“The Myth of the Rational Voter”

Economist Bryan Caplan offers a sobering assessment in his provocative book by the captioned name, arguing that voters continually elect politicians who either share their biases or else pretend to, resulting in bad policies winning again and again by popular demand. Calling into question our most basic assumptions about American politics, Caplan contends that democracy fails precisely because it does what voters want. Through an analysis of Americans’ voting behavior and opinions on a range of economic issues, he makes the convincing case that noneconomists suffer from four prevailing biases: they underestimate the wisdom of the market mechanism, distrust foreigners, undervalue the benefits of conserving labor, and pessimistically believe the economy is going from bad to worse. Caplan lays out several bold ways to make democratic government work better–for example, urging economic educators to focus on correcting popular misconceptions and recommending that democracies do less and let markets take up the slack.The greatest obstacle to sound economic policy is not entrenched special interests or rampant lobbying, but the popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases held by ordinary voters. 

The Myth of the Rational Voter takes a hard look at how people who vote under the influence of false beliefs ultimately end up with government that delivers lousy results. With the upcoming presidential election season drawing nearer, this thought-provoking book is sure to spark a long-overdo reappraisal of our elective system.

Martin Milita serves as a senior director of Duane Morris Government Strategies headquartered in Trenton, New Jersey and Washington DC. The company has represented a variety of Fortune 500 corporations and clients involved in the energy, insurance, financial, and other sectors. Martin Milita began in the legal profession as an aide to Edward “Pete” Biester, who represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. Congress. Martin Milita holds a law degree from the Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law, in Philadelphia. He is a member of the Administrative and Business Law Sections of the New Jersey State Bar Association and the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association. A graduate of King’s College, Martin Milita earned his undergraduate degree in Government.  

 

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7 Challenges to writing an effective RFP proposal.

To write a proposal, you must meet seven demonstrable challenges. You cannot avoid them. You cannot skip any of them. You just have to face them.

1. Complying with the RFP. First you have to read it and understand it. Then you have to cross-reference all the requirements across the various sections. Even if your assignment is for a single section, there may be requirements in other sections that are relevant, especially the evaluation criteria. Achieving RFP compliance is part using the customer’s terminology and keywords, part cross-referencing, and part understanding their evaluation process. Cross-referencing can be tricky and often requires interpretation.

2. Writing is easy. Figuring out what to write about is harder. If you want to win, it’s important to avoid the temptation of starting from another proposal. Once you know what should go into the proposal, writing it is pretty straightforward. What we do is follow a process that quickly guides people through considering everything that should go into a proposal and sets them up with a plan for writing it.

3. Articulation.  Some people get stuck in the mechanics of putting the words together. They are not sure how it’s supposed to sound. We pay attention to style. But we pay more attention to whether it is simply descriptive or whether it says something that matters from the customer’s point of view. The most important thing to accomplish in proposal writing is to make it reflect the customer’s point of view. What the customer sees on the paper should provide answers to their questions, complete their evaluation process, and practically impel the conclusion that you are the best alternative. You have goals to accomplish, terminology from the RFP to use, and have to put it in the reader’s perspective instead of your own. That can be difficult, especially for people new to proposal writing. But when we review proposals, we often see problems in proposals written by people with many years of experience as well. We provide lots of guidance on every aspect of proposal writing to help people find their voice.

4. Figuring out what to offer. Whatever you do, don’t figure out what to offer by writing about it. This is a recipe for proposal disaster. Figuring out what to offer and figuring out what to write about should be done in parallel. Only after they have both been figured out and reviewed to ensure they aren’t likely to change should you start writing. Figuring out what to offer by writing about it does incredible damage to proposals. We have seen it cost companies hundreds of millions of dollars.

5. Articulating your bid strategies. The truth is the bid strategies for the proposal should be figured out before the writers ever get their assignments. Bid strategies should be just one of the ingredients that go into what you need to write. You must figure out the bid strategies before you start writing or designing your offering. The proposal should prove the bid strategies.

6. Passing the review. Most companies review their proposals before they finish them. Most companies do a poor job of conducting these reviews. The instructions to writers should reflect the same quality criteria that the reviewers will use. If you use a process to figure out what to write, then the plan it produces can also be used to increase the effectiveness of the review process. If writers are at the mercy of a completely unpredictable and subjective review process, the only way good can come from it is by luck.

7. Winning. If you start focusing on winning your proposals when the writing starts, you are too late. The pre-RFP stage is critical and driven by relationships with key decision makers, influencers, stake-holders and allies. You need to know them. We manage the pre-RFP stage like election campaigns. Know the answers to important questions and know your competition you’re your competitions strengths and weakness. The pre-RFP stage is when you really should be focused on winning. When you focus pre-RFP , you will realize that in order to incorporate what it will take to win into your plans for the proposal, you’ll need answers to questions that should have been asked before the RFP even came out.

Martin Milita is senior director with Duane Morris Government Strategies, a public policy consulting firm affiliated with the international law firm Duane Morris LLP. Martin Milita has successfully advised individuals and corporations on billions of dollars in public procurement’s.

Eliminating all welfare transfer programs with a cash grant to everyone age twenty-one or older

Charles Murray, a libertarian,  writes that America’s population is wealthier than any in history (In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State). Every year, the American government redistributes more than a trillion dollars of that wealth to provide for retirement, health care, and the alleviation of poverty. We still have millions of people without comfortable retirements, without adequate health care, and living in poverty. Only a government can spend so much money so ineffectually. The solution is to give the money to the people. This is the Plan, a radical new approach to social policy that defies any partisan label. Murray suggests eliminating all welfare transfer programs at the federal, state, and local levels and substituting an annual $10,000 cash grant to everyone age twenty-one or older. In Our Hands describes the financial feasibility of the Plan and its effects on retirement, health care, poverty, marriage and family, work, neighborhoods and civil society. For those who are aware In Our Hands? d0 you agree or disagree with many basic income advocates, and participation income advocates in particular, that a guaranteed minimum income could promote a resurgence of private and community-based initiatives to address complex social problems and challenges as Murray suggests?

Employed as senior director of Duane Morris Government Strategies, LLC, based in Trenton, New Jersey, Martin Milita advises clients on all forms of public policy. Prior to joining the firm in 2012, he served as managing partner of Holman Public Affairs, LLC, which he cofounded in 2001. Dedicating to helping others, Martin Milita donates his time outside of working hours to several charitable endeavors, one of which is The Civil War Trust, the largest battlefield preservation group in the country. The Civil War Trust, a Washington-based nonprofit group that has preserved 40,000 acres of land in 20 states recently acquired Robert E.Lee’s headquarters to preserve as part of the Gettysburg Historical battlefield- is one of the most important unprotected historic structures in America.

JUDGES SAY FEDERAL INTERESTS PREEMPT NEW JERSEY LAW

A panel from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday upheld a lower court’s decision to strike down a New Jersey law aimed at promoting new power generation facilities in the state. New Jersey’s Long Term Capacity Pilot Program Act guaranteed revenue to new generators by fixing rates – but the federal government has ‘exclusive control over interstate rates for wholesales of electric capacity,’ the judges wrote. “So when New Jersey arranged for LCAPP generators to receive preferential capacity rates, the state entered into a field of regulation beyond its authority,” wrote Judges Julio M. Fuentes and Patty Shwartz of the Third Circuit and Judge Lee H. Rosenthal of the Southern District of Texas, who was sitting on the case by special designation. The judges noted that they were not ruling on an argument that state laws are preempted ‘whenever a state’s legislation indirectly affects matters within FERC’s jurisdiction,’ adding: ‘By statute and tradition, states have a role to play in energy markets.

A member of the American Bar Association, Martin Milita is the senior director of Duane Morris Government Strategies LLC. Tackling all forms of government relations and public affairs, Martin Milita is an advocate for green energy and most recently has worked with PEW ENERGY TRUST on Grassroots renewable and sustainable energy campaigns.

Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas

The International Bridge, Tunnel & Turnpike Association (IBTTA) is the worldwide association for the owners and operators of toll facilities and the businesses that serve them. Today their annual meeting is taking place in Austin, Texas. Austin doesn’t immediately spring to mind as one of the nation’s tech centers, but as home to Dell Inc. and WP Engine, a hosting company for WordPress websites, Austin is steadily becoming a tech destination thanks to a startup-friendly culture fostered by the University of Texas at Austin and an attractive statewide tax system that eschews personal and corporate income taxes.

Founded in 1932, IBTTA has members in more than 20 countries and on six continents. Through advocacy, thought leadership and education, members are implementing state-of-the-art, innovative user-based transportation financing solutions to address the critical infrastructure challenges of the 21st century. Today George P. Zilocchi, a past president of the IBTTA, is in Austin for the meeting. Mr. Zilocchi has more than 40 years of experience in transportation management, administration and finance. As Executive Director of the New Jersey Highway Authority (operators of the Garden State Parkway and Garden State Arts Center), he was responsible for an Operating Budget of over $200 million and an Annual Capital Program totaling more than $50 million. Mr. Zilocchi’s firm GeoPat- a Transportation Consulting organization- has teamed with Duane Morris Government Strategies to consult on all forms of public affairs- lobbying, business development, green energy and grassroots. Duane Morris Government Strategies is an ancillary business of the International law firm Duane Morris.

Oil and gas-rich Houston has been getting a lot of love from national law firms eager to capitalize on the city’s seemingly inexhaustible need for legal work, but experts say firms should also keep tech-focused Austin in mind.