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Steve Ballmer Serves Up a Fascinating Data Trove

In an age of fake news and questions about how politicians and others manipulate data to fit their biases, Mr. Ballmer’s project may serve as a powerful antidote. Using his website, USAFacts.org, a person could look up just about anything: How much revenue do airports take in and spend? What percentage of overall tax revenue is paid by corporations? At the very least, it could settle a lot of bets made during public policy debates at the dinner table.

“I would like citizens to be able to use this to form intelligent opinions,” Mr. Ballmer said. “People can disagree about what to do — I’m not going to tell people what to do.” But, he said, people ought to base their opinions “on common data sets that are believable.”

Unveiled last week, the approach USAFacts.org has taken in creating this database is simple and undeniable powerful:

We provide a simplified approach for understanding what government does, modeled after what businesses do for management accountability and shareholder reporting. Public companies present their businesses by segments – a logical framework for discussing the areas in which they operate. We do the same for government.

According to USAFacts.org, government can be presented in four segments (clearly outlined in the Preamble to The Constitution of The United States of all places)

  1. Establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility
  2. Provide for the common defense
  3. Promote the general welfare
  4. Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity

Its impressive, and perhaps inspiring, that this project is so comfortably situated in the guiding principles of The Constitution and Big Business – the conversational scylla and charybdis of our great nation.

If you have not already had a chance, definitely spend some time with the report summary slides.

It will be really interesting to see how this resource is incorporated in to the fast paced worlds of business strategy, political journalism and cocktail conversation, among others.