There is a permission inside the Android OS that, when called upon, can brick a phone. Should you fear this permission? No. It is essentially completely disabled in modern versions of Android, and even when it was able to take effect, only system apps were able to use it. Since it did at one time exist, let's talk about it for a moment. One of the uses suggested by a reader of the new Reddit thread on this subject is that the permission might come in handy for users to be able to remotely brick their device should they ever lose it or have it stolen. Another idea is that hardware manufacturers might have control over what happens to the system installed in their devices, any attempts at hacking setting off this permission, bricking the device before the user has even gotten the chance to accidentally brick it his or herself!
Let's expand this conversation to the potential backdoor open now via the Android Marketplace, as discovered by Naked Security. [Original thread here] The discovery revealed in that post is that, should a malicious individual gain access to your Google account while you've got your devices synced with Android Marketplace's new web-based store, they'd be able to download whatever they want, directly to each and every one of your devices.
What happens if this horrible hacker had access to your Google account and also had developed an app that bricked your device at the push of a button? Oh that would just be terrible. So very terrible.
Lucky for you, these two situations don't exist at the same time, this this combined nightmare will never happen. Continue on being happy and prosperous in this calm year of the rabbit. All is well.