Archive for government

America’s Decline

Posted in Economics, Politics, Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2009 by Josh Wittner

In this Newsweek article, Fareed Zakaria explores the status of America as the world’s premier innovator. He takes to task the idea that somehow our culture is the predominant reason that we’ve held the status we’ve held. I’ve always felt that it was more likely that the state of the world at large, our geographical separation from Europe (especially during WWII), and our once dominant educational system had larger impacts than simply our culture and I think that Zakaria agrees here.

The first key idea here for me is that the US government used to spend significantly more money on basic research and development (as a percentage of GDP). In fact, Zakaria states that “the government’s share of overall R&D spending remains near its all-time low.”

The second key idea is about education in the US. Zakaria uses the example of California which “builds prisons, but not college campuses” anymore. Anyone who knows me well has probably heard me talk about how important I think education is and I would definitely stand for education reform and increased financing.

The overall growth in innovation from countries like China and India are on the grand scale wonderful things that we should not try and inhibit. Instead we should should try and compete in progress.

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Government Transparency: Data.gov

Posted in Government Transparency with tags , , , on September 12, 2009 by Josh Wittner

The OSTP (Office of Science and Technology Policy)  announced the winner of its Apps for America contest today.  The contest sought to inspire private citizens and organizations to create useful tools for analyzing the data available in its new website data.gov. The website is another step by the Obama Administration to increase governmental transparency by increasing the people’s access to governmental data.

The winner of the contest was a site called DataMasher which allows the user to merge data sets to create cool state based graphs like Party Contributions by State, or the most reproductive, or one that shows the inequality in federal spending by comparing spending per state to population, or one showing the failure of the system to accurately represent population in the House. Pretty cool stuff.

Some other cool projects that resulted from the contest were govpulse, which provides easy filterable access to the federal register for the first time in US history and This We Know which provides easy access to government data about your community, like which city has the least or most toxins, or which has the lowest or highest unemployment rates, or even which city is the most nomadic.  Again, pretty cool stuff.

An open and transparent government is the only kind of government that the people can truly have power over. It makes me happy to see this administration using the immense power of the internet and technology to enhance those aspects of our government, to give the advocates of truth a way to fight our government when it fails to be honest and defend it against lies when it succeeds to be so.