The Endangered Species Act is a law passed by the United States Congress in 1973, whose main purpose is to prevent the extinction of like, four animals you've heard of, and then 800 types of skink. If your family was constantly under siege by the sinister dusky gopher frog or the malevolent dark-tumped petrel, then you were shit outta luck after '73 when it became illegal to ask them to dance with Big Betty (Big Betty being your shotgun in this strange, strange analogy). The ESA also made provisions to protect the habitats of these imperiled species by imposing restrictions on the land where they lived. This is an important point, as you will see in a moment.
Don't worry, this man is only hunting crickets.
How Did it Backfire?
As luck would have it, an estimated 90 percent of all endangered species in the United States can be found on privately owned land. When an animal on the endangered species list is found living somewhere, the surrounding habitat is automatically protected right along with it, and any activity that might harm the animal must cease. If the Fish and Wildlife Agency identifies a particular area as home to a giant kangaroo rat, for example, then farmers are restricted from tilling the soil there. Timber companies can't harvest trees. Swinger clubs have to put the kibosh on their druid-themed outdoor orgies, and somewhere the U.S. Government has to cut George Orwell a royalty check. And these restrictions stay in place until that animal is removed from the endangered species list, a proposal that can take years, decades or eternity depending on how much they like hanging out on roads, and don't like humpin'.
And animals love humping.
Obviously the farmers weren't exactly content to let the government put the needs of a rat, no matter how giant or kangaroo-like, above their livelihoods. If their land seemed like a suitable habitat for an endangered species, then the solution was obvious: Wreck the ever-loving shit out of the property to make it as unattractive to that animal as possible, kind of like keeping the refrigerator empty and never washing towels until your dickhead roommate moves out. Alternately, if they found an endangered species living on their property before the government did, then it was time to shoot, shovel and shut up. Kill the animal, bury it and never say a word to anyone. The endangered species list basically became a hit list for any animal that was on it.
Several recent environmental studies have shown that both of these unforeseen tactics have actually done more harm to many animal species than just leaving them off the endangered list in the first place.
We love boxing here at Cracked: It brought us marvelous things such as Punch-Out!!, Super Punch-Out!!, "Eye of the Tiger" and it single-handedly brought down the Soviet Union. But damn is it ever dangerous. Like any fighting sport, it's hard to make boxing safer without ruining the entire appeal of watching two dudes punch each other into the short bus. But rules did have to be introduced, otherwise the end of every boxing match would simply be "the balls."
So in 1867, the Marquess of Queensberry Rules introduced a few sensible codes of conduct, including the mandatory wearing of gloves and the ban on hugging. Gone were the days of bare-knuckle fighting followed promptly by long, emotionally intense snuggling sessions. But surely that's a reasonable price to pay for a safer sport, right?
How Did it Backfire?
The only thing boxing gloves have reduced are the number of cuts and bruises, while significantly increasing the risk of brain damage and number of deaths. Now, call us crazy, but we like to think brain damage and death sound a lot worse than cuts and bruises, unless we're opening up that whole ball area again (we'll take "forgetting multiplication" over "extensive testicle lacerations" any day, thanks).
There go the state capitols.
Yes, it turns out boxing gloves have only made it easier to punch a guy square in the face with full force. While the glove protects the hand against injury, your opponent's brain still has to deal with the full force of the blow, actually made worse by the added weight of the glove.
For all the modern boxers who don't die in the ring, there's the 15 percent chance they'll develop some kind of brain damage, while bare-knuckle fighters, on the other hand, prefer to avoid the head altogether: The skull is the hardest part of the body. The likeliness of breaking a hand against the head meant that fighters often chose to hit the body, thus saving their hands for more important things.
Gotta protect these babies for the next hand modeling gig.
If that was too subtle an entendre, we meant masturbating. That was a masturbation joke.
When the government tries to regulate itself by simplifying processes and cutting down on waste, that's usually a good time to pop some popcorn, pull up a chair and watch the hilarity ensue. Passed by Congress in 1980 (and then amended in 1995), the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) was intended to, shockingly, reduce the paperwork burden on federal employees. It was also supposed to eliminate much of the paperwork that all us common folk have to put up with when dealing with the Man, who won't even accept a "Notice of Intent Informing You to Go Fuck Yourself" without a notary public present.
How Did it Backfire?
This act was spawned somewhere within the unholy Office of Management and Budget (OMB). That's the same office that routinely authorizes $600 toilet seats and infamous earmarks like the Bridge to Nowhere, so buckle up for some righteous bureaucratic gangbangin': If a particular government agency wants to collect data from more than nine people (NO LESS THAN NINE!) they must apply for an Information Collection Requirement (ICR) from the almighty OMB. These ICR numbers have to be renewed every three years or, you guessed it, there are reams (that's government-speak for "fucktons") of reports to that have to be filed in order to update them.
For a huge entity like the Environmental Protection Agency that has to maintain thousands of ICRs, this means a constant paper typhoon exploding comically out of their building, no doubt devastating the mighty forests of the endangered tree skink in the process. Private companies being sued by the EPA have even been able to avoid litigation simply by pointing out at their ICRs were expired, and that the EPA was not in compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act.
And they were technically correct: The best kind of correct!
To put things in perspective, look at these numbers released by U.S. News & World Report: Americans spent 9.9 billion hours on government paperwork in 2009. Compare that to one billion hours spent on government forms in 1981 and you can see that the PRA isn't just backfiring, it's passionately suckling at the teat of complete failure. The solution to actually eliminating all this comically inept paperwork clutter from the Paperwork Reduction Act? Why, simply fill out Standard Form 152: The official government form to eliminate other forms. So it basically creates an eternal cycle of form-filing that we're pretty sure is one of the ironic punishments in Dante's Hell.
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For more programs that did more harm than good, check out 5 Government Programs That Backfired Horrifically and 5 Retarded Health Campaigns That Backfired (Hilariously).
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