. They made an external detrimentality. External detrimentalities are when a business finds a way to make someone else pick up the tab for some of their product’s cost, e.g. by dumping factory waste in a river, or pretending nicotine is good for you, or passing down catastrophic climate change to the next generation. They’re also how to tell the difference between economist rationalists and corporate shills, because economists want to eliminate external detrimentalities, while people who have been subsumed into the corporate overmind think they’re a smart way to make money.

There you go. An app to send snaps of discarded golden arches to a central authority, which issues fines, which incentivizes McDonald’s to stop people strewing trash all over my street. That’s a solid idea, which no-one has ever thought of. Or they have, and it was trialed in some city somewhere, and it went terribly, possibly because people were deliberately dropping litter to get companies fined. But those are just details. I’m not going to figure out every last little thing. I’m an ideas man. Person.


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Matthew (#6407)

Location: Perth
Posted: 697 days ago

Pigou taxes!!! 😍

Also on the subject of ideas, I had a brilliant one once and then found out it had been patented by Apple. Coincidentally, it involved McDonalds as well.

Machine Man subscriber Mapuche (#1184)

Location: Darwin, Australia
Quote: "Inconceivable!"
Posted: 697 days ago

How much should we fine you for putting your bad ideas on the Internet?

I mean the _good_ ideas we pay for, in the form of cash for your novels for example. Or your movie.

But this?

This is NOT a good idea.

I have taken a screenshot of this idea (including your logo) and am now searching for somewhere to send it, from whence a fine shall be issued forthwith.

Reap the whirlwind Max! Reap the whirlwind!

Prue Meehan (#3306)

Location: Australia
Quote: ""I intend to live forever. So far, so good." Steven Wright"
Posted: 697 days ago

Hi Max, I think the CEO game show has legs! Don't stop at package opening.. CEOs trying to calmly enter their own passwords every fortnight by first having to enter a 6 digit code from their phones and correctly recalling their username. No biggie.. CEOs trying to jimmy the office door perfectly so they don't get locked in when they're the last to leave. CEOs rushing to move their car every 2 hours so as to avoid an alarmingly high parking fine. CEOs trying to call IT for assistance with a network problem...

And with the littering idea, I think it wouldn't be long before they told customers to BYO napkins, cups and cutlery, or they have to buy them. And the price would no doubt to be higher than the fines - where their's profit to be made...

Michael Lederman (#5939)

Location: Texas, U.S.A.
Quote: "A day without a new Max Barry book is like a day without sunshine, dark and a bit chilly and did I mention no sun?"
Posted: 697 days ago

Max, you are starting to sound like a socialist on the way to being a communist. This concerns me as you have a powerful platform and others may think your "ideas" are sound when they would lead to ruin.

Neil (#943)

Location: Manchester, UK
Quote: ""Democracy is the worst system, apart from all the others." - Churchill"
Posted: 697 days ago

Max, didn't you mean detrimental externalities?

Of course, you didn't research it.

Brenda (#7217)

Location: Berowra Bushland
Quote: "entering your world via the book portal is awesome"
Posted: 695 days ago

To incentivise individuals into shunning all plastics a fear campaign, perhaps in Manga style, warning about the dangers of pooping microplastics and peeing BPA's. By the way coming in 2022 a documentary called Plastic Love! about Japan's love of plastic will get an airing.

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 692 days ago

@Neil: Ha that is fantastic. I did mean detrimental externality.

Machine Man subscriber Charles Thiesen (#3)

Location: Dorchester, MA
Quote: "Never put off till tomorrow what you can put off till the day after tomorrw."
Posted: 554 days ago

"Consumptive" -- One with consumption (tuberculosis.) Sorry.

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