Government failure

Sour 16: Help Us Pick the Worst Idea of the Year

Voting begins Tuesday, March 19, and continues through Friday, March 29!


It's a different kind of March madness: the kind where politicians, bureaucrats, and other officials want to flex their control over your freedom.

We've assembled a "Sour 16" of the worst ideas Reason has covered in the past year, and we want your help in deciding which is the maddest of all. Voting will take place over the next two weeks at Reason's YouTube Community page, and we'll keep the bracket updated here so you can follow the tournament's progress.

Polling will end at midnight, Eastern Time, each day. Click here to go to the most recent poll.

(If you want to get into a debate over which ideas belong in the "Stupid" bracket or the "Evil" bracket, allow me to point out that the University of North Carolina is the top seed in the "West" region of the college basketball tournament. These categories are blurry at times, and we're all just having fun here.)

Scroll down for more information about each of the 16 entries. May the sourest proposal take the crown—but hopefully never become reality.

(Eric Boehm)


The "Stupid" Region:

  • Banning Lab-Grown Meat: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has voiced support for legislation that would ban lab-grown meat in his state. "We're going to have fake meat? That doesn't work," DeSantis said in February.
  • Banning Vegan MilksSen. John Fetterman (D–Penn.) has sponsored a bill to make it illegal to market coconut milk as "coconut milk" because consumers will supposedly be confused by the term.
  • Drivers in Driverless TrucksA California bill backed by the state's powerful labor unions would require trucking companies to pay drivers to sit in the cabs of "driverless" trucks, even though those aren't being used yet.
  • "La Sombrita": Los Angeles spent $200,000 to design a new type of bus shelter that doesn't provide much actual shelter.
  • FDA for AIProving that elected officials don't have a monopoly on bad ideas, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman called for the creation of a new federal agency to oversee artificial intelligence, modeled on such failures as the Food and Drug Administration and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  • Social Media ID ChecksFormer South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for mandatory ID checks on social media to combat anonymous speech online.
  • Dishwasher RegulationsThe Biden administration's new efficiency rules for dishwashers will cost manufacturers billions, save consumers almost nothing, and tackle a problem that doesn't exist.
  • Taxes on Uber, LyftA new tax on ride-sharing vehicles in D.C. will make getting from place to place more expensive without reducing congestion.

The "Evil" Region

  • Troops in the SubwayNew York. Gov. Kathy Hochul has ordered the National Guard to conduct bag-checks in the NYC subway system. It's a costly measure that will inconvenience commuters and erode civil liberties.
  • Bombing MexicoBack when more than one Republican was running for president, they all seemed eager to start bombing Mexico. Supposedly this would stop the drug trade, in the same way that decades of bombing the Middle East was supposed to spread democracy and bring peace.
  • Breaking up AmazonThe Federal Trade Commission filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, as if brick-and-mortar stores, eBay, and thousands of other websites don't exist.
  • Banning Drag ShowsTennessee passed a law banning public drag performances—to protect the children, naturally.
  • No Gun Rights, No VotingTennessee is also trying to restrict the right to vote to those who have the right to own a firearm. That creates a new, complicated obstacle for some felons who would like to have their voting rights restored.
  • Suspending the Second AmendmentNew Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a public health emergency declaration that effectively revoked the right to bear arms.
  • More TariffsIf elected to another term, former President Donald Trump says he'd like to impose a 10 percent tariff on nearly all imports to the United States, along with higher tariffs on goods from China. That would be a huge tax increase on American consumers.
  • Student Loan Forgiveness: Even after being rebuked by the Supreme Court, President Joe Biden is working to put taxpayers—including those who never attended college—on the hook for billions of dollars in loan forgiveness that overwhelmingly benefits wealthier Americans.