My iPad App

Mad @ Mgmt addresses the concerns of middle market companies, including banking, family & succession issues, turnarounds & performance improvement and economic life in general. Walter Simson is founder and Principal of Ventor Consulting a firm dedicated to middle market companies.

How fitting that President Barack Obama and Apple CEO Steve Jobs both announced their new initiatives on the same day: January 27, 2010. Coincidentally, this was the day that I announced my new, big, bad application for the iPad.

Steve Jobs spent the morning launching his 10-inch iPad, a device which would have formerly been called a tablet computer but is better visualized as an iPhone mated with the Incredible Hulk. Mr. Jobs feels it will revolutionize the joint use of the armchair and the eyeball.

The trouble is, we really don’t know what it can do yet because only now will software developers get to make little programs, called “apps,” which they will sell on the Internet. Apps can entertain you with shooting games to and help you in your life by, for example, counting your calories and naming your baby.

That evening, President Obama gave the State of the Union message, which clearly was not an iPad app. Too long and cerebral. “Do not walk away from reform.” The President said. “Not now. Not when we are so close.” And to Democrats the President said, “Do not run for the hills.”

Not bad, but some editing is needed to play on an iPad. How about “Do not walk away from reform — run. Run! Run for the hills!” Then there would be sounds of an alien ray gun. “Arrghh!”

Which brings me to my iPad application. It will balance the Federal Budget. Perhaps literally, because it seems that so many people are concerned with the deficit, but they don’t have the tools to figure out how to end it. My iPad app will allow all of us to manipulate the income and expense of the government.

Imagine a single screen where with the flick of a finger you could reduce spending in one or another hated category. The app would have bar graphs where you could make the dollars spent go up and down with the flick of a finger. A Web site I like looks like my iPad app. Want to reduce welfare? Flick. Done. War spending too high? Flick. That’s taken care of.

If you believe that government revenue must be part of the solution, you would need a corresponding bar graph for taxes. The government has a great Web site showing receipts and expenses. The basis of my iPad app would be this, although it is not yet converted to bar graphs. The finger flicks could raise or lower taxes. Remember, the idea is to balance the budget, not to cause iPad fiscal pain. So a third screen would show the magnitude of today’s deficit and exactly how you, the citizen-budget balancer, would accomplish that.

Here’s the real benefit. With another flick of the finger you can share your now-balanced budget with your friends and members of congress. This communications device could be a wonderful way for the country to share in real fiscal information and constructive ideas.

However, for those who don’t want a constructive budget-balancing exercise — and there seem to be plenty of these — my iPad app has an optional sound effect for when you transfer your budget balancing idea to the next iPad: A ray gun sound.

Arghh.

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