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Tuesday’s Podcasts

The following is a list of podcasts that I consumed Tuesday.  In addition to the title, link, and descriptions copied or adapted from the source, I have provided a grade for the relevancy of the topic and the quality of the ideas in the podcast.  Of course, these grades are objectively based upon my own individual values and judgment.  In this variety, you might find something to tickle your fancy.

1) Immigration and Individual Rights (2010-04-01 The Objective Standard)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Zeros in on the basic principle of America and demonstrates that this principle mandates a policy of open immigration, debunks several common arguments for prohibiting or limiting immigration, shows why all such arguments are necessarily invalid, and indicates what Americans must do if we are to reestablish and maintain the kind of moral, rights-respecting immigration policy that was advocated by the Founders.

Craig Biddle is the publisher of The Objective Standard.

2) Peikoff – Episode 123 (2010-08-02 Leonard Peikoff)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Philosopher Leonard Peikoff answers questions.  1) As a student of Ayn Rand did you realize that your understanding of Objectivism to some extent had been in your views even before you read her? 2) If after years of consistent good parenting a child turns out bad, can a parent still feel pride in their accomplishment in raising him to adulthood? 3) Why aren’t Christians the most outspoken opponents of multiculturalism since they claim absolute truth, believe sinners are going to go to hell, and have a huge moral gulf between the godly and the unchristian? 4) Ayd Rand said that there are certain philosophical questions that are improper, namely questions that contradict philosophical axioms. Why did she say these in particular? 5) Have you considered cryogenically freezing yourself in the hopes that future technology will be able to restore you? 6) I am an Objectivist. Why should I make a detailed study of the epistemological ideas that Ayn Rand originated? 7) Imagine you are at your funeral at 80 years old. All of your friends, family, and colleagues come to honor you. Now think about what you would want them to say about you. Most people want to hear how great they were in their relationships, not how great they were in their business or career. What about you? 8 ) Did Ayn Rand ever worry that the KGB might try to do her harm? 9) According to Objectivism, is it okay to have sex with anyone who is the highest and best partner that I can find at this time?

Peikoff is author of Objectivism:  The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

3) Peikoff – Episode 122 (2010-07-26 Leonard Peikoff)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Philosopher Leonard Peikoff answers questions.  1) Around what time would you say that you became a full-fledged philosopher as opposed to a philosophy student? When would you say that you became an Objectivist as opposed to a student of Objectivism? 2) We disregard ESP and the like because we accept the five senses as the only base of knowledge. Would it therefore be rational for a man who was blind from birth to disregard claims about reality based on the sense of sight?, 3) Is environmentalism the new communism? What are the similarities and differences?, 4) Is it permissible or moral to date a non-Objectivist?, 5) I am a homosexual who only finds romantic value in full masculinity. However, in my opinion a fully masculine mind is possible only in heterosexual men, and I am therefore only attracted to such men. How should I deal with this painful situation? 6) How much should you expect to love what you do for a living? Can you settle for non-love, but find ways to like what you get paid to do? Or Is settling like that selling yourself short? 7) Why did Cherryl Taggart in Atlas Shrugged have to commit suicide? 8 ) Can irrational philosophers still be called philosophers?

Peikoff is author of The Ominous Parallels:  A Brilliant Study of America Today – and the ‘ominous parallels’ with the chaos of pre-Hitler Germany.

4) Arts Writer Dianne Durante on Sculpture’s Forgotten Delights (2010-02-24 WFIU )

Relevancy A, Quality A – Arts historian Dianne Durante tells WFIU’s Adam Schwartz how to enjoy outdoor monuments, which she calls “forgotten delights.”

Durante is the author of Forgotten Delights: The Producers and Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide.

5) The new dynamics of book publishing (2010-07-19 Seth Godin)

Relevancy B, Quality A – In May, Seth Godin gave a talk to the Independent Book Publishers, which will probably of interest if you are focused on how industries are making (or not)  the shift to the new rules of a digital age.

Godin referencew the ideas from his book on leadership titled Tribes.

6) Social Media Makes Email Even Stronger (2010-07-06 Duct Tape Marketing)

Relevancy B, Quality B – Gail Goodman, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of leading email marketing service provider Constant Contact.

Over the last year or two email marketing has taken a back seat to social media in terms of buzz. However, during the recession, firms that had a solid relationship with an audience via email held a much stronger position. Email marketing still produces the highest ROI of any online marketing tactic.

Eric Groves has written Constant Contact Guide to Email Marketing.

7) Russia Update: Is the Reset Working (2009-10-28 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality B – A panel discussion on U.S.- Russian relations, including:  Stephen F. Cohen, Professor of Russian Studies, New York University; Dimitri K. Simes, President, The Nixon Center; and Celeste A. Wallander, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense For Russia, Ukraine And Eurasia.

The discussion refers to Stephen F. Cohen’s recent book Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War.

8 ) Color as a Branding Element (2010-07-13 Duct Tape Marketing)

Relevancy C, Quality C+ – Interview with Kate Smith Color Expert, Career Color Trend Forecaster, and Editor of Sensational Color, a site featuring a wealth of information on the subject of color, which has built in meaning and symbolism and can be a strong element of your brand when used strategically.

Her website features book recommendations, including Real World Color Management.

9) Media Conference Call: CFR Scholars Return from AfPak Region (2010-10-30 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality C – CFR Senior Fellows Max Boot and Daniel Markey, following their recent visit to the Afghan war theater, expressed deep concern about the ability of the Obama administration to stabilize the region with the current level of military and civilian resources.

Max Boot is author of The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power.  Daniel Markey is author of CFR’s Securing Pakistan’s Tribal Belt (Council Special Report No. 36).

10) The Art of Leading Well (2010-07-29 Harvard Business Review)

Relevancy B, Quality C – Warren Bennis, professor at the University of Southern California and author of “Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership.”

11) Why Delighting Your Customers is Overrated (2010-07-23 Harvard Business Review)

Relevancy B, Quality C – Matthew Dixon, managing director of the Corporate Executive Board’s Sales and Service Practice, says that delighting your customer is overrated and that operations should focus on reliability.

Audio of his co-authored HBR article is available from Audible.com.

12) Kosovo’s Moment of Opportunity (2010-07-28 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality C – The International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion  July 22 that Kosovo’s 2008 independence declaration did not violate international law. Though the opinion is non-binding, it has implications for Kosovo and Serbia, as well as countries and secessionist movements around the world.

13) How Evernote Is Changing the Free Model (2010-08-03 Duct Tape Marketing)

Relevancy C, Quality C – Interview with Evernote CEO Phil Libin.

Evernote is a simple service that allows you to track and store everything you want to remember and get it out of your “meat brain” and housed somewhere safe and trustworthy. About 9,000 people a day are joining the free version of this service that also syncs incredibly well with iPads and mobile devices.

Evernote is reportedly popular with fans of David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, about which friends have heard positive comments.

14) G-Lab ’10: Intergrupo, Columbia (2010-02-24 MIT Sloan)

Relevancy C, Quality C – Growing a business by cultivating relationships.

15) Will the Economic Recovery Run Out of Steam? (2010-07-21 Knowledge@Wharton)

Relevancy C, Quality C – After a year of solid gains, the economic recovery is beginning to slow. Demand is trailing off as inventory levels have been restored and emergency stimulus measures withdrawn. Continued high unemployment and a downtick in housing are weighing on consumer confidence and spending. Add unexpected shocks from Europe and a slowdown in China, and forecasters are now ratcheting down their expectations for growth over the next year.

Peter Cappelli is coauthor of The India Way: How India’s Top Business Leaders Are Revolutionizing Management.

16) Shooting the Messenger: Quarterly Earnings and Short-term Pressure to Perform (2010-07-21 Knowledge@Wharton)

Relevancy C, Quality C – As the quarterly earnings season for the second quarter of 2010 gets underway, investors, analysts and the media will be watching to see how well public companies are emerging from the economic downturn, and what that might mean for the stock market. With unemployment rates still high and federal measures of economic growth shaky, observers are hoping for earnings numbers that reaffirm signs of a recovery.

Michael Useem is author of Leading Up: How to Lead Your Boss So You Both Win.

17) WikiLeaks’ Fallout for U.S.-Pakistan Ties (2010-07-30 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy C, Quality C – The classified U.S. military documents  related to the war in Afghanistan leaked by WikiLeaks.org paint a grim picture of collusion between Pakistan’s intelligence service, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and members of the Afghan Taliban. While the allegations laid out in the documents–that the ISI supports Taliban insurgents fighting U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan–may not be new, they exacerbated strains in U.S.-Pakistan relations. In Pakistan, the allegations feed a growing paranoia that the leaks are part of a “conspiracy aimed at damaging the Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship, which is in a nascent stage, as well as the U.S.-Pakistan relationship,” says Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Washington-based Atlantic Council.

Shuja Nawaz is author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within.

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Monday’s Podcasts

The following is a list of podcasts that I consumed Monday.  In addition to the title, link, and descriptions copied or adapted from the source, I have provided a grade for the relevancy of the topic and the quality of the ideas in the podcast.  Of course, these grades are objectively based upon my own individual values and judgment.  In this variety, you might find something to tickle your fancy.

1) Justice Thomas’ Writing Breathes Life Into Important Privileges or Immunities Clause (2010-06-30 Institute For Justice)

Relevancy A, Quality A – The Institute for Justice (IJ) has for decades been among the most consistent defenders of an engaged judiciary and an appropriately originalist interpretation of the Constitution, including particularly the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment.  As today’s ruling makes clear, the right to keep and bear arms is a uniquely American, and decidedly fundamental individual right.

After this podcast, I am particularly interested in reading Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion, which begins on p. 67 of the Court’s release opinion.

2) Bill Maurer discusses SCOTUS decision on Arizona Clean Elections case (2010-06-09 Institute For Justice)

Relevancy A, Quality A – On January 20, 2010, a federal district court judge declared unconstitutional the challenged “Matching Funds” provision of Arizona’s so-called “Clean Elections Act,” striking a blow for the rights of individuals and groups to speak freely during political campaigns.  The Institute for Justice is challenging Arizona’s scheme of publicly financing elections, which drowns out the voices of individuals and groups who wish to support privately financed candidates who run against taxpayer-funded candidates in a misguided effort to “level the playing filed.”

Historian Eric Daniels has a lecture on Freedom on Speech in American History.

3) EGO Interviews Artist John Cox (2010-05-23 EGO)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Martin Lindeskog’s interview with John Cox provides interesting details about what Cox is up to now and his process.  Most surprisingly, he talks about the possibility of a return of Cox & Forkum…I am willing to pledge money to see that happen.

Collections of Cox & Forkum political cartoons are available at their website.

4) The Linchpin Session (2010-04-09 Seth Godin)

Relevancy A, Quality B – If all you are is a replaceable cog in the system that makes the widgets, and there are a hundred people as competent as you around the world, you might get away from it for a little while, but you’re not going to get away with it in the long run…and that is the challenge.  Seth Godin talks about the six reasons why he thinks this is hard for people and what we need to do to train them to think about it.

Godin discusses his latest concept in Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

5) Fair Elections Now Act (2009-10-07 Federalist Society)  <break> Relevancy A, Quality B – The Fair Elections Now Act (S.752, H.R.1826) would allow qualified, legitimate candidates to receive grants and matching funds to run competitive campaigns instead of relying on contributions from lobbyists and other special interests.  Who will decide which candidates qualify for funding, and how? Is the legislation a step closer to public financing and, if so, what are the implications?  In this podcast, Craig Holman and Bill Maurer debate the proposed legislation. Allyson Hayward moderates.

Allison R. Hayward has written a study “Campaign Promises: A Six-year Review of Arizona’s Experiment with Taxpayer-financed Campaign“.

6) Embracing Reality (2009-09-10 Living on Earth)

Relevancy B, Quality B – After experiencing severe famine in Malawi in 2001, William Kamkwamba wanted to find a way to protect his family in the future. So he set out to build a windmill, using diagrams from an old physics textbook and scrap parts that he collected in the local junkyard. Host Jeff Young talks with William Kamkwamba and journalist Bryan Mealer, co-authors of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

7) DCTS columnists reveal their Tony favorites (2010-06-09 DC Theater Scene)

Relevancy C, Quality C – In what has become an annual tradition on DC Theatre Scene, DCTS columnists Richard Seff and Joel Markowitz met in Richard’s penthouse on the Upper East Side of NYC to share their thoughts with you on the current NYC theatre season.

Seff recounts his life in theater in his book Supporting Player: My Life Upon the Wicked Stage.

8 ) The Light in the Piazza interviews (2010-03-31 DC Theater Scene)

Relevancy C, Quality C – Joel Markowitz interviews actresses Hollis Resnik and Margaret Anne Florence, who star as Margaret and Clara in “The Light in the Piazza“. They talk about the relationship they have built for these mother and daughter characters, and the advice Molly Smith gave them.

9) Irish actor Des Keogh on playing Da (2010-04-10 DC Theater Scene)

Relevancy C, Quality C – Surely, Hugh Leonard writing his autobiographical play Da in the early 70’s could have hoped for no one better to portray his da than the well known Irish actor Des Keogh, who is full of wit and charm with just a touch of mischief.

10) Afghanistan: Defining the Possibilities (2009-10-26 Council on Foreign Relations)

Relevancy B, Quality F- – U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry [D-MA] spoke at the Washington office of the Council on Foreign Relations on October 26, highlighting the array of U.S. policy challenges in Afghanistan. Kerry stressed that defeating al-Qaeda remained at the center of U.S. mission in Afghanistan. He defined U.S. success in Afghanistan “as the ability to empower and transfer responsibility to Afghans as rapidly as possible and achieve a sufficient level of stability to ensure that we can leave behind an Afghanistan that is not controlled by al-Qaeda or the Taliban.”

I wonder allowed if Senator Kerry’s book The New War:  The Web of Crime That Threatens America’s Security is a comedy of errors.  Published in 1998, it predates 9/11 and his failed Presidential bid while being informed by his experience as the ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations.  I note that a search for al Qaeda and bin Laden in the book found no results.

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This Weekend’s Podcasts

The following is a list of podcasts that I consumed this weekend.  In addition to the title, link, and descriptions copied or adapted from the source, I have provided a grade for the relevancy of the topic and the quality of the ideas in the podcast.  Of couse, these grades are objectively based upon my own individual values and judgment.  In this variety, you might find something to tickle your fancy.

1) Yaron Brook on The Wall Street Shuffle (11/11/09)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Yaron Brook is a guest on The Wall Street Shuffle. Topics include government health care and cap-and-trade legislation.  A collection of information created by the Ayn Rand Center for Individiual Rights and related to health care legislation is available at their health care issue focused page.

2) eBay Jim Griffith TJMax Story (9/17/2009)

Relevancy B, Quality B – When Susan Su asked Griffith for any secrets on getting inventory to sell on eBay, he said, “think local.”  Instead of thinking only about how to sell YOUR stuff on eBay (like your old stereo, computer, designer jeans), think about how to make a micro business selling OTHER stuff on eBay, that you obtain locally…

More information on rethinking your personal finances from Ramit Sethi is available in his book I Will Teach You to be Rich.

3) Letters of Bess Truman (2009-10-29)

Relevancy B, Quality B – Pres. Harry S. Truman’s grandson, Clifton Truman Daniel, spoke about the letters written from Bess to Harry Truman at the National Archives in Washington DC.  Previously, Daniel has written the book Growing Up With My Grandfather: Memories of Harry S. Truman.

4) Public Pulse interview with Elan Journo (2009-09-14)

Relevancy A, Quality A – Elan Journo is interviewed on Public Pulse about his book, Winning the Unwinnable War: America’s Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism.

5) Simon Johnson Reports (2009-02-09)

Relevancy B, Quality C – MIT Sloan interview with Prof. Simon Johnson on the financial crisis.  Johnson is co-author of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown.

6) The Teachings of Ayn Rand (2009-08-28)

Relevancy A, Quality A – In this interview from the “Taking Back America” podcast, Onkar Ghate offers an overview of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, the importance of the self, and philosophical reasons for today’s erosion of freedom.  Ghate is a contributor to Postmodernism and Management, Volume 21: Pros, Cons and the Alternative (Research in the Sociology of Organizations).

7) Job Board Scams (2010-03-16)

Relevancy B, Quality B – WNYC’s Brian Lehrer interviews Ask the Headhunter (Nick Cocodilos) about bogus and misleading job advertisements.   Cocodilos’ book is Ask the Headhunter: Reinventing the Interview to Win the Job

8 ) Marc Kudisch in Terrence McNally’s Golden Age (2010-03-10)

Relevancy B, Quality C+ -Terrence McNally’s new play Golden Age, which just had its successful debut at Philadelphia Theatre Company…Actor Marc Kudisch takes us on the journey of this new play – from workshops to rewrites to the debut in Philadelphia,  to more rewrites with a new director, and finally to the Kennedy Center.

I don’t know anything about McNally although this interview raised my interest.  I see a couple collections of his plays on Amazon Three Plays by Terrence McNally (The Lisbon Traviata, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, It’s Only a Play) and Terrence McNally, Vol. 1: 15 Short Plays.

9) Sale Process Engineering Conference Call (2010-04-12)

Relevancy B, Quality A – Justin Roff-Marsh of Ballistix discusses salles process engineering as a preview to his presentation to Constraint Management Group’s annual conference.  His book is Reengineering the Sales Process.  Roff-Marsh is an advocate of applying Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints to the sales process, see Goldratt’s book The Goal as an introduction.

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Quick Hits 3/12/2010

“The gullible are often the most dishonest. If they’re foolish enough to believe the big lies of others, then they’re foolish enough to expect others to believe  their own deception.” — Dr. Michael J. Hurd

Reaction to the recent Amazon tax in Colorado, demonstrates the demagogic aspects of public lies as an effort to use fraud to wield force against those that dissent. A collection of letters to the editor of the Denver Post demonstrates the echo effect. However, activist and scholar Diana Hsieh’s letter correctly identifies the issue:   “…I don’t blame Amazon. I blame our Colorado politicians for enacting an unjust law. They’ve made business through affiliates impossible in Colorado by  imposing a mess of costly red tape and taxes. Amazon is not just a victim in this mess, but the primary victim. Honest people do not blame business for  the sins of government.” At Free Colorado, Ari Armstrong goes into detail about how the Colorado statute violated the protections our federal constitution.

At RuleOfReason novelist Edward Cline reviews Al Gore’s defense of anthropomorphic global warming fraud and Gore’s financial interest in advancing disinformation. Cline writes in part,

Gore comes off sounding like a television evangelist claiming  that God exists, is all-merciful, and will forgive you your sins if you only obey him. The evangelist’s audience is composed of stunted minds for whom the  proofs that God is a metaphysical impossibility would roll off their frontal lobes like water off a duck. It is the same with Gore’s true believers. They must  believe, because they refuse to think and accept the evidence of their senses. These are the people, laymen and “scientists” alike, for whom faith is as  trustworthy as certainty. So many people believe in anthropogenic global warming (decades ago it was global cooling); who are they to question such an  impressive consensus? It must be true.

In response to Chief Justice Roberts recent comments, George F. Will attacks the custom of the State of the Union speech, and calls for a general boycott of the process. Will is entirely wrong, and his explanation demonstrates the second-hand nature of conservative thinking with its emphasis on non-essentials and deference to  the out-of-context thoughts and actions of the past’s titans. The defects of the current State of the Union practice is symptomatic of the defects of our  recent Presidents; Will advocates ignoring the symptoms as a solution to the problem. Of course, the defect is that the American people have been  selecting inferior individuals to be President.

The New York Times reports, for more than a decade, the Kansas City School board evaded the  reality of their failing schools, and now fiscal reality has resulted in a plan to close 28 of their 61 public schools. In the past decade, enrollment has been  halved as individuals chose suburban districts and charter schools as a solution for their children’s education. Fewer than 25% of the school district’s  students perform at grade level.

During his campaign, candidate Obama promised that his presidency would strengthen our relationships in the world. Recently, the European Parliament  responded to the Administration’s diplomacy, by ending  cooperation with the US in fighting terrorist financing, which reversed a major diplomatic achievement of the Bush Administration. Now, the Washington Post reports that Sec. of State Clinton is threatening Israeli  Prime Minister Netanyahu with weakening our bilateral relations, in an effort to compel him to negotiate with terrorists. The Obama Administration’s efforts to embrace our enemies and rebuff our friends have done the opposite of what candidate Obama promised. This reminds me of Jackson Diehl’s report that Administration officials had trouble identifying any foreign leader with whom President Obama had formed a strong personal relation and the most credible claim was Dmitry Medvedev, the puppet President of Russia…which makes sense as they have so much in common in that regard.

Paul McKeever, leader Ontario’s Freedom Party, reports on dishonest public budgeting and its tendency for cost overruns. In opposing public financing of the 2015 PanAm Games in Toronto, McKeever reminds the  taxpayers that the original budget for this year’s Vancouver Olympics was $874 million, which was exceeded by solely the actual expense of security,  while estimates for actual costs are $6 BILLION. Retrospectively, the anticipated and actual costs for Social Security and Medicare would demonstrate a similar duplicity, which could be exceeded by the enactment of PelosiCare.

Ex-Senate Parliamentarian Robert Dove (1981-1987) expounds upon the history of Senate rules that have been subject to dishonest political attacks upon the role the Senate plays within our constitutional system. He concludes that current issues within the Senate operations are not the fault of the rules, but the fault of the current Senators.


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Amazon Associates Vs. Colorado

I noticed the other day that I actually sold a book through Amazon’s Associate program, which is a first as I only recently started an effort to include such links.  Thanks to that buyer and those that have been investigating those links.

Fortunately for me, I do not live in Colorado as Amazon has ended its Associate program there as a response to a new state law mandating high regulatory compliance costs.

At Free Colorado, Ari Armstrong has posted a detailed account of the cause and consequences of the Colorado government’s new law.  In its notice to its former Associates, Amazon noted that Colorado’s law is unconstitutional and that “The US Supreme Court has defined what would be constitutional, and if Colorado would repeal the current law or follow the constitutional approach to collection, we would welcome the opportunity to reinstate Colorado-based Associates.”  Other companies are also starting to cancel affiliate programs with Colorado residents.

Colorado based activist and scholar Diana Hsieh shared her response to the Associate cancellation, “On reading that, I just wanted to cry. My new project is a labor of love — as you’ll see when it’s launched on Monday. But dammit, I was hoping to be compensated somewhat for my past and future hours of work by those small commissions from Amazon. The same applies to other projects of mine. In an instant, the new law meant that so much past work was wasted and so many future plans derailed.”

RepealTheAmazonTax! is a new website that has been started for activism related to repealing the Colorado law, so that its citizens can again enjoy the same benefits that other Americans enjoy through their voluntary association and free trade with Amazon.

Last year, the Hawaiian legislature passed a similar statute that caused Amazon to end its Associate program in that state until the Governor vetoed the bill; therefore, there is precedent for rolling back such unconstitutional state laws as an inspiration to activism by Amazon Associates harmed by the legislation.  [HT:  Jason Crawford]

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A Clearance Reduction Act?

Sen. Mark Warner recently hosted a job fair for his constituents that attracted 7000 job seekers.  This parallels similar results from multiple events hosted by Rep. Frank Wolf.

As I am interested in good and effective government, within the domain of its proper scope, I shared with my senators and representative an idea to reduce regulatory compliance costs that prevent moving some of the current unemployed to work:

Sen. Warner,

Congratulations on the success of your recent job fair at Mary Washington University; however, I think that you are missing an important issue that if mitigated could ease unemployment in Virginia, reduce the cost of government contracting, and improve agency performance.

Excessive requirements for security clearances in federal and contract employment create an entry barrier, which diminishes the available workforce and increases the cost for employers recruiting unemployed workers, who have only private industry experience.

As evidence of this problem, I point to the large number of unfilled job postings with federal contractors that require active clearance; for example, in software application development.

Just as agencies had to be directed by Congress to reduce excessive paperwork and secret classifications for documents, the Congress should investigate whether existing guidelines for employment clearances increase government operating costs without a proportionate increase in security.

In the short term, the option of agencies granting immediate provisional clearances for unemployed applicants, to be followed by a full clearance review later, may help to simultaneously address government and contractor staffing requirements, and immediately reduce unemployment.

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Quick Hits 3/7/2010

In a recent post, Seth Godin repeats a quote attributed, perhaps erroneously, to Andrew Carnegie, “Take away my people, but leave my factories and soon grass will grow on the factory floors……Take away my factories, but leave my people and soon we will have a new and better factory.”  Focus on “my people” for a moment.  It isn’t all people or any people, but in fact, some people are better because of their thinking and ideas, not their muscles, and those people should be chosen.

In the Christian Science Monitor, Don Watkins and Yaron Brook make an important distinction between two types of businessmen:  the producer and the looter.  The producer creates value and trades for mutual advantage.  The looter seeks to use political favors to take values not freely given.  In the argument about the morality of businessman in general, this distinction is critical as not all businessman are the same, and the looter live like parasites upon the producers.  This last point is implemented by congressional and Administration proposals to tax successful businesses to pay for the bailouts of unsuccessful ones.

WSJ deputy editor Daniel Henninger has called for a return to the age of the robber barons wth reference to Burton W. Folsom’s book The Myth of the Robber Barons: A New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America.  Folsom segments the businessmen of that historical age into two type:  market entrepreneurs and political entrepreneurs.  Of which, the market entrepreneurs were the creators of jobs and wealth.  In contrast, our current political policies reward the political entrepreneurs who produce inferior results and depend upon political patronage.  Henniger observes, “If the price of rediscovering the American job machine is some people across the land getting really rich, it’s a small price.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander recounts some of the negative impacts upon customers from the proposed nationalization of what remains of the private student loan industry.  Omitted are the consequences for shareholders when corporate managers partner with government to solve public problems, which is the public theft of private capital.   Just ask the impoverished shareholders of GM, Sallie Mae, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Jennifer Merritt reports on interesting developments in economic forcasting using internet search and twitter data to track trends in job search activity, the housing market, and consumer purchases with supporting geographic segmentation.  In one case, MIT was able to predict home-sale volumes more accurately than the National Association of Realtors.

Soomo Publishing attempts to create innovative learning tools using web resources.  In the video “Too Late to Apologize:  A Declaration,” the lyrics reflect some specific causes for the American Revolution.  While it is no Sparrowhawk, this presentation does make an emotional connection missing from a class reader.  [HT:  Rational Jenn]


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched the “I am Free Enterprise” video contest with a $50k prize.  [HT:  Diana Hsieh]

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Quick Hits 2/27/2010

Amit Ghante makes an excellent point about the FDA in reviewing a NYT article about the accessibility and cost of experimental medical treatments:  “If drug companies had the right to sell and market experimental drugs, and patients the right to take them, all of the (man-made) problems, and many of the costs and delays cited in the article would vanish.”

Seth Godin writes “Genius is the act of solving a problem in a way no one has solved it before…It’s about using human insight and initiative to find original solutions that matter.”

In light of Citigroup’s appointment of former Mexican President and economist Ernesto Zedillo to his board, I wonder, if an American company is serious about becoming international [as I had advised Sallie to do], should it add foreign members of the board as a catalyst to that transition?  Is that boots on the ground experience needed for oversight, strategic planning, and contacts?

Colbert King presents an analysis about how WH chief of staff Rahm Emanuel threw the President under the bus. This indictment should be expanded to include most all congressional Dems, who in their role as superdelegates selected Obama to be their congressional spokesmodel and now publicly blame him for the failures of their legislative initiatives.

Nik Steinberg, of Human Rights Watch, writes “Under Cuba’s ‘dangerousness’ law, authorities can imprison people who have not committed a crime on the suspicion that they might commit one in the future. ‘Dangerous’ activities include handing out copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, writing articles critical of the government and trying to start an independent union.”  Consider this in the context of CNN not actually reporting from its Havana bureau and the Obama Administration’s tendency to thaw our relations with Cuba.  Sanctioning American tourism to a country which can arrest individuals arbitrarily when they exercise their fundamental right to free speech does not sound like a well thought out policy.

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How Green Should the Valley Be?

The New York Times article on the 2010 Index of Silicon Valley report notes a decline in vitality and points to green technology innovations as the path to salvation:

The report’s authors said that green technology could be the way out of the region’s, and perhaps the nation’s, downturn. From 2006 to 2008, patent registrations in green technology in Silicon Valley increased 7 percent. From 2004 to 2008, green jobs increased 24 percent.

Note the wishy-washy wording of that initial statement:  “could” and “perhaps.”  It could and perhaps be likely NOT to actually happen in reality.

Further, the metrics of small patent growth and significant job growth in green technologies actually correlates a decline in the Valley with an increased focus on green, as in enviromental ideologically driven decisions instead of dollar driven.

The article cites two points that make environ-green unfriendly to Valley revitalization:  (1) the large capital requirements of such projects, and (2) locals failure to attract federal dollars to the area through the politics of pull.

I hypothosize that the venture captialists are attempting to recover from their misinvestments in green fantasies as their investments in such companies declined 37 percent last year.  Hopefully, this experience will help them distinguish between the initiatives that are green according to enviro-doctrine and those which are green by dollars.

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Job Search Best Practices

What are the best practices when looking for work?

I made a list and a video.

4.Automate Boards
5.Contact Management
6.Multiple Targets
7.Multiple Resume Versions
8.Track Results
9.Personal Projects

If you have anything to add to the list, please leave a comment.


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