Ten Thoughts On The President's Speech Last Night

1) "The USA will emerge stronger than before" That's a tall order. I'd settle for we will recover. Given the demographics of the changing world we live in (read Zakaria's Post-American World), I wonder if that's a promise the President should be making.

2) I read the speech in its entirety twice and did not find one mention of immigration. The President says we owe our prosperity to our ingenuity and tenacity. I think that's true but a lot of that ingenuity and tenacity came from first and second generation immigrants. If we are not prepared to open up our borders more broadly to the best and brightest and toughest in this world, all the rest is just words

3) His recovery plan has three initiatives, a revised TARP, HASP, and stimulus. That's it. I did not get the sense that there is more after that. I don't know if that's good or bad, but that's the hand he's playing.

4) Hardest working people on earth? C'mon Barack. Don't bullshit us. Go back and read number two.

5) He's also got three domestic priorities; energy, health care, and education. He's right that our economy is highly impacted by them. I'm limpressed that he's picked some stuff to focus on and I think these are three great areas to focus on for long term sustainability.

6) 95pcnt of the jobs created with stimulus will be private sector jobs. That's a great factoid. Let's put a big pie chart on the front page of recovery.gov and chart that in real time please.

7) A new accountability for money spent saving banks. Barack said "I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assitance they receive". Good luck with that. Money is fungible. It doesn't have RFID tags on it. Trust me on this one. I know a bit about handing over money to companies. There's only one way to know it will be spent well and that is smart, honest, and capable management. An army of accountants is going to get unleashed on the banking sector and god help them and us.

8) "its not about helping banks – its about helping people" I'm with the president on this. I also appreciate his statement that his job is to solve the problem. He's got that right. I'll be measuring him on how he does on that measure. Its a hard problem made harder by the people whose house he was in last night. I'm rooting for him. We should all be rooting for him.

9) Energy – the best part of his speech was the bit about energy. He gets it. But the auto sector has the potential to be the "vietnam" of his energy plan. Act swiftly and courageously there Mr President or it could be a noose around your neck. Just look at GM. In two short months they are back on your doorstep with their hands out. When a portfolio company acts like that in our business, they are dead on arrival.

10) Education – I think the President missed an opportunity last night to call on the private sector to invest in education. There are literally thousands of amazing entrepreneurs working in this industry and I think they'll collectively do more to reform and reinvent education than anything that comes out of washington.

11) Fiscal discipline. Its a bit surreal to be talking about balancing the budget in light of stimulus, HASP, and TARP. The only way its going to happen is huge cuts in defense spending and a wholesale re-evaluation of our domestic spending priorities. Watching Pelosi and Biden behind the President was distracting and a reminder that as well intenioned as Obama is, he's got an impossible job.

That's all I've got. Please let me know what you thought of it in the comments.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. zachlandes

    Regarding number 4…we lead the world in productivity per worker and hours worked…http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/200…I think we may also lead in TFP.

    1. fredwilson

      Those are good points but I wasn’t thinking about efficiency. I was thinking of a culture of hard work. Maybe I’m wrong but I see a lot of laziness creeping into our culture

      1. Banet

        I’ll go out on a limb and say we’re more “productive” than anyone else because we have a technology multiplier that most nations are missing.Just look at the photo accompanying that article — those people are working in a state-of-the-art auto factory. They just stand there and the work comes to them.That’s an advantage that will erode with every passing year.Peter Steinberghttp://www.FlashlightWorthy…

      2. jeremyhanks

        Exactly. It’s a sense of entitlement. Drive the whole mentality of “where’s my bailout” that I’m seeing more and more. Compared to the rest of the world, Americans are very spoiled, and it seems lately we’re acting more and more like the brats in that cliche.

      3. Brian Hayes

        I would agree that there is a sense of laziness not a sense of entitlement. To speak to Peter’s statement “Just look at the photo accompanying that article”. That seems like a backward thought to me. That’s a photo from inside Ford.Who cares how productive, or state-of-the-art your facility is if you’re making a product that doesn’t sell.

      4. Kevin

        You mean laziness compared to, say, when you were a kid? Didn’t Socrates and basically every subsequent generation also think laziness was creeping into the culture.

      5. mikepk

        I was going to post the same point as zachlandes. It’s been shown that we are, indeed, the hardest working people in the world both in terms of hours at work and total productivity. We are *not* the most efficient though. I imagine it’s diminishing returns on all the extra hours we put in.I think your broader point is maybe that we may not be as “hungry” as other up and comers. China and India are allocating resources to produce a scientifically and technologically literate workforce the like of which the world has never seen. Their priorities are much more aligned with becoming top economies than ours are in maintaining our position.

        1. scmurley

          “China and India are allocating resources to produce a scientifically and technologically literate workforce the like of which the world has never seen.” Um. yeah. Tell that to the factory workers who work 6-day weeks making exports who have been laid off and are now facing the possibility of returning to their farm communities in china, who spend their productive years holed up in factory towns to provide us with cheap crap products. Sure, there are many “scientifically and technically literate” workers out there, but there are the same in the U.S.Part of that stems from the fact that we have labor laws and wage requirements, and a much higher life expectancy thanks to such regulations, along with food protection laws.The final point I want to make about immigration is the point that AVC doesn’t make: The reason we have so many immigrants is because they want to come here because of the comparative freedoms (freedom to worship, to speak, to pursue dreams) that aren’t available in many of the countries they come from.

          1. mikepk

            I won’t argue the point that there is a *lot* of low skilled / cheap labor in China, you’re right, *now*. The point I was trying to make is that they are gearing up for the future. Look at how many scientists and engineers they are graduating, how many educational institutions and research centers they’re building, compared with us (both in India and in China). That number is only going to increase. They have a focus on those things, that coupled with their sheer population densities should be an equation that should give you pause.

          2. scmurley

            Oh, it does give me pause. But I also see their emphasis on cheap labor as a weakness that may cripple them eventually. The populace losing jobs now that exports are falling is a powder-keg waiting to explode. Not to mention the environmental disasters waiting to happen (think dust-storms in Beijing or the shipwreck yards in India). And, fwiw, not *everyone* can be an engineer or scientist – even in China or India, or the U.S. for that matter.

          3. fredwilson

            Thanks for making that.It’s a great point

  2. Wille

    I’d have to agree with you on immigration: immigrants are by virtue of doing what they do, uprooting to move for a better future, the risk takers and entrepreneurs of the world. Much of the american success of the last 150 years can be attributed to that risk taking and the cross pollination of ideas and cultures.Any country or culture that stops getting strong influences from the outside will start going stale.There is still plenty of room and unbuilt land in America, as long as security concerns could be met and immigrants would stand on their own two feet, I see no reasons why borders could not be more or less “open for anyone”.

    1. Josh Morgan

      Today’s WSJ…http://online.wsj.com/artic…”A tax policy that confiscated 100% of the taxable income of everyone in America earning over $500,000 in 2006 would only have given Congress an extra $1.3 trillion in revenue. That’s less than half the 2006 federal budget of $2.7 trillion and looks tiny compared to the more than $4 trillion Congress will spend in fiscal 2010. Even taking every taxable “dime” of everyone earning more than $75,000 in 2006 would have barely yielded enough to cover that $4 trillion.”In other words, raising taxes, leaving Iraq, and cutting a program or two will still come nowhere near balancing a budget. Cap and trade would also act as an increase in taxes. The ridiculous fuel standards would not help people save more money. The cars will cost more than normal and any benefit in gasoline savings will surely be made up by the equally ridiculous mileage tax some states are considering where gps devices are placed on vehicles. This spending is the best example of government irresponsibility. Obama’s only hope is to create a nation of people dependent on the government. That is not the America I want and it certainly is diametrically opposed to the principals this country was founded on, primarily freedom and liberty.This is NOT the worst economy since the Great Depression, that is a lie. It is the worst economy since Jimmy Carter!

  3. awilensky

    “limprseed”New word?

    1. fredwilson

      I wrote this on the eliptical at the gym. Thanks for proof reading. I’ll fix it

      1. awilensky

        I’m limprseed that you can type while working out.

      2. greenskeptic

        limpressed = limp + impressed = fall short of impressed. I love it. Don’t change it. Good coinage.

        1. peter_pan_ic

          limpressed? I thought that was sex before viagra

          1. fredwilson

            You guys are killing me with this oneI need to make fun typos a regular feature here at AVC

  4. MindaugasDagys

    Do I think he has good intentions? Yeah, you bet.Do I believe we all will face unintended consequences? Yes, we will.

    1. fredwilson

      Totally agree

      1. SamJacobs

        I agree with both of you. I suppose the point is what are the relevant opportunity costs of different courses of action. This feels like the least worst. Honestly, I was thinking this morning that it’s just a shame that the Bush administration had to be so incompetent setting the stage for an Obama “mandate” that assumes such a significant increase in the size of the federal government and its role in our society. But at this point we’re left with few options in my opinion and I prefer this approach to doing nothing. But, yes. Unintended consequences. I’m having dinner tonight with the former CEO of a major poultry producer who was driven out of his job, in part (ok small part), because of the cost of rising grain prices based on government stimulated ethanol demand.

        1. JLM

          In a very short period of time, President Ronald W Reagan went from being an “amiable dunce” to being a revered leader who is being coopted by even the Democrats. Wasn’t President Obama’s speech trumpeted by his own folks two days ago as being “Reaganesque”?Hell, I thought they meant he was going to announce massive tax cuts, ban abortion and close down a couple of government departments. LOLWe have got to stop this silly blame game of trying to look “not so dumb” cause the other guy is “so dumb”. It’s trivial and nonsensical. Candidate Obama ran against President Bush — great strategy! But now it’s time to govern, so let’s cut the crap and get on with it.It is fair to disagree about policy but the namecalling is just silly. President Bush did a great job keeping us safe and I cannot imagine what he and the Republican Congress were thinking as it relates to spending. It is incomprehensible.But now is it “Obama’s time” — “Now, it’s our time!” OK, we’ve started the meter running — govern already! But for goodness sake, stop campaigning.Let’s stop all the backward looking and focus on the future. Cut the crap!

          1. scmurley

            “OK, we’ve started the meter running — govern already!” Maybe you missed the legislation he’s enacted already in 3 weeks – Lilly Ledbetter, SCHIP, Stimulus, not to mention outlining mortgage plan, beginning release of second half of TARP, signed executive orders, despite having secretary and deputy level appointees still in the pipeline for approval. Need I go on? In short, nice talking point, doesn’t match reality.

          2. JLM

            Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn!Oh, my, yes I forgot about Lilly Ledbetter and SCHIP and those wonderful Executive Orders as I was so focused on the…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..freakin’ WORLD FINANCIAL MELTDOWN!One must remember to dust when rearranging the entire financial world, mustn’t one? LOLJust for the record, “legislating” is not the same thing as “governing”.

          3. scmurley

            $780 Billion stimulus package passed and going out to states in first month in office is not chopped liver. What do you consider “governing” then, JLM? Seriously, He’s been in office a MONTH.

          4. JLM

            I wish he had cancelled the Inauguration and simply said: “We have lots better things to do with $150MM than to have a big parade. We’ve got problems to solve and now let me go to work.” Classic OPM response instead.I wish he had not abdicated the writing of the Porkulus bill to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid, for another thing.I wish he had called in the Republicans and the Democrats (House and Senate, mind you) and sat them down and said: “Hey, I want to create (not this baloney of ‘save’ — create) 4 million jobs.””Go back to your offices and prepare a list of those initiatives which will create the most jobs per $1MM invested — no dollar amounts just per $1MM invested. Send your lists over to the CBO and have them grade them. The CBO will verify your assumptons and return to you a prioritized list in descending order.”Then he would have had the Democrats go first and pick 2 from their list — from the top down. Then the Republiccans go second and pick 2 from their list — from the top down. Then the President go third and pick 2 from either list.When the lists had been completed, then he would have had them haggle out the numbers. When each subset of the list totalled $250B, he would have sent them over to the Congress for immediate action.He would have totalled up the number of jobs to be created and everybody would have committed to that number.That would have been leadership and that would have forced the Republicans and Democrats to work together. Everybody’s fingerprints on the murder weapon. Burn the boats, nobody is going back that way!A leader takes groups of folks to places they could never reach by themselves — he doesn’t stand and watch as the parade marches by.The funny thing about it, I think Pres Obama has that kind of moxie. I think the man can do it. But he can’t do it, if he has to REACT to Speaker Pelosi and Sen Reid.It is not an accomplishment to get a bunch of drunken Democrats and three swishy Republicans to throw a $1T party for all their buddies.The Ears of Pork $400B bill they passed today — the 1000 points of pork — is another example of the need for leadership. If he has moxie, he vetoes it.That’s what I consider governing.Engage damn it, Obama!

          5. scmurley

            Your use of the term “Porkulus” says a lot. FWIW, here’s an NPR interactive that tracks all the activities of the Obama team.BTW, it’s worth noting that the American populace disagree with you on almost every point (see recent polling data from outfits too numerous to mention). They see Obama attempting to reach across the aisle, while Republicans are being obstinate. Guess that’s all smoke and mirrors. We’ll see in 2010 and 2012.

          6. JLM

            I think that Pres Obama has absolutely “reached across the aisle” and I am absolutely convinced of his good wishes and sincere desires to bring everybody into the process. I believe that completely. The problem is not Pres Obama it is Speaker Pelosi and Sen Reid.It will take a bit more than serving up cookies at a Super Bowl party to make that happen.He should have snatched the Porkulus legislation out of the House and written it in the White House.Pelosi — suspend the rules, no committee meetings,no debate, no direct consultation with the Republicans, no Republicans on the mark up committee, a 1200 p bill at 9:00 PM and vote at 9:00 AM. Can you read that fast? Not getting a single Republican vote. <<<<<< all of this is Nancy Pelosi’s doing and Pres Obama should have b!tch smacked her down the hall. At what point does one start governing America and stop being a hack Democrat?The right answer: NOW!

          7. fredwilson

            I’m with you on the inauguration. I said so on this blog and was roundlycriticized for it. But I still feel that way.

          8. Peter Fleckenstein

            Jeff,I think I mentioned this before in your guest post but in merits repeating what you sd b4 (and I’m inserting the obvious name) -“Engage damn it, Obama!”and I’ll also leave this from Jester of Top Gun fame:“The clock is ticking and as of now we are keeping score.”Here’s the accompanying sound clip – http://snipr.com/cn8j2

  5. Banet

    As much as I’m an Obama supporter, this just didn’t move him far enough from the grand rhetoric to the practical realities.I heard him make nearly a dozen grand statements… fix the healthcare system, fix Medicaid, slash the deficit, upgrade the military, end the war in Iraq, save the banks, save the homeowners… any one of which would grind any other administration to a halt. I’m surprised he didn’t mention cold fusion.I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed but he’s bringing out my pessimism.Peter Steinberghttp://www.FlashlightWorthy…Recommending books so good, they’ll keep you up past your bedtime.

    1. fredwilson

      Cold fusion :)That’s a good one. My wife read this post and said it came off negative. I told her that means I am negative

    2. abigcheese

      This post did come off negative.Obama is brilliant. He chooses every action with the end result in mind, getting stuff done. This speech got people on his side in terms of the economy, and it’s going to be very difficult to oppose him and get any support. That he didn’t detail the “practical realities” doesn’t mean he’s not thinking about them. Practical realities don’t inspire people to go shopping or contact their representative or be productive. He gets that.Also, I like grand statements. This country is built on grand statements. We’ve been low-balling it for a long time. What is that quote…? “Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars.”

  6. Satish Mummareddy

    I heard an interesting factoid on Morning Joe: 75% of American growth comes from small business and 1% of the stimulus is aimed towards small business.

    1. hardaway

      Much as I love “Morning Joe,” I have to say that small business is a meaningless term.

      1. JLM

        Baloney! Misunderstood, maybe? Meaningless, no way!Small business is where big businesses come from and where they will continue to come from. Years ago I was a YPO member in a chapter which counted among its membership Michael Dell when he was a fledgling entrepreneur. He had just started distributing his product on the internet — up until then it had been distributed through catalogs (does anybody remember catalogs?).He said this internet stuff is a “promising” distribution channel. He was a few months removed from distributing from his car trunk. [He was the quintessential geek in well rumpled khakis and Mexican food stained blue button downs but then he met a “girl” and the rest is history. Best makeover in the history of American business, no?]Small business is the largest employer in America and we all better hope that it rises to the ocassion as it will be quite a while before Citi is able to get back into the plus column with 52,000 bodies piled up.Great small businesses are run by folks who learned their craft working for the biggest companies in their industry and stepped down the curve to the smallest business and there installed and refined the big company practices.I think America has a bit of a blind spot as it relates to small business. Note that small business is not represented on any boards or commisions that the Administration has formed to deal with the economy and that damn little of the money will ultimately find its way into this arena — meanwhile the auto makers will be making tea over piles of burning $100 bills while calling for more fuel.Having worked for a Fortune 10 company and having founded, run and owned small businesses (some of which grew up to be fair sized enterprises) for a big chunk of a century, I have long ago gone “all in” on small business — why? Cause I have made a whole lot more money in small businesses and I am the captain of my own destiny. I get paid in “cheddar” and get to be the “big cheese”. My own private little psychosis.“I can no longer obey; I have tasted command, and I cannot give it up.” Napoleon BonaparteNapoleon understood small business.

        1. fredwilson

          I think Napoleon also was commanding troops at age 21Think Gates, Jobs, Brin/Page, Kalin, Karp, etc, etcInteresting stuff to think about

          1. Satish Mummareddy

            Ever since I heard the comment about small business the though that is going on in my mind is that every small business (whether technology or otherwise) is struggling to cut costs and which means cutting people. How about giving each small business say 10% of its pay roll to spend on hiring additional people for the next two years. Instead of the government choosing where to spend all the money, can we give some of it to existing companies that need money to grow or survive through the next two years? Can we give small business 2 months of pay roll advance so that they can have operating capital as they cant get loans any more? why isn’ t that part of the stimulus?

          2. Satish Mummareddy

            OOPS Andrew Field nailed this topic here: http://www.forbes.com/2009/… and Tim Connors posted this link below but for any one not reading the comments till the bottom, this article is a good read. 🙂

        2. Shane

          I could not agree more. Small business definitely does not get the credit, nor the attention, that it deserves from this administration, and the media at large. The focus is on big business, and the worker, but never a mention of the small business owner. This is terribly distressing because the small businesses in local communities create thousands of jobs, they just do it without all of the pomp and circumstance associated with big business. In my opinion, if the administration insists upon spending money, they should create a $20 billion dollar SBA bank where small businesses could get low interest loans quickly. Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, the price of Citibank’s stock is not.

        3. Druce

          interesting… I remember when Dell was PCs Limited with the big foldout ads in PC Magazine… in 1986. Mosaic wasn’t released until 1993. So it would have been more than a few months out of the garage when Dell was looking to leverage the Internet, unless he was planning to sell by http://FTP.a lot of politicians give lip service to small business because no one campaigns on how much they do to help big business. but large businesses are uniquely well positioned for lobbying and rent-seeking.

  7. RacerRick

    Re fiscal discipline: he’s gonna have to raise taxes too, if he wants to accomplish this.

  8. chartreuse

    I like the fact that Obama is moving fast. Even if he is wrong about everything it gives him and his staff time to change course.I agree that the auto industry is his ‘Vietnam’. Instead of letting them die a slow agonizing death he should refuse them anything and put them out of their misery.He has a lot of cool sounding rhetoric but I am impressed with all the small but important changes he’s making. All the politicians that follow are going to have to be at least as open as his administration has been so far. And that’s a good thing.

    1. fredwilson

      i agree chartreuse. i’m impressed with him for sure. my friend who is as right wing as anyone i know is on his side. that’s a good sign.

      1. hypermark

        The whole auto industry aspect of the speech stuck in my gut for two reasons. One, part of me feels that candidate Obama made a Faustian bargain with Michigan when he was trying to outflank Clinton, and given that, he is going to have a hard time knowing when to say WHEN. Two is that Obama talks about a re-constituted auto industry, sounds good but who is the doctor that is going to operate on what is a very sick patient? Unless and until there is an answer that passes the sniff test, the binary nature of the question scares the heck out of me.

  9. Michael

    Ambitious, hopeful and satisfying — overall a pitch-perfect balm to soothe the mania of the last few weeks. It’s no wonder why his ratings are good, and just got better.Oh, and: Poor Bobby Jindal.

  10. hardaway

    1) “The USA will emerge stronger than before” Nope. We were declining well before this. We’re too old, fat and rich, and the right people aren’t having the children:-)2) If we are not prepared to open up our borders more broadly to the best and brightest and toughest in this world, all the rest is just words Definitiely. It’s not time for a not-invented-here mentality. We need the grit and determination and the self=selection of the first generation immigrant to replenish our population.3) His econmic plan has three initiatives… that’s enough. How many initiatives can you control at one time? All the rest will come from them.4) Hardest working people on earth? Not really, because we are not educated for the jobs coming up in this entury.5) “He’s also got three domestic priorities; energy, health care, and education. He’s right that our economy is highly impacted by them. I’m limpressed that he’s picked some stuff to focus on and I think these a three great areas to focus on for long term sustainability”. I have nothing to add to this. He picked mine, for sure.6) “95 pcnt of the jobs created with stimulus will be private sector jobs. That’s a great factoid. Let’s put a big pie chart on the front page of recovery.gov and chart that in real time please.” We need to consider jobs differently. A job is now a gig, a project, a company that might fail. It’s not a lifetime entitlement. Even government jobs, if not made permanent, will give people experience to do things in the private sector.7) “A new accountability for money spent saving banks. Barack said “I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assitance they receive”. Good luck with that. Money is fungible. It doesn’t have rfid tags on it. Trust me on this one. I know a bit about handing over money to companies. There’s only one way to know it will be spent well and that is smart, honest, and capable management. An army of accountants is going to get unleashed on the banking sector and god help them and us” I see a new SARBOX coming here if the regulations become permanent, or apply to all banks. And yes, it will certainly be the full employment act for accountants..8) “its not about helping banks – its about helping people” And yes, we should all root for him. He has to deal with Congress, and they suck.9) Energy – the best part of his speech was the bit about energy. He gets it. But the auto sector has the potential to be the “vietnam” of his energy plan. Act swiftly and courageously there Mr President or it could be a noose around your neck. Just look at GM. In two short months they are back on your doorstep with their hands out. When a portfolio company acts like that in our business, they are dead on arrival.10) Education – I left education thirty years ago because of the bureaucracy. Like health care, it has to be blown up to be helped. Incredemtnalism won’t do it.11) Fiscal discipline. Trust me, fiscal discipline is possible. You put one foot in front of the other. It’s like paying down credit card debt. What you can’t do is try anything fancy, like loan consolidation or credit consultants.

    1. Michael Lewkowitz

      Loved your bit about ‘gigs’ vs. jobs. Such an important concept today both in terms of understanding how we need to support people making the most valueable contributions they have to make AND also in recognizing that this is also a key part of us being able to co-create/peer-produce some of the innovative solutions that can quickly lead to the new systems of our future. The speed and power of many people making many contributions is a huge opportunity!

      1. hardaway

        Thanks. Tina Brown wrote a piece called “the gig economy” that really inspired me.

        1. SamJacobs

          However, I think the word ‘gig’ implies a detachment that relates directly to the fourth comment about working hard. I sense a post-modern detachment from our culture (including myself) implying it’s not ‘cool’ to care about your job or be sincerely passionate about doing the hard work required to make something succeed at a level below the executive suite.

      2. fredwilson

        I second this comment

      3. Yule Heibel

        So, are people calling themselves “gigsters” yet? You know, like committed-to-something-in-a-post-modern-detached-sort-of-way hipsters? 🙂

        1. Michael Lewkowitz

          Heh – not that I’ve heard but I could see it taking hold.

  11. Bruce Warila

    I agree with your wife.. Obama needs the same people that supported him to put their collective energy and imagination behind one of his initiatives to make it work spectacularly. I am not a big Obama fan, but now is not the time to be joining the chorus of critics. Let’s pick one thing and ‘will’ to work…

    1. Chris Sullivan

      Actually he needs more than just the people that supported him if we are going to create real “change”.

  12. KMS

    Point taken on number six. If he wants to maintain a high level of credibility, he needs to moderate some of his lofty rhetoric and economic promises. Obviously his address last night was meant to instill confidence moving forward but the sweeping promises like that will only hurt him. His statements on closing Guantanamo and eliminating torture as a US policy struck me as very important. This clip, “because living our values doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger”, holds weight not just in the case of torture policy. It extends the message that we need to focus not on doing things right, but doing the right things to right our country. The right things may be difficult to accept initially, but that is the only path to sustainable change.

  13. Guest

    I really want to address #2, which is really striking at a place like Penn. A lot of international students (who are among the smartest and most involved students on campus) are having a really tough time finding US jobs due to lots of the H1B restrictions that companies are worried about in advance (especially the ones who got TARP). Does this make any sense? Nope. If you graduate from any 4 year University in America, there IS NO REASON we should be pushing you out the door to send you back to some other country when we could keep these really smart people here. We should be begging you to stay.

  14. kidmercury

    two words obama will never mention when talking about the crisis: federal reserve. that’s important to note, because you cant come up with a solution without understanding the problem.he talked about the importance of restoring the credit markets and getting the banks lending again. nope, wrong again. a real economy is built on savings, a ponzi economy is built on the illusion of credit.inflation i mean stimulus packages sound great as they allow for deceptive talk about job creation. of course opportunity cost is the real issue. who’s better at investing resources, govt or professional investors and entrepreneurs? who understands that real gains in wealth and productivity comes from disruptive innovations, and who’s trained at finding and developing disruptive innovations — entrepreneurs and investors or govt? before answering, check what blog you’re on :)but hey, at least he’s committed to protecting us from cave dwellers in the war on terror. and that’s important, right? RIGHT?lol. right.http://obamadeception.net/a

    1. BillSeitz

      I read an interview in Barron’s recently with a guy who said we basically have to restructure our national debt like Latin America. And the mostly likely path, rather than official default, was by printing money to devalue.So big deficits would be a way to drive the printing presses, wouldn’t they?

      1. BillSeitz

        That would be consistent with the theory that the Great Depression was solved, not by the New Deal, but by the printing-money surge to pay for WW2. Right?

        1. JLM

          There is an argument that the Great Depression was mitigated primarily by sending all the men to war and giving all of their jobs to the women. We had full employment big time!In addition, we became the arsenal of democracy which pushed manufacturing productivity to the highest level in our history while dramatically shortening development time.Did you know that by the end of the war, we were making 50,000 planes a month? Wow!All non-productive spending was curtailed; and, the war effort absorbed all natural resources. Remember, we had rationing of gasoline, tires and sugar!Though we had meaningful deficits, they were not based upon profligate domestic spending and thus when the war ended, it was possible to check spending easily.

      2. kidmercury

        yes it will be favorable for a debtor nation like the US to inflate its way out as a way to avoid default. but this simply means that the bill for all this govt spending goes to whoever is holding dollars, whether it is US taxpayers or anyone else. i try to hold as few dollars as i can. 🙂 so basically by increasing govt spending we are adding a massive layer of price inflation on top of unemployment and collapsed financial asset prices, in addition to making it hard to build savings — which are the foundation of any real economy (not credit, credit is supposed to come from savings). though as other central banks are pursuing similar strategies gold is the only currency that is rising and by this logic is the safest store of wealth in our current environment.regarding WWII, the feds did try to inflate their way out of that mess as well by repricing gold from $20/oz to $35/oz, and by confiscating gold from citizens. ultimately though the dollar was still pegged to gold so there were limits as to how much they could inflate, and so the deflation spiral took hold anyway. IMO if govt hadnt intervened it would have been easier for entrepreneurs and the free market to solve things, instead govt intervention distorted investor and entrepreneur analysis while also competing with the free market for labor resources, thus making entrepreneurial efforts even harder and thus turning what would have been a steep but short recession into a decade long crisis. so i dont think money printing really helped during the great depression either. of course there are different schools of thought on that, but that is the conventional anti-federal reserve/free market argument.

  15. kidmercury

    hahahha she totally did look like shrek

    1. JLM

      Hey, what did Shrek ever do to you? LOL

      1. kidmercury

        lol boss was the one who hated on pelosi for looking like shrek, personally i found it refreshingly honest that a member of congress would dress like a cartoon character

        1. fredwilson

          That dress was just awful.It fit her well.

          1. KMS

            No real reason this comment should be here, but it would be sweet if Disqus had a visual map (maybe heat map) that displayed where most of the comments of comments were coming from. Which commenters drive the most traffic? It’s difficult for some people to continually engage in the conversation throughout the day, so I would guess a fair amount of people try to recap by reading a large chunk of posts at the end of the day. The map would show a post by Fred and then direct you to let’s say four different members who drove the most conversation. This way people could dig into the most relevant posts from the top. It is possible that a really good post that generates a lot of convesation falls way down the page and possibly goes unnoticed. Catchin my drift?

          2. fredwilson

            Not exactlyYou want to know the most frequent commenters on the blog or the specific comment thread?

        2. JLM

          Cartoon character!I have read this comment four times today and every time I burst into laughter. This is some very naturally and genuinely funny stuff. Hahahahaha.For some reason, it just tickles my funny bone.I thought we had agreed to outlaw torture?My worst nightmare of torture would be Al Gore explaining global warming — slowly — and Nancy Pelosi defending the Porkulus — quickly. I would crack in about 4 minutes.The dress goes to judgment. Some folks got it and some folks……………

          1. fredwilson

            I think we’re gonna have to do an AVC meeting because I am just having toomuch fun watching all you regulars get along so well

  16. David Noël

    He said:”And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.” – Karl Benz invented the automobile, Ford later developed mass production.

    1. Reid Curley

      Totally appalling. While this was probably just a dumb mistake, the cynic in me can’t help wondering if one of the many smart, well-educated people who vetted this speech was aware that this was factually incorrect but decided to leave it alone because it sounded good.Obama is a great speaker, but I still hear too much spin and interpretations of circumstances that have little resemblance to reality but advance the agenda at hand. I hope that this changes. Ross Perot was kind of nutty (like the crazy aunt in the attic as a matter of fact), but I still long for the kind of clarity of language in politics that he employed in his campaigns.

      1. JLM

        It doesn’t seem like you should be able to spend $1B without at least a good PP presentation. Does it, or is just me?

  17. aarondelcohen

    Fred:1. USA emerging stronger — There is idealism in this statement and I think that’s healthy. It is one use of the bully pulpit. I read Zakaria on your recommendation and while I think there are many salient points our experiment in democracy remains the purest. One need not look further than the fact that we elected a black president. When will this happen in the UK, France, even Brazil? Any shot that Japan will elect somebody of Korean descent?2. This pure democracy is driven by our long history of welcoming immigrants into this country. Over the past 50 years we have gotten away from this critical value and you are absolutely right for raising it is a key issue. Our community can play a constructive role bringing this issue to the table. We should try to become a country of 400mm people over the next 40 years. And immigration should help. We have room.3. TARP 1 was mismanaged. TARP 2 doesn’t look so promising. Obama must get this right or none of the other stuff matters. But give him credit for continuing to find money for our broken credit system at a time where Wall Street could not be less popular politically. I follow http://www.informationarbit… completely on this stuff and think the performance has been subpar to date, but I’m trying to keep the faith.4. Hardest working people on Earth? Well, I saw this as a call to arms. Again inspiration matters here. He was talking to the people in the room about picking up their game as much as he was to you and I.5. I was impressed that he wants to tackle Healthcare, Education, and Energy simultaneously. I fear it’s a mistake and that it would be very difficult to make measurable progress on all three issues within 4 years.6. Of course the job claim was aggressive, but the fact that recovery.org even exists is such a departure from beltway culture I still don’t really believe it can work.9. The automotive industry as a vietnam is a very rich metaphor. I hope it spreads. I want to blog about it.10. Charter schools got a mention last night. They are part of entrepreneurial education. But you are right. How about a $1bn for education entrepreneurs?11. Fiscal discipline, physical discipline, parental discipline, discipline, discipline, discipline. The country has lacked it. The Obamas (Michelle included) have it. They are trying to impart it. The job may be impossible, but we need to do our part to continue to push the administration while bringing a little of that magjcal entreprenuerial faith and optimism that makes the AVC community, the Internet community, and the greater technology community engines of hope.

  18. stone

    I will remain skeptical of this president until he comes out and clearly articulates a grasp of this problem, along with prescribed solutions. I’ve yet to hear anything but platitudes. Let’s hear some facts. The market is down in devastating fashion since he was sworn in as president. My parents, aunts, uncles and friends near retirement now have to work for another 5-7 years because this market has not stabilized since Obama took office — these are the facts.He has one more chance to stabilize the market, and this will occur when Geithner comes out with his specific plan on banks. If he whiffs we are all going to feel the impact.

    1. Andy

      I like to think the last 3 – 15 years of excess might be a better driver of market behavior than any political rhetoric in the last 6 weeks. You can’t blame much that happened between Jan 20th and Feb 25th on Obama. Aside from actions directly attributed to the recovery packages (TARP2 just passed few days ago), so I call BS on that.

  19. Associate Money

    I love your remark about immigration. It is one of the main reasons why US is an economic powerhouse today.As for Americans being the hardest working, I shudder to hear Obama say that.

  20. Jamesu

    Surprised international policy was small % of total speech. Also disappointed that he got both Repubs/Demos standing applause on reducing tax breaks for shipping job overseas comment — can’t see how that will be enforced. Also like the focus on healthcare, energy, education, but there were really no specifics on healthcare (other than ‘reform’); energy goal is great, but also lacked specificity — threw in supporting the auto companies, but bad place to put it — also does he really think we can produce hard goods, ie batteries, cheaper domestically? come on, Barack; only education had some detail around charter schools, college support, which was good. Overall, a few good ideas, but seemed far too ambitious to me.

  21. Phanio

    I just don’t get it how every politician touts small businesses as the vehicle for job creation and innovation (which are also expected to lead us out of this recession) – yet they do nothing to help them or enable them to do what they do. They bailout big companies – companies who lead us into this mess – then ask them to sit back and hope that credit will loosen so that they can borrow (at high rates and fees) to create jobs and economic growth. I see this as an administration that will continue to reward bad behavior and punish those who can help us all. Not sure if this is some deep set push for power and socialism or if they are all just out for themselves (lining their own pockets) and using the power we give them to do it.Histroy has shown us the fall of some amazing empires – like the British and Roman empires (All roads led to Rome or the sun never set on the British Empire) and it seems we are just repeating history with the United States. I don’t want to be the next UK.

    1. andyswan

      Because they view large corporate workforces, and especially their counter-productive unions as VOTING BLOCKS. When it comes to getting small business votes, it’s like herding cats.That’s really all you need to know about why Federal Government should NOT be as powerful as it is….as the framers attempted to tell us via the 10th amendment in the bill of rights.

      1. BillSeitz

        Well, I think it’s also a “manage what you can measure” mentality, where the big layoffs announcements are what people see in the papers on a daily basis, and that drives perception a lot.

      2. kidmercury

        damn straight. states’ rights is making a comeback, and there are some states that are already flexing their 10th amendment muscles. oklahoma leads the way: http://www.thenewamerican.c…often overlooked is that the federal govt is an agreement amongst the states. while this concept has been slowly been annihilated since lincoln got the ball rolling, some states are thankfully stepping up to the plate and putting the smackdown on the feds.

  22. andyswan

    When Nancy Pelosi smiles, my natural reflex is to check my wallet.Someone needs to tell Obama the campaign is over. I understand this will be difficult, seeing as he has done little else in his adult life….but at this point, it’s time to throw down.I’m with him on the “goals”, just think his approach is clumsy, heavy-handed and naive. Good luck Mr. President.

    1. CJ

      I don’t think it’s campaigning as much as clarity. I think we’ve gotten used to the opaque view we’ve had inside previous administrations so when we see a president that actually speaks his mind and is open with his thoughts we think he’s trying to win a vote rather than let us in on the process.Personally I don’t know if this ‘crisis’ is solvable by government but I do know that it’s important for the people to believe it is to avoid societal collapse.*And LOL at the Pelosi comment. I’ll never be able to look at her the same again.

  23. gregorylent

    not enough, but americans aren’t ready to hear more .. the next speech, and the one after that, will have more truth and less cheer-leading ..a deer-in-the-headlights country, how it looks from here in beijing

    1. fredwilson

      OuchOne of the many great things about the web is we can learn and listen to how others view usThanks for sharing that perspective

    2. andyswan

      And we view China as a dirty, oppressive hell-hole….but that doesn’t make it right.Just because our leadership went from dumbass with a swagger [preferred] to reactionary deer-in-headlights, while our media outlets go chicken-little, doesn’t mean Americans aren’t preparing for another great leg up in the background. We think we’re great because we are great, and vice-versa.

      1. markslater

        love the response.

  24. Paul Jozefak

    Fred, I had to laugh when reading your post and thinking about a post I just wrote earlier today:http://babblingvc.typepad.c…I love points 1., 2. and 4. particularly!Paul

    1. fredwilson

      I just read your postIf you work in tech, those points are painfully obvious to usIt really bothers me that Obama left out all mention of our history as the greatest melting pot on earth

      1. Paul Jozefak

        As an American living in Europe I used to always be suprised (and proud in a way) how everyone wanted to get to the States. (People actually asked me at times whether I was sane to be an expat here!) In tech, you heard this more than anywhere else. This feeling is dimishing. It would of been prudent to focus on this point in the speech yesterday and you nailed his missing it on the head. Without all the immigrants in the US (I too am one), lots of growth and prosperity simply wouldn’t of happened.

  25. Thomas

    Regarding immigration, I have mixed feelings about this. First, our immigration policy is completely in tatters to the point where the only people who are getting in are the ones who sneak across our borders. Second, I believe that the technology industry waves this flag in order to keep their costs down. VCs do to. It’s much easier to negotiate terms with a smart foreign entrepreneur who is used to a lower cost of living than a smart domestic entrepreneur that has costs such as a family and a house and understands the true cost of venture financing. H1B visas are being used to swap out very talented and legitimate American middle managers with foreigners that have 80% of the capabilities at 50% of the cost. The idea that there aren’t enough talented, hard-working Americans to fill technology jobs is a joke. I’ll work my ass of for a company that respects my abilities. If I were a VC, I’d love to increase my supply pipeline (which lowers my funding costs) as well.

    1. fredwilson

      It’s not about costs. If it were about costs, we’d solve the problem (as we do more and more every day) by building dev teams elsewhere. Over half of our portfolio has dev teams in other parts of the worldIt’s about the best and brightest, plain and simpleWe don’t have a monopoly on them and less and less are coming here and/or staying hereAnd that is a big problem

      1. aarondelcohen

        Thomas, we need the immigrants because their kids grow up to be entrepreneurs. We don’t need them as employees. We should be the resort destination of the world. People should be dying to come here because it’s more fun, more exciting, there’s more to do, and the food is great.

      2. Paul M

        I completely agree.I am a new yorker who lived in Europe and Asia for six years. During that time I reflected on why my city and my country were more competitive than the rest. In the end, I decided it was the constant influx of new people from all over the world. Immigrants are HUNGRIER than most – it takes a lot of desire to uproot yourself from your comfort zone and move to another place in search of a better life. The best and brightest from around the world are attracted to the opportunities created when they are around other smart, ambitious people, and so they collect in London, NYC, Silicon Valley, etc. However, equally important is inexpensive manual labor who will work hard on back-breaking, thankless jobs.I think the dumbest thing we did post-9/11 was impose visa restrictions and curb immigration. Now the smart people are collecting in Budapest, Bangalore, Singapore and others rather than coming to the US, and our labor costs go up (and often productivity goes down) because we don’t have inexpensive labor for menial jobs we are ‘above.’I don’t think we are any safer as a result. In fact, if this continues we will face long-term marginalization as the best, brightest, and hardest workers go elsewhere.I think Fred’s #4 is solved by #2 – open the borders again and lets return to what made us great. Otherwise we will be like France without the great cheese.

        1. cdawg

          couldn’t agree more. I’m a European living and working in the US. Came to this country for grad school. I had many bright, ambitious friends from all over the world in my class. Most of them went back to their countries as it was made nearly impossible for them to work in the US. This seems to be a pattern ever since 9/11, and the US is hurting itself the most this way. There are plenty of other places in the world that are catching up in terms of educational & job opportunities, so it’s becoming a much easier decision for many bright foreigners here to say, “screw the US, if they make it this hard, I’ll take my talent elsewhere”. It’s a trend that scares me. It’s counter to everything the US has always stood fodr.

    2. Kevin

      It’s not that “there aren’t enough talented Americans” – it’s that we need every talented worker we can get. Every immigrant that’s smarter than the average American makes this country a better place. For the country’s sake, I say bring them in, despite the fact that they are all competing for my job.

    3. markslater

      this is wrong. foreigners and lower cost of living? what the *&^% does that mean? what does having a family and a house have to do with understanding the true cost of venture financing? the round has to increase because you have a bigger mortgage? 80% of the capabilities and 50% of the cost?

    4. Jamie Lin

      It’s exactly this type of thinking that is threatening the long-term competence of this economy. For the longest time, the American business model is selling the American dream to the rest of the world and attract the best and brightest to join and help build this country and its economy.Sadly, that has changed after 8 years of conservative and under-performing Bush administration. Both the cap on work visa and this current economic crisis are factors that have turned talents away. Even as far as 3 years ago, in my NYU Stern MBA of 06 class, we already had more than 70% of Asian MBAs that decided to return to Asia. I don’t know where your 80% capabilities comparison came from but these certainly are top management candidates. (NYU Stern is a top 10 MBA program.)The even more stupid thing is now they’re gonna ban banks that have received TARP money from renewing H1B (work visa) for their foreign employees. Think about it. These are top talents that have gone through on-the-job training for 3 years that we’re talking about. I don’t think it’s doing this country/economy any good when you just let them go back to work for international banks that are essentially Wall St’s competition.I think to help resolve the current economic crisis, instead of turning away would-be immigrants, America should open its arms fully to new immigrants. Do you guys know that you have to commit to invest at least $1M to obtain an investor class green card? Even if you have the money, the wait currently is 10 years. So instead of asking tax payers for bail out money, why don’t we just issue 1M green cards to these wealthy individuals and there is your $1 trillion to rescue the economy. Not to mention all the additional service sector jobs these wealthy new immigrants would create.

  26. jonathanmendez

    My immediate concern is why recovery.gov is imho purposley making it difficult to find the full ARRA legislation. http://bit.ly/YRjc3

  27. greenskeptic

    Absolutely agree on #2, 4 and 9: “Just look at GM. In two short months they are back on your doorstep with their hands out. When a portfolio company acts like that in our business, they are dead on arrival.” Absolutely. GM is DOA.

    1. markslater

      it is to you and I but not to the government. the government cure is to slowly treat the disease, hopefully control its spread. all that does is make the country sicker slower – cut out the problem – take our medicine and put the country back on a path to a clean bill of health. Not a malaise that will result in other countries catching and passing us by. GM has to go – it might be hard to take in Detroit, but thats another discussion.

      1. JLM

        GM and the automakers have devolved into a purely political problem — can the Democrats hang onto control if they “sucker punch” the UAW? This has gotten down to a raw political confrontation.UAW: “WE put you in office, Mr President.”Pres: “You are going to cost me my freakin’ job, fellas. And I like THIS job.”UAW: “WE can put someone else into your job.”Pres: “Not if I put the American automakers out of business and you don’t have any union dues to collect.”UAW: “You don’t have the damn balls to do that, Mr. President.”Pres: “Hey, boys, I’m from Chicago and I’m capable of anything. Go ask my buddy, Reverend Wright.”Typical Mexican standoff. Big hint: What have you heard lately about “card check”? Hmmmm, President did not mention it last night, did he?I think ultimately bankruptcy court was invented for businesses to reorganize IF THEY CAN. I think the ship has sailed on GM, et al. It’s pretty damn telling when 90% of the folks on the big “car committee” drive foreign cars.Good luck, GM! Ooops, gotta run, taking my Hudson in for service today!

    2. rick gregory

      Aside from the actual job losses at GM letting it fail scares people because of the symbolism and because there are a LOT of jobs tied to the auto industry outside those at the Big 3. It may feel good to flex and say “let em fail” but any leadership in DC needs to consider the impact on the broader economy and whether now is the right time to let them fail.A portfolio company dying means the loss of a few to a few dozen jobs probably. That’s vastly different than losing perhaps 1m jobs in the current climate. Even if it’s the right thing to do (and I think it is), there’s a timing issue and an issue of HOW it fails.

      1. greenskeptic

        I don’t know what effect restructuring under Chapter 11 will have on the million or so jobs connected to the auto industry. I do know that pissing away billions more on a company that is destined to fail because of 30+ years of mismanagement, bad decisions, and resistance to change will reverberate throughout the economy.I question whether the Big 3 — too big to be nimble and adaptable — is what the auto industry needs in the 21st century.Perhaps those 1M+ jobs can be saved by keeping the existing fleet of cars running and retooling the way cars are manufactured. Not to mention retraining auto workers for alternative energy development.

        1. rick gregory

          In reverse order…Some of those 1m can work in alternative energy development, but it’s utopian to say that many of them will. Others will find work in a redone auto industry. However they’re not numbers, they ARE people… and losing that many jobs will reverberate in a big way.There’s nothing wrong with the Big 3 as a model if what we need is mass production… up to now their error has been designing and building cars that people don’t want, not the mass production of cars. An interesting question is whether we still need mass production in order to create affordable personal transportation.GM is, I think, done for. But we need to see its demise/transition managed so that it hurts the economy the least. The emotional reaction is to say “Screw them, pull the plug now!” but we need to put more thought into it than that. Ideally, a restructuring that preserves the value so that when the economy turns around the new entities thrive vs merely survive.

          1. greenskeptic

            Agreed. I don’t mean to be flip and do understand it is people we’re talking about not jobs. Thanks for the dialogue!

  28. FarazQ

    Agree with your points. esp re energy and education. Lets please hand both over to the entrepreneurs and let the innovation process run. The established players in both those spaces should be put out to pasture. The talented people that are in those industries will get re-hired by newer, smaller and more effective firms.One point I was surprised about – how can we punish companies that hire global talent (“keep jobs in the U.S.”) and at the same time warn of the dangers of protectionism? Seems contradictory to me.I can’t wait for some meaningful stats to be posted on recovery.gov!

  29. markslater

    the hard working comment really got me. it should have been most productive workforce. I spend several months a year in Asia (jakarta) we (us immigrant americans) have no concept of what ‘real’ hard work is anymore. It might be me, but i am amazed every time i walk in to the factories over there.

  30. Andy Ranley

    I think you meant to write “ALBATROSS around your neck”…not “NOOSE”. Or, at least, hopefully you did 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      I meant nooseAs in “we’d all better hang together because if we don’t we’ll all hang separately”

  31. wood83

    Fred,Thoughtful as always. While I too am impressed by his willingness to get out in front of the situation and try things, the devil is truly in the details. When I see the breakdown of $850 billion to its component parts, I no longer see a President who is trying to attack specific initiatives or try new things. The times we’re in require REAL divergence from the norm, and unfortunately the expediency with which we all want to see action is working directly against the funds and energies being used in a creative manner.

  32. vijay

    bravo fred – Glad to see your points 2 and 4. Being a first generation immigrant myself, I know what its like to stay in the office long after people are gone just because you feel the need to prove yourself on a continual basis and you’re the benefactor of a visa that is controversial at worst and unappreciated at best. Agree with all your other points but these especially stood out for me.

  33. Marc

    “That’s a tall order. I’d settle for we will recover. Given the demographics of the changing world we live in (read Zakaria’s Post-American World), I wonder if that’s a promise the President should be making.”This isn’t the first time the US has questioned if our best days are behind us. Lots of people have been wrong before making similar predictions as Zakaria. The key point is, if Obama sets his sights lower, like you want, he guarantees that is what we will settle for. There is power in Big Hairy Audacious Goals that allow you to reach levels you would not with lesser compromise goals. I am not ready to throw in the towel.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s a good pointHe had to say that

  34. Ezra Fischer

    1) “The USA will emerge stronger than before” — I’m not sure that that is an impossible task. Stronger doesn’t necessarily mean more dominant. Since it’s an Obama quote, I’ll use a basketball metaphor to explain. Kobe Bryant has become a stronger basketball player over the last few years by playing in a less dominating fashion. He’s learned to play more cooperatively with his teammates. Not to push the metaphor too far, but when he shoots less, he wins more. Michael Jordan became a stronger player even as his aging legs robbed him of his flight. America could become a stronger country as a partner in a global community of states as opposed to a lone superpower.

    1. fredwilson

      I’m rethinking my point #1But I’m not changing itI wrote it so it stays, but if I were to write it again, I think I’d say it differently

      1. ap

        I think point #1 is good criticism of the US and President’s bold but premature order, but feel we will emerge stronger definitely due to the efforts of folks who produce and productivity will eventually translate into recovery, but not just by some politician’s saying it…

    2. Andy

      Here! here! Being the biggest, most aggressive country with the most money isn’t the same as leading. He didn’t say “America will emerge the strongest of the world’s nations” or “we will retain our #1 country status” or something….Can the world see us again as America the Innovative or America the Facilitator instead of America the Global Bully??

  35. Tim Connors

    Bravo! this is all going to end up just like the billions we spent on the katrina trailers…. but 3 orders of magnitude bigger. If we let the government allocate 1T of our dollars we don’t have, we will know what hardship really is.if we are going to go down this foolish path, at least let’s try to be smart about it.i like Andrew Field’s ideas. http://www.forbes.com/2009/…Small business owners who have managed to generate consistent profits during reasonable economic times are careful capital allocators. Say we gave small businesses who were profitable for three years in a row before the downturn a loan of 10k per employee up to a max of 20% of the taxes they paid in the last three years. Make it interest-only which converts to principle plus interest twelve months after GDP starts growing again. Small business gets immediate help and it goes to those who have a good shot at paying it back…If it allowed them to keep the 1 in 5 folks that they would layoff due to lack of credit, we’d create a job for every 50k invested. need 5M jobs, it costs you $250B, and you have a very good opportunity to get a good ROI….Instead the government is giving it to banks and the auto industry. The banks who were careful capital allocators in the last decade didn’t need tarp money and it isn’t affecting their lending habits now. Giving it to the banks who aren’t careful and to the auto companies with completely broken business models is a disaster.GM is the Wang of the auto industry. Who would want to invest in that?

    1. fredwilson

      Gm is wangThat is so getting reblogged on fredwilson.vc!!

  36. CJ

    I wish he had spoken on failure, he speaks so often of success that one would think that failure isn’t a possibility. He mentioned how he knows it’s unpopular to bail out the banks, true, it is unpopular and hasn’t proven to be the right move…yet. What he didn’t mention was how it might be prudent for the country if some of these ailing businesses, who took chances with their financial fate and that of the nation, should be prepared to accept the negative repercussions of those chances as equally as they capitalized on the benefits in the prior years.We can’t prop everyone up, some failure is unavoidable. We need to be strategic with those that we allow to fail as well as those that we prop up to ensure the ripples of those failures can be contained and the economy as a whole can become healthier.

    1. JLM

      Right on!You have to cull the herd to ensure the productive breeders live through the harsh winters You can’t cull the herd without a bit of blood on the grass.It’s time to cull the herd.The herd will emerge stonger if we wield the knife now.

  37. BmoreWire

    2) I couldn’t agree more especially on our southern border. I did a lot of outreach work in college and studied the economics and finance of latin american outsourcing. Latin American immigrants are the future of our labor force. They know it and they are proud of it and consider themselves the ‘future of America’ and I think they are right.9) my family has always been a Ford family and it pains me to say this but Ford and GM need to be left alone to their own devices and if they die they die. Innovation and new companies will take their place and re-employ their workers. Other companies will buy up their brands and factories and take over their contracts. We need to pull the life support plug and deal with the consequences with innovation.

  38. greghamilton

    Let me be clear, it is time…for Pelosi to stop rocketing out of her chair every 2minutes.I only caught about 20 minutes of the speech while doing a cooldown at the gym. The part about getting everyone to graduate high school and then get some sort of higher education is a lofty goal.We need fewer communications/journalism/basket weaving majors and more engineers/scientists/doctors. Hell, even reworking curriculums would help. Instead of forcing several arts, literature, & humanities classes on students to create “well rounded” educations, maybe replace a few with some engineering or computer science classes.

    1. fredwilson

      Our kids high school doesn’t even teach programmingMy girls were not interested in it, but my son isSo we have a young man who recently graduated from ITP come over one night a weekJosh is 13 and he’s learning HTML, CSS, PHP, as well as photoshop and some flashIt’s great. But if we didn’t care enough to supplement his education, he’d go without all of this.It’s scary and eye opening at the same timeAnd this is a private school I’m talking about

  39. Eugene Grant

    Gotta disagree with you on the immigration thing. That’s one area I think the president was right to ignore. We’ve got to spend our money and time helping Americans out – borders that are more open than they already are are just inviting foreigners to benefit from our hard work. My two cents – Eugene

    1. fredwilson

      We can agree to disagree on this one EugeneI think we can only focus on growing the pie because if we focus on making sure our piece of the pie doesn’t shrink, the pie will shrink and we’ll all go hungry

  40. Peter Fleckenstein

    Another great thought provoking post Fred. After reading Obama’s speech several times, after listening to Jindal’s response several times, I’d like to offer some of my own ideas that will hopefully provoke as well.1. We are not a democracy. Yep that’s right we’re not a democracy. We are a republic. I strongly encourage everyone to watch this video – http://www.youtube.com/watc…2.Healthcare – Want to solve our problems with healthcare? Massive tort reform across the board. Healthcare for every child, from womb to 18 yrs of age, and they must be a citizen of this country. A healthy start in life makes for a healthy person throughout life. It increases the quality of life and reduces the cost of life for everyone. Additionally let free market rule the system.3.Education – Completely abolish the Department of Education. It’s been proven year after year how much of a failure it truly is. Let the states have THE say on education – Empowerment thru localization. Encourage private investment in education through attractive tax incentives. Have states strongly implement a voucher based system. We will quickly realize an immense improvement in quality of education and teachers if we just follow these steps.4.Energy – Yes let’s go at it for developing alternative energy sources and let’s be realistic about it too. If Obama thinks he’s going to lay thousands of miles of power lines to retool the grid in the next year or two he’s dreaming and shows he has no idea of what’s involved in doing so. Let’s have a comprehensive energy plan – Let’s build more nuclear power plants which emit ZERO pollutants into the air. I know this is an over-used phrase but let’s drill here, drill now. It’s return is quick and we can have the 1st barrel of oil produced within 2 to 3 years. People have to wake up to the fact that petroleum based products are here to stay – look around the room that you are in right now – everything that you see that has plastic – that’s petroleum. Deal with it people. By drilling here and now – it has world wide economic effects and is nothing but good for America. As for alternative energy sources, let’s go for it through tax incentives to private companies, and funding of R&D by private companies.5.Taxes and Federal Spending – across the board permanent tax cuts for business and personal. The strongest argument for this is the fact that when tax cuts have been implemented tax receipts have remained constant. – http://snipr.com/cmk71. As for federal spending – STOP IT! Freeze all new spending period. We don’t need what we don’t have the money for. Then go through the budget and reduce both mandatory and discretionary spending. Set the baseline so we have something to measure to rather than against. Then from that point on – pay as you go.6.Government interference – Those people up on the Hill and in the Administration have no clue what to do. Sorry they’ve proven it over and over again. Let the free market work with SMART regulation. Auto companies – chapter 11. Banks – TEMPORARY nationalization. The banks don’t know what they’re doing, the gov’t bailing them out doesn’t know what they’re doing either. So nationalize them, implement mark to market and find out what they’re actually worth, set up a “back burner bank” for the toxic assets, and start up new banks with fresh clean capital. The assets in the back burner bank, like you’ve said, will get back to reasonable value. We can then walk that “new” good value bank into the new banks.Finally to the President and Congress – I leave you inept, rhetorical, always in campaign mode people with a quote:”I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.” Frederick Douglass

    1. Paul M

      agree on most points, except “drill here, drill now” – as an ex-oil guy, I can say the substantive domestic reserves can’t be produced in 2-3 years. A 2-3 year turn-around may be possible in W Texas or off of existing GOM/N Slope, but the complications to produce in the ANWR or other debated regions (e.g., deep-water GOM) puts the timing closer to 5, 8 or 10 years. In addition, these domestic reserves are trivial when compared to global reserves. So, I don’t think drilling domestically is really reasonable and it just prolongs our dependence on oil.What we need is to find alternative solutions, and the best way to do that is to have economic incentives. Once consumers start paying more at the pump (or for their end products), companies will be incentivized to innovate and create higher MPG cars and more efficient processing of petroleum products.Finally, your comment on plastics is a red herring – only 3 percent of crude oil is used in plastics. You would have been more accurate mentioning bitumen-based products (e.g., asphalt, lubricants, etc.) which use 26% of crude. However, that still leaves 71% for gasoline, jet fuel and diesel.

      1. Peter Fleckenstein

        I completely agree with finding alternative solutions. I would ask what near term substantive reserves or output could be produced with these alternative solutions? I’m guessing they would be not so substantive.I should have been clearer in my drill here, drill now proposition – I’m including petroleum and natural gas. I’m also factoring in the psychological, social, and economic factors as a whole too.If u take a look at the GOM – there’s tremendous oil and natural gas reserves there. I think Chevron found a 15 billion barrel field there a couple of years ago. Let’s take a look at the California coast as well. I’m going to go out on sort of a limb here and suggest something that does have scientific merit – what if oil is a naturally ongoing produced product from the earth? It’s still theoretical that it is a fossil fuel. I think deep drilling and additional R&D is needed in order to understand this. I know – a lot of people and companies are invested that oil is a fossil fuel but it merits further actual proof that it is.Let’s also take a close look at the right alternative solutions – the amount of land for windfarms in order to produce a good output is exponential compared to nuclear power plants. That’s not even factoring in the thousands of miles of lines needed for distribution as well.Yes smart investment in alternative solutions is necessary. R&D through good tax incentives is a preferrable route that I’m willing to take as well.As for my plastics as a red herring. Good point on the 3%. However if you do include bitumen based then ur looking at 29% total as you pointed out. That’s a big percentage. Gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel at 71% would be greatly affected by a drill here program as part of a comprehensive energy plan. Our foreign dependence would go down dramatically.So let’s develop a comprehensive energy plan that includes nuclear, wind, solar, natural gas, oil, etc. Let’s work on a total solution for both near and long term goals.Thanks a lot for your comments Paul. I love learning what I don’t know from people who know what I don’t. 😉

      2. fredwilson

        Economic incentives for sure are the answer.I want to pay $1/gallon at the pump in taxes

    2. JLM

      Let me know when your campaign committee is ready to start accepting donations.I am a bit mystified on the issue of nuclear power. I understand that there is an element of America which is opposed for light and intransigent reasons but the numbers work like a charm and it would create a HUGE number of jobs. Great jobs.On the other hand, even if we solved all the problems involved with distribution of “fill in the blank” alternative energy source, the numbers simply don’t work. I have been studying solar — both commercial and residential — and a $25K residential installation (I run out of roof at this level) with a $13K local rebate and a 30% tax credit (on the whole amount under the Porkulus) still leaves one with a 7% ROI and that’s only if the sun shines.Nuke me up, Scottie!I have been supplying my employees (actually they have been supplying themselves) with health care insurance for 25 years with no incentive other than “good bidness”. This problem can be solved fairly easily.I worked for Mobil in the 1970s and there are platforms off California in the Santa Barbara area with 60 slots for directional drilling and only 20 wells completed. Everything is piped and producing. This oil could be flowing in less than 12 months.

      1. Peter Fleckenstein

        Ha! I don’t think I’ll be running for anything soon. I’m having too muchfun working on my start-up.If I did run people would have to get used to me calling BS on their reps &senators from both sides of the aisle; their heads exploding from talking tothem like the adults that they are and not children; and to actually andtruly bring both sides together to do the work of the people and not thework of self-interest. So I better stick to what I’m doing for now.Ugggh!!! Examples like yours just make me crazy. Good solid answers areout there with regular Americans and not Beltwayans!What a concept for incentives – “Good Bidness” – naww can’t be, why thatwould be too easy. 😉

      2. fredwilson

        The only issue with nukes is where you put the wasteOther than that, it’s a pretty good solutionUnless obama can deliver us cold fusion

        1. JLM

          As America’s first war criminal said: “If I owned Hell and Texas, I’d live in Hell and rent out Texas.”Let’s rent West Texas. Build the biggest damn reinforced concrete containment vessel ever conceived and store the stuff forever. Hell, today, about 20 counties would rename themselves – Noooculear Waste — just for the jobs.

        2. BillSeitz

          Well, we can always “Hope” for cold fusion. Does that count? 🙂 Or maybe we could put that GWB faith-based program that BO just renewed on the case…I’d be more supportive of nuclear energy if the industry didn’t always loan guarantees, liability caps, etc.http://webseitz.fluxent.com…Waste may be like coal tar: something that provides value in the future….http://webseitz.fluxent.com

  41. schultzmj

    agree. Certainty some throw away lines to try and make the tone positive. Biggest problem I have is that the pledge to cut the deficit while looking at all the new spending going on just flies in the face of common sense. Can’t see coming close without a combination of big spending cuts and big tax increases and not sure the economy can digest that in such a short period of time.

  42. ap

    I read gothamgal’s post on immigration as well few days ago and that is the cold reality, but kudo’s to her efforts. Since we do farming as well and H2A visa’s are in abundance and never fill the quota of 65,000 or so annually, i decided to try my hand last year on H2A. My company has been approved for a while but we cannot bring qualified seasonal farm workers from countries like India due to the lack of support from US embassies located internationally they have rejected all the workers which we hand-picked for their knowledge of farming and bee-keeping for pollination from state of punjab. Due to all of this the prices of growing and farming commodities are so high and lot of honest but small farmers around us fail every year and we have so much land to farm upon in this country. I also support qualified immigrants but also feel the need for immigrants who are willing to just plain do the hard work, since majority of the so call “hard working” folks only work to take advantage of the system and collect unemployment eventually, which BTW is going up in our stimulus by $25 per recipient. And yes the unemployment fillings have gone up and even those who worked for minimum wage and were let go due to lack of discipline of showing up to work are trying their luck to file for unemployment, I am actually an immigrant as well and love the opportunity we received after moving from India at the age of 16 and feel anyone qualified to fill the gap should be given a fair opportunity. Last year in Bombay, I remember meeting someone who works for US consulate in Bombay at a bar and she said that their job is to “look for reasons to reject a visa applicant, not approve”. I think commenting all the points above will be lengthy but here is my piece on immigration and i am not getting the sense Mr. President is echoing any of the real problems yet. Maybe he should also listen to some of Mark Andreeson’s thoughts on Charlie Rose from last week regarding banks and auto makers.

    1. fredwilson

      I hope he’s listening to you too

  43. Kenosha_Kid

    It’s unfortunate that President Obama is beginning to sound more and more like a Washington insider who addresses his audience like walking on eggshells and talking to children. What we need now is adult speak (“time to put childish things aside”) and specific solutions / ideas, not a bunch of feel-good speechifying and Pelosi jumping out of her seat like it’s on fire. By the way, Fred, your linked twitter comment was hilarious, and I also love the wallpaper. Is that Paul Klee?

    1. fredwilson

      Yes it is Klee, it’s called Twittering Machine and was painted in 1922http://bit.ly/U0Eo

      1. Kenosha_Kid

        Thanks for the link… right here at MoMA, will have to check it out. As you probably know, there’s a boatload of Klee also at the Met, but this is deviating off topic.

        1. fredwilson

          Twittering Machine was in Berlin for the Klee show in DecemberNot sure if its back yet

          1. Kenosha_Kid

            Thanks, I guess I’ll wait a while. Was just there for the Miro exhibit anyway… best to space MoMA visits out, it’s always mobbed these days. Klee in Berlin must have been awesome, back in his Bauhaus setting.

    2. Dennis

      You think Obama talks to the public like children? That is actually one thing I constantly appreciate about Obama and his administration – they talk as if they are speaking to adults and not reading “Where the Wild Things Are” to a 1st grade classroom (ala Jindal’s rebuttal). I do agree that last night’s speech lacked specific solutions/ideas but I don’t think that will become a new precedent (hopefully).Re Pelosi jumping out of her seat every two seconds…couldn’t agree more. Skeletor needs to stay seated.

  44. rwedding

    Nice post Fred, I believe you nailed it. I thought it was just me, but I also found Pelosi and Biden distracting. To be completely honest it was nauseating.

    1. ap

      haha, i did not think anyone will mention that but I agree..

  45. paul177

    I would like President Obama to clearly state why the increase in government spending is necessary at this time, and better map out how it will normalize as the economy does the same. The unique aspects of this “balance sheet” recession call for difficult and seemingly costly actions.I think for many people, that’s the missing component in all this. Not sure if he’s done that yet to the best of his ability.Otherwise, I thought the speech was positive, something we all need right now. Seems he and Bernake might have got together to discuss their speech tonality.

  46. Pat

    The problem with the immigration argument is that the people who came in the past WERE risk takers. There was no free lunch al la welfare. Knowing that it was entirely up to oneself brought a certain type of person. Currently, immigrants know that the gov’t will give them hand outs and will accommodate them and ensure they don’t even have to learn English. Different dynamic entirely that attracts a different type of person…

    1. fredwilson

      That explains some of the differences of opinion on this oneIn my world, immigrants are smart,educated, hungry, work harder, complain less, and just get stuff doneI love them

      1. JLM

        A guy or gal who is willing to swim the Rio Grande, trek through brush country and risk starvation has the “stuff” which deepens the American gene pool.Mexican immigrants bring a penchant for hard work, strong families, Catholic moral values, entrepreneurial zeal, great ambition for the next generation, laughter, love and chiles rellenos. This is a very stong package.

        1. Kenosha_Kid

          Shouldn’t generalize, the positive or the negative.Anyway, I think the issue is not immigration, but illegal immigration. Many capable, smart, entrepreneurial, industrious immigration applicants are probably seeing their visas being rejected as a result of the illegal immigration overload.

      2. Chris Hamoen

        I couldn’t agree more – and it applies to other industries as well. A close contact runs a construction company (ground source heating) – and if it was legal, he would hire immigrants only. His experience with NA workers is frustrating – the self-entitlement is nauseating.

    2. FarazQ

      I disagree Pat.My family immigrated to the U.S. in 1988. My parents came here for the same reason all immigrants do – OPPORTUNITY. The expectation was if we work our butts off, we can increase our standard of living. This was clear to me and my brothers on day 1 here (I was in jr high at the time).I don’t know a single immigrant who come here because of government handouts. Frankly, most of the people looking for that end up staying in their home country as its too difficult and risky to uproot their family, connections and trek over here for the free ‘handouts’.

      1. JLM

        Thanks for coming and we’ve been holding a spot for you! We are a nation of immigrants and that’s a good thang!

        1. FarazQ

          Indeed. It IS a good thang!

      2. JLM

        The next time somebody says something offensive about immigration remind that that two things came over to this continenton on the Mayflower — Englishmen and………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….syphilis!

  47. andrewparker

    Re: #10 Education…I’ve talked to a number of investors about education, and while they are all interested in investing in education, none of them are willing to consider an investment in a company that sell tools/services to schools (public or private). Why? the sales cycles are insanely long… multiple months just to get a demo… no one knows who has the authority to say “yes” to anything. But, for better or for worse, school is where our kids our learning today, and though homeschooling is increasing in popularity, I don’t see it taking any significant market share in the near future.So, yes, Barack is missing an opportunity here, but calling on the private sector to invest in education alone is not enough. In it’s current form, private sector investment in education will generate more Kaplans and University of Phoenixs, which I would find very disappointing on an ethical level. We need to find a way to open up schools to private vendors better… we need to encourage experimentation in cirriculums, and this experimentation needs financial motivation.

  48. JLM

    I agree with all of your observations. Right now, the Obama administration is pregnant with possibilities. I have always thought that President Obama’s greatest challenge was going to be Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid and their fellow Democratic henchmen. This is Moe and Larry looking for Curley and they think President Obama should play the part. Don’t do it, Mr. President!President Obama is getting ready to have his first “real” test of whether his intellectual flights of fancy will survive the collision with the harsh reality of modern politics — the Speaker’s newly proposed $400B + “clean up” bill or as I like to call it: “The Ears of Pork Bill.”If he somehow tempers this “1,000 points of pork” bill by negotiation, or better still by vetoing it — then he will be the “decider”. If not, then he is likely to be exposed as just another smooth talking (very, very, very smooth talking) hack. He truly controls his own destiny and unfortunately ours to boot!Two other quick points:Yes, the budget can be balanced. Eisenhower balanced 8 budgets in a row while building the Nation’s nuclear arsenal. He cut defense spending relying on the defense philosophy of “deterence” rather than “overwhelming force”. There is no person in the world more supportive of our defense than me (former professional soldier, VMI grad, 400 years of soldiers in my family) but we can eliminate, curtail, delay, reduce and extend a number of advanced weapon spending programs. Many of these weapon systems are designed to defeat an enemy capability which does not currently exist. We can re-start them in 6 years. The real challenge is going to be to increase defense readiness (the point of the spear) while reducing the cost of development and not being perceived as “anti military” which frankly many in the Obama administration are in fact.The immigration issue is huge. Unfortunately, it has many of the characteristics of trying to put the toothpaste back into the tube. The problem with those folks who are already in the country is literally insurmountable. Know that the border states have already gone over to the other side — nobody in Texas is opposed to immigration or amnesty — cause the illegal immigrant is an entrenched element in the workforce. And, they ARE the hardest working folks in America today.Give careful consideration to the implicatons of Tex-Mex when making decisions related to immigration. It will get very ugly if you run off the folks at Matt’s El Rancho. Very, very ugly!I think it is short sighted not to allow unlimited immigration of folks with advanced degrees.Do you know that an illegal who joins the American Army and serves honorably is almost assured of citizenship before the end of their first tour? This is the greatest overlooked boon to legal immigration.

    1. fredwilson

      Is there any way to get the President a line item veto without amending the constitution?That’s what we need and have needed for a long time

      1. JLM

        You may recall that President Clinton had the “line item” veto in 1997 and that Rudy Guliani took the case to the Supreme Court because President Clinton had knocked out a big program for NY. The Supremes ruled that it required a Constitutional Amendment.The time has come for the line item veto.

        1. Ezra Fischer

          But a line-item veto will just cause Congresspeople to kill bills in their infancy — in committee. A better way to get rid of pork would be to just let people in one district/state elect the representative of another.

        2. fredwilson

          The founding fathers were genius, but they got that one wrongugh

        3. toddgeist

          How about terms limit? Can anyone give me a good argument as to why we should allow people to serve in congress… or rather “take over congress” for 30 years?We have congress that is responsible to no one but special interests. Until that changes only the most gifted of presidents ( Obama might be just that ) will have a chance of making any serious change.And while we are on the subject of constitutional amendments… I think it is about time we call for a constitutional convention. We haven’t had one in over 200 years. Don’t you think we are about due?

    2. Peter Fleckenstein

      I didn’t know you were a Spartan too Jeff. Your point of the spear is right on.Living in both Texas and Arizona I can tell you that people are definitely not against LEGAL immigration. I don’t think any American citizen is.The problem is illegal immigration. It is destructive from top to bottom and there are plenty of Texans and Arizonans who are rightfully against illegal immigration in any form.With that being sd ur comment on an illegal who joins the Military is spot on. That’s actually with any immigrant. My father in law from Italy joined the Marines and became a US Citizen that way. His story is classic – served in the military – opened up businesses in Chicago and prospered, moved to Arizona back in 1961 with his profits and started building. He worked his butt off and “retired” at 40. His education level when he left Italy and joined the Marine Corps – 5th grade.One last point – No one controls your destiny but yourself. We have all been given free will and with that comes personal accountability and responsibility.

      1. JLM

        This proves the theorem that it only truly takes a 5th grade education to be successful in business. Also, real estate is the greatest return on investment with the lowest educational requirement. Cause inflation is an equal opportunity employer and it never asks for a transcript.”You may be whatever you resolve to be.” Stonewall Jackson, VMI Professor and noted artilleriest — carved in the arch at the entrance to the VMI barracks and drilled into my head for 4 painful (not so painful really) years

        1. Peter Fleckenstein

          Love that quote from VMI. Love your quote “Cause inflation is an equalopportunity employer and it never asks for a transcript.” – looking for aplace to carve it into.Hey we gotta be careful here – You, myself, and others are starting to openup a self-reliance, “you can do it” energy vortex.

      2. David S

        Come on – we all know your dad ran booze during prohibition and he didn’t retire – that’s called the ‘witness protection program’….

        1. Peter Fleckenstein

          LOL. He was actually born in 1931 in Italy. Little 2 young 4 Prohibition.That’s funny. 😉

        2. BillSeitz

          Hey, watch what you say about JFK around here…

  49. JasonSchultz

    It’s ok if things are never the same again, change brings opportunity as well. It’s all sort of inevitable isn’t it? Human nature, civilizations, and growth. America isn’t ‘the world’, there is so much potential in the world beyond America and what we are living in is a step in the direction of freeing that potential. All which advances the human race. Maybe not today, tomorrow, or even in our lifetime, but as time goes on yes. Some nations rise, some nations fall, and some of them continue on by adapting. All nations in history however were perfectly aligned to give us the world we live in now. So through these hard times many changes will occur throughout the world that lay a foundation for future generations to build and flourish upon.Look far back in history and pick you favorite civilization; would you think it was silly for them to forgo the joys in life to be consumed of worrying about their position in the world forever? Work and hope for the best, just keep the bigger picture in mind. You get one life. Maybe, instead of all this worry you could get out and FLOURISH.

  50. Amar

    Great discussion thread! Btw, I am glad for 2 things1. you blog continues to be a opinionated and rational voice instead of veering from usual just for Obama.2. i can therefore continue to thoroughly enjoy this blog :-pI would recommend Obama hire the Duarte team (they created the presentation for An Inconvenient Truth) to create a compelling video/slide show that can educate people against pithy smug marketing. Failing which, I am forced to wonder is there truth to the accusations?People need to understand that 85% (making it up) of the housing stimulus fund will NOT go towards helping irresponsible, greedy dead beats. Some of it will but this is reality of the world, there are always edge cases.Last night a friend and I both parked our cars in a parking garage. My total for the night was 6.50$, hers was 18$, why? Because she was parked for 7:15 hrs while I was parked for 6:55 hrs. The pricing in the garage is slabbed till 7hr and everything over 7 and under 24 is 18$. Does it suck for my friend, yeah but again she is an edge case and no pricing can be perfect.

  51. Shane

    Our list goes to eleven… 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      All my top ten lists go to elevenIt’s a quirk in my personality

      1. Shane

        LOL, I was channeling Spinal Tap. I thought it was a terrific list, 10 points or 11.

  52. Robert Hacker

    We will emerge from this mess stronger because all the weaker companies, technologies and business models will go out of business. Of course nothing the government does will contribute to this rationalization.With respect to “people vs banks”, I think we need to sort out the banking system and not be distracted by the politically popular concern for the poor defaulted home owner. More thoughts here http://tinyurl.com/ajhgzcAs for education, I believe it is a priority but not a federal responsibility. Not every issue of consequence needs to be dealt with by Washington. Remember the current crisis was in large part brought about by Washington’s efforts to make a lot of homeowners out of people that could not afford homes.

  53. jerry solomon

    when you look at the details i agree with much of what you said. however, this speech touched upon policy, in broad strokes, but it was not about policy. it was about changing the american culture. somewhere in the last 30 years we got lost. excess was celebrated, and even worse, encouraged. contributing to society was never a goal. the emphasis on washington was placed on consolidating power and getting elected. this was an ambitious, all encompassing and overlapping vision of how government and society must hold one another to a higher standard.

    1. fredwilson

      somewhere around the third or fourth minute, i got lost because of nancy pelosi’s dress. it was seriously distracting. both of them were. i wish Obama had done that speech in a non state of the union way.

  54. Guest

    Americans ARE hard-working people, Fred. Maybe not all, and maybe not as much as they used to (Oh, I know, nothing is as good as in the old times :))), but on average the work ethics in the USA is fantastic.Also, your #3 is contradicted somewhat by #5 and #9. Energy and Health Care investments will help with the recovery, too.#7 is a bit off, too. There is a difference between giving money to ta ech startup and to a bank. There is a lot of creative work in tech that, as you point out, should not be controlled. banking, though, is more of a business where keeping track of the money flows can be algorithmic and desirable.The other points are very good (I should have started with the positives, maybe). I especially like #1 and 2…

    1. fredwilson

      Your job is to critique and debate and discuss, not agree with me.Well done

    2. Lwanga D

      I do not disagree people in America are hardworking…but c’mon, “the most hardworking people on earth(sic)! To me, the pay system where one is paid per hour or even monitored (if one is on monthly salary scale), leaves people with no choice but to work. To work in America is like the only reason people live…I don’t necessarily agree with Pres. Obama’s statement

  55. Adrian Ionel

    That’s a big part of it. The biggest challenge we face is one of values. A strong work ethic, the will and confidence to compete globally and a relentless thirst to learn and improve. Vs. a mentality of entitlement and cruising on past accomplishments

    1. fredwilson

      We can get that from and feed off of immigrant cultureWe always have in this country

  56. agawley

    I love the image of the auto cos as (failing) portfolio companies. Obama sure does have a big ol’ fund and I think he could do a lot worse than applying a bit of venture logic to his investment choices.

  57. Gordon Platt

    Fred, It was interesting to read your comments on the speech from a business perspective. However, a key distinction between a company and a government (at least our government) is that the former is not a democracy and the latter is… And in that’s case it’s all about the art of the possible. I recommend reading the article about Rahm Emanuel in this week’s New Yorker.

    1. fredwilson

      I’ll do thatI do have issues with governments and non-profitsIt’s hard for me to wrap my head around any institution that is notoptimized for success

      1. Gordon Platt

        I agree with you on that. That’s why I bailed on network TV years ago. Talk about not being optimized for success! But I guess the reason our government works better than most is because that lack of optimization keeps things from spinning too quickly, either left or right. The inefficiencies are built into the system via checks and balances. Infuriating when it holds up the “good guys.” But can you imagine not having had it for the last 8 years? Best, G.

        1. fredwilson

          Its a well designed system

  58. Aruni S. Gunasegaram

    Thanks for the great re-cap. I agree with much of what you said. Interestingly, my husband is starting a new school (in reference to your #10) here in Austin called The Magellan School (www.magellanschool.org). It’s a non-profit, dual language, immersion private school. The two main languages will be Spanish and English with proficiency in Mandarin. He went to the American School in Mexico city and is completely bi-lingual. You can’t tell he speaks two languages when you look at him. He also has a master’s degree in aerospace from Stanford and is big in the Wireless community here so starting a school is a bit out of his career path…but he’s passionate about our kids knowing more than one language and when the calling hits…It’s a tough environment to start a private school right now, but despite that there have been many people applying even though we are still finalizing the location! And it’s set to open this Fall.He and I are both entrepreneurs and we are probably raising 2 more so it makes for interesting conversations around here. 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      That’s awesome. We need a lot of innovation in education right now. The world is changing and our education system is not.

      1. Aruni S. Gunasegaram

        So true. I was born in Sri Lanka and immigrated to the US with my parents when I was very young. We need international education which is part of the reason the school will be International Baccalaureate certified eventually. I know that my K-12 education here in the States was not as strong and well rounded as my parents or my husband’s was but it wasn’t that bad either because I stumbled into the Honor track.But it seems that public education is not near what it used to be and one theory I’ve heard is that when we were younger women had fewer career options and one was being a teacher. So you had some really smart women teaching, but now many smart women choose other careers because they are more lucrative.

  59. Erik Giles

    A term you may or may not already know but seems to fit your perspective on why and how the US may survive this crisis is Sokojikara. It is a term of Japanese origin that defines American resiliency as having three pillars: massive immigration, an open economy, and vast natural resources. It came out writings about how the US was able to beat the Japanese after WWII and why Japanese business in the 80’s should have been wary of counting the US out of the technology business (back then). It seems to aptly characterize your arguments. I also believe the US will recover for these reasons (not necessarily those described by the president). Perhaps if we can get this perspective (and term) into the media we can influence a more logically constructed road to recovery.

    1. fredwilson

      OohGreat commentI reblogged it in its entirety on fredwilson.vc

  60. Doreen Lwanga

    I like your analysis so very much…it’s an eye opener…..all of it..but more “novel” is the part about immigration, which seems to be kicked so far away in the minds of even the first generation immigrants like myself…as we are bogged down by the economy, job loss and empty houses…

  61. bob smith

    I think your wrong he does not have a impossible job. But he has to do the wright things an make sure that they are focused on the issues not on pork. That can wait till we get the econamy back on track . Bankig system no.1 issue . we have spent enough money but it is going in all the wrong places. Every one is getting rich while the country goes down. You cant keep spendig money you dont have.no one is going to by up the debt.

  62. Steve4322

    Love the post — I am still trying to keep a “hopeful smile” on my face but with all the layoffs adn foreclosures, it is getting harder — but I resolve to “keep my chin up”

  63. Kwame Ture

    You’re a loser.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks for telling me that. It’s important for me to know what you think.

  64. poorman55

    Did you no that illegals can get wick and child care if they show income and where they live at. No matter if they are legal or not. When asked about this was told they have to give it to them because the government says it is for the KIDS. Do you think we could get this if we went to MEXICO? We need to stop this!