Friday, June 27, 2008

My Federal Congressional Delegation

I found my Senators Hatch and Bennett and Representative Rob Bishop here. For the House of Representatives, I'm in District 1 in Utah (the northernmost of the three).

Here are links to email them my opinion:

Monday, June 23, 2008

democratization of self-realization

In Daniel Pink's talk at Pop!Tech (which I recommend), he discussed how affluence, asia, and automation are the biggest factors changing the landscape of our working world. He quotes Robert William Fogel, winner of the 1993 Nobel :

"[Prosperity] has made it possible to extend the quest for self-realization from a minute fraction of the population to almost the whole of it."

That is exactly the kind of work I want to target, but especially for my own society where I think people (and their children!) need help to bring meaning in their lives.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

growing earmarks in Congress

This story about earmarks in Washington is illuminating, and scary.

"More than 11,000 of those "earmarks," worth nearly $15 billion in all, were slipped into legislation telling the government where to spend taxpayers' money this year", and in spending bills for the 2009 budget year that starts Oct. 1, "the House committee alone has 23,438 earmark requests before it".

Holy cow.

"Rules forbid lawmakers from raising campaign funds from congressional offices, but members and their aides sometimes find ways to skirt them."

Well, duh.

I don't care what anyone says: when you get that much power (and money) flowing through one organization, it's going to be very advantageous for masses of people to work the system any way they can. The article says that "earmarks can do a lot of good"; who cares when you've created a system that pays people very well to twist it for their own ends? Even after we work to make Congress' money transparent (which I highly recommend), we will continue to have a huge organization with all kinds of power that people can trade in ways other than their bank accounts.

Unlimited government is bad government, plain and simple. And we are not limiting the growth of the US government. I believe this is the most important politicial issue of our time in this nation.

Here are 4 government watchdog groups they mention in the article:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Achieving Breakthrough Performance" article

The following principles of non-profits that achieve "breakthrough performance" is from this article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

"Managers of nonprofit organizations should use the following four principles to help make the decisions that lead to breakthrough performance: 1) costs of serving should always decline; 2) market position determines your options; 3) clients and funding pools don’t stand still; and 4) simplicity gets results.

These four principles are derived from the recently published book The Breakthrough Imperative..."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

international financial institutions, eg. the IDB

I just mentioned how Pro Mujer was mostly funded without government help; there is a caveat:
she credits the Inter-American Development Bank with funding for Argentina, and that appears to be a government collaboration. You would never know it from their website; I had to look for them in Wikipedia to find their origins and funding, and they are much like the IMF and World Bank, established by governments. Fortunately, we have organizations like the Bank Information Center that watch these multi-national government organizations carefully with projects such as BICECA for civic engagement for issues in the Andes-Amazon region.


How do we get private institutions to replace these huge government lenders? We have quite a few private foundations; I wonder how their power compares? I have a feeling that private money is more effective and free than government banks; can I back that up with examples?

another example of (mostly) private financial sustainability for the poor

The Pro Mujer organization partners with government organizations, but their funding is not from the government:

"So none of the funding comes from the government?"
"Very, very little of it; very little of our fully financially sustainable institutions. Their funding comes from borrowing, from a diverse portfolio. And in Argentina, we have no money from the government, and that's a startup institution. Their money came from the Inter-American Development Bank, and from a board member who's a president of a local bank."
(Quote is from approx 28:00 to 28:30 of this talk; I thought at one point she said operations in all but one country are fully financially sustainable, but I couldn't find the quote.)

That's impressive.