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We Need (And Already Have) Better Economic Indicators

Today, I asked Kathleen, my sensible dental hygienist, how the “dentist business” was going.

I honestly didn’t expect the answer I got — I assumed that folks’ teeth would be one of those “recession proof” things. At least regular check ups and cleanings.

Not the case: “It’s been different… worst recession I can remember,” she said.

According to her, my region’s dentists and their office staff are reporting “not even getting their co-pays”.

That’s not good — and for a multitude of obvious reasons — but here’s a different way to think of it:

For all the official economic stats out there, and specifically the “leading economic indicators“, those stats like the “Average weekly jobless claims for unemployment insurance” and the “The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index” that supposedly represent the trajectory of the economy, there’s probably not one that is as straight forward and tangible as the nascent one implied by my anecdote: are the folks in your town skimping on basic health maintenance?

I think it’s fair to say that it might be time to think about changing that phrase, “All politics is local”, to “All economics Is local”.

If we want folks to understand the state of the economy, why start with national, abstract measurements? Why not anchor it to the folks in your town?

Actually, I’ve been meaning to write about this concept for a while… Way back in 2009, I noticed that when I went to the bank I’d see a lot more people than normal with their change baskets at the counting machines — dumping change, waiting patiently, dumping more, waiting and then finally taking the paper print out to the counter.

I had the fleeting thought back then that it would be really interesting to see the data regarding the usage of those machines?

My thesis: you could gauge the anxiety or budget stress families were having in a region by measuring the frequency and volume of change redemption across banks.

Who ever thought the change in the couch could give you so much insight?





RIP Hillman Curtis

RIP Hillman Curtis

If you’ve ever gotten to the bottom of my blog you’d have seen this quote:

“Find the theme, communicate it clearly, honor consistency, eat the audience.”

That’s Hillman Curtis.


He was inspirational. He’ll continue to be.

The Reverse Newspaper, Groupon Style

It’s time for some radical thinking about your local newspaper.

Here’s the problem: my local paper is covering things that aren’t that relevant to me—and when it is relevant, it’s not covered exactly the way I want it covered.

What if we flipped the editorial function on its head? What if we employed the Groupon model or crowdsourcing intent from a community?

Specifically, I think it could work like this:

  • Allow readers to post story ideas
  • Readers could then vote on their favoriate ones.
  • Once a critical mass was achieved, the story would be assigned to a reporter.
Of course, the initial posting of the idea could include detail to provide a clear idea of what the story should achieve.
Isn’t this a way for a paper to always remain relevant to its readership? More importantly, isn’t this a way for a community to get what it wants?
I think it’s worth at least a pilot.
When I worked at a local newspaper, I served on the community relations board. It was a way for us to ensure we were serving the community better. This idea is soooo much better. It’s real-time, it’s democratic, and it’s transparent.
So,, what do you think?

Eighty Percent Of Success Is Showing Up

Thanks Woody (Allen) for highlighting this fact of life.  I was just reminded of it… was listening to my AltPopRock Pandora station and the Violent Femmes came on so I jumped over to Wikipedia for a refresh on their history and came across this compelling snippet of folk(rock) lore:

They were discovered by James Honeyman-Scott (of The Pretenders) on August 23, 1981, when the band was busking on a street corner in front of the Oriental Theatre, the Milwaukee venue that The Pretenders would be playing later that night. Chrissie Hynde invited them to play a brief acoustic set after the opening act.

The universe works in mysterious ways.  Actually, I’m sure the VFs were savvy–picking a great time to busk (first time I’m using this word–ever!). But it does just show you that if you do what you love, and you’re persistent as hell about it…  you’re 80% there.

Good Ol' Lorem Ipsum

Who can really start a blog with a straight face?
Not me.

So I’ll let Lorem do all the work. Mr. Ipsum will show no weakness stepping out onto the world stage. He will be my personal operative: calling out the guerillas and taking it on the chin for me.

Thank you L.I.

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