Is technology crucial to social change -- to getting what you want? Consider . . .
The printing press was invented in the 1440s. The Protestant Reformation followed in 1517. The first thing made the second thing possible. Without the printing press to distribute his arguments Martin Luther would have influenced few people. Instead, he probably would have been burned at the stake and then quickly forgotten.
Printing technology made possible the American Revolution. It's difficult to imagine that this world changing event could have happened without the widely read pamphlets and newspapers that fostered and nurtured it. This is especially true of Tom Paine's "Common Sense." No printing press; no American Revolution.
Something similar is true of the American civil rights movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Television began its rise in the late 1940s. The civil rights movement began a few years later in 1955. But this new civil rights movement was far from the first attempt by African Americans to win equal protection under the law. It was simply the first to gain traction and success. Television was the key difference . . .
Many previous civil rights efforts had been suppressed by a violence that few people ever saw. But television made the violence visible to everyone. Americans could now see the fire hoses, the attack dogs, the beatings, and the burning crosses. They could also see the bravery and dignity of the people who bore these blows. The result was national shame and cultural change.
Is technology equally crucial to the kind of social change we want to cause? We think it is. Some aspects of this are obvious. DownsizeDC.org wouldn't exist without the Internet. Likewise, the Internet was crucial to the money bombs of the Ron Paul campaign and the social networking that allowed the Tea Party movement to blossom. But . . .
Is this as good as it gets?
We think not. The more we've pondered this, and experimented with different ways to educate, recruit, and exert social pressure, the more we've come to believe that . . .
* The full potential of the Internet has yet to be realized
* The development of new Internet-based tools (levers!) is the critical path to getting what we want.
This is why I want to cover, briefly, the following . . .
* Progress numbers we lacked the space to share with you in last Friday's report
* A specific fact that puts our growth in context
* An insight about the crucial advantage Big Government politicians have
* An overview of the technological tools required to overcome this advantage
First, MORE PROGRESS numbers. We joined the social networking revolution in the second half of 2009. Thanks to your financial support, we assigned James Wilson to focus several hours per week on building our social presence on the web. Here's just part of what he's accomplished thus far . . .
Each of these pages is a new lever we can use to expand our growth, and that growth is accelerating.
Is this growth, and the growth of our other statistics, fast enough? The answer is yes and no . . .
* Yes, because most organizations seem to grow at a rate similar to ours
* No, because we need much faster growth to achieve our goals
* No, because some organizations have grown far faster in far less time
There's an important point to understand here. The biggest Internet organizations tend to have begun with far more capital than we've had. Equally important, many large organizations have grown rapidly by benefiting from singular viral events -- things that have spread through the Internet like lightening. This "lightening" metaphor is important, because . . .
* Such viral growth explosions really are like trying to catch lightening in bottle
* You cannot predict or manufacture them
We've also noticed that the organizations that have benefited from these unpredictable viral explosions CANNOT DUPLICATE THEM -- they fail to catch lightening in a bottle a second or third time. After the lightening has struck, some tend to revert to slower, traditional growth patterns, while others actually shrink. So having said . . .
We want to accelerate our growth, without having to depend on the arrival of a lightening strike. We think new technological tools are the key to doing this. We base this conclusion on our own experience and experimentation, but also on a crucial strategic insight . . .
Politicians are able to constantly expand their own power because . . .
* The benefits they confer on special interests are concentrated on a few groups and people, while . . .
* The costs of those benefits are dispersed among millions of taxpayers.
This creates perverse incentives . . .
* Those who benefit from government expansion have strong incentives to fight for their special favors
* Individual taxpayers have little incentive to resist because the cost each person pays for any given favor is very low
To grow and succeed we must reverse these inventives. We must make it especially easy for taxpayers to resist so that we can overwhelm special interets with superior numbers. And we're doing this. We already exert pressure on Congress using our Educate the Powerful System . . .
We've reduced the cost of resisting government expansion to just a few mouse clicks and key board strokes, because that's all it takes to use our system. This is an example of what we mean by "doing more with less."
But this is only one lever, focused on only one leverage point. To grow faster, and exert more influence, we need to lower the cost of resistance in other areas too, by creating new levers focused on other leverage points. Doing this is our mission for 2010 -- the Year of Toolism.
We need your help to make it happen. Providing this help will bring YOU powerful benefits. With just a few mouse clicks and keyboard strokes YOU will be able to exert pressure, influence, and control on key NEW leverage points, such as . . .
* Other taxpayers, in a way that will allow you to track the results of your own personal efforts
* The media, both nationally, and in your own community
* The candidates who are challenging the incumbents who currently represent you
* Your local congressional offices (not just their far-off Washington, DC offices)
* Your state legislatures, in a way that will cause them to also exert pressure on Congress
These are just a few of the new tools we have in mind, and we're already busy laying the foundations for these technological innovations. We'll be telling you more details about each one in the weeks and month's ahead, but creating these revolutionary new technological tools requires lots of programming hours, and our financial burn rate is increasing. We need your help to fuel the fire we are trying to start . . .
The costs are small compared to what most organizations spend, because we are so efficient, but we still need your help to reach our modest January goals, which are as follows . . .
* One-time contributions totalling $5,500
* At least 14 new monthly pledgers, for a total of about $180 in new, monthly, re-occuring income
We've so far generated . . .
* $830 in one-time donations. We need another $4,670.
* 6 new monthly pledges, totalling $172 per month -- we'd like to get at least 8 more to push us well above our goal
Hitting these marks will enable us to continue working to create new tools that will make you more powerful. If you want to see us do more faster you can contribute with your secure online form: https://secure.downsizedc.org/contribute/
Thank you and best wishes,
Jim Babka, President