U.S. Government Programs That Went Horribly Wrong

Over the years, the US government has instituted many policies and programs which initially seemed to be worthwhile and had the potential to achieve their goals. However, there are cases where these programs backfired and the drawbacks outweighed the benefits. Some believe that the government has a hidden agenda from the inception and things not going as planned should come as no surprise. Here are five programs that went all wrong.   

1. Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear was the internationally recognized icon of wildfire prevention. This mascot for the United States Forest Service was used in a campaign to teach people on how to prevent forest fires and how dangerous they are. This program, sanctioned and instituted by the government, had many adverse effects. Some say that Smokey Bear was too successful as people put out all the bushfires. Since everyone saw fires as bad, it resulted in the decades of reflexive fire suppression that led to the overgrowth and increased flammability of the country’s forests.

2. No Child Left Behind

No child left behind was a policy for K-12 public education and in the United States from 2002 to 2015. This was established to hold schools accountable for children’s learning and achievement. Its aim was to encourage underperforming schools to improve although there was much controversy, as underperforming schools were penalized. Much emphasis was placed on standardized testing which caused teachers to teach to the test. Teachers began to pay little attention to the students who continued to underperform and focused on those who could succeed in the examination. It was a one size fits all approach which did not work to the benefit of some schools. The core issues behind the students’ low performance such as the lack of funding, poverty, large class sizes and poor working conditions were not addressed. This demotivated teachers to a great extent.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) developed several programs to assist people before, during and after disasters. The agency continues to be heavily criticized for their inefficiency and dismal response during times of crisis. They make unwise decisions and have several issues with obtaining, managing and communicating information effectively. Leadership has been identified as incompetent over the year. An organization which was expected to be of assistance has been doing more harm than good.

4. Service Animals

Dogs that have been specifically taught to do work or carry out activities for individuals with disabilities are referred to as service animals. That is according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Emotional support animals can be any animal; some that may not go through special training. The issue is that the ADA allows for persons with disabilities to have their service animals go with them wherever they go but the same liberty doesn’t hold for emotional support dogs. This causes major problems for hoteliers, airlines and other businesses who cannot demand proof that an animal is a service animal.

5. Housing Projects

The US government recognized the need for more low-cost housing for urban residents. One would think that the housing projects would be spread throughout the big cities but this was not the case. None of them were built in the slightly wealthier areas. Instead housing was built very close to each other in the same city blocks. With the low economic status of the individuals who lived there, little tax revenue was collected which resulted in improvements to infrastructure, schools and other amenities which keep the residents bound to continued poverty.  

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