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January 7, 2010

Your Downsize DC Annual Report for 2009

In this message . . .

* Overview: Why you should be able to get what you want, but don’t
* What we accomplished in 2009
* What we hope to achieve in 2010
* Overcoming the limiting factor

Overview: Why you should be able to get what you want, but don’t

Republican politicians controlled our government for 8 years, from 2000 to 2008. They made so many messes in so many areas that the American people rejected them. As a result . . .

Democratic politicians now control the government, and have already done so many things wrong in so many ways that they appear to have already lost the confidence of the American people.

It seems very clear that neither party can be trusted with the car keys. Or, to be more precise, politicians suck.

Your current predicament is this . . .

The best you and I can hope for in the immediate future is that the Democrats will lose control of Congress, resulting in divided government. Things were better in the 90s when one party controlled the White House, and the other controlled Congress. But while divided government is better than one-party rule, it’s still not good enough. A vexing problem remains . . .

Why can’t you and I get what we want?

Looked at objectively, based on where the American people stand on the issues, our politicians ought to behave differently than they do. There truly is a Downsize DC Consensus in America, and there has been for a long time. I think you will find the following facts both encouraging and perplexing . . .

We start by tipping our hat to David Boaz at the Cato Institute for constantly calling attention to the kind of data we’re going to share below, and to Ramesh Ponnuru for providing a good recent summary of this information.

CBS pollsters have been asking the following question for decades, “Would you say you favor smaller government with fewer services, or larger government with many services?”

From 1996 through Jan. 2001 the smaller-government side had an average lead of a whopping 20 points.

For most of the past three decades a majority of Americans (often a vast majority) have favored smaller government. And even now, when the propaganda drumbeat for more government in areas such as health care and the financial system has been extremely loud, the support for smaller government is close to a majority, according to this poll.

But there are other polls . . .

A similar Washington Post/ABC poll tells the same story. Public opinion swung strongly toward smaller government in the 1990s, and then back the other way in the decade that just ended. “But smaller-government has maintained a consistent advantage!”

According to this poll, as of June 2008, the public still favored smaller government 50% to 45%. But there’s more . . .

For many years Gallup, ABC and the Washington Post have asked Americans, “is government trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses” or “should government do more to solve our country’s problems?” The answers have usually been in favor of smaller government . . .

* By 8-points in September 1992
* By 12-points in October 1998
* By 7-points in September 2002
* And by a whopping 12-points in September of 2008, during the height of the financial hysteria!

But it gets even better, because these poll questions are actually rigged in favor of the big government position, and we still win anyway! As David Boaz points out, these poll questions offer a benefit of larger government (more services) without mentioning the cost (higher taxes and increased borrowing).

A fair poll question would mention both the cost and the benefit for each side. Has any polling operation asked the question this way? The answer is yes. When Rasmussen asked the balanced version of the question the results were . . .

* A whopping 64% in favor of smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes,
* 14% undecided
* And only a tiny minority of 22% in favor of more government and higher taxes

But these results are even more inspiring than they seem. What’s truly amazing is that the vast majority of Americans favor smaller government in spite of the fact that . . .

* They all learned in government schools that government is the font of all things good
* The drama-mongering media constantly promotes the idea that the latest “crisis” is a cataclysmic danger that only government can solve
* Tax-funded “intellectuals” in our universities are constantly at work, pimping for the State
* Politicians spend billions every election telling us that they are the answer to every problem

The case for small government is hardly ever heard by anyone, and yet it still wins in the minds of the American people!

Can you imagine what could happen if our message was heard to the same extent as the propaganda for big government?

There truly is a Downsize DC Consensus in America, and we’re convinced that this consensus would be even more dominant if only our arguments could be heard to the same extent as the Statist arguments. That is to say, by everyone, everywhere, every day.

So here’s the perplexing thing — given these facts, how come you can’t get what you want?

We’ve answered this question in detail in our strategy document, “The Downsize DC Vision.” If you haven’t read it, you really should.

But here are a few highlights that are relevant to this report . . .

* The Downsize DC Consensus isn’t organized, instead it’s divided into warring partisan camps
* The public’s obsession with electoral contests causes them to constantly veer back and forth between the Democrats and the Republicans, never getting anywhere
* Third-party options are largely foreclosed by winner-take-all elections and various campaign-finance and ballot-access laws
* The politicians have major incentives to expand government power and serve special interests, at the expense of taxpayers (the section of “The Downsize DC Vision where we deal with this issue is among the most important, so you really should read it)
* These realities allow the politicians to ignore the will of the people, and instead serve their own interests

This is why, difficult though it may be, has been designed to . . .

* Find, recruit, educate, and mobilize the dis-united adherents to the Downsize DC Consensus
* Avoid partisan divisions and the rigged electoral process
* Create a huge constituency to which candidates will pander, huge pressure to control what the politicians do, and the financial resources to make our message heard by everyone, everywhere, every day.

From the very beginning we have expected that our progress would follow the usual bell-shaped curve, with slow growth at first until critical mass is achieved, followed by rapid growth, and then slower growth on the other side of the bell-curve, after the most likely prospects have been brought into the fold. So where are we in this process?

What we accomplished in 2009

At the start of 2009 the Downsize DC Army (subscribers to the Dispatch) stood at 24,346 members. By the end of the year it had risen to 29,248 members — an increase of 4,902. We’re pleased with this growth, but clearly we’re still on the slow end of the bell-curve. Is there some way we can grow faster, and reach critical mass sooner. We think some of our other growth numbers provide a clue.

During 2008 we registered 8,005 new people to send letters to Congress using our Educate the Powerful System. During 2009 we registered another 8,575 new people to use the Educate the Powerful System. This is good growth, but the rate of growth was still about the same as in the previous year. This makes the following set of numbers somewhat surprising, and points in the direction we ought to go . . .

During 2008 we sent 264,384 letters to Congress, but in 2009 we sent a whopping 501,762 letters to Congress — an increase of 237,378. We find this both amazing and informative. How is that we were able to nearly double the number of letters to Congress, when the rate of recruitment and new registrations to use the ETP system didn’t increase by nearly as much?

The answer is simple. We created better software TOOLS that empowered Downsizers to send letters to Congress more easily. Meanwhile . . .

We also experimented with other approaches to recruitment, and the more we experimented the more we came to believe that the creation of NEW SOFTWARE TOOLS is the key to making recruitment happen faster, so we can reach critical mass sooner.

What we hope to accomplish in 2010, the Year of Toolism!

We want to create NEW TOOLS — new levers! — that YOU can use to accomplish more and better results, faster and easier. We have many such tools in mind, each of which will hit on a key leverage point. We’ll be sharing these ideas with you in the months to come, but it’s pointless to even talk about these things unless we can . . .

Overcome the limiting factor

In 2007 Downsize DC (, Inc. and our educational Downsize DC Foundation combined) raised $208,383.

During the Panic of 2008 this number fell to $197,599.

And during the Recession of 2009 (though our accounting isn’t quite finished yet), it looks like this number fell again, to $183,900. Money pledged to us never arrived because of the economic meltdown.

It’s a simple fact, we accomplish a lot with less annual revenue than many organizations spend in a month. But despite our continued growth, the RATE at which we grow continues to be limited by our fundraising.

We well understand that part of this is due to the Panic and the Recession, but we also understand that a huge part of it has to do with the fact that we’re an Internet organization, and the Internet is a culture of FREE. Sadly, what we’ve accomplished, and what we hope to achieve in 2010, isn’t free.

To grow faster we need more support. Our goals for this month are modest, and we hope you can help us achieve them. We need . . .

* One-time contributions totalling $5,500
* At least 14 new monthly pledgers, for a total of about $180 in new, monthly, re-occuring income

If we can achieve these goals then we’ll be able to continue the work we’re doing to provide you with new tools that will make you more powerful. If you want to see us do more faster you can contribute here:

Thank you and best wishes for the new year.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

P.S. The contribution link provided above is for, where we routinely help you “educate politicians.” Those efforts are NOT tax-deductible. We can’t undertake those same kinds of watchdog efforts at our sister group, the Downsize DC Foundation where the same team of people engages in “public education.” And that training is tax-deductible if you itemize! If you need to make your donation tax-deductible, please contribute to the Downsize DC Foundation, here:  

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