Government Investments, Not Government Subsidies

government investments

The terms we use matter when designing and promoting public and social goods. I don’t like the term “subsidy” when applied to government programs. It lacks the related themes and ideas that I think we want associated with public spending. The term has also taken on negative connotations that further hinder strengthening our communities through the marketing of social goods. I prefer to think about government investments.

I’ll illustrate my point with a personal story from my early career at Microsoft.

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City design: Redesigning failed municipal golf courses

failed municipal golf course

More golf courses have closed than opened since 2006, according to Bloomberg. Many a failed municipal golf course opened during the stock market bubble of the 1990s and the housing market bubble of the 2000s, only to suffer during the Great Recession. In 2013, 14 new courses opened in the U.S. while 157 courses closed.

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Organizational narrative: critiquing Elon Musk’s pitch for Tesla Energy

A recent article in Medium gives an informative critique of Elon Musk‘s pitch for Tesla Energy earlier this year, including five elements to include in any pitch. Two of those five elements line up with the hero’s quest and Pixar pitch that I’ve previously discussed.

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Internet access as public service: the proposed Comcast-Time Warner merger

Comcast logo 2006

For the industrial age, widespread distribution of energy was a critical commodity, so critical that it evolved into a regulated utility. For the information age, that critical commodity is widely available Internet access.

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The power of pricing: pre-paid electricity

Kassierdrehstromzaehler

Most residential energy customers in the United States pay for their power monthly and in arrears. We use power throughout a month, and sometime in the middle of the next month our utility sends us a bill. Unless we’re on an average payment plan, the amount of the bill can vary widely from month to month. This seems normal, mainly because it’s what we’re used to and often it’s our only choice. But for many, including utilities, there’s a better way: pre-paid power.

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What product marketing looks like for social ventures: GSBI Accelerator

miller-center

It might be easy to skip over this blog post I saw about yet another conference, this one at Santa Clara University. Does the world really need another conference, or another blog post about a conference?

In this case, it probably does.

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Design in public service: waste-to-energy plant + ski slope

Energy plant + ski slope

As a recent National Geographic article shows, the design of public facilities can be innovative, even fun, in addition to useful.

Copenhagen, Denmark, is constructing a waste-to-energy plant in the city. The plant will burn garbage from the city as fuel to generate electricity and steam. Converting trash to energy is part of Denmark’s efforts to become carbon neutral by 2025.

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