Cut the Federal Government in Half

Everyone wins.

Of course, these reductions in Federal taxing and spending would be accompanied by increases in State taxing and spending. However, these new State-level spending programs would reflect our present ideals and state of knowledge, and be more sustainable, effective, and appropriate than today’s legacy programs. Related government bureaucracies would be relatively lean and efficient, simply because they are new. Successful solutions could be imitated, and mistakes learned from. Competition between States would help governments to stay effective. Dissatisfied people could migrate to States where other like-minded people have gathered.

State politics would get very exciting. They would also get a lot more democratic, because each representative of State congress has a much smaller constituency than Federal congresspeople. Each member of the Massachusetts State Assembly, for example, has about 41,000 constituents, while each member of the U.S. Federal House of Representatives has about 760,000 constituents. Plus, their offices are probably near your house.

The way to prevent a civil war over differing conceptions of what the nation is about is to allow those differing conceptions to live in peace. Worth a shot, anyway.

Google and Facebook are Dead. Except They Aren’t.

It’s such fun to declare that the Gods are in twilight; you gain the status of a bold truth-teller even if your prediction’s flat-out wrong. Erick Jackson, writing at Forbes is taking just such a risk, point out that Google and Facebook may not be well suited to the new Mobile App world. Which is perfectly true, but as George Anders rebuts, hardly means that these two companies are dead. Rather the worst case scenario “would be to become their generation’s equivalent of Microsoft.”

Brand sizzle would diminish. Price-earnings ratios would compress. Yet they would hardly be headed for oblivion. Even at half its current margins, Google’s search-and-targeted-ads combo would be one of the most valuable business products on the planet. Facebook’s 900 million users have already shown that they can’t quit the addictive service, no matter how hard they try.

The same is true of Amazon, which Jackson accuses of never getting social networking right. Which again, is true, but so what? We don’t need Amazon to social network.  We need Amazon to ship stuff to our door, and as long as they keep doing that at prices we like, neither Web 2.0 nor 3.0 matter.

That’s why Google+ hasn’t taken off. When it came out, everyone said “Oh, it’s Google’s Facebook. I already have Facebook. What do I need this for?” Even if Amazon had been “good” at social networking, would we have wanted or needed it?

The tech gurus tend to overstate their own importance, to posit that everyone who doesn’t jump aboard every trend is a dinosaur choking on its own gas. The idea won’t stand up under thirty seconds objective scrutiny. The Internet has been undergoing revolutionary shifts every few years. But Ford still makes cars, Coke still carbonates water with corn syrup and caramel coloring; Amazon still sells books, and Facebook still makes random changes to our page without asking us.

Everything changes, except the stuff that doesn’t.