Great comment. As someone who works for the U.S. government (all opinions here are my own!), one of the most frustrating things about working there is the extreme sense of risk aversion in trying new things. If you stick to the status quo and don't rock the boat, even if what you are doing isn't effective you won't run into any difficulties. However, the second you try something new and it fails (or just doesn't live up to expectations), allegations of waste and incompetence follow.
In the private sector, how many companies have spent millions trying to figure out how to make social media work for their businesses before finding an approach that delivers results? If government doesn't have the same flexibility to experiment, it will never figure out how to harness some of these new tools and will end up being relegated even more than it already is to using obsolete approaches and technologies.
Ideally government would have the ability to rapidly try new, small dollar projects with the expectation that many efforts would fail but a few would succeed and end up contributing to a new way of doing business. Unfortunately the institutional bias towards big, safe, and old-fashioned approaches is reinforced each time an innovative attempt at something new is perceived as falling short.
That's exactly it, Scott. In my day gig, I regularly see these kinds of bureaucratic waste stories surface about fairly innocuous things taken out of context, showing up on sites like the Examiner or the Daily Caller or Politico. They're meant to rile folks up and get them angry, because they draw traffic and such.
But when you dig a little deeper, the scooplets at times don't tend to stand up to scrutiny. (An example of this from a couple of years ago, involving a "$16 muffin": http://sfbne.ws/122aqOr )
In this case, the two-percent engagement number is a huge tell, because if you were to say 40,000 users or whatever it is, it wouldn't sound nearly as much like a waste of money.
And if you were to put this in context of what other marketing companies pay to get on Facebook, as well as the per-user costs they were paying, especially compared to other marketing venues, you might find that this is actually the most effective form of marketing for them. (How much did they spend on TV/magazine/other forms of outreach in the past? And what was their success rate?)
I'm not saying that this isn't a huge waste of money or time—it may still turn out to be, and a big one at that—but we aren't being given all of the variables here, and being asked to base this entire story on one side of the claims.
Remember—in D.C. political media, sometimes you won't hear the other side of the story, so being skeptical and not taking things at face value is probably for the best.
His sense of humor made the early years @ groupon hilarious and awkward at the same time. He hired a 19yr old kid to dress up like a ballerina and walk around without talking for an entire week...why? b/c he thought it was funny. I'll buy the album if its for real, hope Aaron makes an appearance on it
"These statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the number of firearms sold. Based on varying state laws and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation
cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale."
I imagine the total's quite a bit lower than the stated figure since many of these background checks would be for transfers and sales of used weapons, not always just new guns entering the system. I also imagine some people go through the background check but then for one reason or another don't complete the sale. Still, the number of new guns in circulation is likely very large.
From the same article, it says there were 16.5 million background checks during 2010. Perhaps the ratio between the number of new guns manufactured/imported into the U.S. is relatively stable with the number of background checks. If so, 168M background checks since 1993 would mean about 90M new guns in the United States during that period.
> But I have simply stopped looking to these business models to do anything for me financially as a musician.
That's too bad, because there are opportunities. You could completely discount the revenue most artists get directly get from streaming and look at the services as the free option of the freemium model. They're getting their product to a far larger audience than they would have if there was a cost right out of the gate, and some of those free users will turn into paying ones. I know I have purchased albums (from iTunes) of artists I've discovered on Spotify. I'm positive that for Galaxie 500, some of their Spotify streams generated additional revenue in other channels.
"As we have discussed, the most logical starting point to address gun violence is the expansion of the background check system. Incomplete or absent background checks create a gaping hole in the wall between firearms and criminals. Loopholes in the background check system give criminals unprecedented opportunity to access firearms. This problem must be remedied quickly."
- National Fraternal Order of Police President Chuck Canterbury, February 16, 2013
Well, it's an online opt-in survey so you have to keep that in mind. Also, they didn't directly poll on the question of background checks, which is the subject that gets the 80 - 90% approval rating in other polls. Instead they asked about the effect of "currently proposed White House legislation" and got a much different result.
Those are true points. I just wanted to point out that there isn't necessarily unanimous support for increased gun-control amongst LEOs. And regarding the FOP, I don't have a citation handy, but I'm pretty sure I've heard that a lot of the rank and file police officers differ with their leadership on gun control issues.
I think the impact of this phenomenon is partially mitigated by globalized finance, i.e. I can save/invest my money in countries with different demographic profiles than my own. Capital won't stay in countries where everyone is trying to retire early - it will flow to countries where it is relatively scarce and earns a higher return.
I think we're about to reach a point where internet humor and government and humor finally converge. Congress has basically been trolling the American people (minus anyone actually getting to laugh about it) for most of the last decade, and they're finally getting trolled back by the likes of internet-driven campaigns like Mint the Coin.
I think this is a great development. As a DC resident, I can attest to everyone here taking themselves far too seriously.
> if you really cared about the hardest problems you could find why isn’t addressing civic and social problems on your list?
Yes. As someone who also grapples with applying technology to public policy issues, I think part of the reason that more people from the tech sector don't dive into civic issues is that the challenge there is frequently 10% tech and 90% organizational/personal. Like you said though, those that can revolutionize business process (and I would add have excellent people skills) can add a lot to government.
I definitely wish you luck in your next endeavor and would love to connect as you're making the switch to the private sector (I have been contemplating a switch of my own).