Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Austan Goolsbee Reveals Advice America Gave

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, February 24 2011

Last week, it was Austan Goolsbee's turn to take a spin at Advise the Advisor:

And Tuesday in Cleveland, Goolsbee sat down to chew through some of the responses while at a "Winning the Future" small business forum in Cleveland:

Advise the Advisor, you'll remember, is an online experiment that the Obama White House kicked off with an open call by senior advisor David Plouffe earlier this month, wherein a White House official asks for help on some chewy topic -- for Plouffe, it was what's holding back innovation in the U.S., and for Goolsbee it was something similar: what it takes to grow a small business, Americans send in text comments via the web, and the administration member promises to digest the feedback. Wikileaks expressed itself a fan of the concept.

One thing you'll notice is that the White House is still wrestling with the idea that this is structured as a chance for the Obama administration to learn something from the public. Goolsbee, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, can sometimes slips back into default mode of treating the "advice" as a question that demands an answer. That's even more so the case with the special guest that pops up in at about minute 39 of the Cleveland session; President Obama seems unable to resist delivering mini-lectures, as if this were just another Q&A event.

According to Goolsbee in his response video, in the five days they kept his Advise the Advisor session open, about 1,500 comments poured in. He's processed the main themes and posted them on the White House blog. In his initial call for comments, Goolsbee tells the public that there's a decent chance their advice might go far. "I guarantee you that every submission that comes in, somebody is going to read it, and we are going to pay attention, " says Goolsbee. "We may generate White Boards out of it, we may generate policy."

In his initial call to engagement, Goolsbee adds a note that makes one curious just what sort of sort of things Plouffe found whispered -- or yelled -- in his ear in round one of Advise the Advisor. Dipping his head and looking sheepish, Goolsbee says, "Now, some of your comments in the past can be rather colorful. This is going to be a family program in Cleveland." He laughs. "So I encourage you to participate...responsibly."

News Briefs

RSS Feed tuesday >

First POST: Company

The global "Snowden effect" is huge; how many consumer-facing online services fail the user privacy test; the Dems' 2016 digital to-do list; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Mood Slime

The Sony email leak reveals the MPAA's campaign against Google; how Uber is lobbying in local markets; mapping the #MillionsMarchNYC; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Cloudy

What the Internet is not; new analysis of public opinion on net neutrality; how cloud backup apparently foiled a police coverup; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Records

Is the future of citizen journalism vigilantism?; one tech mogul's vocal support for CIA torture; a cri de couer from the founder of the Pirate Bay; and much, much more. GO

Web Index Sees Impact of Net Neutrality, Surveillance and Copyright Laws

Denmark, Finland, Norway, the United Kingdom and Sweden have come out on top of the Web Index, a ranking of the Web Foundation measuring the economic, social and political benefit that countries gain from the web. The United States is at number six. For the authors of the report accompanying the index, the results reflect how inequality has an impact on access to the web. "Nordic policy-makers have been quick to adopt and promote the free Internet - and open access to information - as a 21st century public good," the report states. " Others, as this year's findings show, need to move fast to catch up." The report attributes the Scandinavian countries' advantage to the countries' broader efforts to invest in public goods and establish a welfare and acting against " excess concentrations of wealth and power." With the lower inequality in those countries than in others, "the skills, means and freedoms to benefit from new technologies are widespread, which helps to explain why Scandinavian countries score highly on the political, social and economic impact of the Web GO

More