The Burden of Bad Ideas
About the Book
Critics have attacked the foolishness of some of today's elite thought from many angles, but few have examined the real-world consequences of those ideas. In The Burden of Bad Ideas, Heather Mac Donald reports on their disastrous effects throughout our society. At a Brooklyn high school, students perfect their graffiti skills for academic credit. An Ivy League law professor urges blacks to steal from their employers. Washington bureaucrats regard theft by drug addicts as evidence of disability, thereby justifying benefits. Public health officials argue that racism and sexism cause women to get AIDS. America's premier monument to knowledge, the Smithsonian Institution, portrays science as white man's religion. Such absurdities, Ms. Mac Donald argues, grow out of a powerful set of ideas that have governed our public policy for decades, the product of university faculties and a professional elite who are convinced that America is a deeply unjust society. And while these beliefs have damaged the nation as a whole, she observes, they have hit the poor especially hard. Her reports trace the transformation of influential opinion-makers (such as the New York Times) and large philanthropic foundations from confident advocates of individual responsibility, opportunity, and learning into apologists for the welfare state. In a series of closely reported stories from the streets of New York to the seats of intellectual power, The Burden of Bad Ideas reveals an upside-down world and how it got that way.
About the Author
Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith fellow at The Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor to City Journal, the quarterly magazine of urban affairs where most of the pieces in this book originated. She is a nonpracticing lawyer who has degrees in English from Yale and Cambridge universities. She lives and works in New York City.
- The Burden of Bad Ideas: Review, Trevor Bothwell, Townhall.com
- Sometimes Blaming the Victim Makes Sense, Alan Ehrenhalt, Governing.com, April 2001
- Bad Ideas Matter Most, Peter Savodnik, The Weekly Standard, October 30, 2000
- Big Plans, Harmful Results, Richard Lamm, The Wall Street Journal, October 16, 2000
- Review, Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post, October 8, 2000
- Common Nonsense, Liz Trotta, The Washington Times, February 26, 2001
- Book Review, Allen D. Boyer, The New York Times, December 24, 2000
- ‘The Burden of Bad Ideas’: Hear the joy of provocation, Michael Pakenham, The Sun, November 5, 2000