2010-12-29

Guys I Might Vote For in 2012

0 comments

Mitch Daniels from Indiana says yes to prison reform:

Indiana’s prison population has spiked in recent years, and state officials realized that they were going to have to spend about $1 billion in new prisons over the next 7 years to fit all the prisoners in the state prison system. In response, Governor Daniels announced a plan to study the State’s sentencing laws, together with two non-profit groups, the Pew Center on the States and the Council of State Governments Justice Center, to see if the state’s criminal sentences had become too punitive. The groups published their report, which found that the drug laws had become too draconian and “one size fits all,” and that there wasn’t enough support for susbtance abuse treatment. The report recommended less punitive and more nuanced sentencing laws for nonviolent drug offenses as well as better substance abuse counseling as a way to lessen the prison population and avoid having to build new prisons.

2010-12-15

Look Who's Guest Blogging Now

1 comments

It's me!

The editors over at IliveinDallas.com tracked me down after posting this riveting account of the Bishop Arts District a few months back, and asked if I'd lend my expertise to their readership. Naturally I obliged.


The title is "Where Should I Live in Dallas? The Definitive Housing Guide for Life in the Big D". A ballsy title if ever there was one, but I like to think of it as a challenge if nothing else.

So if you have a few seconds, head on over there and check it out. And if you want to get me an early Christmas present, leave a comment or two as well.

Merry Christmas!

2010-12-08

200 Years in 4 Minutes

0 comments

Amazing!



(via Greg Mankiw)

2010-11-24

Travel Safe

1 comments

Happy Thanksgiving!

2010-10-07

Who Is FICA and Why Does He take All My Money?

0 comments

Pretty sure those were the words of frustration I fumed as a 16 year old working at the mall for $5.70 an hour (minimum wage was $5.15 in 1998 so I felt like I was rolling) upon receiving my first paycheck.

Well my brother in law (the Quixotic Oklahoman) mentioned this over the weekend so I thought I should post it here. My only complaint is that this is broken down as a function of spending, and does not include the cost imposed by tax breaks like the ridiculous $105B mortgage interest deduction (2nd largest only to the employer health care deduction).

And just in case no one else cares to break out the old calculator, 51% of this tax bill goes to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Interest on the debt, and Military Spending. Therefore anyone claiming to be interested in balancing the budget without tackling these areas first should be ignored.

Enjoy!

Enhanced by Zemanta

2010-09-29

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Obamacare But Were Afraid to Ask

0 comments

Whether you're for or against the bill, this video from the Kaiser Family Foundation is hands down the best 9 minutes you'll spend informing yourself about what is and what is not (e.g. Death Panels) in the bill. It's actually really well made, fairly entertaining, and worth watching in full.

Seriously, watch it.


(watch me)

Kaiser Family Foundation also put together this handy timeline neatly outlining each phase of the bill. 
Enhanced by Zemanta

2010-09-22

Good Policy

0 comments

2010-09-10

Waiting For Superman

0 comments

Can't wait to see this...

2010-07-29

Good and Bad in Afghanistan

3 comments

(via TNR)
Enhanced by Zemanta

2010-07-07

Transcendent Technology

4 comments

Saw this commercial last night while running at the gym and found it to be one of the best commercials I've seen in quite sometime. Yes my judgement is probably somewhat impacted by my recent iPhone purchase and yes the opening scene has about a 100% chance of being me at some point in the relatively near future, but otherwise I'm totally unbiased.

(it really gets good around the 1:00 mark)

Enjoy!

2010-06-20

Note to Self

2 comments

Don't miss the point:




Happy Father's Day!

2010-06-16

If You Can Read This Message...

1 comments

life_infographic (by loukaskk)
Via Hiten Shah

2010-06-07

And the Winner Is...

0 comments

NICK GIGLIA whose winning comment was the following:

I've dedicated my life to finding passion and meaning through work and entrepreneurship. I would love to read this book and benefit from someone else's perspective on these matters.
Great comment Nick. Hope you enjoy "Delivering Happiness" as much as I did.

For anyone else interest in the book, it's now available over at Amazon.

2010-06-04

How to Balance the Budget

1 comments

The CFRB recently put out a budget simulator that allows you to try and stabilize the budget (60% of GDP) by 2018. Pretty exciting stuff, right?

Well thanks to Ross Douthat, here's what it would take to achieve this goal:
  1. means-testing Social Security and raising the retirement age to 68
  2. keeping health care reform in place but slashing its insurance subsidies by 20 percent
  3. increasing cost-sharing and premiums for Medicare and raising the retirement age to 67
  4. passing tort reform
  5. returning food stamp spending to 2008 levels
  6. slashing subsidies for agriculture and biofuels
  7. cutting the federal workforce by 5 percent across the board
  8. cutting earmarks by 50 percent
  9. converting the home-mortgage deduction to a smaller credit
  10. replacing the tax deduction for employer-provided health care with a flat credit
  11. increasing the gas tax by 10 cents a gallon
  12. cutting foreign aid and military spending by $200 billion
  13. drawing down troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan to 60,000 in 2016
  14. taxing life insurance benefits
  15. letting the Bush tax cuts expire for high earners and partially phasing them out for the middle class
  16. eliminating the state and local tax deduction
  17. and cutting out a lot of smaller things as well.
 Piece of cake...
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

2010-06-02

Does Money Motivate Higher Performance?

0 comments

From Dan Pink's "The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" . This may be one of the most interesting videos I've seen lately:




(h/t Brad Feld)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

2010-05-28

Two Years Old on Two Packs a Day

1 comments

This is sad. Two years old, (two years!) and smoking forty cigarettes a day.

I'm dumbfounded.


2010-05-27

Book Giveaway: "Delivering Happiness" by Tony Hsieh

2 comments

From time to time having your own blog pays off in pretty cool (albeit mostly geeky) ways. One such occurrence took place about a month ago, when I was selected to receive an advanced copy of Tony Hsieh's (CEO of Zappo's) new book Delivering Happines: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose.

Now I'm probably like most of you guys in that I had only used Zappo's once before, and had honestly never heard of Tony Hsieh. In short, I didn't know what to expect from the book.

Well I read it over the weekend , and I have to say that it made a lifelong Zappo's customer out of me. In fact I almost bought a pair of shoes yesterday just because I liked the book so much. Andrea just laughed at me as I went on and on about this guy.

Anyways, I'm legally required to wait until June 7th for an actual review, so for now here's a couple reviews from famous people to further pique your interest:

Tim Ferriss, Author of The 4-Hour Workweek

Tony Hsieh has done a huge amount of thinking about how to bring happiness to himself, to employees, and to customers, and in this fascinating (and often hilarious) account, he explains how he turns his beliefs into actions that really do deliver happiness.

Anthony Robbins, Author of Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within


Delivering Happiness is a glimpse into the mind of one of the most remarkable business leaders of our time.  Like its author, the book is authentic, oddly original, doesn’t take itself too seriously—yet delivers a potent message.  Weaving together history, personal philosophy, and insights from one of the most intriguing companies in world, Delivering Happiness works on the mind, the heart, and the soul.  This book needs to be read by anyone who takes the happiness of other people seriously.

How to Win a Free Copy (w/ free shipping)*

(contest is now closed)

1. Leave a comment stating why I should send you the book no later than midnight June 6th (as many as you want).

2. Be sure to include some way for me to contact you.

That's it! I'll pick a # at random and that person will be notified on June 7th of their winnings. This blog averages 1 comment per post so the odds of winning are EXTREMELY high. So to the four of you who actually  leave comments, I say good luck!
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

2010-05-24

Death Creates An Economy That Makes Life Precious

0 comments

Came across an interview with Stanley Hauerwas, one of my brother-in-law's former professors at Duke Divinity School, on the subject of how his Christian faith had shaped his view of death.

The above quote might be one of the most beautiful phrases I've heard on this subject, and is the reason I posted it here. However equally as intriguing is his mention of the the phrase "save us from a sudden death" in the Book of Common Prayer, and how that differs from the modern desire to die in such a way that we avoid any knowledge of our death.

Hauerwas postulates a shift towards fearing death over fearing God, and ends the video with his view on what "a good death" looks like. Good stuff.



Reflections on Death from CPX on Vimeo.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

2010-05-20

Evening Links

0 comments

Consumer credit making a comeback?

Unemployment and the Battle of the Sexes (h/t wonkbook)

Edward Glaeser on the the climate bill and the case for a carbon tax.

Election season: In China?:

For the voters, electing the Party secretary is like "selecting products they favor in the supermarket", said Chen Jian, a township government official, who was sent by Yongning to take part in the election of Houchong. "We candidates stand on the stage for them to compare and choose."
So thaaaat's how it works.

Did He Just Drop the P-Bomb?

0 comments

I couldn't help it. This is gold. But also somewhat inappropriate, so be warned.

The reaction of the other two newscaster is classic, as is the perpetrator's complete unawareness of what he just said.




Am I wrong?

Federal Debt is Gross

0 comments

Very interesting chart that Barry Ritholtz posts on the Big Picture:



a few things to note:

1. TR once again outdoes his peers, as he does in almost all metrics of awesomeness.
2. The gross federal debt is high, and needs to be addressed, but it's not unprecedented.
3. Reagan...

I Was Wrong and I Apologize

0 comments

Back in November 2008 I made a very very bad prediction. On a whim, I posted my thoughts regarding the direction of a certain man's career and his ability to improve (or not) upon his predecessor. Thoughts that, as it turns out, could not have been further from the truth.

I am of course talking about Jimmy Fallon taking over Late Night from Conan O'Brien.

Now don't get me wrong, NBC completely screwed the pooch by giving The Tonight Show back to Jay Leno, but the one thing they did right was to give "Late Night" to Jimmy Fallon. Yes his monologue seems forced at times, but they make up for this by keeping it short and relying more on Jimmy's roots in sketch comedy (along with a healthy dose of The Roots) to carry the day.

A point which is perhaps best illustrated by the following sketch:




You can thank me later.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thailand is Fairing Better than you Think

0 comments

The truly wild thing about the uproar in Thailand is not the fact that protesters brought the city to a standstill in an attempt to force the government to resign (that's happened before), or that its capitol city and surrounding areas are under curfew after yesterday's rioting, or that several buildings were set on fire by the opposition in response to military force.

The really unbelievable thing is that through all of that the Thai economy is actually fairing pretty well. Seriously, one of those burning buildings in the papers this morning was the Stock Exchange of Thailand, which happens to still be up on the year and actually outperforming other emerging countries. How can that be? According to a report by Standard Chartered Bank, it's because the markets have already priced in the the disruption.

Talk about political risk analysis. Markets have already priced in the fact that thousands of protesters would besiege Bangkok for weeks, all but shutting down the city and crippling the tourism industry. I don't know if this speaks more to the overall soundness of the Thai economy or to the fact that political unrest is so common in Thailand that the markets have basically stopped noticing. In reality it is probably a bit of both.

To be fair, the Thai government has announced that it is reducing its economic growth forecast for the year because of the disruption (after having recently revised it upward!), but it seems as though the political volatility would have bled through in the form of greater market volatility. It's also true that Thailand has set itself on firm economic footing over the past ten years by building up a large stockpile of foreign exchange reserves and a strong current account surplus, among other economic cushions. All these things combined have analysts actually predicting a rise in the Thai stock market and an appreciation of the Thai baht against the U.S. dollar.

Surely no one would be making such sanguine predictions if this were happening in other emerging markets. If this was Beijing instead of Bangkok, global markets would be having even greater fits than they are now. Of course there is a size difference in the economies in terms of global presence. But it's still astonishing. Essentially what has happened is that Thailand has turned a sustained level of political instability into business as usual, and paradoxically reassured investors that there is no need to panic.

Life on Earth

0 comments

Astonishing announcement today from the scientific community:

Scientists have turned inanimate chemicals into a living organism in an experiment that raises profound questions about the essence of life.

Craig Venter, the US genomics pioneer, announced on Thursday that scientists at his laboratories in Maryland and California had succeeded in their 15-year project to make the world’s first “synthetic cells” – bacteria called Mycoplasma mycoides.

Synthetic life. The possibilities seem immense, as do the potential abuses. I'll admit I'm a mugwump on the on morality side of this development (and, yes, I'll also admit I just learned the word mugwump a few days ago and have been looking for an opportunity to use it -- sue me), but this seems like an interesting application:

They are particularly interested in designing algae that can capture carbon dioxide from the air and produce hydrocarbon fuels.

Last year Synthetic Genomics signed a $600m agreement with Exxon Mobil to make algal biofuels. “We have looked hard at natural algae and we can’t find one that can make the fuels we want on the scales we need,” Dr Venter said.



What's the Deal with Capital Requirements?

0 comments

The Senate is attempting to close the debate on financial regulation again today after yesterday's botched cloture vote due to a couple of Democratic defections and near-unanimous Republican descent. Word is the newest Republican maverick, Scott Brown, might change his mind and not vote to filibuster, but that still leaves the Dems one vote short, assuming Arlen Specter decides to bother coming back to Washington after his primary defeat on Tuesday.

Ok, great -- the Senate might pass it's version of the bill this week. But the story is still far from over on what the legislative sausage factory will produce, especially after the House and Senate bills go through reconciliation (it's not just for healthcare anymore!). That's one reason that some analysts are saying the Senate shouldn't be in such a hurry to close this debate.

One of the most contentious aspects of the bill as it now stands involves the issue of capital requirements for the banks -- how much money (or other various assets) they have to hold in order to ensure that they can pay back their lenders and cover their losses. An amendment proposed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is at the center of this argument. Her change was unanimously passed last week, but only recently did it start to garner much attention, and it's many critics now include the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and Wall Street:

"I don't believe that the senators understood the full implications of this amendment," said Edward Yingling, chief executive of the American Bankers Association trade group. "It would cause a severe capital crunch for many banks, resulting in the major decrease in lending capability."

U.S. and foreign bank regulators are working to complete new international capital requirements by the end of this year, and Treasury Department Secretary Timothy Geithner has made it one of his top goals. Sen. Collins's provision could affect those discussions by creating a new federal law mandating capital standards.

First, the banks' mantra that any and all financial regulation will "result in a major decrease in lending" is getting tiresome. It's true that right now the U.S. needs better, smoother credit flows, but once the economy is comfortably back on its feet, credit availability should be kept in check. That's the whole point of regulation -- remember excessively low interest rates and easy credit were a major factor in creating the financial mess in the first place. So claiming now that higher capital requirements will hurt banks' ability to lend is disingenuous. Although it might be an argument for phasing in higher capital requirements slowly.

This really seems to come down to a battle between the FDIC and the Treasury and the Fed about who will be in charge of setting and overseeing bank capital requirements. The latter institutions want more flexibility in determining these regulations both domestically and internationally. Recent events have shown that unilateral regulatory decisions can create havoc in the markets. Still, most observers have been saying for months that stricter capital requirements on the banks is one of the few no-brainers when it comes to financial reform. Demanding higher capital requirements now, but phasing them in once the economy is stronger might be the best solution because after the upswing takes hold, enacting solid and sensible reforms will only get harder. Plus, at least for now, if Wall Street is really pushing against it, you have to assume it's good.

2010-05-19

Speaking of Local Elections...

1 comments

One of the greatest political ads of this election season is for a position most of us have never heard of. It was released on Sunday and became an instant hit:



And the inevitable parody:


Not sure which one I like more, to be honest. Of course the original came with plenty of commentary.

The UK is out of Money

0 comments

I thought this headline was a joke or at least hyperbole. Nope. It's true, and telling.

What are Zee Germans Sinking?

0 comments

If the cliche "all politics is local" holds true, then its inverse has increasingly become "all policy is global." Angela Merkel, Germany's Chancellor, single-handedly sent European stock markets tumbling today with the announcement of a ban on naked short-selling and credit-default swaps, instruments which essentially let investors bet on or insure against further weaknesses in the Euro Area economy.

The reason she made this decision (along with her previous dithering in committing to a Greek bailout) is because she is facing domestic political pressure -- average Germans don't want their tax dollars going to bailout the Greek government. And they let her know about it by handing her party a loss in regional elections on May 9, causing her to resort to what looks like domestic political desperation.

Most of us probably don't care about regional German elections. Most of us don't even care about our own local or regional elections. But whether or not anyone takes note of these votes, local decisions increasingly have repercussions for on the global economy.

For starters, the German decision adds to overall uncertainty in global financial markets -- the Dow is off 0.75% so far today. That's right -- local German elections just gave a hit to your retirement fund. In contrast, the current Euro calamity could be a net positive for recovery in the U.S. because it is helping to lower energy prices.

The scary thing here is that as governments have become more economically active because of the financial crisis, the political risks to the global economy have proliferated in number, and likely grown in size, and these risks will likely shape the post-crisis economic landscape -- both in America and internationally. Next up on the reading list, Ian Bremmer's End of the Free Market.

2010-05-18

When Firefighters Become Architects

1 comments

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 6:    Lawrence Summers, D...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
 Great piece in the FT today about Obama's economic team and its potential path forward in envisioning a "new American economy." It also highlights some interesting points on how the president interacts with his economic counselors and his general stance toward economic policymaking.

I enjoy insights into the more human side of policy, especially when it comes to often humorless economists, and Rothkopf's description of Larry summers as "Obama’s economic [Henry] Kissinger" is probably right on. However, the article does seem to overestimate Summers' role as the sole "alpha brain" on the team.

“My question is not whether Larry Summers is a brilliant brain but whether there is anyone who has the ability to challenge his point of view,” says Mr Galston. “I know in my case that when I hear a fluent, and seemingly unimpeachable argument, what I want to hear next is an equally fluent rebuttal. Does President Obama have that? Brilliant brains also get it wrong.”


Contrast that take to last month's Atlantic profile on Geithner, and it is unclear who is the true alpha dog.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

2010-05-13

Don't Believe the Hippies

0 comments

A counter intuitive point about the current oil spill from The Economist (h/t The Daily Dish):

Disasters can be instructive. Both regulators and oil firms will learn useful lessons from the Deepwater Horizon fiasco, and safety will surely improve as a result. But it is easy to learn the wrong lessons, too. After the accident on Three Mile Island in 1979, Americans grew scared of nuclear power and stopped building new reactors, even though no one died in that accident. Had the nation not panicked, it would now have many more nuclear reactors, making the shift to a low-carbon economy significantly easier. Similarly today, panic is likely but unhelpful.

So long as Americans do not reduce their consumption of oil, refusing to drill at home means importing more of the stuff, often from places with looser environmental standards. The net effect is likely to be more pollution, not less. Nigeria, for example, has had a major oil spill every year since 1969, observes Lisa Margonelli of the New America Foundation, a think-tank. Putting a price on carbon would eventually spur the development of cleaner fuels, and persuade Americans to switch to them. But in the meantime, oil is both useful and precious. Extracting it domestically, with tougher safety rules, would bring a windfall to a Treasury that sorely needs one. When the current crisis is past, Mr Obama may remember this.

2010-05-11

Q&A with Mom

1 comments

For some reason I found this to be really moving. Enjoy!


Q&A from StoryCorps on Vimeo.


From Storycorps:

Joshua Littman, a 12-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome, interviews his mother, Sarah. Joshua’s unique questions and Sarah’s loving, unguarded answers reveal a beautiful relationship that reminds us of the best—and the most challenging—parts of being a parent.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

2010-05-07

The Greek Crisis in Context

0 comments

2010-04-19

You Rent We Split - DFW's Premier Apartment Locator

2 comments


We've done it! As of this morning http://www.YouRentWeSplit.com, DFW's Premiere Apartment Locator, is now officially open and ready for business (tell your friends).

Since this is OSS' first "official" press release, and in an attempt to answer the many questions that are surely buzzing around in your head, I thought I'd conduct a brief Q&A.

Feel free to ask any further questions in the comments.

1. Why start YouRentWeSplit.com? Isn't apartment locating already pretty crowded?

Yes apartment locating is a very crowded market, but I believe that we have built a platform that drastically improves upon what our competitors can offer. Not to mention the fact that the inspiration for the site actually came out of my own frustrations from changing apartments multiple times in Dallas.

With every move I used one of the "free move" locators that currently dominate this space, and each time I grew more and more frustrated with their antiquated websites and incessant phone calls. Not to mention all the email spam. At the time, I put up with this treatment simply because well, a free move is a free move. All the while hoping that something better would soon come along.

Now I believe it has.


2. That's quite a vision, but how does your site improve upon such a well established industry?


My experience with other locators is that they operate like a traditional real estate agency. Rent an office, staff it with agents, track down viable leads, and then contact them repeatedly until a lease is signed. From the start they are forced to engage in certain industry practices that maintain their bottom line, yet fail to deliver higher quality to the client. 

My idea brings apartment locating into the 21st century by leveraging the power of the internet to both open up and simplify this proces. And then we agree to split our fee 50 / 50 with each new tenant.

Using http://www.YouRentWeSplit.com virtually ensures that your next move will be your most rewarding.


3. So how does it work?

(Click here for all the details)

To explain what I mean when I say that our site opens up and simplies the process, take a look at this screen shot from the http://www.YouRentWeSplit.com homepage:


This means that 1900 McKinney is currently offering 120% payout on any 12+ month lease. So on a $1000/month lease, THEY PAY ME $1200 and I PAY YOU $600!!

It's as easy as that.

But wait. There's more!

We've gone the extra step of calculating all of this out for you, so you have to do is:
 1) Find an apartment
2) Write "YOURENTWESPLIT.COM" down on the lease as your apartment locator, and
3) Click "Claim Reward" on the appropriate apartment (see below)


 

We do all the legwork to bring you the apartment shopper AND the apartment complex together. Everything from creating the listing, to keeping the pricing up to date, to contacting each apartment to find out their current specials. And so on and so forth.


4. How Can I Help?


1. Email your friends

2. $1 Will Be Donated to Donorschoose.org if you complete any of the following


- Follow us on twitter: @YOURENTWESPLIT
- Tweet the following: "RT @yourentwesplit is now officially up and running!!! $1 PER RETWEET will be donated to @donorschoose - http://bit.ly/aK1qpO"
- Click "Buzz" at the top of this post
- Share http://www.yourentwesplit.com on Facebook.


3. Submit this post to any social media site by clicking on the "share" button at the bottom of this post

4. Click over to our site if you currently need an apartment locator in Dallas Ft. Worth!

Thanks and God Bless,
Michael Ivey
Founder
http://www.YouRentWeSplit.com
mike (at) yourentwesplit.com

2010-04-05

The Mathematics of Doing Good

0 comments

Happy Monday!

Pearls Before Swine

(via Experimental Theology)

2010-04-01

Book of the Month - What is the What?

0 comments

This month's book selection came from the one and only Matt Wood of Into the Woods fame. After mentioning that I wasn't sure what to read next, Matt described "What is the What" as "One of the best books I've read."  He also mentioned that it was written by Dave Eggers, so naturally I was intrigued.

And you know what? This book did not disappoint... at all.
Rather than try to woo you into buying the book however, let me simply state that every penny made from “What Is the What” is channeled to a new foundation dedicated to building and funding a high school in Valentino's hometown in Sudan. A school which began operating late last year.

In case you still aren't convinced, who better to hear from than the story's central character, Valentino Achak Deng. Here he is in the preface to the book, taken from The Valentino Achak Deng Foundation's website.

Enjoy!


(Click Here to Buy the Book)



Preface to the book
By Valentino Achak Deng
 
What Is the What is the soulful account of my life: from the time I was separated from my family in Marial Bai to the thirteen years I spent in Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps, to my encounter with vibrant Western cultures beginning in Atlanta, to the generosity and the challenges that I encountered elsewhere.

As you read this book, you will learn about me and my beloved people of Sudan. I was just a young boy when the twenty-two-year civil war began that pitted Sudan’s government against the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army. As a helpless human, I survived by trekking across many punishing landscapes while being bombed by Sudanese air forces, while dodging land mines, while being preyed upon by wild beasts and human killers. I fed on unknown fruits, vegetables, leaves and sometimes went with nothing for days. At many points, the difficulty was unbearable. I thought the whole world had turned blind eyes on the fate that was befalling me and the people of southern Sudan. Many of my friends, and thousands of my fellow countrymen, did not make it. May God give them eternal peace.

This book began as part of my struggle to reach out to others through public speaking. I told my story to many audiences, but I wanted the world to know the whole truth of my existence. In the fall of 2003, I told Mary Williams, the founder of the Lost Boys Foundation in Atlanta, that in spite of the public-speaking opportunities available, I wanted to reach out to a wider audience by telling the story of my life in book form. Because I was not a writer, I asked Mary to put me in touch with an author to help me write my biography. Mary contacted Dave Eggers, and thank God Dave and I met and certainly became good friends. We agreed that all proceeds from the book would be used to improve the lives of Sudanese in Sudan and elsewhere...

It should be known to the readers that I was very young when some of the events in the book took place, and as a result we simply had to pronounce What Is the What a novel. I could not, for example, recount some conversations that took place seventeen years ago. However it should be noted that all of the major events in the book are true. The book is historically accurate, and the world I have known is not different from the one depicted within these pages. We live in a time where even the most horrific events in this book could occur, and in most cases, did occur. For example, between May 16, 1983 and January 9, 2005 over two and one-half million people died of war and war-related causes in Sudan, over four million people were internally displaced in southern Sudan and nearly two million southern Sudanese took refuge in foreign countries.

My desire to have this book written was born out of my faith and beliefs in humanity; I wanted to reach out to others to help them understand Sudan’s place in our global community. I am relieved that Dave and I have accomplished this task through illumination of my life as an example of atrocities many successive governments of Sudan committed against its own people. Although the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement gave southern Sudan the opportunity to rebuild itself—and the chance to secede in 2011 via popular referendum—gross human rights violations still continue today in the Darfur region of the country.

I am blessed to have lived to inform you that even when my hours were darkest, I believed that some day I could share my experiences with others. This book is a form of struggle, and it keeps my spirit alive to struggle. To struggle is to strengthen my faith, my hope and my belief in humanity. Since you and I exist, together we can make a difference! Thank you for reading What Is the What and I wish you a blessed day.

—VALENTINO ACHAK DENG,
ALLEGHENY COLLEGE, PENNSYLVANIA, 2007
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

2010-03-24

Almost There!

3 comments



Though some of you might have noticed the sharp drop-off in blogging over the past few months, I assure you that ALL of you are all better for it.

Be that as it may, the reason is due to the fact that I have been putting just about every spare second I have these days into my very first start-up / passion project / side-business / early retirement fund. And the good news is that we're days away from opening the doors.

I'll have a much more informative post in the near future, but for those of you who are interested, click the logo above for more information. And feel free to leave your email address in case you want to be notified when we officially "go live."

2010-03-19

The Texas Board of Education and the Culture Wars

1 comments

It was a Sunday afternoon back in 2004, and I was sitting at a BBQ joint somewhere outside of Buffalo, TX. Around me where the majority of the elders of Grace Bible Church in College Station, TX on our way back from the annual Men's Retreat. At the time I considered myself to be both a Republican (now independent) and a Christian (still am), so I easily identified with most of the men around me. In fact, truth be told, we listened to the Bush vs. Kerry debate that Friday night on the way up and were all excited that Bush had seemingly so easily won.

It was within that context that the conversation at lunch swung to the "Liberal agenda", and the way in which it was infecting the minds of children. Most notably in the realm of academia through the teaching of evolution. One middle-aged man with a mustache took center stage and laid out the flaws in evolutionary theory, leaving many at the table nodding in agreement. He then spoke at length at how you could accurately date the Earth to ~6,000 years old by using the Old Testament, supposed holes in the fossil record, that the Earth was created with dinosaur bones already in the ground, etc... He went on to assure his fellow elders that he spent his free-time, away from Dentistry, lobbying the state Board of Education to allow for young-earth Creationism to be taught in schools.

That man's name was Don McElroy.

At this point I should probably back up and state that at the time, I had literally never heard of the "young-earth theory" at the time. Ok I had heard it once, but it was stated by an acquaintance of mine at A&M who had somewhat extreme views on why God created the AIDS virus that I'd rather not repeat, so I didn't take it very seriously. Yet here were the heads of the church to which I was an active member signing on to the theory without question. I was literally speechless.

(I would later learn that this issue had created a rift amongst the church leadership, and most churches I've come across ever since.)

I hadn't heard Don McElroy's name again until earlier this week when I came across this article, informing me that the same man who had left me speechless at that table in East Texas was essentially the catalyst behind the recent flap over rewriting textbooks in Texas. Here he is on his campaign website stating his case:

Our nation is falling under the sway of the ideas of the far-left; the founding principles of our nation are being neglected and forgotten. … But here in Texas, the conservatives on the Texas State Board of Education have the far-left in retreat. In the past two years, while I was privileged to chair the board, we won battles in math class, English class, science class and we are now winning in history class.

I have no problem changing textbooks that contain any sort of bias, be it liberal or otherwise, but this smells like something else. Something a little more personal:
The secular humanists may argue that we are a secular nation,” McLeroy said, jabbing his finger in the air for emphasis. “But we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.
I feel it's worth pointing out at this point that this man actually was tasked with evaluating history textbooks. A truly frightening thought given the stated criteria above, and that this polarized view of the world offends even many like-minded believers.

But that is besides the point.

My question is simply, is our faith so shallow that we feel as though the Kingdom of God is at stake if a balanced view of the world is allowed to exist in schools? Is the Christian faith somehow diminished if it is not officially adopted by the Federal Government? Will more people profess their faith in Jesus Christ if only we could all agree that this is a Christian nation?

I've met Dr. McElroy and I can tell you that his beliefs, though as far right as they come, are indeed sincere. Here I am simply questioning his methods. As I said before, I strongly support removing any perceived biases from our school system (a utopian ideal if ever there was one I realize), but by voicing his extreme religious and political opinions so loudly in what should essentially be a non-partisan arena, I fear that he is actually working against his own interests in the long run.

--------------------
Click here for some of the proposed changes.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

2010-03-02

Evolution of a MBA Grad

0 comments

Via Slate:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

2010-02-16

Shutter Island

6 comments

In keeping with my new year's resolution, and after having my interest piqued by the commercials for the new Martin Scorsese movie, I decided to go out on a limb and purchase the novel "Shutter Island" by Dennis Lehane (who also wrote "Mystic River") on the Kindle.

It's impossible to talk about this book in its entirety without giving too much away, so let me cut right to the chase:

Buy this book.


Also since this was also my first experience with the Kindle, I'll briefly add that I was not disappointed in the slightest. I realize that I'm late to the party here, but I have to say it was a more enjoyable experience than I imagined. It's very easy on the eyes, takes up virtually no space at all in a carry-on bag, and the Thesaurus feature which allows you to instantly lookup any word on the page is fantastic. I still think Amazon needs to improve their pricing plan ($299 is a bit steep), but I digress...

The story begins immediately with two US Marshals, Teddy Daniels, a decorated war hero still reeling from the loss of his wife, and his partner Chuck Aule, heading out to Ashecliffe Island, the home of a psychiatric hospital on a remote island in New England, to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a female patient named Rachel Solando. Rachel, we are told, is a highly dangerous patient sent to the hospital after killing her 3 children only to later be found by a neighbor having dinner with all three children propped up around the table.

Very little is known about the facility other than experimental "treatments" are being performed on the patients by the hospital's overseer, Dr. Cawley. A fact that, as we soon find out, is something that Teddy Daniels intends to get to the bottom of. The only problem is that no one on the island wants to answer Teddy's questions. And once the two Marshals find a mysterious code in Rachel's cell, which ends with the question:

Who is 67?

...good luck putting the book down. The answer to that question "kept me awake, deep into the night, as I began to grasp what the author has done to my innocent mind-and he will do it to yours, too, if you let him." That's a quote from the Washington Post's Book World summing up my thoughts exactly.

All in all Shutter Island is an extremely satisfying read that I would recommend to absolutely everyone (4 out of 5 stars). Now let's just hope that Scorsese manages to do it justice on the big screen.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

2010-02-01

10 Year Plans Are For Slackers

5 comments

Resolved 2007 - 046Image by Jacob & Kiki Hantla

Many of you who frequent this blog also know Kristi & Blake over at Sugar and Caffeine, so if you haven't done so already, take a second to read their recent post regarding one of our friend's new found fascination with Resolutions. It'll help explain why I would write this post one month into the new year (other than laziness).

To summarize, over the New Year's holiday the newly employed and occasional contributor to the OSS (Andrew Polk) informed us that we were about to conclude the "Decade of Learning" (who knew?). And that January 1, 2010 would officially kick-off "The Decade of Action." He then rattled off a list of accomplishments that would take him through the year 2020, so that we all could track his progress.

Pretty cool, right?

Unfortunately for me, I've recently been diagnosed as having adult onset ADD so 10 year plans sound about as appealing as... wait, what was I just talking about? Oh right, continuing on.

Thinking up a 10 year plan was a bit too close to having someone ask me in an interview where I wanted to be in 10 years (I mean no one ever says "on the beach in the Caribbean" which is exactly what we're thinking, so its a dumb question), therefore I decided to shrink the window of opportunity down to 12 months and name 2010 "The YEAR of Action."

Unfortunately for me, in order to stay focused I've learned that I need to a) somehow hold myself accountable and b) for someone to tell me that I can't do it. So it's with that theory in mind that I've posted my goals below. Expect an update or two as I make my way through the list, which is broken down into 3 easily digestible categories (mind, body, and soul) for you to review.

Enjoy!


Mike Will Fail to Accomplish the Following

Mind

1. Read 1 book per month and blog about it.

My beautiful wife bought me the "4-Hour Workweek "for Christmas after hearing me talk about Tim Ferriss incessantly for over a year now. I finished it in about 2 weeks (mission accomplished for January), and am now skimming back through it just in case I missed anything. I can't recommend the book highly enough, but its definitely not for everyone.

Expect a post about it soon.

2. Start my own company

I've learned that recessions have a funny way of teaching us things that we may or may not be ready for. For example, after losing ~40% of my savings in 2008, I learned that putting all of my savings in the market is silly and that risking a little bit of capital in something you both believe in and are passionate about is in fact barely a risk at all.

More on this in the very near future, but let's just say that the website is almost complete and I'm now officially the CEO and President of MGI Management, LLC.


Body

1. Bench Press 225

I realize that this may not sound like a lot to my more masculine readers out there and is without question a bit ridiculous. However due to a birth defect (pectus_excavatum) I'm actually missing a decent percentage of my right pec muscle, so its more of a personal challenge than anything else.

2. Hold breath for 3.5 minutes

The aforementioned defect also reduces my lung capacity, so I've always stunk at holding my breath. Thanks to the author of the 4HWW however, I recently learned of a method to accomplish this seemingly impossible feat. And you know what?

It worked. My record is currently 2:30, but this year I'm determined to hit the 3:30 mark.

3. Win Warrior Dash (<--Click the link. Enough said.)


4. Work out 3x's a week.


So far so good!

5. Complete P90X

P90X® is a revolutionary system of 12 sweat-inducing, muscle-pumping workouts, designed to transform your body from regular to ripped in just 90 days. You can't tell me that you haven't thought about it too!


Soul

1. Increase involvement at The Village

Last year we finally joined the church, went through marriage counseling, and even joined a home group led by our friends the Woods. This year, Andrea and I are hoping to continue on this path and grow closer with our home group and possibly even go on our first overseas mission trip!

I've learned that there are no handbooks on what it being a "spiritual leader" actually looks like in practice, so God willing this will be a decent start.

2. Cook more difficult dishes more often

This past year some of our friends decided that we needed to hone our cooking skills, and started a dinner group to accomplish this mission. No question some are better than others, but its become a great way for all of us to stay connected with each other during the week and forces us to go out of our way to prepare a meal for others.

Between Andrea's studying and my frequent work trips however, I've noticed that its all too easy to make something quick and simple when it's just the two of us. This year, I want that change.

3. Go on at least 1 date with Andrea per month (excluding dinner at the house)

Andrea and I decided that we needed to go on more "dates". That's not to say that we don't spend a lot time together, we do. In fact, one of the greatest joys of not having kids is that you're theoretically always on a date when you're together, because there's nothing to distract you (assuming she's not studying or I'm not working late).

It's just too easy to make the same old meal again, watch some TV, work out (for those of you who know Andrea you'll know this is a requirement), etc... In other words, fall into a routine.

This year we decided that once per month we'd alternate who would be in charge of planning a date that had to be something other than just dinner and couldn't be the same thing twice. I'm also hoping this will inspire her to write her very first blog post!

4. Care less about politics

I'll still occasionally post my political opinions, just because I honestly enjoy the subject matter, but if I've learned anything my recent forays into political blogging it's this: it's all meaningless.

I mean sure there are some factual inaccuracies that need to be pointed out from time to time, (including my own) but most of the people I know are smart, well informed, and decent. In other words, our differences of opinion really boil down to nothing more than a philosophical difference in how we see the world. In other words, its mostly just a lame attempt to exercise our egos.

Or as someone much smarter than I once said:

Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

That guy should really write a book or something.

2010-01-30

Ask Prime Minister Obama

0 comments

Yesterday President Obama paid homage to the role of Prime Minister by agreeing to meet with the Republican Caucus to discuss the various issues that are currently being debated in Washington, in what turned out to be one of the most striking political events I've seen in some time.

Undoubtedly it will not settle many (if not most) of the current disagreements over policy between the two parties. However what it did accomplish was for the two sides to lay their opposing talking points out in broad daylight for the public to hear.

(Quick side note: The focus on "talking points" was the biggest detractor from the event. Had the debate been more narrowly focused perhaps this could have been avoided. Something the moderators should consider next time.)

The debate over the ineffectiveness of the stimulus for example; Mike Pence claimed it is costly and ineffective, while Obama rebuts his assertion by saying that he is factual incorrect and then proceeded to lay out his case. Additional topics included earmark reform, Democratic stonewalling, healthcare, etc... all in a forum where you at home can hear the leadership of both parties make their case, and then weigh their responses on their merits.

It made for compelling television, and is without a doubt more informative than anything you'll hear on talk-radio or cable news.

Video embedded below along with excerpts from the transcript (full text here):

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy




MIKE PENCE:


"Now, last year about the time you met with us, unemployment was 7.5 percent in this country. Your administration, and your party in Congress, told us that we'd have to borrow more than $700 billion to pay for a so-called stimulus bill. It was a piecemeal list of projects and boutique tax cuts, all of which was -- we were told -- had to be passed or unemployment would go to 8 percent, as your administration said. Well, unemployment is 10 percent now, as you well know, Mr. President; here in Baltimore it's considerably higher.

Now, Republicans offered a stimulus bill at the same time. It cost half as much as the Democratic proposal in Congress, and using your economic analyst models, it would have created twice the jobs at half the cost. It essentially was across-the-board tax relief, Mr. President.

Would you consider embracing... the kind of across the board tax relief that Republicans have advocated... that has always been the means for stimulating broad based economic growth?"


OBAMA:

The hope was that unemployment would peak at 8% based on the knowledge at the time. It turns out that we lost 700,000 jobs in January and another 650,000 in February 2009. The point being that the job losses from the recession proved to be more severe than anybody anticipated.

This notion that it was a "radical package is just not true." 1/3 of the cost was tax cuts, 1/3 was stabilizing state budgets, unempl0yment and COBRA benefits was another sizable piece as well as fixing the AMT, and the remaining portion was infrastructure spending.

"I am not an idealogue... The problem is, I couldn't find credible economists that would back up the claims you just made...

So I think that we've got to look at what specific proposals you're putting forward, and -- this is the last point I'll make -- if you're calling for just across-the-board tax cuts, and then on the other hand saying that we're somehow going to balance our budget, I'm going to want to take a look at your math and see how that works, because the issue of deficit and debt is another area where there has been a tendency for some inconsistent statements.


CONGRESSMAN RYAN:

... total spending in your budget would grow at 3/100ths of 1 percent less than otherwise. I would simply submit that we could do more and start now...

So my question is, why not start freezing spending now, and would you support a line-item veto in helping us get a vote on it in the House?


OBAMA:


...I think one thing that you have to acknowledge, Paul, because you study this stuff and take it pretty seriously, that the earmarks problem is not unique to one party and you end up getting a lot of pushback when you start going after specific projects of any one of you in your districts, because wasteful spending is usually spent somehow outside of your district. Have you noticed that? The spending in your district tends to seem pretty sensible.

So I would love to see more restraint within Congress. I'd like to work on the earmarks reforms that I mentioned in terms of putting earmarks online, because I think sunshine is the best disinfectant. But I am willing to have a serious conversation on the line-item veto issue.


MARSHA BLACKBURN:

Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you for acknowledging that we have ideas on health care because, indeed, we do have ideas, we have plans, we have over 50 bills, we have lots of amendments that would bring health care ideas to the forefront. We would -- we've got plans to lower cost, to change purchasing models, address medical liability, insurance accountability, chronic and preexisting conditions, and access to affordable care for those with those conditions, insurance portability, expanded access -- but not doing it with creating more government, more bureaucracy, and more cost for the American taxpayer...

So my question to you is, when will we look forward to starting anew and sitting down with you to put all of these ideas on the table, to look at these lessons learned, to benefit from that experience, and to produce a product that is going to reduce government interference, reduce cost, and be fair to the American taxpayer? (Applause.)


OBAMA:

Actually, I've gotten many of your ideas. I've taken a look at them, even before I was handed this. Some of the ideas we have embraced in our package. Some of them are embraced with caveats. So let me give you an example.

I think one of the proposals that has been focused on by the Republicans as a way to reduce costs is allowing insurance companies to sell across state lines. We actually include that as part of our approach. But the caveat is, we've got to do so with some minimum standards, because otherwise what happens is that you could have insurance companies circumvent a whole bunch of state regulations about basic benefits or what have you, making sure that a woman is able to get mammograms as part of preventive care, for example. Part of what could happen is insurance companies could go into states and cherry-pick and just get those who are healthiest and leave behind those who are least healthy, which would raise everybody's premiums who weren't healthy, right?

So it's not that many of these ideas aren't workable, but we have to refine them to make sure that they don't just end up worsening the situation for folks rather than making it better...

But at its core, if you look at the basic proposal that we've put forward: it has an exchange so that businesses and the self-employed can buy into a pool and can get bargaining power the same way big companies do; the insurance reforms that I've already discussed, making sure that there's choice and competition for those who don't have health insurance. The component parts of this thing are pretty similar to what Howard Baker, Bob Dole, and Tom Daschle proposed at the beginning of this debate last year.

And so I'm thinking to myself, well, how is it that a plan that is pretty centrist -- no, look, I mean, I'm just saying, I know you guys disagree, but if you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers would say this is actually what many Republicans -- is similar to what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his debate on health care.

So all I'm saying is, we've got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality... I mean, the fact of the matter is, is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your own base, in your own party. You've given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you've been telling your constituents is, this guy is doing all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America.


CONGRESSMAN PRICE:

Mr. President, multiple times, from your administration, there have come statements that Republicans have no ideas and no solutions. In spite of the fact that... this bill, H.R.3400, that has more co-sponsors than any health care bill in the House, is a bill that would provide health coverage for all Americans; would correct the significant insurance challenges of affordability and preexisting; would solve the lawsuit abuse issue, which isn't addressed significantly in the other proposals that went through the House and the Senate; would write into law that medical decisions are made between patients and families and doctors; and does all of that without raising taxes by a penny.

But my specific question is, what should we tell our constituents who know that Republicans have offered positive solutions to the challenges that Americans face and yet continue to hear out of the administration that we've offered nothing?


OBAMA:

Tom, look, I have to say that on the -- let's just take the health care debate. And it's probably not constructive for us to try to debate a particular bill -- this isn't the venue to do it. But if you say, "We can offer coverage for all Americans, and it won't cost a penny," that's just not true. You can't structure a bill where suddenly 30 million people have coverage, and it costs nothing...

It's not enough if you say, for example, that we've offered a health care plan and I look up -- this is just under the section that you've just provided me, or the book that you just provided me -- summary of GOP health care reform bill: The GOP plan will lower health care premiums for American families and small businesses, addressing America's number-one priority for health reform. I mean, that's an idea that we all embrace. But specifically it's got to work. I mean, there's got to be a mechanism in these plans that I can go to an independent health care expert and say, is this something that will actually work, or is it boilerplate?

If I'm told, for example, that the solution to dealing with health care costs is tort reform, something that I've said I am willing to work with you on, but the CBO or other experts say to me, at best, this could reduce health care costs relative to where they're growing by a couple of percentage points, or save $5 billion a year, that's what we can score it at, and it will not bend the cost curve long term or reduce premiums significantly -- then you can't make the claim that that's the only thing that we have to do. If we're going to do multi-state insurance so that people can go across state lines, I've got to be able to go to an independent health care expert, Republican or Democrat, who can tell me that this won't result in cherry-picking of the healthiest going to some and the least healthy being worse off.

So I am absolutely committed to working with you on these issues, but it can't just be political assertions that aren't substantiated when it comes to the actual details of policy. Because otherwise, we're going to be selling the American people a bill of goods. I mean, the easiest thing for me to do on the health care debate would have been to tell people that what you're going to get is guaranteed health insurance, lower your costs, all the insurance reforms; we're going to lower the costs of Medicare and Medicaid and it won't cost anybody anything. That's great politics, it's just not true.

So there's got to be some test of realism in any of these proposals, mine included. I've got to hold myself accountable, and guaranteed the American people will hold themselves -- will hold me accountable if what I'm selling doesn't actually deliver.


CONGRESSMAN PRICE:

And so, rest assured the summary document you received is backed up by precisely the kind of detailed legislation that Speaker Pelosi and your administration have been busy ignoring for 12 months.


OBAMA:

Well, Mike -- well, hold on, hold on a second. No, no, no, no. Hold on a second, guys. (Applause.)

You know, Mike, I've read your legislation. I mean, I take a look at this stuff -- and the good ideas we take. But here's -- here's the thing -- here's the thing that I guess all of us have to be mindful of, it can't be all or nothing, one way or the other. And what I mean by that is this: If we put together a stimulus package in which a third of it are tax cuts that normally you guys would support, and support for states and the unemployed, and helping people stay on COBRA that your governors certainly would support -- Democrat or a Republican; and then you've got some infrastructure, and maybe there's some things in there that you don't like in terms of infrastructure, or you think the bill should have been $500 billion instead of $700 billion or there's this provision or that provision that you don't like. If there's uniform opposition because the Republican caucus doesn't get 100 percent or 80 percent of what you want, then it's going to be hard to get a deal done. That's because that's not how democracy works.

So my hope would be that we can look at some of these component parts of what we're doing and maybe we break some of them up on different policy issues. So if the good congressman from Utah has a particular issue on lobbying reform that he wants to work with us on, we may not able to agree on a comprehensive package on everything but there may be some component parts that we can work on.

You may not support our overall jobs package, but if you look at the tax credit that we're proposing for small businesses right now, it is consistent with a lot of what you guys have said in the past. And just the fact that it's my administration that's proposing it shouldn't prevent you from supporting it. That's my point.


CONGRESSMAN HENSARLING:

We know that under current law, that government -- the cost of government is due to grow from 20 percent of our economy to 40 percent of our economy, right about the time our children are leaving college and getting that first job.

Mr. President, shortly after that conversation a year ago, the Republicans proposed a budget that ensured that government did not grow beyond the historical standard of 20 percent of GDP. It was a budget that actually froze immediately non-defense discretionary spending. It spent $5 trillion less than ultimately what was enacted into law, and unfortunately, I believe that budget was ignored. And since that budget was ignored, what were the old annual deficits under Republicans have now become the monthly deficits under Democrats. The national debt has increased 30 percent.

Now, Mr. President, I know you believe -- and I understand the argument, and I respect the view that the spending is necessary due to the recession; many of us believe, frankly, it's part of the problem, not part of the solution. But I understand and I respect your view. But this is what I don't understand, Mr. President. After that discussion, your administration proposed a budget that would triple the national debt over the next 10 years... and propose new entitlement spending and move the cost of government to almost 24.5 percent of the economy.

You are soon to submit a new budget, Mr. President. Will that new budget, like your old budget, triple the national debt and continue to take us down the path of increasing the cost of government to almost 25 percent of our economy? That's the question, Mr. President.


OBAMA:

Jeb, with all due respect, I've just got to take this last question as an example of how it's very hard to have the kind of bipartisan work that we're going to do, because the whole question was structured as a talking point for running a campaign.

Now, look, let's talk about the budget once again, because I'll go through it with you line by line. The fact of the matter is, is that when we came into office, the deficit was $1.3 trillion. -- $1.3 [trillion.] So when you say that suddenly I've got a monthly budget that is higher than the -- a monthly deficit that's higher than the annual deficit left by the Republicans, that's factually just not true, and you know it's not true.

And what is true is that we came in already with a $1.3 trillion deficit before I had passed any law. What is true is we came in with $8 trillion worth of debt over the next decade -- had nothing to do with anything that we had done. It had to do with the fact that in 2000 when there was a budget surplus of $200 billion, you had a Republican administration and a Republican Congress, and we had two tax cuts that weren't paid for.

You had a prescription drug plan -- the biggest entitlement plan, by the way, in several decades -- that was passed without it being paid for. You had two wars that were done through supplementals. And then you had $3 trillion projected because of the lost revenue of this recession. That's $8 trillion.

Now, we increased it by a trillion dollars because of the spending that we had to make on the stimulus. I am happy to have any independent fact-checker out there take a look at your presentation versus mine in terms of the accuracy of what I just said.

Now, going forward, here's the deal. I think, Paul, for example, head of the budget committee, has looked at the budget and has made a serious proposal. I've read it. I can tell you what's in it. And there are some ideas in there that I would agree with, but there are some ideas that we should have a healthy debate about because I don't agree with them.

The major driver of our long-term liabilities, everybody here knows, is Medicare and Medicaid and our health care spending. Nothing comes close. Social Security we could probably fix the same way Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan sat down together and they could figure something out. That is manageable. Medicare and Medicaid -- massive problem down the road. That's where -- that's going to be what our children have to worry about...

And so the question is, at what point can we have a serious conversation about Medicare and its long-term liability, or a serious question about -- a serious conversation about Social Security, or a serious conversation about budget and debt in which we're not simply trying to position ourselves politically. That's what I'm committed to doing. We won't agree all the time in getting it done, but I'm committed to doing it.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

There was an error in this gadget

Labels

12 Days of Christmas (3) 2008 Olympics (2) 2008 Presidential Election (2) 2012 Presidential Election (1) A Christmas Carol (2) A Christmas Story (1) Acumen Fund (1) Adventures in Niche Blogging (2) advertising (1) Afghanistan (3) Africa (1) AIG (1) alabama (1) Amazon Affiliate Program (1) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (1) Anger (1) Apartment Locator (1) Apology (1) Apple (1) art (1) Ash Wednesday (1) atul gawande (1) Auto-Tune (2) awesome break (1) awesomeness (1) backwards hats (1) Balanced Budget (1) Bank Lending (1) Barack Obama (9) Barack Obama Newspaper Headlines (1) Barcadia (1) Barry Ritholtz (2) Bastille Day (1) Big 12 Controversy (1) Big 3 Bailout (1) Big Picture (1) Bikers (1) Bill Gates (1) birthday (2) blackberry (1) blake (17) Blog Action Day (1) Boing Boing (1) Bon Iver (1) Book of the Month (1) Books (1) Breast cancer (1) British Psychological Society (1) Brookings Institution (1) BTHO McCain (1) BTHO Obama (1) Bush Legacy (1) Business (1) Carlos Santana (1) Champs-Élysées (1) Charitable Giving (1) Charles Dickens (1) Chart of the Day (1) Chartible Contributions (1) Child Poverty Rate (1) China (1) Chris (10) Christianity (1) Christmas (2) CNBC (1) Coal Vines (1) College Football (1) College Station Texas (1) Comics (1) Congress (1) Congressional Budget Office (1) Conservapedia (1) Conservative (2) Consulting (1) Corn (1) Credit default swap (1) cross country (1) Curious Case of Benjamin Button (1) D.O.A. (1) Daily Show (1) Dallas (13) Dallas date night (1) Dallas Morning News (1) Dan Pink (1) Dave Eggers (1) David after the dentist (1) David Dewhurst (1) David Faber (1) David Feherty (1) Death (1) Death of Auto-Tune (1) Debate (1) Deep Ellum (1) Deep Fried Butter (1) Deficit (2) Delivering Happiness (2) Dennis Lehane (1) Department of Education (1) DFW (1) diabetes (1) Dick Cheney (1) Dikembe Mutombo (1) Dilbert (1) Direct-loan (1) Diversity (1) Documentary (1) Donors Choose (1) Doonesbury (1) economic stimulus (1) economic stimulus plan (2) Economy (9) Education (1) england (1) Environment (1) Ezra Klein (4) F-22 Raptor (1) Fannie Mae (2) Farewell (1) Farm Bill (1) FAS (9) Fast Food (1) Federal Budget (1) Feist (1) Festivus (1) Filibuster (1) Fiscal policy (1) food fight (1) Food Stamps (1) France (3) Freddie Mac (1) Free Chick-fil-a (1) Ft Worth (1) Funny (1) games (1) Gary Becker (1) General Motors (1) George Packer (1) Giveaway (1) Glenn Beck (1) Goldman Sachs (1) good reads (3) GOP (1) Government spending (2) Greg Mankiw (2) Gross domestic product (1) Guantanamo Bay (1) Gulf of Mexico (1) Haiti (1) Hans Rosling (1) Happiness (1) Happy New Year (1) Hasselhoff (1) Health care (10) Health care reform (8) Health insurance (2) Heritage Foundation (1) Hipster (1) History of war (1) Holiday Shopping (1) holidays (2) Hot Chip (1) Hot N Cold (1) House of Cards (1) Human Development Index (1) Iliveindallas (1) Illegal immigration (1) Immigration reform (1) Inappropriate (1) Inauguration Day (4) Income tax (1) Independence Day (1) Indian Superman (1) Industrial Revolution (1) Inefficient (1) Inspiration (1) Insurance (1) Internal Revenue Service (1) iPhone 4 (1) Iran (1) Iraq (1) Iraq War (1) Israel (1) Israeli settlement (1) Jack Bauer (1) Jacqueline Novogratz (1) Jay-Z (1) jcvd (1) Jimmy Fallon (1) Jimmy Fallon's House Band (1) Joaquin Phoenix David Letterman (1) Job creation program (1) Job Market 2009 (1) John Cornyn (2) John McCain (1) Jon Stewart (1) Kaiser Family Foundation (1) Kaiser Permanente (1) Kanye West (2) Karl Rove (1) Kat Perry (1) Kristi (1) Laser Portraits (1) Late Night (1) Late Night with Conan O'Brien (1) Lee Harvey's (1) Lent (1) Liar's Poker (1) Life (1) Life expectancy (1) light show (1) lights (1) Lil' Wayne (3) Links (2) Lobbyists (1) Lonely Island (1) mad men (1) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (1) Malcolm Gladwell (1) Malthusian Trap (1) Mashable (2) Matt Chandler (1) Matt Simmons $500 oil (1) Mayo Clinic (1) McAllen Texas (1) McCain (6) media (1) Medicaid (2) Medical malpractice (1) Medicare (4) Mergers and Acquisitions (1) metro (1) Michael Jackson (1) Michael Lewis (1) Microfinance (1) Mike (85) Military (1) Milton Bradley (1) Mint.com (1) Missional Giving (1) Missional Living (1) MIT (1) MIT Media Lab (1) Mitch Daniels (1) Moneyball (1) Morocco (1) Mother's Day (1) Motivation (1) MTV (1) Music (19) My life in a cube (1) My parents joined facebook (1) NBC (1) Netflix (1) New Firm Logos (1) New season 24 (1) New Year's Resolutions (2) NEXT Worldwide (1) NFL (1) NHS (1) Nobel Peace Prize (2) Non-profit (1) Non-profit organization (1) Norman Borlaug (1) Obama (7) Obamacare (1) Oil Spill (1) One Stop Schop (5) Open-source education (1) Outliers: The Story of Success (1) Palin (1) Pamplona (1) Pan-American Highway (1) Parenting Tip of the Day (2) Paris (3) Party Ideology and the rationalizing voter (1) Paste Magazine (1) Paul Krugman (1) Peak Oil Theory (1) Pearls Before Swine (1) Pell Grant (1) Pentagon (1) PEPFAR (1) Perspective (2) Philosophy (1) Pick of the Week (1) Place de la Concorde (1) Politics (13) Politifact (1) Polk (12) Popular Mechanics (1) Potbelly (1) Poverty (3) President Bush (1) President Obama's Secret Plan to Brainwash Our Children (1) President-Elect Barack Obama (1) Project Leper (1) projection art (1) prosumer report (1) Quality-adjusted life year (1) Racism (1) Rahm Emmanuel Ari Gold (1) Ralph Waldo Emerson (1) Random (2) Random Site of the Week (4) Rap (1) Rasmussen Reports (1) Religion and Spirituality (1) Rick Santelli (1) Road (1) Road traffic safety (1) robbery (1) Robert Gates (1) Ronald Reagan (1) Roy Blunt (1) SAME Cafe (1) Santa Clause (1) Santogold (1) Sarah Palin (1) Sarah Palin 2012 (1) Sean Hannity Freedom Concert Series (1) Shutter Island (1) Silver Star (1) Site of the Week (1) Slate (1) Social Security (1) SOTU (1) Special Forces (1) Spending (1) Sports (3) Sports Nutz (1) Stanley Hauerwas (1) Stock Market (2) StoryCorps (1) Success (1) Supreme Leader of Iran (1) T Boone Pickens (1) T. R. Reid (1) Taliban (1) Tax (1) Taxation (3) Taxpayer Receipt (1) Technology (2) TED Talks (3) Texas (1) Texas AM (1) Texas AM Football (1) Texas Department of Transportation (1) Texas Government (1) Texas State Board of Education (1) Texas State Fair (1) thailand (1) Thanksgiving (1) The 2009 Stimulus Bill (1) The Big Lebowski (1) The Big Picture (1) The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World (1) The Credit Crisis (3) The Daily Show (1) The Daily What (1) The Decembrists (1) The Economist (2) The GAP (1) The Healing of America (1) The Laux Family (1) The Perfect Honeymoon (1) The Roots (1) The Schop Ten (1) The Village Church (1) The Wire (1) The Woodlands (1) This is Indexed (1) Time Magazine (1) TJ Lavin (1) Tony Hsieh (2) Top 5 Christmas Specials (1) Top Golf (1) Top Post (8) Tort reform (1) Torture (2) Torture Memo (1) Tour de France (1) track (1) Travel (4) Travel and Leisure (1) trends (1) Troubled Asset Relief Program (1) TSA (1) Tulsa Oklahoma (1) Unemployment (1) Unemployment Insurance (1) United States (3) United States Presidential approval rating (1) United States Senate (1) Universal health care (1) University of Texas (1) Unnecessary Quotes (1) Utz Potato Chip (1) Venture Capital (1) Video (10) Video Clip of the Week (5) Videre (1) Vietnam (1) Vimeo (1) Waiting for Superman (1) Wall Street (1) We Are Hunted (1) Wedding (1) Weekend Update (1) Welfare (1) What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (1) Williams Shakespeare (1) Winner (1) Woodall Rodgers Park (1) Wordle (1) world diabetes day (1) Worst Commerical of 2009 (1) Ying Yang Twins (1) You Rent We Split (2) YouTube (1) Zappos.com (1)
 

One Stop Schop. Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved Revolution Two Church theme by Brian Gardner Converted into Blogger Template by Bloganol dot com | Distributed by Deluxe Templates