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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Today's Big Idea: Smart Government

The Big Idea for Thursday, December 06, 2012

Our government is not programmed to think long-term. It is programmed to think in 2-year cycles. Can it be reprogrammed? 

If we want to take a responsible approach to the big debt gap, Big Think's chief economist Daniel Altman argues, our leaders in Washington do need to change their way of thinking. Altman says while it would be irresponsible for Congress to kick the can down to the road, we also have time for a careful assessment of tax and spending policy with an eye to the longterm. 

After all, Altman argues, as long as interest rates remain low, there is no compelling reason to introduce a series of shocks to the economy in the form of steep tax increases and budget cuts. In other words, smart government ought to take a deep breath and come up with a solution for the long haul. 


  1. 1 Don't Fear the Debt...Just Yet.
    Daniel Altman Think Tank
  2. 2 Will We Fly Off the Cliff on January 1?
    Steven Mazie Praxis
  3. 3 The Future of Debt, Interest Rates, and Taxes
    Glenn Hubbard
  4. 4 Howard Dean: Let's Drive Over the Fiscal Cliff.
    Big Think Editors

Today's Big Idea: Smart Gov...

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