Speaking My Mind

Every time I post or tweet about politics, I get people saying things like this:

rkoffler Wilson should stick to investing in 2.0 marvels. RT @jeffcohn: RT @fredwilson Obama really nailed it that last five minutes.

In my post about consumer centric healthcare last week, I got this comment:

I
think it's really unfortunate that the health care issue makes everyone
with a modicum of success mistake themselves for an expert in health
care, risk management and public policy.

I've said this before here on the AVC blog, but it's important to me and I want to say it again.

I am not an expert in everything I write about. But that is not going to stop me from speaking my mind about things other than venture capital and web startups. It might annoy or piss some people off. It could even hurt our business because those people are less likely to do business with me or our firm.

But I've made the decision to put myself out there, speak my mind publicly, and say what I think. And I am going to continue to do it.

There are plenty of regular readers of this blog who don't agree with me on most of my political views. People like Andy Swan, JLM, Dave in Hackensack, Steve Kane and many others. But they've never suggested that I shouldn't speak my mind. They leave comments arguing that I'm wrong. And you know what? They've opened my mind to other viewpoints and I have to say that I am more open minded about their views than had they not taken the time to articulate them sensibly and articulately.

If you really think I am full of s**t, let me know in the comments, but please don't suggest that I don't have the right to speak my mind. We live in an open society where everyone has this right. And thank god we do.

#Politics

Comments (Archived):

  1. Dorian Benkoil

    i don’t think you’re full of it, and you certainly have the right to speak your mind. If I don’t like it, I can speak back, or stop reading — something I do from time to time.

  2. Ben Godfrey

    Reading blogs is always about taking the rough with the smooth (*cough* TechCrunch), but then so is buying ice cream.You have a right to free speech, as do your readers, but public speech will always bring the haters. Your choice is to press on and take (or ignore) the criticism or stick to less contentious topics.

  3. rdeichert

    I would guess that speaking your mind has brought feedback and new data points that may influence your stance. Part of the problem the US faces is that people don’t care enough. Forget if they are right or wrong in someone else’s mind, they just don’t care to have an opinion.

    1. fredwilson

      Fortunately we don’t suffer from that in this blog community

      1. Mark Essel

        Yeah we have an ever growing well of opinions powered by Internet information sharing. I can hardly keep up with all the topics I’m curious about.

        1. ShanaC

          I’m happy I’m here to hear.You learn so much by just hanging around.

    2. JLM

      People do care but they don’t really care about what the politicians think they should care about.

      1. rdeichert

        Following that, do the politicians care about the right things?

        1. JLM

          Of course not! All a politician cares about is getting re-elected and attaining more power. Well, and getting a bit of sugar on the side if they are so inclined.We have made it so through the wholesale and unfettered presence of special interests, lobbyists and money.How many politicians engaged in the current healthcare debate would rise to the following proposition?You can get exactly the legislation you desire as it relates to healthcare but you have to promise not to run for re-election thereafter. Deal?How many?NOT ONE FREAKIN’ ONE!

          1. rdeichert

            You also must remember they have their own plan, not the plan they propose.

          2. fredwilson

            Even mike bloomberg, the anti pol if there ever was one, is going for a third term and will get it

          3. JLM

            Mayor Bloomberg should be pursuing “Governor” Bloomberg. NY needs him in the Statehouse. I have nothing against politicians learning their craft while seeking progressively higher office and greater responsibility.Hell, I even like the progression of President Obama from State Senator to US Senator to President (though I think he could have used a bit more seasoning at the US Senate level but timing in life is everything and his timing was perfect).I hate folks who settle in and camp in their jobs. The next you know they are spanking lobbyists! LOL

  4. umairmufti

    i’m an expert in very, very few things about which i speak. i wouldn’t speak much if i only spoke on matters in which i have expertise.speaking as an expert is giving advice.speaking as a non-expert leads to discussion.

    1. fredwilson

      Word

      1. umairmufti

        spoken like a true expert.

  5. alainaugsburger

    100% with you on this, opinions bring dialog and it can only be positive. It seems that more and more people have difficulties to accept views that differ from their own… Scary trend.

  6. Michael Masnick

    Amen. I go through the same thing all the time on Techdirt. I really can’t understand why so many people think that they can tell me what not to write about. The most interesting discussions are the ones that come about *because* I’m less familiar with an area. The whole reason I post on such topics is because I want to hear what others think on it. I give my opinion as a starting point, and then learn.

    1. fredwilson

      And that’s why the community on techdirt is so strong.

    2. fredwilson

      And that’s why the community on techdirt is so strong.

  7. BaileyMcC

    Amen. Keep speaking up.

  8. kevinselle

    Speak away. Discussion is always good but we are not going to get anywhere while the two parties continue to posture and bicker. Last night’s speech is a spectacular example of why we need a third party. The founding fathers were right, a three branch system of checks and balances helps counter the destructive two party system that simply leads to no progress.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      The reason why we have two major parties today is that, historically, they’ve been pretty good at co-opting popular ideas promoted by third parties. For example, remember back in 1992 when Ross Perot and the Reform Party were banging the drum about the deficit? Perot didn’t win, but he did shift the terms of the debate, and he got both major party candidates to add deficit reduction to their platforms.Given that history, what platform would you want a third party to campaign on?

      1. ShanaC

        Making new ideas.

      2. kevinselle

        Excellent question. Not sure I have an answer but it sure would be nice if we could find something down the middle to balance the far left and the far right.

        1. fredwilson

          The ‘far center’ as steve kane calls it. Count me in

          1. kevinselle

            Yes! The Far Center Party…love it. Let us get working. Fred we need you to lead us, please. We know you are busy, but seriously. The aftermath of the Jim Wilson episode proves that two parties will do nothing but fight each rather than for us. Please, Fred. Start that ball rolling down hill. Maybe Steve Forbes will help.

          2. fredwilson

            Steve Kane is the guy to lead us there. Or maybe JLM

          3. JLM

            One of the most puzzling things about politics is the phenomenon whereby very independent thinking and politically entrepreneurial folks run for and succeed in being elected to office to represent a specific community and then go to Washington and lose that strong personal independence, that singular identity and that focused representation and just become part of a “national” party with their views more significantly impacted by what the “party” thinks rather than what their constituency thinks.This phenomenon is at the root of the town hall meeting food fights. Locals think their guy has become a “national” rather than retaining his local grounding. They fear he no longer represents their view of things. And maybe, just maybe, he does not.Even more puzzling is the fact that on a one on one basis these politicians often revert to their original form.I have a local Congressman who is wildly liberal on social issues and with whom I rarely agree on social programs but he is quite conservative fiscally. We will often have lunch and spend a couple of hours talking about business or job creation and you could not tell our conversations apart from one with Newton Gingrich. Some time thereafter the Congressman is using pejorative descriptors about Republicans while during our lunch he was a paragon of decorum and courtesy.I have a pretty damn thick skin so I am not complaining about using the right fork for shellfish but it is a puzzle to me.

        2. JLM

          Well, what is difficult to really say and which is a bit impolitic and impolite to whisper is this — we really do have some very, very, very crazy people today in America who unfortunately are initially identified as either “right” or “left” and who are simply crazy. Not lefties or righties just crazies.They are crazy even to those who are simply leaning in the same direction but who have not yet crossed the line to truly crazy.We have some who travel back and forth and this creates a bit of confusion as some believe them to simply be outliers and others perceive them to be crazies.America seems to be a “center right” country which unfortunately is being averaged center right by an increasingly polarized span. I think we are pretty damn center right and I could even live with it if we were a bit center left.I am tired of the crazies on both sides. I suggest we lengthen the season and increase the limit — ooops, maybe I’m crazy?

          1. fredwilson

            JLM for the ticket bearer of the far center party!

  9. Dave Pinsen

    You deserve credit for being willing to listen to and engage with opposing viewpoints. A lot of bloggers aren’t, and assume that the only reason someone could be on the other side of a political issue is because that person is ignorant. That’s unfortunate. Those who can’t imagine why there might be intelligent people on both sides of a issue don’t fully understand the issue.The spirited but civil atmosphere you’ve established here for political discussion is refreshing. When it’s just intransigents exchanging volleys of acrimony, there’s no point to it.

    1. fredwilson

      Other than if you want to get a headache πŸ™‚

  10. andyswan

    I Disagree completely! :)I wouldn’t read here if it didn’t at best alter my position and at worst challenge my convictions.ps it would be awesome if my name linked to andyswan.com. I’ve got a google battle with a college baseball player and a musician that I need to dominate πŸ™‚

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Looks like your name is linking to that site. Interesting site, btw.

    2. fredwilson

      Your wish is my command. But I feel that I need to do the same with the others. What do I do wtih JLM? Maybe his disqus comment history?

      1. andyswan

        Yes! That’s his “blog” and IMO one of the best streams on the web.

      2. ShanaC

        How do you links that? I’m in need.

    3. RacerRick

      Disqus is via a javascript that cannot be indexed by Google… so no google juice for you OR the baseball player.

      1. andyswan

        I was requesting that my name in the article be linked. It’s no big deal just something us two-bit bloggers have to try for πŸ™‚

        1. fredwilson

          Andy – the links are in the post now. Should have been there from the start but I was lazy

          1. andyswan

            Thanks!

      2. andyswan

        I was requesting that my name in the article be linked. It’s no big deal just something us two-bit bloggers have to try for πŸ™‚

        1. Mark Essel

          2bits is better than us pan handling bloggers. Going to your site now to boost your page views Andy πŸ™‚

          1. andyswan

            Confirmed: spam works πŸ™‚

          2. ShanaC

            ROFL πŸ™‚

  11. brmore

    I suppose I’m one of the ones who disagrees you more often than not WRT political comments, but would never dream of curtailing or implying that you have no right to say same … isn’t that the ENTIRE point fo the experiment? Besides, I’m just here for the free cheese πŸ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      What kind of cheese is it?

      1. brmore

        You know, I had ‘clever’ answer all ready, then I thought about it a bit. Some days … only occassionally … it’s Velveeta, which, while some might like it isn’t really cheese at all. Some days … a bit more frequently … it’s Caciocavallo Podolico, which is more than my ability to appreciate. Most days though, the variety is wide … and always tasty. Thank you.

        1. fredwilson

          Great answer!

  12. Aaron Klein

    Darn straight.

  13. Venkat

    I usually find that the ones who are the most boundary conscious and eager to restrict a discussion to people with some sort of qualification have self-esteem issues going on. True experts, I find, tend not to display any sort of formal-expertise snobbery and are happy to engage any intelligent opinion no matter what the source. It is the second-rate experts who suffer from a vague fear that the amateurs might show ’em up :)I am reading stuff right now about the origins of the Royal Society and the French academy, and it is surprising how informal and open to apparent “outsiders” they were in the early decades of their existence.

    1. fredwilson

      Some of the best tech entrepreneurs I know have no formal tech education

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Would be interesting to see a post on this (if you’re taking requests).

      2. Mark Essel

        The legion of tech entrepreneur super heroes, forged expertise through experience. The challenge, finding a way to wrap our lives around a new business and vice versa. Each time I read about a successful entrepreneur there’s a clear history of heroic effort. Only folks that truly love what they do can sustain that commitment.

      3. JLM

        My Dad is the most natively, organically smart man I have ever met. He keeps his own counsel and is not wont to impress anybody.He asked me — “Do you think the guy who discovered fire had a PhD?”

        1. fredwilson

          My dad is smart as a whip too. But he’s quietly smart. I got my extroversion from my mom

  14. hv23

    Amen sir.I think part of the problem is that discourse nowadays has bordered on intensely personal, where your political values are determined in large part by your moral predilections. Because many people find contrary political opinions to be personal attacks, and respond that way, political discourse seeping into otherwise “agnostic” grounds (like this tech blog) is feared by many wary of this ludicrous antagonistic situation.Just as much as people have a right to express themselves, they have a right to be heard with an open mind without being attacked (within reason, of course, which is the line that gets blurry).

  15. timraleigh

    Like Neil Young said “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free world”

    1. fredwilson

      Ah yes. Neil. Go to listen to some neil. Been too long

    2. andyswan

      Hope Neil Young will remember, Southern Man don’t need him around, anyhow

      1. Timothy Raleigh

        TouchΓ©-LOL, I was thinking I might get that reply…and I was just listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd this AM after I made that post.

        1. andyswan

          Much like the essence of Fred’s post…..When bands battle, everyone wins πŸ™‚

        2. Eric Marcoullier

          Old man look at my life, I’m a lot like you were.I kid! I kid cuz I love!

        3. fredwilson

          Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd in one comment thread. Its a good day at AVC

  16. Brian

    I agree. Good post.Unfortunately, the federal government is muzzling political expression with unconstitutional laws like McCain-Feingold.I would be careful how you pay the bills for the blog, because the FEC may come after you for being funded by funds from big corporations and special interests.And whatever you do, do not do a political post 30 days before an election. That is not allowed.On a lighter note, if people were only allowed to talk about things they know something about, it would be really, really quiet out there.

    1. fredwilson

      Well then I am in violation of mccain/feingold and proud of it

      1. JLM

        McCain-Feingold does not survive the next session of the Supreme Court by 5-4 or worse

  17. scottmag

    I am having a hard time coming up with a reason NOT to be yourself on your own blog. The sample comments you gave seem to be more about reader expectations. It’s pretty intuitive that you have the readership you have because you are you – the personal, the professional, the passionate, the trivial, and especially the viewpoints that generate conversation.Personally I read AVC for the combination of the posts AND the comments. There’s a great group of folks here. I don’t spend a lot of time on sites where I am in 100% agreement. I prefer to learn and interact. Keep it up.

    1. fredwilson

      Ah yes, the trivial. People forget how important that is

    2. ShanaC

      I can. I post semi-anonymously (some commentators know who it is, some don’t) elsewhere.And as someone was once remarking to me- who is yourself? What face do you show?

  18. Name

    It isn’t that you don’t have a right to make political statements. Your blog has an audience because of your role as a venture capitalist; we all read it for that reason. If I wanted to listen to uninformed and uninteresting political opinions, I could turn on a cable news channel.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s not exactly nameless commenter. They show up here because I am a VC. They stick around and become an audience for other reasons, including my uninformed and uninteresting opinions

      1. andyswan

        Just give NAME a full refund.

    2. Eric Marcoullier

      Wait, Fred’s a VC? Fuck, man, I’ve been coming here all this time for the music info. Dude, can I pitch you on my social network for Inuits?

      1. fredwilson

        No you cannot!

    3. scottmag

      It’s certainly fair to express disappointment if you come here for VC-specific content and are turned off by the rest, but it’s equally easy to ignore and skip what you don’t like or to make a value judgment about whether to ever return. There are other VC-oriented blogs. Perhaps if Fred tags his posts then one could build a filter to see only the VC stuff. Frankly I come here for the conversation and thus I prefer the range of topics. I also prefer to read contrary viewpoints.

      1. fredwilson

        I do tag my post and there’s a feed for all of those who want to tune out politics, music, NYC, and the good stuffhttp://feeds.feedburner.com…

    4. kirklove

      I don’t read it because Fred’s a VC. I read it because he’s a good egg. One thing you can say about “ALL” statements is that they are all wrong.As far as folks making absurd critiques of what you said in your blog, they are just trying to piggyback off your hard work and fame by being a contrarian.

      1. fredwilson

        I love your comment about ‘all statements’So true!

    5. COMRADITY

      I suspect people are here because they feel comfortable participating and learning from each other. There aren’t many such “oases” in this chaotic din. So where do you go to “listen to informed and interested political opinions?”K. Warman Kern (@comradity)

  19. S. Pandya

    “We live in an open society where everyone has this right.”And one might argue — not only the right, but the responsibility. Open and spirited discourse is one of the staples of a vibrant democracy.Keep up the good work.

  20. ErikSchwartz

    It’s your personal blog. You write about what you’re interested in.Some of the most interesting political conversations I have ever engaged in were on the Sailing Anarchy site. The conversations were interesting because you had an audience that was a cross section of the population that was not drawn together by a common political interest.Besides, half the reason I read this blog is to see what my fellow readers write.

    1. RichardF

      I agree with Erik, it’s your blog, your opinion and you are gracious enough to allow and encourage people to comment on that opinion.I wouldn’t have given Mr Koffler the satisfaction of a mention here if I were you, his comment was lost in the Tweetosphere up until that point, which is probably where it belongs.

    2. ShanaC

      It’s what makes the commenting system brilliant. I come mostly for the comments (You go Disqus, now when can I have v3 on my blog?)

    3. fredwilson

      That’s true. Political blogs don’t normally attract a broad base of views

      1. ErikSchwartz

        Which is what makes their communities boring.

      2. JLM

        The problem with political blogs is that everyone has their minds made up before they start speaking. You can only learn something if your mind is open, you are receptive to new information and you are asking questions. Giving speeches is not a learning exercise.

      3. COMRADITY

        This is a reply to JLM and ErikSchwartz too.Regarding the tendancy of political blogs to reinforce or even harden a view . . check out the book Keenan brought up somewhere on this post or the Failure post – “Mistakes were Made (but not by me)”I’ll write a review on it when I finish it, but the title is a bit misleading. The book isn’t just about making mistakes. It’s a relatively science-based discussion of how all of our minds adjust to compensate when things that happen are dissonant with our self-image.This book is an eye-opener for me, further diluting my faith in human nature that anyone will make the logical, rational choice when they know all the facts. Holy Moly after reading this book – I’d say ONLY if they are open to learning all the facts. And I’m learning that when feeling threatened (as many people seem to feel right now) the likelihood of openmindedness shrinks dramatically.It just may be that Fred’s forum has created a context for people who are open-minded and interested in learning. A place where people feel comfortable sticking their necks out to say what they think and are open to feedback.Katherine Warman [email protected]

  21. Druce

    how are the uninformed supposed to become informed without discussing anything?that was a good discussion on health care.now I’m only confused because both the government and the free market apparently want to take my money and then kill me.

    1. andyswan

      No…the government wants to kill you (reduce deficits), the free market wants to keep you barely alive (increase revenues). πŸ™‚

      1. Druce

        well, if this debate has taught me anything, it’s that I should move to Canada. (leaving the option open for medical tourism in a free market like India)(I understand that the market wants to keep me barely alive, at least as long as I have money left, but haven’t seen any evidence the government cares about deficits. Rather, the government wants to keep me alive enough to vote, as opposed to alive enough to sign the checks. So I guess that might tip the balance in favor of government-run health care.)

        1. andyswan

          Oregon has a nanny too

        2. JLM

          I just keep thinking we should just go ahead and annex Canada and Mexico for that matter.Everybody in Canada wants American healthcare; and, everybody in America wants to fish in Canada.Everybody in Mexico wants to come to the US and work; and, everybody in America wants a Mexican yard guy, maid and nanny.Who doesn’t love Mexican food?Why don’t we all just merge?I live in Texas and I think we already are part of Mexico; or, maybe Mexico is already part of Texas?

          1. fredwilson

            Annex is not a word I’m comfortable but merge is a great idea. I am sure most people would think its a silly idea, but I think its brilliant

          2. JLM

            The merger of the US, Mexico and Canada makes perfect sense in the same way that the EU was formed.We are already providing their markets, their defense and much of their employment base.We have a continuous land bridge.I say — breakfast tacos for everyone.

          3. Druce

            yes!breakfast burritos and Tim Horton’s for some, miniature American flags for othersdon’t blame me, I voted for Kodos

          4. COMRADITY

            And the currency will be . . . ?K. Warman Kern (@comradity)

          5. JLM

            Dollars printed on tortillas

          6. COMRADITY

            edible currency :}

          7. Dave Pinsen

            If we aren’t going to enforce our immigration laws or police our border with Mexico, we might as well offer it statehood. That way, we’d get access to Mexico’s land and natural resources, instead of just getting its poor people. Mexican elites would oppose it, but it could unleash a huge boom there: our anti-trust laws would cut Carlos Slim down to size, and break up his monopolies; we could privatize the state oil company; with Americans free to buy land anywhere in Mexico, there would be a real estate boom in Baja as Americans bought and developed the coast, etc.

          8. JLM

            Now slow down, Pardner. Statehood? How about a simple protectorate so we can continue to fleece them? LOLOk, statehood it is!The United States of Nortamericano!

          9. fredwilson

            And what about canada? Good synergies there too

          10. JLM

            On a very serious note, I suspect that the wealthy well educated Mexicans and Canadians would welcome such a merger. It is at the border that all things begin to become stark differences.Remember also that Mexico has almost no real middle class, no educational upward mobility and no credit. It does not possess an empowering “dream”. It does not offer the “dope of hope”.It would be a very cool country.

      2. scottmag

        Andy, I have definite political differences from you, but that comment is both funny enough to be true and true enough to funny. Well played.

  22. Ben Atlas

    Politics and Religion always evoke visceral response. If you write about it you should be prepared for the inevitable push back and you should expect it. The reason people react viscerally is because politics and religions (and sport teams) are part of people’s identity. In other words even if it is as you say “I just speak my mind” it’s a direct attack on core identity and this has to be fenced off at all costs not matter how preposterous this identity is. The defensible boundaries from the infidels serve to reinforce this identity. I am just saying once you decided to speak your mind don’t be surprised about the inevitable reaction. This is the reason why many organizations ban conversations about politics and religion from the workplace.

    1. awatterson

      But why does it have to be viewed as an “attack?” It’s perfectly reasonable, and even in many cases desirable that people hold strong passionate ideas. But it isn’t reasonable, and can be very dangerous when they view any idea contrary to their own as an “attack”

      1. Ben Atlas

        There are certain ideas that get promoted to an “identity”. And if you touch “identity” you touch a physic place that is much more personal than just an “idea”. One has to be sober about this. You can call this an idea all day long, but politics and religion are no longer in that realm.

        1. awatterson

          Isn’t one of the accomplishments of modernity and small-l liberalism the ability to understand that one’s core identity is not threatened by the existence of other ideas. Just because someone is Christian doesn’t mean they need to “liberate” the holy land to maintain that identity. We don’t see people who bomb abortion clinics as actualizing themselves, but rather as outbursts of hate.

          1. Ben Atlas

            I am not sure what you mean by “modernity” but human nature changes very little. In the modern society people either don’t have strong identities, i.e. they don’t give a s* about anything (expect sports) or are trained to control the identity urges like they control sexual urges. It doesn’t mean the urges are not there and in the battlefield of political ideas promoted to identities it’s still permissible to rage openly. You ignore this fact at the peril of eternal confusion.

          2. awatterson

            Your point is taken, although I don’t think you give people and theadvancement on humanity enough credit.Have you read a lot of Hobbes?

          3. Ben Atlas

            It’s preposterous to talk about the advancement of humanity after slaughters of the 20th century and even in the middle of the two religious wars as we speak and as American soldiers your age die! There is only so much unexamined nonsense one should be allowed to get away with, even if you are young.

          4. awatterson

            It’s preposterous to dismiss all the advancements we have made not limitedto the spread of democracy, the victory of freedom over many forms oftotalitarianism, the immeasurable achievements of thought, science andindustry and the sacrifice that some of my friends have made far away fromhome for ideas bigger and greater than blind allegiance to race, religionand tribalism. There is only so much bleak pessimism that one should beallowed to get away with even if they are old;-)

          5. Ben Atlas

            Circling back to the original question. Precisely because religion doesn’t not have a strong hold on people in modern society, people seek strong identity in politics.Political hacks know this only too well and freely employ imagery formerly reserved to the religious indoctrination. Hence the messianic aura that glows around Obama, especially amongst the young and the stupid πŸ˜‰

          6. ShanaC

            The US doesn’t have overwhelming huge voting rates, nor donation rates.What do you mean by politics here- a more classical sense, as defined by Aristotle? That the US does have, and I would say a lot of communities have as well

          7. awatterson

            I proudly consider myself one of Obama’s misguided youth ;-)I can agree that there are parallels between how some people view politicsand how religion was traditionally viewed. What I disagree with is that ishas to be or predominately is this way. Maybe the loudest out there takesuch harsh, absolute “With me or you’re my enemy” view, but I don’t thinkthat the majority does. (Despite what seems to have been the popularapproach in the recent town hall saga)

          8. Ben Atlas

            Extremes find refuge on the internet.

          9. awatterson

            Like they once did in Faneuil Hall

          10. fredwilson

            And I am proudly a member of Obama’s misguided middle agers. In fact, he and I were born in the same month of the same year

          11. fredwilson

            And here we have it. The eternal debate between hope and despair

          12. awatterson

            Your point is taken, although I don’t think you give people and theadvancement on humanity enough credit.Have you read a lot of Hobbes?

          13. ShanaC

            I don’t think Hobbes would be appropos. Rousseau maybe, from what I remember. We’re all degenerates, albeit happy ones, from pre-society.Hobbes on the other hand gave people more credit than popular notions would include. They have to choose to formulate society, you know. The choice of the sovereign and his powers- are that he should, not that he will. In that sense Hobbes echos Machiavelli.Where are my copies?

          14. awatterson

            I almost included Rousseau, but I felt that Hobbes was more appropriate tohis general theme about the base-ness of human nature (short, brutish,nasty, etc, etc) and that we have built society only to keep ourselves fromeach other’s throats. Rousseau I think is a lot more optimistic about ourunderlying motivations than Ben is. Although i feel like Ben wouldbe sympathetic to Rousseau’s classical conservative theories.

    2. fredwilson

      I wouldn’t want to work in a place like that

  23. cyanbane

    It is funny that I saw this in my reader this morning, last night after the speech I was trying to imagine how many countries in the world would have tolerated something like Rep Wilson’s outburst last night during the President’s speech. I don’t agree with Wilson, nor think it was a prudent thing to do, but I do enjoy the fact that he was able to heckle like that without serious consequence. I am not saying that your tweets above amount to heckling, but heckling (and any form of dissenting opinion dispersion) if anything, keeps people thinking and thoughts moving. Also it can be advantageous for both parties. The heckler can become a focal point of opinion they obviously believe strongly in, and the “heckelee” knows the (sometimes blatant) opinion of some of the opposition and where to direct resources (who nods, who ignores, etc). Minus the disrespect involved last night, there are things that both sides can take away from it.

    1. andyswan

      A little UK Parlimentary action never hurt anyone. That’s damn good TV.

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Question time or whatever they call it. That can be pretty entertaining.

      2. markslater

        this one usually does the trick andyhttp://www.youtube.com/watc…

    2. fredwilson

      Interesting perspective. Thanks for sharing it

    3. fredwilson

      Interesting perspective. Thanks for sharing it

  24. Ryan McKillen

    Fred, please speak away.The healthcare piece from The Atlantic was the most eye-opening idea for reform I’ve yet to come across. I shared it with numerous people. Some loved it, some hated it, but most importantly, it continues to fuel my email and coffee shop conversations. My understanding of the issue is far more robust through a combination of your post, the article it led to and all of the discussions that followed in my social circle. Had you not spoken your mind, I would have missed out on all of that.To anyone who doesn’t like the political or other non-VC stuff, note that the blog tagline is not VC Musings of a VC in NY. If you’re not interested, don’t read and don’t get all worked up. Your blood pressure will thank you.

    1. fredwilson

      Mine too

  25. Tony Karrer

    First consider the source – Richard Koffler is great at creating controversy. :)I’ve run into a similar issue before on my blog. After a bad experience with Expedia, I ranted about it on my blog. One of my readers sent me an email saying that they didn’t like it and wanted me to stay on topic. Sure I could continue to blog about things that are “off topic”, but I think you have to decide what the scope of the content is and stick with it. It’s respect for your readers.And if you want to include in the scope, comments on politics or other subjects, you certainly can. It may mean that some readers will unsubscribe or be turned off.

    1. fredwilson

      Who is richard? I had no idea he was a known trouble maker πŸ˜‰

  26. .LAG

    Amen to that. And on healthcare, there are experts in the field who are full of s**t, at least, that’s what *I* think. There’s nothing wrong with personal opinion and constructive debate. Preach on.

  27. daryn

    If anyone is reading your blog as anything other than your point of view, on any subject, whether finance, food, music, or politics, then they are seriously misguided. Your expertise and success in certain areas may be what has gotten you such high readership, and certainly gives you credibility around those subjects, but there’s no reason that should limit what you get to write about. I’d bet most of your regular readers disagree with something you write at least once a week, and they are usually willing to articulate their thoughts in comments, not just make snarky remarks. That’s what makes the community here so strong.

    1. fredwilson

      Amen

  28. Perry

    Very few of the people in Washington are experts in everything they vote on, but that doesn’t keep them from obligating us and our children.

    1. fredwilson

      So true. I guess they are advised or at least briefed by experts though

  29. Max Kennerly

    You of course have the right to say whatever you want.That said, let me play devil’s advocate for a moment. Your blog is not titled “Fred Wilson’s thoughts about politics.” It’s “Musings of a VC in NYC,” and the vast majority of the posts relate either specifically to venture capitalism (particularly with regard to Internet-focused companies) or are on uncontroversial subjects.I of course have no idea what the critics’ motives were, but I would not assume they meant for you to remain silent in every arena of your life. Rather, I would assume they were providing the semi-constructive criticism that, with regard to your venture capitalism blog, you stick to venture capitalism or uncontroversial subjects, or risk alienating readers like them. Of course, you are free to follow, reject, or ignore this advice as you please. It is your right and your blog. I’m just raising an alternative possibility for their motive.Finally, with regard to your tweet on medical malpractice tort reform, perhaps you’d like to read the short debate I had with a physician in Emergency Physicians Monthly on the subject, “Does Medical Malpractice Liability Impact Access to Care?” I’ve posted the whole debate (with footnotes) at my blog: http://bit.ly/13ivBfIn short, “ambulance chasers” do not significantly drive up the cost of care. The entire malpractice system (including litigation costs and insurance overhead) is below 0.5% of health care expenditures, and the evidence for defensive medicine actually raising costs is, as the CBO concluded in 2004, “weak and inconclusive.”

    1. ShanaC

      See that’s why we are here, to get that link. We can’t learn without it.Besides, is “A VC” (the title) an identity statement or a factual statement. If you take it as an identity statement, it is not such a big deal. Just another facet of personality.

      1. fredwilson

        Its an identity statement. At least that’s how I came up with the name

    2. JLM

      Of course politics directly impacts venture capital — witness the tax treatment of carried interests held by GPs at VC firms. I wonder what would be the result if the Stimulus had lowered venture capital backed capital gains tax rates to ZERO!Politics and business are often seamless. I certainly try to do a “buy v rent” analysis before sending campaign contributions to politicians.

      1. fredwilson

        Don’t get me started on cap gains treatment for carried interest (aka fee income from the LPs). Its a total gift to VCs who are among the most wealthy people in this country. Its wrong and I hope Obama changes it as part of his “anti-capitalist agenda”

        1. JLM

          I was not discussing the merits of the tax treatment of carried interests but rather using that subject as an example of the seamlessness of politics and business.The issue of the tax treatment of carried interests is not unique to venture capital though I suspect they are more obvious because of the nature of the securities involved; and, because there were a spate of articles about the beneficiaries of such largesse.In the real estate business, the distinction is made via the tax code discriminating beween “passive” involvement and “active” involvement which is determinant of the tax treatment. I have no problem with carried interests being taxed at favorable rates when risks of failure are high and when there is a high probability that the proceeds will be reinvested in the economy in some fashion — even if only as “consumption”.We have got to stop demonizing the creation of wealth in the US and start singing the praises of financial independence through hard work. At the end of the day the economy has got to provide an opportunity to become a taxpayer (rather than a tax consumer) and a way to become financially independent — which is just another way of saying independent of government support.

    3. fredwilson

      Yeah but what about the costs of ‘cover your ass’ medicine that liability creates?

      1. Max Kennerly

        AKA “defensive medicine,” for which the CBO found only “weak or inconclusive” evidence.More importantly, as the CBO also noted, “some so-called defensive medicine may be motivated less by liability concerns than by the income it generates for physicians or by the positive (albeit small) benefits to patients.” It’s just like driving a car safely: although financial liability is certainly a concern, it pales in comparison to the other reasons to drive safely, such as not damaging your car and not hurting yourself or others.Put another way, there are few if any circumstances in which “covering my ass as a doctor” is inconsistent with, or requires more than, “making sure the patient is safe.” They typically compel one and the same result: as much care as the physician believes necessary to ensure patient safety (indeed, the “ass” would only need “covering” from something actually going wrong with the patient, as you cannot recover for malpractice without damages).To the extent there’s any care beyond that, it’s profit motive, pure and simple. Atul Gawande had a piece exploring that in the New Yorker recently, wherein he examined the most expensive county for healthcare in the country — in Texas, home of some of the most Draconian tort reform — where one physician admitted:”Β“We all know these arguments are bullshit. There is overutilization here, pure and simple.Β” Doctors, he said, were racking up charges with extra tests, services, and procedures.”Read for yourself: http://bit.ly/kvURi

        1. Rick

          This is true, but not all places in the country are McAllen, TX, a location I am not too familiar with. The article, which I’ve read before, does describe it as having a high poverty rate. In parts of the country which are closer to academic medical centers, and with well educated, well to do, populations, you would see far less of this “unecessary” ordering of tests and procedures – simply because the medical community, through it’s own checks and balances, would not allow it. I am a physician, and where I live, I can’t just order tests and procedures on patients without a reasonable rationale because if I do, my referring docs are going to stop sending me patients. They will begin questioning my judgement and motivation, and that would hurt my reputation in the community. In certain populations, patients also go online to learn about their condition and what the recommended diagnostics and procedures are. They have gotten a lot more educated about their conditions. Believe me this happens. If we were all in it for the money, for the amount of time and effort we put into this, we could probably have been far more successful pursuing another career.I am not going to make the argument that tort reform will bring down overall health care costs, because I don’t have the data to support that. I do know, however, that without it, malpractice insurance premiums have skyrocketed and physicians are very unhappy about this. In some cases they’ve had to leave the state in which they are practicing because the premiums had become overwhelming (esp in the case of OB/Gyns). That is not a good thing, and for any state considering tort reform that is the argument the politicians should make – that without it, we could be losing physicians to other states.

          1. fredwilson

            This is what I hear from my doctor friends and it is a unanimous point among them

          2. JLM

            I am intimately familiar with McAllen, TX and have three business units there. McAllen is like any other part of Mexico. We actually conduct our business in McAllen in Spanish rather than English.The entire Rio Grande Valley is part of the US only by the simple formality of where the Rio Grande actually flows. It is truly part of Mexico in its culture and habits and people. And it is corrupt to its core. The level of corruption is of such an enormous proportion as to be the norm rather than the exception.The types of corruption are organic and are organized along an incredibly comprehensive continuum spanning ethnic (Mexican Mafia), industry (drugs, gambling) and position (politics, law enforcement) organizational dynamics.There is as much illegal gambling going on in Laredo as there is legal gambling in Las Vegas. Well, just a tiny bit of hyperbole y’all but the analogy is quite apt.It is a solid voting block which can be purchased as surely as you can buy a tee shirt at WalMart.Spare me any comparisons which rely on McAllen.

          3. fredwilson

            Gettin some hyperlocal truth from JLM and showing the power of social media to inform and educate too!!!

        2. fredwilson

          Good arguments. But most doctors I know feel that this is an important part of the cost and quality problem. Of course they have a vested interest here, but I also believe that many doctors actually care more about helping people than maximizing their income

          1. Max Kennerly

            That’s part of my point: even putting aside “maximizing income,” as apractical matter “helping people” results in the same sort of treatmentand costs as “covering your ass,” much as how cars are driven the samesafe way regardless of if the motiviation is to avoid liability, toavoid damage to your car, to not hurt anyone, or a combination of allthree. Malpractice just isn’t driving up costs any higher than “helpingpeople” — both compel the same conduct by physicians.Relatedly, in response to Rick’s valid points, if we’re going to treathealth care as a right — which I think we should for at least sometypes of care — then we should spend public funds to ensure adequatesupply, much as we do for other industries and services. Pennsylvania,for example, subsidizes premiums and has its own government fund(“MCARE”) providing the bulk of most physician’s coverage ($800k inaddition to the physician’s privately-purchased $400k).Although I have issues with the way MCARE is run (in general,government-run insurance entities tend to be extraordinarily hostiletowards claimants), I have no problem with using my taxes for that.Physicians are important and provide an essential service, and thegovernment should step in to provide a buffer against problems like thehigh variability in premiums that occurred between 2000-2005.But I do want to keep reiterating one important point: the impact of allof the above is far, far, far less than most people believe. As the GAOinvestigated in 2003, even in the high-liability-risk specialties (OB,neuro, etc) in “hellhole” jurisdictions (MS, NV, etc), malpracticeliability concerns are not the primary factor behind physicians’decisions to move or to close down their practice. Typically, theprimary factor is the declining reimbursement that physicians have beenexperiencing for years, such that even the historically low malpracticepremiums of today (the lowest they have been in 35 years) has a seriousimpact.Thus, it’s a question of if we want to focus on the big rocks or thesmall rocks. The big rock here is reimbursement, not malpractice.

          2. fredwilson

            Its clear that you know this issue way better than me Max. I can’t and won’t debate it. But why not throw in tort reform even if its not a huge part of the answer?

          3. Max Kennerly

            Because there’s a lot to lose for little or no benefit. States whichhave enacted harsh tort reform (like Texas) have not shown anyimprovement in actual availability or cost of care — the only change isfar fewer patients recovering for injuries caused to them by someoneelse’s negligence.An important point: malpractice causes significant economic and socialdamage, including significant future medical care costs to deal with thedamage caused by the malpractice. Tort law does not add to those costs,it determines who bears the burden of paying them. In the big economicpicture, torts are largely a non-issue, they’re solely a question ofwhether the tortfeasor is forced to internalize the costs of theirdamage or if they’re allowed to externalize those costs by dumping themon the victims. (If you want to know more about this concept, whichisn’t disputed by lawyers or economists, google “Coase Theorem.”)As such, “throwing it in” is nothing more than screwing blamelesspatients as a sacrificial lamb to make George Will happy — it’s notlike the public as a whole thinks they shouldn’t be compensated forinjuries, and it’s not like Republicans will actually vote for healthcare reform just because it includes tort reform. (Bill Bradleyconveniently forgot to disclose his roll on multiple tort reformboards.)”Tort reform” does nothing to help society as a whole. It just screwsthousands people like these: http://www.chron.com/deadby

          4. COMRADITY

            Regarding the impact of Texas-style Tort Reform on healthcare costs, I was really surprised to learn that McAllen, TX has among the highest medicare cost per person despite Tort Reform. This article about McAllen in the New Yorker shed some interesting light on possible ways to lower health care costs: http://bit.ly/PDFO2 Separately, I still think Tort Reform makes sense. Maybe instead of a cap, there’s a better alternative. Don’t the Brits require the losing plaintiff to pay the defendant’s legal fees?K. Warman Kern (@comradity)

          5. JLM

            “Loser pays” would be the greatest short term impact on unnecessary litigation regardless of its application. I doubt it would ever happen in the US. It should.Binding arbitatration, written into contracts, can provide “loser pays” provisions with great effectiveness. I have seen it work with great effectiveness.

          6. fredwilson

            I am a huge fan of loser pays. I am pushing to get it into the patent world. And I agree on arbitration. I have had great experiences with arbitration and not one good experience with litigation

          7. JLM

            I agree completely.We have a standard arbitration clause [AAA Commercial Rules, Expedited Procedures, unappealable decision, single arbitrator, local venue, loser pays, decision filed with and enforced by local District Court] which we have perfected over the years and which is inserted into each and every lease, vendor contract and any applicable legal document. I have simply taken the position that it is non-negotiable and it has worked thus far.While we have rarely gone to arbitration — only once in 15 years of using it — its presence has resolved a lot of disputes. Disputes which would have gone on and on in discovery and have been very costly to remedy. It dissolves the gamesmanship and eliminates huges amounts of cost.The biggest complainers are the lawyers. It is just incredible to see the unvarnished reaction of the lawyers when confronted with that provision. They are unmasked. And they lose control of the process.Of course, the securities industry has had such provisions for years and years. At it relates to healthcare tort reform, this would be a good first step.

          8. Rick

            The study that suggests malpractice premiums are at a 30 year low was written by an organization which suggests insurance reform be targeted at health insurance companies, and not the trial lawyers. The reality is, medical malpractice insurance is like a tax. As a physician, I cannot avoid paying it, and I am required to have it if I am to practice – there’s no way around that. If you keep increasing the premiums, I have to pay them. I do not, however, have to participate with Aetna, Cigna, etc. If patients feel my services are worthy, they can go out of network and come see me, or pay privately. This is something I have control over. If I am not happy with what the insurers are paying me, I can drop them.Trial lawyers will provide examples of patient’s who were subject to malpractice by some physician whereas the majority of the time what has actually occurred is an unfortunate, and oftentimes unexpected, complication. These things happen, and when they do we don’t sit back and say “well, this is too bad, but honestly if the guy hadn’t smoked for 35 years….” or “you know, being 100 pounds overweight doesn’t exactly help…..”, and I’m not suggesting we should – we accept it as an unfortunate complication of the treatment or procedure pursued, the patients and their lawyers should understand this as well.In the NY’er article, a cardiologist admits that with tort reform the malpractice cases dropped “almost to zero”. Why should that happen, if all these truly negligent acts are taking place?I’ll tell you why – it’s because there aren’t many truly negligent acts…it’s because the trial lawyers no longer have much financial incentive.The payouts should be reasonable – if the patient is disabled and there are ongoing costs that the patient and their families have to deal with, Medicare will kick in or if it doesn’t, it should be modified so that it does, and society will bear the cost.

          9. Max Kennerly

            No offense, but I strongly suspect that you are not actually a physician. Maybe you’ve been out of practice, or maybe you’re part-time. If you are a physician, you are the first I have ever met who believes there is truly a free market for insurance reimbursement. Most physicians will be quick to tell you that CPT is a racket, quick to complain about how few insurers cover their market (this is part of the reason for the push to allow insurance to be sold over state lines), and note how insurers prohibit physicians from publishing their own prices, thereby thwarting the develop of any actual “free market.”As for the study on the premiums, read it a bit more closely: the data comes from A.M. Best, which rates insurance company strength for banks. They are no friend to trial lawyers.Finally, cases in Texas have indeed dropped “because the trial lawyers no longer have much financial incentive.” Trial lawyers like to serve the public interest when possible but, like doctors, can’t work for free all of the time. Texas has made it impossible for any plaintiff to recover unless they have suffered massive, easily-provable economic damages, which means only middle-aged, high-income plaintiffs are likely to recover more than the costs of pursuing the case (which frequently break $50k, and often break $100k). Such says nothing about the objective number of meritorious claims.Everyone wants “reasonable” compensation. The question is how to ensure we get it. Most “tort reformers” want “reforms” that ensure as few people as possible get any compensation at all, regardless of merit.

          10. JLM

            Actually the low hanging fruit on tort reform is the cost, complexity and time of litigation, the time value of money, the use of appeals as a fulcrum to leverage settlement and the disconnect between the amount of awards and the percentage actually going to the victim.A lawyer who takes a case on contingency is no longer representing his client. He is now at best representing his own financial interest while simultaneously singing a sotto voce paean to the client’s interest. It has devolved into a purely financial transaction in which the defendant has also disappeared also having been replaced by his insuror’s lawyers.It becomes a struggle between legal gladiators both of whom now possess the paramount interest in the outcome. The plaintiff and defendant are almost cartoon characters once the match is on.When the financial calculus is finally settled the contingency lawyer invades, dilutes and carts off a huge portion of the victim’s just compensation but does not take a proportionate amount of the injury, pain or suffering.The simple fact that contingency lawyers are able to become very, very, very wealthy — far in excess of “normal” hourly billing rates — shows the raw potential for the benefits of tort reform.Juries are not truly knowledgeable deciders of such complex issues and lawyers appeal to their emotions in a dishonorable and despicable manner. Courtroom histrionics replace sound medicine and science and fairness.The first phase of tort reform should simply focus on streamlining the process, eliminating the unnecessary financial waste, returning the victim to the center of the recovery and eliminating the sweepstakes element of just compensation.There has to become an appreciation for the reality that not every procedure works, that the victim may be the cause of the underlying risk, that the failure of the procedure does not always implicate negligence, that there are innocent bystanders (the hospital is not a participant just because the doctor is on staff or the operating room is in their building) and that patients must be forced to contract for the risk involved as a fundamental element of the patient-doctor relationship.

          11. Max Kennerly

            Wouldn’t you agree that, if juries decided cases on sympathy, they would vote for the plaintiff at least 20% of the time?Here in Pennsylvania, more than 80% of verdicts are in favor of the defendant. (Google around for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s annual medical malpractice report, which has the figures.)Your “cartoon character” analogy shows that you have no familiarity with the legal system at all beyond what you see on television. Good facts win cases; “cartoonish” clients or lawyers lose them. Your comments on contingent fee representation also reveal no understanding of the system — unlike the hourly-paid insurance defense lawyer, whose incentive is to waste as much time and money as possible, the plaintiff’s lawyer’s incentives are aligned precisely with those of the client. Your concern-trolling about sharing the client’s pain is downright offensive: the defendant caused the pain, which can never be taken away. All the civil justice system can do is award money; that is not the fault of the plaintiff’s lawyer.Plaintiff’s lawyers “are able to become” more wealthy than hourly-paid defense lawyers for the same reason startup company founders and investors “are able to become” more wealthy than managers and investors of established companies: they take on far, far, far, more risk.But don’t be fooled: most contingent-fee lawyers are not more wealthy than their hourly counterparts. Take a look at the AmLaw 200 list of the countries’ most wealthy firms, which has only a handful of contingent-fee firms (most of whom sue over patents and shareholder fraud) yet dozens upon dozens of insurance defense firms.Most importantly, though, is this simple question: if you eliminate contingent fees then how, exactly, will you get anyone to represent plaintiffs? There are options, of course, like setting up a compensation system similar to the Vaccine Injury Board, which pays plaintiff’s lawyers for meritorious cases, regardless of outcome. But I’ve never heard any “tort reformer” ever propose anything of the sort, because their single-minded goal is to slash patient compensation as low as possible, not to ensure just results. It’s concern trolling, pure and simple.

          12. Rick

            None taken. I am a full time physician.I never said there was a free market for insurance reimbursement. I said I don’t have to participate in the market altogether. That is a growing trend, at least in NJ. CPT codes, or rather how they are administered, are a racket. That, however, is a separate issue that has nothing to do with tort reform.The study on premiums was performed by Americans for Insurance Reform. The data was pulled from A.M. Best – so what? Data can be interpreted any way a vested organization wants – AIR appears to want to shift the focus to the health insurance companies and away from the malpractice component. This, of late, seems to be the method of the trial lawyers – shift the focus away from us and on to the health insurers.Both need to be tackled.I’m not suggesting tort reform bring the # of malpractice cases down to zero, although I’m not surprised that that has happened. The system does not have to be so strict so as to prevent anyone from suing altogether, but place a cap on the payout – so the incentive to hit the jackpot is gone. A patient, with a history of heavy drinking, comes into the hospital with a heart attack, monitored in the ICU, goes into DT’s because he’s obviously not drinking now, has to be intubated emergently, is difficult to control because of the DT’s so keeps moving around trying to pull the tube out, eventually is stabilized. Later develops a breathing problem, known as tracheal stenosis, which he attributes to improper intubation and lack of proper sedation (if he wasn’t a alcoholic, none of this would have likely had to been done). Files suit in the millions.Most tort reformers want an end to frivolous lawsuits. By and large, that’s what most of these cases are.

  30. dmreinke

    To expand the conversation just a bit, the more I’ve been engaged in this political conversation around healthcare and how the actual policy is (or might be) shaping up, the more impressed I am with our political system. I really believe the wisdom of the crowd is at work in this debate in a very powerful (and effective) way.A separate lesson I’m learning – I really need to put up good filters so I don’t over-expose myself to self-reinforcing information streams or the 5% fringe that make me cynical even though good debates/things may be happening. There just aren’t that many forums that let folks both engage and think for themselves. I need to expose myself to real debate about the issues (and not debate about the debate or politics). Places like aVC work, quite simply, because it’s a forum of intelligent, independent thinkers.

    1. fredwilson

      It didn’t start that way. But I agree with you that it is now

    2. Keenan

      David, to your statement “I really need to put up god filters so I dont’ over-expose myself to self-reinforcing information streams . . .” There is a great book called – Mistakes Were Made: But Not by Me.It’s a great book on how we will hold on to what we believe for self-preservation by embracing supporting information and dismissing conflicting information.

      1. COMRADITY

        Relatedly, I heard a piece on NPR recently that said we all have “confirmation bias” – which means that we are inclined to start with a POV and then search for evidence to support it. At its worst, “confirmation bias” empowers extremists on the web. So where do independent thinking people learn from differing points of view on the web? So far, it is serendipity. The fact that there is a civil discussion here attracts quite a robust conversation!K. Warman Kern (@comradity)

  31. Elia Freedman

    I’m young (just turned 36) but I’ve come to the conclusion that the greatest evil in this world is ignorance. Another conclusion is that some people are less ignorant than others. My goal has always been to figure out when to talk and when to listen, and hopefully in the process, become a lot less ignorant on a broader list of topics.I find the conversations here, started by both your questions and comments, to help that process. I hope you don’t stop talking (and listening).

    1. fredwilson

      The listening is really important. The reason I read every comment and respond to many is that it is my way of listening. Here I am, doing it at 5:20am in the morning. Because it is important to me

  32. Jason

    when you tweeted @larryvc’s blog post yesterday my first thought was Disqus is helping you grow your audience like a weed. when you speak your mind with great content and then tell your audience to bring it on in the comments how could you not go viral.speak away!

  33. robblewis

    What I like about blogs, especially personal blogs like yours Fred, is that they can be more informal and personal. To me it’s like the comfort sitting around the the table and talking with friends at a dinner party. When I read this blog I feel like I’m talking with a friend. If I want the formal, corporate style information I’ll go read the journal or the nytimes.

    1. fredwilson

      πŸ™‚

  34. Jamie Lin

    I guess even in a country that prides itself as the leader of free world, some people still need education on how democracy and freedom work. If you can’t even express your opinion on way or the other, what’s the difference between USA and China?

  35. andrewbaron

    Great post.

  36. Jitle

    “Fred Wilson proving he deserves the admiration I give him – he gets it.” descriptive link from my Tumblr.Also, congrats on the FourSquare investment, one of the few times I loved a USV product _before_ you blogged about it.

    1. fredwilson

      You are catching up to us. Soon you’ll pass us

  37. John Stack

    Yes to speaking up. I wish more people would. Respectful disagreement is a wonderful thing.Yesterday, I replied to @arrington’s post about next steps for Twitter mentioning it was not his best work and it must have been a slow news day. It wasn’t – in my opinion. He told me to seek professional help! A very nasty response to honest feedback. I didn’t ask him to stop posting and I did contribute to the overall dialog after I made my qualitative assessment. Perhaps he doesn’t want feedback.Anyway, I believe the technology exists for there to be a nationally moderated online debate about these issues. Moderated in terms of abusive comments beying filtered and respectful disagreement promoted and in fact, highlighted so that folks can understand the real issues. Image it! One huge forum (almost like Twitter, well maybe it is Twitter but with more tools) and more asynchronous readership.To sum it up, keep posting, encourage others to, and let’s figure out how to get everyone’s (constructive) opinions online.

  38. Geoff

    Thinking of attribution,s like some of your other contributors then why use “And thank god we do.” instead thank the founders of the USA constitution!

    1. fredwilson

      Thank god is a manner of speech particulalry for me since I’m a non-believer

  39. Dave Pinsen

    From Twitter via Protein Wisdom with a second assist to a commenter on Megan McCardle’s blog: Twitterers respond to Joe Wilson’s “liar” outburst

  40. Mark Essel

    Trust is the most important factor in sealing any deal. Your continued genuine sharing, and honest and open philosophy will garner the respect of the folks you’d prefer to do business with.Continually learning from those who disagree with some of your beliefs is a sign of strength of character.Keep on trucking Fred, as long as your muse calls you to. We’ll decide to tune in based on the quality of the conversations you inspire.

  41. GeekMBA360

    You have every right to express your opinion on this. Health Care reform affects every single citizen in this country. Everyone of us is a customer of the health care.Every customer should be able to speak openly about what he or she wants.If I don’t like my AT&T cell phone service, and I blog about “AT&T cell phone service is undesirable”, will people start criticizing me because I’m not a telecommunication expert?Comment like @rkoffler is ridiculous. We need more civility and open-mindness to carry this health care debate forward.

  42. kidmercury

    damn boss way to put the smackdown on the haters! you need me to pounce on anyone in particular just holla.

  43. samfjacobs

    Of course you’re right, Fred. I’m more surprised that these comments got to you at all. I would’ve assumed you’d be used to it. Certainly, I’d venture that 99% of your audience supports your (obvious) right to blog about whatever you want and, more importantly, is interested in your opinions on non-tech issues. You’re clearly an informed citizen and this community is full of all kinds of different opinions. It’s actually rather rare. 100 comments and, aside from this full throated support of your right to discuss topics of interest, there is often a lot of lively discussion and debate and rarely a uniform consensus on anything. Anybody that’s posting a comment anonymously (like Mr. or Mrs. NAME below) at this point in the Internet is so obviously laughable it hardly warrants consideration. Onwards! Let’s get back to Healthcare Reform, your favorite new records, and anything else you feel like talking about.

    1. fredwilson

      It got to me because it was so dismissive

  44. Guest

    Fred, I agree with “umairmufti”. I am so not the expert at things tech that I needed to cut and paste the link below. It is unrelated to this post’s topic…but in concert with your post last week on Craig’s List. I found it in my mail a few moments ago. If you have not seen it I hope it lends something to your many continuing and highly insightful discussions. What an expert it takes to generate the collective consciousness and mastermind network you have created here. http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/merholz/2009/0

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks for the link. I appreciate it

  45. sturich

    Amen Fred. While I may not always agree with your opinion I always value it.

  46. SexySEO

    “There are plenty of regular readers of this blog who don’t agree with me on most of my” mmm… vews. But they never “leave comments arguing that I’m wrong.” LOL As a successful blogger could you pleassse tell me what’s wrong with me/my readers? πŸ™‚

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Could be something that rhymes with Attention Bore.

      1. SexySEO

        Attention Bore? ROFL πŸ˜€

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Thanks, I’ll be here all week. πŸ˜‰

          1. SexySEO

            where, where? πŸ™‚

    2. fredwilson

      What’s the issue?

      1. SexySEO

        No one wants to argue/comment/add/whatever – am I TOO clever? LOL

  47. JLM

    “Why do all those economists live in such ratty houses?”Fred, what sheer utter nonsense. Your blog is one of the bright spots — intellectually, subject, technically, socially, people wise, experience wise, decorum — in the firmament of blogs. It provides both high level industry specific dialogue as well as raw unvarnished education mixed with a philosophy of life which is caring, generous and engaged.You personally are a very well educated, whip smart, articulate man with an interesting life story, enough hard road miles to be begin to sprout a bit of wisdom and an engaging personality. Your management of your blog is flawless with just the right mix of challenge, intellectual traction, attention to administration and flawless courtesy amongst its many impressive participants.The tone you set is extraordinarily professional.The folks who have been attracted to your blog and the discourse therein validate the description above as they mirror all that you are. The participants are smart, interesting as hell, leaders in their professions, engaged in life, shaping our society and country (and their countries also) and engaged in real dialogue — not shouting at each other.You have demonstrated an enormous expertise in communication — effective communication — by fashioning a blunt instrument — discourse — into a finely focused laser beam which has provided light and enlightenment to all.We now live in a world in which NOBODY is an expert any more and in which you cannot have 30 years of useful experience. You can only have a touch of expertise, an inquiring mind and one year of experience THIRTY TIMES!I LUV YOU, MAN! OK, that was a bridge too far! Sorry!

    1. fredwilson

      It was a bit overdone but I loved every bit of it

  48. Jason Preston

    FWIW I love that you leave your personal opinions in your blog and in your tweets. It makes you more of a human to me, and it made me feel more comfortable coming up to say hi to you when I met you in person in Seattle.Just ’cause you say it or think it doesn’t mean you’re claiming to be an expert. And some people will misinterpret that, and that’s OK.

    1. fredwilson

      Great point Jason

  49. jtaa

    Well speaking from a country (Denmark) that uses 40% of its taxes on healthcare it think everybody should speak their mind (also if you are not a expert). I think we would properly would have done it differently if we knew then what we know now and a open a free debate would properly have show us that there where alternatives.

  50. Terry J Leach

    Anyone suggesting that you don’t have a right to comment on anything has a “closed mind” and I think you probably would not want to do business with because it signals a lack of flexibility. It’s a sign of our times that we have such a lack of civility for the reasoned opinions of others.

  51. Guest

    Yeah, see, I can’t really relate to your problem, because I am an expert on everything :)))

    1. fredwilson

      And we like you because of it!

  52. Hockey Dino

    What makes someone an expert on anything at all? I do not think there are rules. The TV media prances around former politicians, lawyers, or military offiicals as experts. I suppose that makes them an expert in their field by default. However is what they say really that much different than someone who reads 3 books on any given issue?I never agree with your politics. More than a few times you’ve sent me over the edge. I do however respect your opinion and love your blog. Always speak your mind, and display your convictions. A fool keeps things to themselves. You have a voice (this blog) and one life to live…go for it. Life is short…there’s still time for you to be a libertarian!

    1. fredwilson

      Lots of smart ppl are pulling me in that direction

  53. Bombtune

    I think this includes music as well otherwise you would have already reviewed the new Jamie T album.

    1. fredwilson

      Holy crap. I had no idea Jamie T has new music. Headed to amazon asap!!!!

    2. fredwilson

      so i can’t figure out how to buy the new Jamie T mp3s. i tried amazon and itunes and they don’t have it until October. i tried 7digital but they won’t let me buy it because i’m in the US. any ideas?

  54. Steve Poland

    Coolio once said, “If you can’t take the heat, get yo’ ass out the kitchen — we on a mission.”The more visible you are, the more the haters want to hate. I know you already know you’re going to get blasted for things you say, and you’re able to take criticism… But yeah, this is what TechCrunch writers endure with almost every single post they write… everyday πŸ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      It sucks for them. I don’t think its very healthy

  55. Keenan

    I love it when people act that way. It’s entertaining.Comments like that are driven by cognitive dissonance. When people become attached to an idea they begin to dismiss counter information for self preservation.Example: for those who are against Health Care reform, they can’t say they don’t support reform because it makes them feel they are bad people. They say to themselves, “Hey I’m not a bad person, I don’t want people to go uncovered, it’s just the way they are proposing it”. As information counter to their believe on how it’s being proposed arises, from places such as this blog, they attack the person/author in order to dismiss the counter evidence and justify their position; “Hey, I’m not a bad person.”These folks are battling dissonance feelings around the position they’ve taken or the things they’ve said and the rode back to is too long, therefore they continue to protect themselves by attacking all contrary positions and the PEOPLE behind them and then self-justify it.They will never come around because it would make them too vulnerable and challenge their perception of self.It’s a fascination dynamic.

    1. JLM

      Thoughtful and well reasoned view.I suspect that healthcare is one of those subjects upon which almost nobody really disagrees with the destination but many have different views on the route of travel.I would certainly be viewed as a bit conservative in my view of the world (though I am a closet liberal on education and immigration) and one might be tempted to view me as a proponent of the health care status quo but I have provided health, dental, vision, life and wellness insurance for my employees for over 30 years. I have paid folks to walk, run, swim, bike and workout — real cash — for years. [I do admit to being a bit skeptical about the guy who rode 500 miles one month.]I have received not a jottle of assistance from anyone other than the bottom line of my companies. Why did I and why do I do this? Cause I simply think it is the right thing to do. Long before the debate even formed in this country, I was over the decision point and putting my money where their mouths are.My actions are neither liberal nor conservative — they are, in my humble view, purely self servingly pragmatic. Plus, I just like doing it. It makes me feel good about myself.Given all of the above, I cannot imagine how an actuary or statistician pricing healthcare insurance is going to factor in a prohibition against pre-existing conditions. How can you factor that in without creating an enormous upward bias in the pricing algorithm?So I am a guy who is almost the poster child for responsible health care provision who is against the current direction based solely upon its illogical basis for pricing?I think that among thinking folks in America, we are also woefully skeptical about the government’s ability to manage any complex enterprise. I truly cannot find a single enterprise (except maybe NASA) which has shown an ability to transform dollars into service in a manner even remotely as efficient as the private sector. So, why use the government as your delivery mechanism?On the other hand, I have never found a targeted tax policy change which did not immediately generate positive heat, direction and action — so why would we not use the carrot rather than the stick?It is these illogical premises which serve to undermine the credibility of this administration. Why not do what we know can work? Why not?

  56. Ardith

    Dear Fred,Thank you for today’s blog entry. I particularly like the part where you note that opposing views are fine, that we can learn from them. When you have your mind open, this is in fact the case.We appear to have reached a point in our country’s development where the freedom to be oneself—virtually irrespective of those around us—has become sacrosanct, while respect for freedom of political opinion and speech has all but disappeared. Quite the conundrum for a democracy.So thank you Fred, for today’s entry, your thoughts, and the opportunity for me to flex my brain muscle.

  57. hypermark

    Fred, you may very well be full of sh-t, but then again, aren’t we all. πŸ˜‰ Reasoned discourse with clear perspective is a good thing from where I sit, and on that front, you lay your cards on the table clearly, you bring a good, mixed crowd and you are never afraid to say “I don’t know” or “I was wrong.” And best of all, The AVC Crowd always peels back the onion beyond the easy sound bite. We need more of that, not less.If anything, the global financial crisis should teach us all that setting the bar for entrance on being an “expert” is a recipe for groupthink and really bad outcomes, something that I blogged about in:Getting Real: On Doomsday, the Demise of So-Called Experts and the New Arbitragehttp://bit.ly/tjd3Check it out if interested.Mark

    1. Ardith

      Well said, hypermark.

    2. fredwilson

      Thanks for the book suggestion. I hope its on kindle

      1. hypermark

        It’s actually a blog post that I wrote, not a book, but side comment is that I’m actually loving Kindle app on my iPod Touch. It’s proven to be a great 5-10 minute alternative to browsing, emailing and playing games when sitting on buses and trains.

  58. Baba

    I am appalled that you would even bother to respond to those who wish you would not speak your mind.My father always said “Diplomacy is when you tell a person to go to hell and they look forward to the visit”.My view is instead of spending time and energy defending your right to speak freely, just let the comments slide by and re-coat the body with teflon/silicone.I think you are better of articulating your views and just realize that there will be many who don’t always see value in what is stated.That’s progress for you…Blog away….

  59. Richard Koffler

    First, the context: I immigrated to the US from South America for a short list of reasons. At the very top of the list: free speech. Next in line: laissez faire. That is, I voted with my libertarian feet and never looked back.My suggestion that you stick to your knitting is just as preposterous as your demand that I “don’t suggest that [you] don’t have the right to speak my mind.” So perhaps lesson learned for both of us on how to phrase our displeasure with some of each other’s comments. In another forum I’ll make my comments about the healthcare industry and the absurd proposals to “fix” it. The short version is that the current system is indeed defective but the solution is to undo the regulations that have created the problem, not to break it more than it already is with terrible additional regulation.

    1. fredwilson

      hi richard and thanks for stopping by and joining the discussion. i’d love to hear your thoughts on healthcare. here are minehttp://www.avc.com/a_vc/200…

  60. Soph

    The internet is an incredible and unprecedentedly fertile ground for creative business development.It is also where assholes get to spew their embarrassingly hypocritical comments about others. What gives Random Asshole #1 status as an expert about you as a blogger? Seriously.With good must come bad, I guess.

  61. jsperans

    Fred,For the record: your willingness to speak your mind and engage in open/honest debate is one of the reasons I’m in business with you. Wouldn’t want it any other way./JS

    1. fredwilson

      Hi Jamey. That’s good to hear. I’ve always assumed that was the case withyou and the rest of our investors. But it’s really great to hear it.

  62. mattmcknight

    I thought that the healthcare comment was just way off. The ideas you were presenting were very similar to the ideas of people that have been studying this for years. The fact that the ideas make sense to you (and me) doesn’t make them less valid.

  63. David Smuts

    Hey Fred, You would be incredibly boring if all you were able to talk about was VC. Thank God you have a broad perspective; which in any case differentiates you as a VC. As a Brit I just can’t fathom why Americans are so divided over a national healthcare alternative? Instead of protesting why don’t they offer alternatives and then engage in a meaningful debate? We watch with utter amazement at how so many Americans are being brainwashed and galvanised into protesting against a basic human right= healthcare.

  64. LissIsMore

    Bravo! I have not read enough of your political thoughts to know whether I agree or disagree. But I absolutely believe that we should have more discourse, not less, on the issues of the day. Public issues deserve a public conversation. I follow the same path on my own blog. Please continue and ignore those who think you are “not qualified” to speak on any particular subject.

  65. fredwilson

    That’s the argument against anonymous comments too (like ‘name’s comment in this thread)Its a compelling argument but I don’t buy it completelySome people need anonymity for various good reasons. I don’t like it but I accept it