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Yesterday afternoon, I heard this stunning interview with Anirban Basu, CEO of Sage Policy Group and Chairman of the Baltimore County Economic Advisory Committee.

In the interview, Mr. Basu said the following:

The incomes of these communities that we’re talking about are quite low and so the private sector in and of it’s own self is not necessarily going to put a lot of investment into these communities and that’s why there is only grinding progress, but it is progress.
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I commend Mr. Basu for his honesty. It's rare to hear that there are issues the private sector will not fix. We need more blunt talk about what markets do well and where they struggle.

More from the interview and an argument for public sector investment below the fold.

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I just received my official copyright notice so I thought I'd take a minute today to talk about copyrighting.

The process itself is relatively easy but some of the questions along the way were a bit confusing. So I thought I'd share in the hopes it might save someone some pain or confusion.  

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Chuck Canterbury, President of the Fraternal Order of Police, on NPR yesterday:

I think the tensions are there in a lot of areas, and I think there's one common denominator. In any place that there's tension with police officers, there's abject poverty. And politicians tend to use their law enforcement as the only form of government that those neighborhoods ever see. They're normally high-crime areas, and the police department cannot [be] alone in trying to fix the problems of those neighborhoods. There's over 60,000 police officers assaulted every year. The vast majority of those occur in the same areas that these tensions are felt in.
Here's a quick look at a few of our priorities.

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George Stephanopoulos interviewed Peter Schweizer yesterday in advance of his book “Clinton Cash”.

He asked some decent questions focused on whether Schweizer has any evidence of criminal behavior to which Schweizer basically said "no".

Of course Schweizer has no evidence of criminal behavior. If he did, Clinton would be under arrest. This is a political attack.

The interesting thing about the attack is that Stephanopoulos mimics what we're supposed to do. He gets outraged about a lack of evidence. Or as outraged as George Stephanopoulos can get anyways. Meanwhile the attack gets repeated ad nauseum in the media.

Stephanopoulos feigns the role of protagonist, allows Schweizer to repeat all his claims, and ABC shows some scary graphics.

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I've already seen several people repeating the attacks and the book hasn't even been released.

What conservatives don’t realize is that Schweizer is doing us a favor. Here’s how to use his (or anyone else who tries similar) attacks to fight against money in politics.

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Is a 5th grader smarter than Ohio's PARCC testing initiative?

Ayden Pol won 3rd place in the Lorain County Chronicle-Telegram editorial contest with his aptly titled piece "Park the PARCC".

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I'm with Ayden. Why aren't we making learning fun? Why are we so test focused?

Why are we micromanaging teachers? What purpose do these tests serve when students don't get the results back until the following year?

Why are school IT departments setting up their own help desks to deal with all of the problems?  Why can't teachers help kids with the technology? And why do private schools in Ohio get an exemption from all of this unnecessary compliance overhead?

At what point do we remember the students? Shouldn't we be encouraging our best and brightest to go into the teaching profession instead of discouraging them?

I think Ayden hits the nail on the head and in his honor, I am going to do my best to use the phrase "bottom drawer word" every chance I get.

Please join me in congratulating Ayden on his excellent editorial and wish him luck as PARCC tests are this week!

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Thu Apr 23, 2015 at 10:57 AM PDT

I. Want my. Robots.

by akadjian

Isaac Asimov promised me a robot that would obey the 3 laws of robotics.

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Many other promises were made.


Who is your favorite robot?

7%3 votes
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9%4 votes
0%0 votes
28%12 votes
4%2 votes
16%7 votes
0%0 votes
16%7 votes
2%1 votes
14%6 votes

| 42 votes | Vote | Results

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Mon Apr 20, 2015 at 09:34 AM PDT

Why we have an inheritance tax

by akadjian

The House of Representatives recently voted to eliminate the estate tax. Because of the recent vote, the topic may come up in conversations with people you know.

This is an easy case to “win” because there is such a strong moral case for inheritance taxes and it's also a great opportunity to practice talking about what you believe.

Most of what you’ll see in the media, however, consists of the “strong” moral case for corporate special interest groups and a “weak” response. By weak response, I mean a case that doesn't talk about the morality of the estate tax. A case that is often simply the negation of conservative arguments. A moral case should explain ‘why’ we believe in inheritance taxes.

To start, I believe ...

1. Privilege should be earned (not inherited).

To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, every dollar received should represent a dollar’s worth of service rendered – not gambling in stocks.

Roosevelt said it better:

No man should receive a dollar unless that dollar has been fairly earned. Every dollar received should represent a dollar’s worth of service rendered — not gambling in stocks, but service rendered. The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective — a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.
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This is perhaps the best description I've seen of Fox News (and AM talk radio for that matter).

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I saw this in a tweet today, but it appears it's been around for a bit. Apologies if you've seen before but thought worth sharing.

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A number of recent comments and posts have talked about how we can become more active. One of the things I’ve heard is that we need to hit the streets and that people here are more interested in blogging than in organizing.

I agree that we should be looking to do more, to run for office, to work with different campaigns, to look for opportunities to get involved, and think this conversation is great.

I also believe that the most important thing we can do is write. Here’s why.

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I’d like to share a bit of good news today. I’ve been hired to write a second book (I’m getting paid to write!). It’s about a different yet related topic: Agile software development or, more specifically, the Agile culture.

Here’s the trick, I’m not quite sure what it’s going to be about.

Since “Writing the book” was #2 on the list of topics people were struggling with and
I’m ramping up a new project, I’d like to talk about what Agile is and how it relates to the process of writing a book. This is both helping me sort some things out and I thought also might be interesting in the context of how we go about the process of writing.

Agile is an iterative method for project development. It began in the software industry but is technically agnostic – this means you can use it for any type of project.

It is good for projects where you are doing something new or the requirements are likely to change quickly.

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Looking at the above chart for instance, the Y axis is the requirements for the book and the X access would be the process for creating a book. Since I've been through the process before, I’m familiar with how to create a book – the technology is relatively certain.

However, the subject matter is new to me and I’m still not exactly sure what the book is going to be about so the requirements are likely to change greatly.

Agile is a candidate for a development process when a project, any project, is in the Complex or Complicated regions.

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Tue Mar 31, 2015 at 06:49 AM PDT

Grow your flowers and take my money

by akadjian

I don’t understand how the florist (or the baker for that matter) that everyone uses as an example in these discrimination law cases is being “harmed”.

No one can explain it to me.

He or she makes a product. A price is set. I’m offering to pay. Let’s do this.  

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Mon Mar 30, 2015 at 06:54 AM PDT

The simple morality of atheism

by akadjian

This is a post to help people understand atheism. I write this because of how atheism is being portrayed in the media as a lack of morals.

The latest example comes from Phil Robertson at a Christian event in Florida:  

Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters,” Phil said at the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast, audio from which was obtained by Right Wing Watch. “Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot ‘em and they take his wife and decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?
Atheists are portrayed as having no morals, as not believing in any right or wrong.

This is ridiculous.

Atheists are actually extremely moral people because atheists own their actions. If we make a decision, we don’t have any god or gods to fall back on.

We don’t say things like: “Well, my God told me that these other people are evil so I’m going to have to fight against them.”

If we make a decision, we have to own it. We use the word “I”.

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