From the weekend…the importance of counties, Nimoy, dynamic scoring, and civic engagement…
“Governing from the ground up: How counties contribute to the metropolitan revolution” (Bruce Katz/The Avenue-Brookings)
Pull Quote: As the most hands-on providers of public services, counties feel federal and state budget cuts in a way that most other levels of government don’t. The federal government now spends nearly two-thirds of its budget on mandatory programs, a total overwhelmingly composed of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. This has squeezed out the discretionary spending that counties and other local governments have relied on in the past—particularly for infrastructure. And this scaling back of federal spending is happening at a difficult time: Many counties are still feeling the effects of the recession, which continue to dampen revenue streams.”
“What We Lose With Only Two Children Per Family” (Andy Yuengert/The Federalist)
PQ: “China’s one-child policy has stripped the social space between the state and the individual of every protection that the most natural community, the family, can provide. How much more damaging must be the collapse of family size in Chinese culture, in which family ties have played such an important role? I know I’m not saying anything new (see Nick Eberstadt on the economic effects of the policy), but we cannot remind ourselves too often of what is lost as family sizes have collapsed (through state coercion or, more sadly, voluntarily).
As American family sizes shrink we get a glimpse of the losses, but we may not be aware of the extent of the social damage caused by a one-child policy (or the one-child norm some would foist upon us).”
“Dynamic Scoring Is Defensible but Has Drawbacks” (Greg Mankiw/New York Times)
PQ: “We don’t yet know how Mr. Hall’s leadership will differ from Mr. Elmendorf’s but we do know that he will face a big challenge. House Republicans have recently changed the rules: The Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation are now required to use “dynamic scoring” when evaluating major changes in tax and spending policy. This is the can of worms that awaits Mr. Hall as he takes on his new job.
Until now, conventional budget analysis has used a process called static scoring, which assumes that the path of gross domestic product remains the same when the government changes taxes or spending. This procedure has the virtues of simplicity and transparency.”
“I’m the Air and Space Museum curator. Here’s what Leanard Nimoy meant to me.” (Margaret A. Weitekamp/Washington Post)
PQ: “But Nimoy’s influence can be felt beyond entertainment. He and “Star Trek” have long had an affinity with real space exploration. In 1967, some NASA scientists launching Mariner V for a flyby of Venus wore Spock’s iconic pointed ears. Famously, the first space shuttle orbiter, built for atmospheric approach and landing tests, was named Enterprise in response to a fan letter-writing campaign. In September 1976, Nimoy and many of his fellow cast members attended the vehicle’s rollout in Palmdale, Calif.”
And “Star Trek’s” diverse crew became one model for recruiting candidates to the 1978 class of NASA astronauts (which included the first female, Asian-American, and African-American candidates), when NASA hired Nichelle Nichols, the African-American actress who played “Star Trek’s” Uhura, to conduct public relations campaign for the agency.”
“We Need a Yelp for Civic Engagement to Get the 21st Century Democracy We Need” (Matt Leighninger / TechPresident)
PQ: “But here’s the paradox, and perhaps the opportunity. Today, we are constantly being engaged by citizen-centered ways of measuring—and improving—many other aspects of our lives. Almost every transaction now comes with the opportunity to rate the product or service you receive, from the customer reviews on Amazon to the link to an online survey on the receipts you are handed by cashiers. (Even some public bathrooms ask you to rate the experience as you exit.) Our devices and apps, from GPS units to Yelp, continually ask us “How would rate this Dunkin Donuts?” and “How would you rate this gas station?”
This same thinking and technology could be applied to civic engagement, especially if governments, the institutions responsible for official, conventional engagement, said they wanted the feedback. Why shouldn’t Yelp ask us “How would you rate this school board meeting?” or “How would you rate this public library?” In fact, Yelp already has a category for Public Services and Government that cities could start with or build on.”