Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s recent project was inspired by his wife, Connie, who wished him to practice more philanthropy. Wouldn’t it help to know what our government is already doing with its (our) money, he wondered? Out of this question has sprung USAFacts, a website that serves up “federal, state, and local data from over 70 government sources.” I appreciate the presentation, which ties data to four specific directives embedded in the Preamble to our Constitution. For example, the heading Establish Justice and Ensure Domestic Tranquility leads to stats on Crime and Disaster, Safeguarding Consumers and Employees, and Child Safety and Social Services. Tying such information to our founding document will prompt many to consider these data points in a more thoughtful way.
The site’s About page describes its team’s approach and methodology. The effort has not been easy; we’re told:
With his business background, Steve searched for solid, reliable, impartial numbers to tell the story… but eventually realized he wasn’t going to find them. He put together a small team of people – economists, writers, researchers – and got to work.
We soon discovered that dealing with something as big and complex as government – with its more than 90,000 jurisdictions and 23 million employees – required an organizing framework. What better place to look than the Constitution, and, more specifically, the preamble to the Constitution? … While we don’t make judgments about policy, we all agree on the broad purposes of government as laid out in the preamble to the Constitution.
Still, in beta, USA Facts is partnering with academic institutions like the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, the Penn Wharton Budget Model, and Lynchburg College. They are working to document their process and controls, and plan to have their methods reviewed by a “prominent” accounting firm for accuracy. We look forward to watching this project grow.
Phi Beta Iota: This is one of the most intelligent and moral initiatives we have ever seen. Our admiration for Steve Ballmer and his good intentions backed up by serious hard work cannot be over-stated. Particularly brilliant is the rooting of the model in the Preamble to the US Constitution.
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE: Recommended for 2017 cycle by Jan H. Kalvik, as disclosed in his essay “Intelligence & the Nobel Peace Prize,”Defence and Intelligence Norway. PR1 PR2 (Norwegian) PR3 (English) PR4 (Trump-Putin)
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