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OOBonomics: 12 Great "Outside Of the Box" Economic Policy Ideas No One Has Thought Of...Until Now Paperback – January 3, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Morgan James Publishing (January 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600376789
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600376788
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,407,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Is Your Original Economic Policy Idea Worth $1 million?  No?  How about $500?

 Author Al Lewis is offering a $1 million reward for the first idea published on his website, www.thinkOOB.com, to get adopted into national policy, and $500 for any idea used in the next edition of OOBonomics.

Think your “Outside Of the Box” economic policy contribution can make the grade?  Decide for yourself as you enjoy a merry romp through 12 of the best economic policy ideas you’ve ever read, ideas that will leave you thinking, laughing, and, most importantly, wondering:  “Why the hell aren’t we already doing this stuff?”

And then you can post your own idea.  Maybe it will make you rich, maybe it will get you published, or maybe it will just give Mr. Lewis a good laugh.  But, hey, might as well give it a try.  In the immortal words of the great philosopher Wayne Gretzky, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

From the Publisher

OOBonomics is the funniest serious economics book ever. Don't take our word for it. Don't even take James Carville's word for it. Take the quiz and -- only if your score qualifies you as "outside of the box" -- read the sample idea below. And then you (yes, you) could even submit your own idea and win $1-million! OK, your chances of winning that particular prize are pretty remote, but there are also unlimited $500 and $20 prizes, some of which have already been awarded. The prize rules are in OOBonomics.

Will you like OOBonomics? Well, "OOB," as you've probably noticed, stands for "Outside Of [the] Box." That means you have to be an outside-of-the-box thinker to enjoy the book. How can you tell if you are outside the box, vs. being smack inside it? To start with, if you are an actuary, you are way too left-brain to "get" the ideas in OOBonomics. You should probably stop reading right here, and go spend your time calculating the odds of something, such as the chances that you will ever find a girlfriend, multiplied by the probability that you would know what to do with her if you did.

The rest of you can take the quiz. In each pairing, the first character is "inside the box," while the second character is their "outside the box" counterpart. Give yourself one point each time you identify more with the second character.

(1) Captain Ahab vs. (2) Captain Crunch
(1) June Cleaver vs. (2) Mae West
(1) Smokey the Bear vs. (2) Tony the Tiger
(1) Bronte Sisters vs. (2) Blues Brothers
(1) The Monster that Ate Pittsburgh vs. (2) Herman Munster
(1) The Man from U.N.C.L.E. vs. (2) Uncle Fester
(1) Tarzan vs. (2) Magilla Gorilla
(1) Charley Manson vs. (2) Charley the Tuna
(1) Investigators, Watergate Scandal vs. (2) Investigators, Monica Lewinsky Scandal
(1) People Who Have Been Abducted By Aliens vs. (2) ET
(1) Rin Tin Tin vs. (2) Astro

How to Score This Quiz: Congratulations! If you've read this far, you pass! Why? Because you've read this far, that's why! Apparently you believe that there is any value whatsoever in scoring a quiz containing (a) random lists of characters, (b) most of which are fictional, and (c) almost a quarter of which are talking animals (d) from the 1960s. You are clearly outside of the box enough to appreciate a good, creative economic idea, so here goes...

The ShopAmerica Gift Card

When people are due to receive a tax cut, a stimulus check, an income tax refund, or even a Social Security check, a ShopAmerica Gift Card gives them the option of either taking the check owed to them or else going to a website commissioned by the Government that shows a list of sellers in their area offering these premium-value gift cards. Those gift cards, for many reasons, will have a face value somewhat higher than the check. Logistically, once a consumer agrees to the card, the Government cash gets credited to the seller's account and the buyer gets the card instead.

An example might be helpful. Though this gift card could be applied to any government check, suppose that the Government owes you $500 as your annual tax refund. Instead of just receiving the $500, you could go to a website where a long list of voluntarily participating sellers are offering a swap for proprietary gift cards worth more. Suppose you like Fuddruckers because they have the "Best Fuddruckin' Burgers in Town" and they are offering $600. You receive a gift card for $600, which must be spent there, over time.

It's that simple. The Government benefits as follows:

  • The extra stimulus comes at no cost over and above what the Government would spend anyway;
  • The money the government sends out as gift cards would be spent and not saved.

Any retailer, manufacturer, or service provider that passes a solvency screen set up by the Government's ShopAmerica Gift Card website contractor could offer its own gift card. The seller would receive four major benefits:

  • The ShopAmerica Gift Card offers very efficient, targeted marketing. Sellers could vary the gift card premium by region or zip code to direct traffic to particular stores in the chain;
  • Sellers can "borrow" from the Government at no cost. As with any prepaid gift card, sellers get their money before the consumer spends it. In this credit environment, having the money in advance is a huge advantage, on a large scale;
  • There is no 2-3% credit card skim off the top;
  • Some people might lose their cards.

For consumers (at least the ones who don't lose their cards, and, despite rarely wearing socks that match other than color and possibly fabric, even I can manage to hold onto a gift card long enough to spend it) the advantage is obvious. Anyone planning to spend money will have more to spend.

So everyone benefits, at no additional cost to anyone. Now you know why we say on the cover of OOBonomics, and again about 800 words ago at the top of this section, "Why the hell aren't we already doing this stuff?"

It is important that as many people buy OOBonomics and tell their friends as possible because the only way ideas like this are going to get noticed is if the book gets noticed. So buy it, review it, tell your Congressperson and let's turn this economy around...not with more government borrowing but with more creative, outside-of-the-box economic ideas


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Customer Reviews

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His focus on discovering and supporting ideas with facts and numbers made the book more real, at least for me.
Steven Reichenstein
Moreso, Mr. Lewis presents his observations and proposals with a humorous, engaging manner that makes this read as enjoyable as thought-provoking.
E. Ross
The book shows various applications of economics, which is way more practical and insightful than your economics 101 textbook!
M. Yu

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By The Spinozanator VINE VOICE on December 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
Al Lewis thinks it's time to present his "Out of the box" ideas to the public - ideas about economic reform that have been discussed and refined on his website frequented by economists and other interested parties. Although he presents it with humor, he is deadly serious and well-informed - AND ready to give a million dollars to anyone whose idea discussed on his blog/website becomes law. He must be either independently wealthy or plans on not forking it over on a technicality (ha ha, good one, Dave).

Some of his ideas are not biggies but some of them are huge. Some most people would buy and appear to be easy to implement. Example: The penny has outlived its usefulness. It costs the government 1.4 cents to make one and costs merchants more than it gains them to deal with pennies. Problem? The zinc lobby - despite the fact that most of the zinc has to be imported. Congress won't touch it. Solution: Get President Obama to issue an executive order allowing merchants to round down to the nearest nickel. Helpful suggestions on Lewis's blog include a charity jar for excess pennies - which got the suggestor $500. Advantages: participation is voluntary and it bypasses Congress. Gathering momentum would spin the penny into oblivion.

Other ideas are considerably more complex, such as how to deal with ridiculously high Medicare expenditures at the end of one's life, where the majority of Medicare money is spent. Lewis advocates six (yes,6) changes to the present system. How they would be implemented without Congress is not totally clear, but his solutions are touted to be administrative, bypass Congress, don't require government subsidies, and "why aren't we already doing this." I'll present just one of the six.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William Tobey on January 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
If P. G. Wodehouse and Ludwig Bemelmans had been economists, one of them might have written OOBonomics, but they weren't. So it was left to Al Lewis to offer a witty, wry toast to innovative ideas for improving our economic condition.

Lewis serves up an economics smoothie, blending serious ideas with morsels of wit--good and good for you. By pooling the talents of those who post on his website, he offers truly creative ideas. Because of his background in disease management, he is at his best explaining the paradoxes of medical economics.

Not all of his observations are positive. He hates monopoly and middlemen, somewhat paradoxically. He squashes lame-brained ideas that, at first glance, appear not unattractive, such as a government-subsidized "national 10% off sale," which made the New York Times list of 2008's most interesting ideas.

Even when venturing into topics that might from others border on trivia--banning the penny and hotel shampoo bottles--he is reliably entertaining.

One can only hope that OObonomics will be widely read in Washington, where the legislative foodmill dominated by lobbyists seeking to protect special interests all too often grinds innovation and sound economics into pap.

Buy this book and send another copy to your Congressman or Congresswoman.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bluestar on December 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
" OOBonomics" is a one man intellectual stimulus package chock full of ideas and insights. Al Lewis' insights sound a clarion call to Economic Common Sense for our time."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paula J. Silva on December 19, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am from Concord, Mass., where Mr. Lewis has a big following due to the penny-pitching protest he started here, where some of the merchants round down their transactions and give out nickels in change instead of pennies. This saves money for them and us, moves checkout lines, and keeps us from accumulating all those pennies. So when his blog said he had a book coming out, I couldn't wait to buy it.

The book turns out to be much more than about the penny idea, but the penny idea is similar to the others in that (in addition to being cleverly written) most of what he proposes is voluntary and/or can be done without involving Congress.

My favorite part is about the so-called "death panels." Instead of making a big deal about the huge financial and emotional burden of very aggressive end-of-like care and involving Congress, he proposes only a few changes that can be done by the White House or even the media. For instance, he proposes collecting and publishing data on how hospitals treat their dying patients: Do they keep them in the ICU and keep resuscitating them, or do they encourage them to move to hospice or have "palliative care" in the hospital?

Mr. Lewis says that all the data is available and if the government (or someone else collects it) someone's blog would list "The 100 Worst Hospitals To Die In," which would get picked up all over the press, and be a list that no hospital would want to be on. So they would all start improving their end-of-life care, and make it less expensive as a side benefit, since death with dignity costs much less than death in an ICU.

He also notes that extending people's lives with a few weeks in the ICU is very very profitable for hospitals right now, while transfering people to hospice is a money-loser.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michaelquilty on December 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
My five stars are for the book page. I can't review the book because I haven't received it yet, but this has to be the best book page in the history of Amazon. I've probably read 200 of these pages through the years and none of them have made me laugh like this one did. (Also, the sample economic idea from the book is great too.) If the book is half as funny as the book page and the other ideas are half as innovative, I'll definitely get my money's worth. For those of you who are new to Amazon, click on "see all editorial reviews" to get to the full product and book description...and while you're at it, take the hilarious "Can you Think Outside the Box?" quiz.
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