All you ever wanted to know about government spending but were too afraid to ask.

Ex Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has opened a new site called https://www.usafacts.org/, which describes itself as “a new data-driven portrait of the American population, our government’s finances, and government’s impact on society.” It claims to be a non-partisan site that provides a public service.

Mr. Ballmer sees this endeavor as philanthropy, and also takes it seriously as an academic venture. The site has a team made up of experts from Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), the Penn Wharton Budget Model, and Lynchburg College that, the claim goes “help keep our data accurate and unbiased”. The site not only uses only numbers and data directly from government sources, but has a policy of information only: no judgments, no opinions—just the facts. They also intend to “engage a prominent accounting firm” to audit their processes and controls used to present the information on the site.

So, let’s say you want to see a breakdown of what was spent in 2014. You start with this screen:

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Once you decide to be curious about something else you follow the budget, which the site breaks down into categories found in the Constitution: Establish Justice and Ensure Domestic Tranquility, Provide for the Common Defense, Promote the General Welfare and Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and Our Posterity.

2Choose which category that interests you, and you’ll be taken to the next screen that gives more detailed information. So, under “Promote the General Welfare” I chose “Health”. It gives raw numbers on the spending in that area,

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Then I can click to find an even more detailed breakdown of health spending.

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This site looks to become a go-to for seekers of accurate, helpful information on how the U.S. government spends our tax money.

If you’re interested in further reading NPR did a article on this site that may be found here.

Taking a High School Equivalency Test in Tennesse

Taking a High School Equivalency test in Tennessee

Most of us are at least somewhat familiar with the GED—it’s the test that for years we have known one could take to earn a high school diploma instead of graduating in the conventional sense. Did you know that the GED is no longer offered in the state of Tennessee? The new official test is the HiSET (High School Equivalency Test).

It can be a bit confusing to figure out how to take the official HiSET and earn a diploma, so here is the process, according to Customer Service for the HiSET test.  Essentially one is required to first take the official practice test for the HiSET. For Memphis here are the official sites where one may do so:

Building Address City Zip Phone
Idlewild Presbyterian Church 1750 Union Avenue Memphis 38104 844-721-8800
Midtown Church of Christ 1930 Union Avenue Memphis 38104 844-721-8800
Randolph Library – Memphis Public Library 3752 Given Avenue Memphis 38122 844-721-8800
Memphis & Shelby County Office of Re-Entry 1362 Mississippi Blvd. Memphis 38106 844-721-8800
Workforce Investment Network 480 Beale Street Memphis 38103 844-721-8800
Sexton Community Center 1235 Brown Avenue Memphis 38126 844-721-8800

Once the practice test is officially passed, the tester will receive the paperwork necessary to schedule and take the official test. Once the official test is satisfactorily passed then the individual is now a holder of an official diploma, valid in all states!

StatsIndiana

http://www.stats.indiana.edu/

From the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, this site gives tons of statistics for census, unemployment, manufacturing, and many other subjects. The information includes an overview of the United States, along with results for all fifty states, not just Indiana. Comparisons by state are listed for the economy, education, income & taxes, population & housing, along with the workforce. State comparisons include: the number of patents issued and county business pattern establishments under the economy listing. The number of members of unions can be found under the workforce tab. Population, housing, income, and labor force statistics are listed by county and metro area. Much more information is also included on the site.

Paying for College

http://www.consumerfinance.gov/payingforcollege/costcomparison/

Paying for College is a new website from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It helps students calculate on a worksheet how much they would owe in student loans after graduating from college. A cost comparison guide on 7,500 different colleges and universities is provided. Estimated debt after going to school is listed. Average Grants and Scholarships are calculated into the price. Information on graduation and student loan default rates are also mentioned.

Colleges of Memphis

http://collegesofmemphis.org/

The colleges of Memphis website connects over thirteen universities and colleges that are in the Memphis area.  From this website, you will find directories to student life, on-campus housing, venues the city has to offer, and college admissions.  There is also an insider’s guide with links to all things Memphis such as places to eat, cultural offerings, and local current news.  The purpose of collegesofmemphis.org is to promote Memphis to prospective students.

Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture

http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/about.php

The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture’s on-line edition is an updated version of the the book that was originally published in 1998.  Students, teachers, and researchers can use this website to find information about Tennessee.  Topics are broken down into user friendly categories.  Popular subjects include the Civil War, Davy Crockett, Andrew Jackson and Daniel Boone.  This on-line version has updated and new entries, over 500 images, and also video and audio files.