You are viewing an old blog post! That means that links will be broken, and images may be missing.

July 9, 2010

PROGRESS REPORT: We Burn Our Ships and March Inland

In July 1519 Hernan Cortes burned his ships off the coast of Mexico. He then marched inland with a mere 600 men to conquer the Aztec Empire. By burning his ships Cortes left himself no means of retreat. He and his men were committed to their venture.

We’re doing something similar this July of 2010.

You may have noticed that the growth numbers featured in the upper right corner of our website have been stagnant lately. If you haven’t noticed then we want to draw your attention to it now. We’ve purposely allowed this to happen, for reasons of efficiency.

Most human progress has derived from this kind of approach — long ago a farmer saved some of his corn, rather than eating it. He then traded this corn for a tool that allowed him to grow more crops with less effort. That’s how the human race became wealthy.

Karl Marx invented a name for this, calling it capitalism. But it would be more appropriate to call it Toolism.

It will usually make sense to stop doing something inefficient, and use the time instead to create a tool by which less effort can accomplish more. 

That’s why we haven’t focused on growth lately. We’ve been building new tools. We show you one such new tool today. We pitched you on this idea, you funded it, and we did it.

* This page will list candidates for federal office who have adopted all or part of the Downsize DC Agenda (the Read the Bills Act, One Subject at a Time, etc) 
* And this page has a form that candidates can use to register as supporters of our bills.

Think about how this will allow us to accomplish more growth with less effort. This creates a win-win situation . . .

* Candidates can attract voters by sponsoring our attractive proposals
* And whenever candidates tell people about things like the Read the Bills Act they will also be attracting people to

Prior to the primaries we had five candidates who endorsed our Agenda before we even had this page in place. Now we have two more who are getting ready to fill out the form and add their names for the general election. But this is only the beginning. Even so, there’s one thing missing . . .

This new tool would be even more powerful if we could do two things . . .

* Add a database of candidates for public office
* Connect this database to our Educate the Powerful System so that you could lobby candidates the same way you lobby members of Congress

Which brings me to why we’re burning our ships this month . . .

Being able to use the Educate the Powerful System on candidates for office is an exciting project, but executing this project, and building other, even more exciting tools, is absolutely impossible until we finish the One Sack database project we’ve mentioned in previous progress reports. But we’re under no illusions . . .

The One Sack project is mind-numbingly boring. It’s something that neither you nor anyone else cares about. Only we here on the Downsize DC Team care about it, because we understand how crucial it is. At the risk of putting you to sleep . . .

I must remind you that our One Sack project is simply an infrastructure task. began life as an offshoot from previous organizations, and so it started with multiple databases. Our One Sack project aims to turn those multiple databases (sacks) into just One Sack, one database. Like I said, this is boring, but . . .

* We can’t create new tools efficiently until this is done, and . . .
* There’s good news — we’re now down to just Two Sacks!

But how long will it take us to go from Two Sacks to One Sack? We want the answer to be “NOT LONG!” We’re sick of this project. We’re sick of having things on hold. And we’re beyond eager to move on to the creation of new and exciting tools that will make us GROW GROW GROW! Can you feel me? This is why . . .

* We bought more hours from our programmer — we’re committed
* Even though we have three payrolls this month

We are determined to go from Two Sacks to One Sack by the end of July, even if it’s very risky financially. How risky?

* We need to raise $8,800 BEYOND our modest monthly budget of nearly $16,000, which will be a challenge, because we’ve only made budget three out of six months so far this year.
* Thankfully, we have pledgers, but we’ll spend all our available funds by August 26, unless support swells.  

So as you can see, this is, for us, the equivalent of burning our ships behind us, but we feel we must do it. To us . . .

Our purpose is not only to provide you with a mechanism for contacting your elected representative. We also exist to provide you with . . .

* Easy tools for educating others
* Easy tools for recruiting people to join you in your efforts

Moreover, we can’t bear the thought of allowing our growth numbers to stagnate any longer while we struggle along completing the One Sack project. We want it completed NOW. We want to grow. That means . . .

We must raise about $10,000 more this month than we NORMALLY do, to meet both the three payrolls and the increased spending to complete the One Sack Project. Can you help us? If not, then we may reach the end of this month wishing we had ships.

* We need lots of donors giving various amounts. Every contribution helps, and so we need to hear from as many DC Downsizers as possible.
* Last week, I told you we needed two $1,000 or more donors, or four $500 donors. Fortunately, one person responded at that level, but obviously, now that I have “burned the ships,” we need a few folks who can give at these levels. If you are in a position to contribute $2,500, or even $5,000, now is the time!
* Our ability to plan ahead and take normal, entrepreneurial risks is predicated on support from monthly pledgers. We now need even more help from pledgers, as well.

You can do any of these things at our secure, online contribution form, using Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, or PayPal — you can even print out the page and mail a check to the address on the form.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer,

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

P.S. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible investment in our educational foundation, you can do so here.

We also accept appreciated stock through the Downsize DC Foundation. Just hit reply to this message to let us know, and we will be in touch.

Finally, when we make an appeal that mentions our budget, we get asked, “How do you spend the money?” Past experience has taught me that people think they want this information, but don’t really. We spend time compiling and reporting it, and then it’s very obvious that the person who asked for the accounting paid little attention to it. Nevertheless, I will provide a brief answer to the question on our blog, and I hope that if this question occurred to you, that you find the answer helpful.

If your comment is off-topic for this post, please email us at


Post a Comment

Notice: Undefined variable: user_ID in /var/www/ on line 89

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

© 2008–2019