I've spent the last week traveling to some places but mostly trying to travel various places and not getting anywhere via plane, train or automobile. I'm officially given up and figured I might as well blog about some things I've seen the past week.
Taco Bell. As a fan of Taco Bell and the crunchy beef taco, which is sometimes as low as 79 cents, I was not too surprised to hear that the beef was not all beef. I go to the grocery store. I know how much ground beef costs. Making a 79 cent all-beef taco would be hard. And, I've been to Mexican food restaurants all my life -- you often see some chopped potato or carrot in the ground beef. But when Taco Bell tried to explain, what they left out made it impossible for me to look the other way. To tell me that the non-beef portion contains a lot of water, two kinds of sugar, cocoa powder, and "a little oats," but then get all shy and say "and other ingredients" makes me a little nervous. Why can you list these other fillers and flavor enhancers but not others? Are they secret? Are they worse? Is it potatoes? Is it lard? Is it something really, really gross?
Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report. Six months after the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act, which was meant to fix all the problems that created the financial crisis, we now have a report of the commission charged with finding out what created the financial crisis. This seems a little like the cart following after the horse, but I assume that there were conversations back and forth during this time. However, I secretly wanted the report to blame things that no one had thought of and certainly didn't include in Dodd-Frank just for giggles. However, the report seems more like a Restatement of conventional financial crisis wisdom: financial institutions, derivatives, Federal Reserve, lax regulation, credit ratings agencies and mortgage origination practices. However, the majority report lets both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac off the hook and government encouragement of home ownership. The bottom line that the media keeps repeating: The financial crisis was avoidable.
Google's Answer to Not Being Evil: DotOrg, which is Not Very Successful. Sunday's NYT features a follow-up report 6 1/2 years after Google's Form S-1 told us that it was going to create a philanthropic arm:
Last year we created Google Grants—a growing program in which hundreds of non-profits addressing issues, including the environment, poverty and human rights, receive free advertising. And now, we are in the process of establishing the Google Foundation. We intend to contribute significant resources to the foundation, including employee time and approximately 1% of Google’s equity and profits in some form. We hope someday this institution may eclipse Google itself in terms of overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world’s problems.
The NYT article writes of the problems in harnassing the power of Google and directing it at problems discrete enough to be solvable but challenging enough to pique the interest of the Googlers. Go Big or Go Home may not be a mantra that applies to global development.
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