Ballmer’s Plan to Make America Great Involves Excel

Ballmer’s Plan to Make America Great Involves Excel

Foto: Dražen Tomić

Steve Ballmer is pretty bummed out about the election, according to Bloomberg. A self-proclaimed "numbers guy," Ballmer said the truth is getting lost in the political rhetoric, and he wants to arm citizens with data to defend against lies by the campaigns. "Nobody seems to care about the facts," he said.

The former Microsoft CEO has been spending his retirement on the inside of an Excel spreadsheet. Ballmer and a team of about 25 data geeks have been poring over more than three decades of government documents to create a comprehensive accounting of U.S. spending. The goal is to treat the nation like a company and create what Ballmer describes as a "10-K for the government," like the one publicly traded businesses are required to file with regulators each year.

Ballmer's project, called USAFacts, breaks down government operations into four main segments based on the preamble to the Constitution. For “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,” they chose police, workplace safety and child welfare; another includes military, defense, foreign affairs and immigration; the third has the economy and caring for the poor; and in the last, civil rights, environmental sustainability and education. The 10-K has a section on risk factors that includes war, interest rate hikes, civil unrest and climate change. The draft report also talks about America's customers, using copious amounts of demographic data.

Researchers collected information from 55 government or nonpartisan sources, including from state and local municipalities, going back to 1980, the year Ballmer joined Microsoft. They kept analysis and interpretation to a minimum. Ballmer's goal is to be completely unbiased. The billionaire said he's an independent and has been an active political donor in recent years, with a tendency to give to both sides. He won't say who he's voting for.

Ballmer said the idea that the U.S. is getting worse mostly isn't true. Infrastructure, such as road and bridge safety, is better than or comparable to 1990. The government doesn't seem as big as some people say it is, either. Of about 24 million government workers, teachers account for some 11 million jobs; police, firefighters and the like for 3 million; and military for about 2 million. Add in public hospitals, waste management, prisons and other workers, that leaves just 1.7 million or so bureaucrats.

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