The Copenhagen Consensus project is a heroic attempt to conduct some very difficult policy analysis. Where markets cannot be expected to do their magic (e.g., vaccines or treatments for rare diseases), we rely on policies. Choosing among these is a huge challenge. Economics is useful here because it is micro, not macro, that is relevant.
Here are the Copenhagen Consensus current recommendations for sixteen policies that ought to be priorities. Look them over. Chances are that most people have not heard of most of them. You will not find green energy, sustainable development, high-speed rail, obesity, or any of the favorites of western media and policy elites. In a world of scarcity, this is of course tragic. Rather than take actions that channel resources to where they can quickly save and prolong lives, we have long and learned discussions of policies that make elites feel good about themselves
Can we turn Copenhagen around and pick and rank the most wasteful and most mendacious projects or policies? The choice set is huge and the ranking would be difficult. Brad Hill alerts me to a contender, California high-speed rail. I know that many thought it is so crazy that it will never happen. Wrong. It is happening.