The Effect of Social Policy on People

I haven’t read this entire study and to be totally truthful I don’t know much about this umbrella chambers of commerce organization in the EU, so it’s hard to gauge how credible the research is.

“It will take the EU until 2072 to reach US levels of income per capita, and then only if the EU income growth exceeds that of the US by 0.5pc,” the study said.

However, one doesn’t need a doctorate to know that EU policies directed at the intersection of society and business have simply failed. Unemployment rates remain persistently high across Europe as has real wage growth and social policies that are intended to spur companies to hire more people, such as France’s 35 hour work week, have actually done the opposite.

R&D spending per capita also dramatically lags that of the U.S., as well as new business creation. Ironically, it is wages and per capita spending power that is causing both a brain drain and stagnation in R&D spending by EU businesses. The simple fact is that it costs significantly more to do business in Europe than in the U.S. and those costs are not just passed on to consumers, they impact investments by business and real wage growth.

This all adds up to serious business here in the U.S. with the Senate prepared to begin debate on the Lieberman-Warner bill that would create a cap-and-trade scheme for carbon here in the U.S. While ideologically aligned with market based mechanisms, I remain concerned about the feasibility of such a grand new marketplace in achieving real goals without burdening U.S. based businesses with enormous costs that reduce our global competitiveness and long term economic security. Even here the EU has failed to achieve it’s goals with many years having passed since imposing a cap-and-trade scheme on EU businesses, the CO2 output has not declined but has increased.

The one certainty about cap-and-trade is that it puts additional costs on energy producers at a time when we can ill afford them.

WA State Gives Up $13m Grant Because the Teacher’s Union is Socialist

This is simply outrageous and yet another sad example of why public schools are failing.

Seven Washington high schools won’t be getting their share of a $13.2 million grant to enhance the teaching of Advanced Placement courses in math in science.

Washington state won the grant last year, but stakeholders haven’t been able to figure out how to embrace the project that would include a financial incentive for teachers who improve test scores and for the time they spend in training.

[From Local News | WA high schools lose $13 million grant for AP teachers | Seattle Times Newspaper]

But you have to get to the second to last sentence in the article to understand the real reason why Washington state lost this Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant.

The WEA [JN: that’s the union], he said, was particularly concerned about tying teacher pay directly to student test scores.

It is all well and good to talk about improving our public school system but it will never happen with the unhealthy degree of control that the state and national teacher unions have over this system.

Six other states (including Massachusetts!) are participating in these Gates Foundation grants that involve performance pay for teachers, which suggests that this is less about structural impediments and more about the WEA’s ideological opposition to any linking of performance and pay. Sadly, less than 1/4 of the $13.2 million grant would have been allocated for pay, which means that the Washington state teachers and students are losing out on over $10m in funding that would go directly to teacher training and to students.

More on this topic (What's this?) Read more on Western Asset Bond Fund at Wikinvest

NewsGator Editor’s Desk Beta

We are beta testing a new version of our popular Editor’s Desk widget management application.

Managing the content of a widget has always been a strong point of our hosted service, with not only post level control over RSS feeds but also the ability to create search feeds that scour a broad range of sources and pre-bundled content feeds.

One of the more powerful aspects of the content management tool is the ability to aggregate a large number of feeds and control the display. The Enterprise Irregulars widget that runs in my sidebar pulls together 40 different feeds from the EI member sites, and then throws in Summize feeds for “Enterprise Irregulars” and “enterprise software” for good measure.

The widget displays all of these content sources in an orderly fashion, cycling 1 post item per feed per 8 slots, to ensure that high frequency blogs don’t dominate the presentation. This is the kind of control you get using our widget service, as well as the ability to pull out post items or make them “sticky” to stay in view up at the top of the widget.

The ability to syndicate content is a powerful capability that widgets provide. The Enterprise Irregulars widget gets about 22k impressions a month here but across the 30+ sites that have picked up this widget there is another 80k impressions per month that roll up. What that means is that I’m generating 100,000 widget impressions (analogous to a pageview) per month, extending the EI brand, and achieve a consistent 2-3% clickthrough rate on the content.

There is much more in this updated service, sign up and give it a try.

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The Action Heats Up in Blog Comments

I met up for coffee with Jitendra Gupta and Tedd Corman just a week ago and we talked at length about where they are as a company and the spectrum that includes comment tracking systems (e.g. CoComment) on one end and comment replacement services (e.g. Intense Debate) on the other.

The net takeaway is that blog comments are a proverbial canary in the coal mine for a broader topic of online reputation and it would be a mistake to assume that the reputation topic as applied to blogs is in fact limited to blogs. SezWho has a pretty interesting opportunity in front of them and could end up being the most portable and embeddable of all these companies.

I wrote about SezWho last year. I removed the plugin in order to run Intense Debate, but that in no way is a reflection on the team at SezWho but rather simple curiosity on my part to try out all these solutions in order to learn more about the space.

SezWho (www.sezwho.com), a universal profile service for the social web that engages communities and enables content discovery, today announced its acquisition of Tejit, a provider of semantic intelligence solutions. The integration of Tejit’s proprietary semantic intelligence-based discovery engine will bring richer, context-based profile and reputation management capabilities to the SezWho service. To be useful across different types of social media, profiles and reputation have to be localized and linked to the context of the conversation. In this way, thought leaders emerge within and across communities based on their specific expertise and contributions.

[From SezWho Blog » Blog Archive » SezWho Acquires Semantic Intelligence Company Tejit to Improve Context-Based Reputations for Social Web]

Big Barrier Removed for Online Real Estate Brokers

The trade group, which represents 1.2 million residential and commercial brokers, called the settlement “a win-win” for its industry and consumers.

“Today I can say with clear knowledge … that the real estate industry is dynamic, entrepreneurial and fiercely competitive,” said NAR President Richard Gaylord in a statement.

[From Online real estate agents get equality with traditional brokers – USATODAY.com]

The National Association of Realtors reached a settlement, which has to be approved by a judge, to end anticompetitive activities that constrained online real estate services and brokers. I was actually a little shocked to learn that there are over 1,000 listing services, of which 80% operate under the auspices of NAB guidelines.

In reading the story in USA Today I was struck by the quote from the NAB above; am I to surmise that the old system was in fact a win-lose one and not really that dynamic, entrepreneurial or competitive? Yeah, it seems that way.

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TSA Bag Policy

UPDATE: okay here’s a little more detail on this, it doesn’t sound like such a dumb idea as described here.

Like I frequently say, government solutions often end up creating problems bigger than the ones they are trying to solve… this is just such an example. What exactly is the point of this exercise?

The TSA is working with bag makers like Targus and others to detail the specs of allowable bags. The new bags will have to be made of materials transparent to X-rays and — importantly — either provide no room for or separate adaptors, cables, straps and other stuff that obsures the view of X-ray readers. In other words, the cases will have to allow X-ray readers to see the laptop as clearly as if it weren’t in any case at all.

[From New TSA laptop bag policy won’t improve anything | Computerworld Blogs]

Porn Tax

This is legislative cynicism at it’s worst. The only reason the legislature believes that they can get away with a 25% tax on porn is that they believe there will be few who will publicly criticize them for trying.

Proposed Porn Tax in California:

“This bill would impose a tax on the sale of, or the storage, use, or other consumption of, tangible personal property that is adult material, as defined, in this state at a rate of 25%.”

[From The Volokh Conspiracy – -]

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Intractable Business Model Conflicts

In one sense, the Web is a blessing. Daily circulation for the newsprint Post, now 673,000, may be down from 813,000 in 2000, but we are drawing an eye-opening 9.4 million unique visitors online each month, 85 percent of them from outside the D.C. circulation area. Those readers don’t bring in the cash that print subscribers do — given the gotta-be-free mentality of the Web — but they do expand our reach.

The ticking time bomb here is the wholesale abandonment of newspapers by younger people who grew up with a point-and-click mentality. When I was speaking at Harvard recently, a smug graduate student said, “I get everything I need from YouTube. What are you going to do about it?”

[From Howard Kurtz – Post Buyouts Come With an Emotional Cost – washingtonpost.com]

What an interesting juxtaposition of thoughts in this column in the Washington Post. Like many manufacturing industries have done in recent decades, the newspaper industry is in the midst of structural reorganization as a consequence of technology and consumer behavior shift.

What Kurtz is observing is an interesting conflict of business models born out of the inefficiency of one and the brutal requirement to be efficient in the other. Print subscriptions are suffering and as a consequence the ad margins that newspapers enjoy for advertising and classified advertising that eyeballs never see is going away.

Contrast this to the online side where pretty consistently it is found that online unique readership of newspaper websites is 10x greater than print subscription numbers. Yet because online is a somewhat performance based model with display advertising, newspapers can monetize only those parts of their web sites that generate impressions. More people see the website but revenue per unique visitor is lower.

Scott Karp recently observed that traditional advertising fails on the web and it is no more evident than in the newspaper business where they enjoy high, and growing as well, traffic but have a failing online business model.

Kurtz is wrong about younger generations abandoning newspapers, indeed it would be very difficult to support any statistical argument that begins with the premise that only old people are clicking on newspaper web sites. What younger generations are abandoning online, as they are in broadcast, is dumb advertising that provides little utility and in a digital world can simply be ignored or fast-forwarded through.

Kurtz also offers this observation:

The economics of the Web, for now, won’t support a staff that can hold public officials accountable across the region and still cover every Nationals game. So I cling to an old-fashioned, almost mystical belief in the power of ink on paper.

He’s right but in making his observation he is exposing his own ignorance to the broader underpinnings of “being digital”. Online web media won’t support hundreds of staffers because they simply don’t need to. We are entering an age where we rediscover the power of syndication at the hands of technology that has driven down integration to the cost of text. The Washington Post online doesn’t need to cover every Nationals game because ESPN, MLB.com, and numerous blogs are already doing it. Syndicating that content either through exclusive agreements or with public RSS provides readers with a far more compelling and comprehensive experience than any single newspaper alone can manage.

Of course, syndication is nothing new in newspaper, the AP and various other wire services have build large businesses on this idea, and most recently the Washington Post itself is syndicating TechCrunch’s stories.

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