What Happens To Good Ideas?

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Pets2Vets – now known as P2V – is an idea that’s been growing since 2009. When Dave Sharpe, an Air Force veteran, returned from service in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, he was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder. Sharpe was gun-in-the-mouth ready to kill himself when his pit bull puppy caringly licked his ear. After realizing what saved him might save others, he started matching injured vets with shelter dogs and cats. P2V also provides training and health insurance for the pets. Considering 18 veterans commit suicide daily and 1 animal is put to sleep every 8 seconds, P2V isn’t a “petty” program.

Radio frequency chips are an old idea with a new use. In 2011 they’re used by a growing number of hotels to track inventory. The chips are bendable and washable and can be read by electronic readers up to 6 feet away. Supposedly 5%-20% of hotel linens – bathrobes, bed sheets, duvet covers, bathmats, pool towels and banquet linens – are lost. Theft by guests is a concern, but the main problem is loss by outside laundries. Unfortunately, the chips cost about $1 each. Until they are more affordable, hotel rooms will be more expensive as hotel guests “chip in” to pay for lost linens.

Photo Shop is an idea that illustrates too much of a good thing can be bad. In July 2011 Britain’s Advertising Standards Agency banned two ads for L’Oreal foundation products – one featuring actress Julia Roberts and the other featuring supermodel Christy Turlington. The ASA ruled airbrushing had made the ads misleading by exaggerating the ability of the products to cover lines, wrinkles and blemishes. A spokesperson for L’Oreal described the ads as “aspirational”. However, when studies show 25% of us feel depressed by our body, it’s time for beauty advertisements to stop distorting reality and “get real”.

Red light cameras are a good idea gone bad. As of August 1, 2011 Los Angeles joined 32 other cities in discontinuing their use. They aren’t being discontinued because they don’t work. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the cameras saved 159 lives in 14 cities during 4 years of operation. The program was ended because only 60% of the 180,000 drivers ticketed paid their fine and Los Angeles had to put $1 million into the program to keep it solvent. Perhaps those in charge of red light cameras should “picture this” – laws to enforce the fines.