Takers and Makers

Commenter supreme JLM noted in a comment on Monday that he was once ripped off of a $2mm payday by a person he worked for. He took the hit, went away for a month, came back and started working for himself. Its an inspiring story from an inspiring guy.

And by the way, the person who screwed JLM out of his money went broke.

That story reminded me that there are takers and makers in this world. Takers make their money by taking from others. They are usually bad business people and their careers often end in failure.

Makers build things. They create value for society, their employees, their shareholders, and themselves.

Be a maker and stay far away from takers.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. dano

    this reminds me of the fountainhead (ayn rand) and the concept of society’s “prime movers” and “second-handers”…a great read and comment on society.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      I was about to do a “Countdown to the first Ayn Rand reference” post but you beat me to it. Except I was thinking Atlas Shrugged and the “moochers” versus… the Hank Rearden-style inventors/entrepreneurs.Although in the real world there are gray areas: e.g., putatively successful businessmen and entrepreneurs who have benefited disproportionately from government largess without being blatant moochers or rent-seekers.

      1. Dan T

        I was looking for the same thing . . producers and looters. This just went from a very agreeable concept to something that people are emotional about – with any mentioned of Ayn Rand or Atlas.

      2. reece

        the looters!!where’s @AndySwan to chime in on this one?

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Andy Swan weighs in in 3, 2, 1…

          1. ShanaC

            he never got here 🙁

  2. Alex Murphy

    Makers also create value for their employers and it is important to recognize when you have the privilege of having a Maker work for you, treat them like the Superstar they are.

  3. Dan Ramsden

    Sounds good in principle, but often difficult to draw the line. For example, Facebook, at least according to sources.

    1. Michael R. Bernstein

      I like Tim O’Reilly’s formulation: “Create more value than you capture”.

  4. Harry DeMott

    “Trenton Makes The World Takes”Too many years riding Jersey Transit down between Princeton and Philly.Takers fall into the “Life is too short” category.

    1. RichardF

      “Takers fall into the “Life is too short” category.”Amen Harry.

  5. David Noël

    Boom! What a great post.

  6. Michael R. Bernstein

    You forgot the third type, ‘fakers’.

    1. Fred

      Awesome replySo true

    2. Mark Essel

      wouldn’t they just be takers?

      1. Michael R. Bernstein

        Nope. Unlike takers, fakers convince other folks to give them stuff.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          So you’re saying most entrepreneurs seeking out VC are fakers? 😉

          1. Michael R. Bernstein

            Hah! No, I meant that takers are thieves, whereas fakers are frauds.

          2. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends…

      2. Matt A. Myers

        Yeah, but maybe are better at taking because they’re good at the “Hey bro!”… or perhaps just more obvious, so not as good at taking.. hmmm….. would have different targets I guess.

  7. awaldstein

    Let’s put this in context of VCs and raising funds.I’ve raised VC funds from firms that squarely fell into the ‘takers’ realm. Painful in every way.The highest complement I can pay to Fred and the trend he has spearheaded is that VCs are now often part of the ‘maker’ category. This is a major switch and a significant change of perspective that is trickling horizontally throughout the entrepreneurial space.Life for entrepreneurs is better for this.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Love this comment. This is why Fred’s so attractive to me as an entrepreneur.

      1. Mark Essel

        I think Fred’s at least partially to blame for planting the startup idea in my head in early 2009. Before that I considered franchise businesses, free lance writing gigs, and anything else to step away from programming (systems engineer and c++ for 13 years can do that). Startups were for inhuman legends. I had no concept of what self motivation and building combined could accomplish.When I first got into web application design I was like a fat kid in a candy store. Everything looked full of opportunity. Now I don’t get quite as excited about every new application idea I have. I figure out what I want, look for what’s out there, and offer to help who’s making the design closest to what I imagine into a product. There are much faster builders than me, and I’m not too proud to learn from younger and talented folks. I’m actively looking for signals of traction, or markets I can best serve. Got some good feedback recently, which has lead me to a polishing and execution phase.

        1. karen_e

          I am also someone who has really changed the way I work because of Fred’s writings and the community of commenters. I am much more entreprenurial now, and it pays dividends. I would like to hear how your endeavors go. Keep up the good work and keep us posted on your progess, Mark!

          1. Mark Essel

            Will do Karen.The past year has been filled with an inordinate amount of zig zagging while learning the ropes of web development and more about how to value potential business applications.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            “zig zagging”Last night at a “raising capital” panel discussion, a VC gave this advice to entrepreneurs: Zig where you see others zagging.I thought that was great.

        2. Donna Brewington White

          “…which has lead me to a polishing and execution phase.”Good to hear, Mark!

          1. Mark Essel

            Thanks Donna. While I’m always busy, in hindsight only some of the time am I truly productive. I’ve traversed plenty of dead ends in the last year and have been fortunate enough to learn a bunch along the way.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            If success was built on attitude alone, then, dude, you are so there!

          3. Peter Beddows

            Donna; a very astute observation regarding Mark.

      2. awaldstein

        The change is really dramatic in my opinion and has done a lot to make the decision to be an entrepreneur both more attractive and more realistic.

      3. Donna Brewington White

        That is why Fred is so attractive to me as someone who loves entrepreneurs and believes that they are the hope for our economic future!

  8. Fernando Gutierrez

    Takers just want a bigger piece of the pie and they usually prefer to eat other people’s part because it’s easier. Makers grow the pie so everyone can eat more.

  9. Guillermo Ramos Venturatis.com

    Most of the times, is not crystal clear how much to take from your makes. Finding the right balance for all the stakeholders is a hard exercise, specially when it is done in advance (see Fred´s post on Equity Dilution this week). By definition, there´s always some party taking a bigger chunk than deserved.

    1. JLM

      As my Mother used to say — you can fund more good works if you are successful. It is often not what you get but what you keep and what you do with it.

  10. RichardF

    I’m sure every recording artist out there would whole heartedly agree with you Fred.

  11. Harry Wolff

    “Be a maker and stay far away from takers.”I’d like to add an addition to that: don’t allow a taker to take what makes you a maker away. As in, don’t let the misdeeds of another soil your nature. Stay true to yourself, always to yourself. There is a silver lining in every experience – generally the harder it is to see why or how something is good means that its worth is that much greater.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Good to point out, but can be hard to swallow when a taker takes your money when you don’t have a lot of money to begin with or to spare. Just gotta pick up the pieces and keep moving, and do a bit of yoga for anger relief and reflection time..

      1. Harry Wolff

        I completely agree. Sometimes it’s near impossible to see how the worst thing that has ever happened to you may well become one of the most significant and beneficial turning points in your life.But as you said, while you’re in the thick of it, it sucks horribly. And there’s nothing that can make it easier to handle until it gets better. But know: it will get better (if you want it to).

        1. Rick Colosimo

          As part of a company started by my partner and me, with funding from a UHNW family, we ended up getting a big chunk of money just basically stolen, as in we paid, he didn’t deliver. The FBI ended up doing nothing. The investors called the FBI on us and are suing us. The money we could have made would have build a school for autistic children and probably led my wife to talk rather than cheat. (Hmm, a little too much confession in this comment!)It’s been, and still is, a long way back up from that. Years of work fade away, and the ancillary problems grow bigger than the original one!But, my job is to help startups identify risk, manage it, and make better strategic decisions. I’ve got a helluva case study to fall back on.

          1. Harry Wolff

            As I like to say…that which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, but it still really f’n hurts. Good luck on rebuilding rick, it won’t be easy but the payoff will/should be great.

          2. Matt A. Myers

            I truly believe in karma, and whoever fucked you over has it coming in some form.

  12. Mike

    Yes but I wonder how many “takers” are currently deceived into thinking that they are “makers”? I’d wager all of them.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      That would bring us to the question of what nuances makes a maker a maker, and a taker a taker.EDIT: Anyone more experienced have a good idea of this? JLM? 🙂

      1. FlavioGomes

        I’d have to say a maker has a natural disposition in that their actions deliver sustainable long term value in personal and business relationships. They also tend to defer gratification.A taker generally measures success in how little they can do for maximum short term gain with nary a thought but to the next feed trough. Takers are the carrion eaters in the food chain and usually prey on the weak or dieing. Its the classic win/win vs zero sum But they do serve a purpose… thin the herds or make those that survive, stronger.

    2. Mark Essel

      I don’t know Mike. I think most takers know exactly what they are and make their decisions accordingly. Somewhere along the road things were so bad and so tough, that they decided the only way to survive was to take from others. Life became a zero sum game, instead of a quest for personal and social growth.There are probably a few folks that delude themselves into believing they are building something of value when they are actually a parasitic presence. But deciding how much of each aspect an individual expresses comes down to individual judgment calls.

      1. Mike

        That could be, but to me its analogous to the term racist. No one actually admits they’re racist (at least not until they’ve experienced some sort of awakening down the road), but everyone knows one when they meet one.The key then is how to help a taker change into a maker. That seems like a worthy topic for discussion.

    3. Dave W Baldwin

      Takers know they’re Takers….they just get others to think they’re Makers. That is why they go broke, for no matter the line of crap they feed others, they have no idea what to with what they’ve taken.

  13. DL

    A friend of mine sold his company in web 1.0 to a public company that overpaid in order to get into the Internet space. After the bubble burst, needless to say there was a mismatch between what was expected out of the deal and what actually occurred. Of course that happened at many companies at that time. But even though the deal did not play out as expected, both parties were realistic and pragmatic about it. My friend bought the company back, built it back up in line with the actual market opportunities rather than unrealistic projections, and sold the company back to the original acquirer. Sometimes I think people shows their truest colors when things don’t go as well as one hopes, that’s when you find the guys you want to be in the foxhole with.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Great story! And very true, you only find out one’s true colours once you’ve gone through something with them.

    2. JLM

      Character only reveals itself through a bit of friction.Bad times don’t last, good people do.

      1. William Mougayar

        This post should have had a sub-heading “AVC readers get philosophical”. Corollaries to this, JLM:If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

        1. JLM

          Ahh, yes, power the real test of one’s character. The most powerful people in the world never, ever actually appear to use their power. Or, when they do, it is almost invisible.

          1. panterosa,

            Invisible. So Sun Tsu, stealth, crouching tiger. Fabulous.

          2. JLM

            The most powerful unfavorable recommendation I have ever heard uttered went something like this:”Hmmm, I have often thought that Joe escaped charm school a semester or two early.”It conveyed the entire message brilliantly. Was unequivocal in its intent. And, yet, really did not say anything. The conclusion — impossible to misunderstand.

          3. panterosa,

            I enjoyed this comment immensely, for all the reasons you stated. It makes me long for my father’s dry humor, and the ‘go play in the heavy traffic’ suggestions of my youth from him. Dry humor is so underrated, so out of fashion in our PC world. Tant pis as the French say, what a pity.My father was not so subtle as your charm school commenter. He tended more towards ‘ he doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground’, and the classic ‘I look at him and wonder what he’s doing in my living room’ of his sister’s second husband. The candor of his generation, he would be 87, is so refreshing, and so sparse these days. I am mid 40’s and I would guess you are just a minute older than me, but my generation I feel suffers from having missed this humor and candor from their parents daily, and instead of having it from their grandparents sporadically. How we will get on when the older population hops the twig is beyond me. They were so wise and grounding in their insights.

          4. Peter Beddows

            Your observation about the dry humour nature of JLM’s recollected reference about “Joe” describes it perfectly: The statement is beautiful in its simplicity and completeness. No threat in it but very clear in its objective as JLM has stated. I like that.Dry humour is a typical characteristic of much British Humour (as well as the double entendre) and civility also used to be a singularly important element. I do my best to follow in that tradition though do not always succeed. My father’s humour was exceedingly dry and very quick witted, often having us rolling with tears of laughter.For example, in the Houses of Parliament, rather than outright accusing a member of lying, the accuser would say “May I suggest that the honourable gentleman/gentlewoman is perhaps guilty of using terminological inexactitudes!”

          5. panterosa,

            My mother is English, though in NYC since the 50’s. Perhaps my father’s dry humor made her feel at home. My mother is very suspicious of what she calls “Professional Brits” who trade on the anglophile seduction here in the US.Cue to also liking Brit humor for the self-deprecation. An author is approached by a woman, asking him to autograph her book. He replies “Oh so you are the one who bought it!”

  14. David Molina

    Excellent post, Fred! I have to agree that there is a ton of individuals that will stop at nothing to ensure others progress slows dramatically. While our second company has not had the pleasure of raising funds (we’re not there yet) like this individual, we have hired contractors/web developers to build us a site w/ various features that just don’t materialize (mostly because we lack a co-founder/CTO on the team). In the end its our responsibility and our decision to fail or learn from and drive on. Onto making.

  15. anne weiler

    When I saw this on Twitter, I thought the post was going to be “about” your Android phone. Took a few reads and a return to Twitter to get it. 😉

  16. Nihal Parthasarathi

    Great post, Fred.Reminds me of two things:1) Friends in high school used to distinguish: Creators vs. Appreciators vs. Haters2) Conversation between Howard Roark and Gail Wynand, about second handers. (in the Fountainhead)

  17. John Minnihan

    11 yrs ago, I was *becoming* a taker. Got smacked down, lost almost $4MM & had to reboot. Was painful, but it made me better.Time has a way of teaching important lessons, if you’re lucky enough to have it & you pay attention. I’m glad I learned (and am still learning, hey…) this early enough for it to make a difference.

  18. Ash Srivastava

    Great Life lesson Fred.

  19. Colin Devroe

    I had a very similar experience to JLM. Twice so far in my life. I’m hoping it won’t happen a third time but one thing these experiences have taught me – nothing is a sure thing unless you make that sure thing yourself.

  20. akharris

    I’d like to jump on the maker over taker bandwagon as much as you, Fred, but I think it’s a much trickier distinction than we’d like to admit, and it’s constantly changing.Look back 30 or 50 years, and the makers in the US were easy to point out. You had the big auto companies, big steel, oil, etc. Yep, those companies were built on huge middle class jobs infrastructure, and they were made possible, in a lot of places, by large pools of capital that sometimes take and sometimes make. You would have found a whole lot of the country very angry at Standard Oil 100 years ago for taking taking taking, but you’d be hardpressed to point out a company that, in the long run, created more jobs and wealth in America.The same thing plays out again and again. Most of the web companies out there right now are service oriented. That makes sense for a whole host of reasons, but, if we fit this into the maker/taker paradigm, you could see a lot of them as simply taking from an existing base rather than adding anything new.That said, I think that’s the wrong approach. I don’t think this is as simple as making or taking in individual instances. I think there’s a long term arc that needs to consider what the person or company adds back into the pot over the long term. You spent 2 years drawing off the resources of others, but then created 1000 jobs? Amazing! Your fund drew some serious fees from pension funds, but turned around and gave them inflation+5% annualized over a 10 year period while the stock market traded sideways? You get a gold star, because they never would have managed that on their own. Just watch your back, because a lot of people are going to come after you.So yeah, making things is the best, but everyone takes too. It’s a question of your central philosophy, I think, and a question of what you do about it for the duration.

    1. karen_e

      Your comments are often a nice check ‘n’ balance to Fred’s effusive optimism, I’ve noticed.

      1. akharris

        Just trying to keep him honest.

    2. ShanaC

      I think we have yet to understand, by your account, how we could across all international borders, make it a lot easier to kill off a lot of manufacturing jobs that we think exist through automation. People don’t remember a time when all embroidery was hand done on clothing- now it is programmed into machines. Same with cuts. if you can’t have machines feed itself cloth over time and have fewer people on the floor, you’re probably wrong.But by all accounts, by allowing ourselves to ship those sorts of things out and allowing these things to go, we’re allowing stuff to be in the taking? Why not in the structurally changing- just like in the period of standard oil, many things changed about the way we lived?And that will be hard on all of us. We live in interesting times.

      1. akharris

        Not quite sure I get your point.I don’t think it’s about creating or destroying manufacturing jobs (and I wish I knew as much about clothing production as you do), it’s about the long term additive benefit to the economy that individuals and corporations initiate.Look at the ultimate perceived “takers” – corporate raiders. Sure a lot of them just take and leave behind hobbled, crippled companies, but some rejuvenate dying organizations and create a lot more wealth in the long term.In fact, I bet there are people that would say that what I’m trying to do is a “taking” action. I’m trying to disrupt an established industry within education which could lead to a lot of tumult (I hope), and even the destruction or reformation of a lot of companies. That could cost some people jobs in the short run, but in the long run, it will create a lot of jobs, empower individuals, and institute a viable market place where one doesn’t exist. So the way you see me is dependent on your perspective, and it’s end point sensitive.But yes, we definitely live in interesting times. Sometimes, I wish it was a bit more boring. As they’re not, I’ll do everything I can to make them more interesting..

        1. ShanaC

          More that there was a discussion above about Wall Street being a taker. But your comment says something about the long terms of Wall Street (and again now, vis a vis the Ichan Types) that it may not be the case.And I briefly worked in the shmata business and I am aware that there is an aging crisis in Japan, which will one day hit China, probably faster than we expect because they underproduce women. Further the fertile ones (aka the ones my age) aren’t marrying as fast as they used to…

  21. gregorylent

    who made etf’s? a maker or a taker?

  22. Peter Beddows

    What a powerful title: “Takers and Makers” or perhaps better expressed as “Takers versus Makers”? The “Takers” unfortunately appear to be winning against the diminishing ranks of the “Makers” as things currently stand and that spells a path to ultimate disaster for our Nation in my opinion. Let us no longer kid ourselves: This statement goes to the very root of our national malaise today. Our governance is now entirely under the control and direction of those who have no other framework of understanding than that of being “Takers” which, fundamentally, is why we have lost, and are still losing, jobs, productivity and creativity with no end currently in sight.Amongst other contributors here, Malcolm Lloyd made a couple of very astute observations that are repeats of comments that I’ve been making for many years now.1) “people don’t spend if they don’t have jobs” Really? Who knew that? … In my questioning here, I’m being facetious!2) “no one thought out what the next step would be for the (ultimately out of job; out of income) workers who (previously) drove the production machine once they were made redundant” Wow! What a revelation? … again, being facetious!This series of events began in the UK before we blithely imported it in principle and concept into the US so, during the past few decades, we could have just looked across the pond to see evidence of possible consequences of our comparative actions and choices being made here.These latter two statements from Malcolm’s post are, in matters of truth and consequences, so absurdly obvious and factual, even on nothing more than face value, that it beggars the mind to wonder how could any thinking person ever imagine that “people without jobs”, which directly translates into “people without income”, could ever be people in a position to continue to support our foundational “consumption” system never mind continue to support themselves and their families and their mortgage and their credit card debt and their new car payments and their ….? We’ve allowed the short-term “take-no-prisoners-but-do-take-all-the-profit-and-dam-the-consequences” thinking of Wall Street and the Stock Exchange casino players of today, particularly shorters mentality, particularly the mentality that strives to gain profit by whatever means other than by producing any underlying constructive, tangible benefit to the economy at large, to become so pervasive that inevitably we have concurrently acquiesced in, even suborned, allowing for the killing of the geese that have hitherto been laying golden eggs.How is it, therefore, that we can now feign to be so surprised? To finally wake up and only now notice what has happened? We have allowed the “Takers” and their philosophy to proliferate and strangle those of us who are the “Makers”. As a nation, we have developed a remarkable ability to be in catatonic state of denial of reality. Rather like Mark Suster’s recent reference to “Frogs in Boiling Water”, we have been blithely unaware of the water temperature rising until now when we are actually all but unable to save ourselves.Along the way to this sad and unfortunate state of affairs, we have also allowed our whole system to become one of self-sustaining governance of the people by those dependent upon the vested interests (Taker minions) for the vested interests (Taker supremos). Until that construct is changed, things will continue to go the way they have been going for the past many decades: Things always go the way the boss want them to and we, the people, are no longer “the boss” of our own governance. We have unwittingly given away our Nation, our Power, our Pride and our Wealth: We need to wake up before there is nothing left to retrieve.Of course, this is just my opinion. Are we not blessed to have such Freedom? My own son, as a US Marine, is one of those who has fought to defend that for us.

  23. tbkama

    Fred, How would you tag the Entrepreneur/VC couple. that you know so well.Who is the Taker ? and the Maker ?Would be interested to know your view …as you raised the maker/taker point.

  24. JLM

    Takers — poseurs, fakirs, naifs — folks who will shoplift your ideas, your life force, your labor, your time, your dreams and who are incapable of respecting the “struggle”.Folks who wear mousse in their hair and do not really know what it is made of.Makers — menschs — folks who will “hold a door” for a business colleague and not squeeze the last drop of equity, value or money from a deal;folks who feel a responsibility for being a creator of value, jobs, opportunities;folks who have values which are the bedrock of our country and who do not feel corny about expressing them;folks who know when a deal is fair and seek to create a relationship rather than get the last shekel/sheqel out of a transaction;folks who can disagree without being disagreeable;folks who can resolve a conflict without talking to a lawyer and reading the agreement, because they instinctively know what is right;folks who will do something “right” not because it is more profitable but because it is simply “right”.

    1. LIAD

      folks who adhere to the spirit of the law not just the letterfolks who do things because they should not because they canfolks who define themselves by who they are not what they havefolks who create not just capture – next time you take a whirlwind tour of Europe – stop by London. I’d like to jump on. Bring the gulf stream.

    2. Tereza

      You forgot the Dementors, JLM.And the Deatheaters.Both try to suck the lifeblood out of you.Can’t forget the Dementors and the Deatheaters.

  25. Joe Lazarus

    There’s a quote from Robert Heinlein, a famous science fiction writer who died in the 80’s:”No matter where or what, there are makers, takers, and fakers.”

  26. markevans99

    I’ve witnessed the takers in the executive ranks, too. Once watched in horror as an executive went behind the back of the founder and CEO of a startup and try to take the job from her. It didn’t work, but the fact that takers are tirelessly opportunistic is scary.

  27. Donna Brewington White

    Love this insightful, pithy post packed with wisdom. Pure Fred!

  28. panterosa,

    This is a great post, and one which resonates strongly with me. Being and artist and a designer moving into the entrepreneurial space I am very glad to hear enthusiasm for making things. I advocate for free art school in this country and more of them. I’m not sure who would fund this but it would add great value to our making as a nation. While your at it, have the art/design schools include more business classes so the creators can better produce realistically, not theoretically.We import many things because we still, by and large, produce ugliness. Wouldn’t it be nice to turn that around? We need more than one Apple in this sense.

  29. ShanaC

    In all seriousness- what if I bend the world to the powers of creative destruction, I cause some people to lose their jobs, what do I cause?

    1. FlavioGomes

      Generally a stronger ecosystem in the longer term

    2. JLM

      Much like natural selection, the “right” ones survive. Focus on the survivors.The survivors will thrive and hire all those who worked for the ones who did not survive.The funny thing about capitalism including creative destruction is that the resulting economy emerges stronger.Conflict is a precursor of growth. Like that awkward adolescent who emerges from the cocoon as the beautiful butterfly.

      1. ShanaC

        I like this comment, I also have this larger question about things like the Warren Buffet WMD cause this creative destruction faster ala the internet (or in combination)Even Hiroshima grew back.

  30. jim

    hmmm, makers vs. takers. makes me think of sufjan stevens (whom i’d recommend over ayn rand, but that’s just me). “Oh, the glory that the Lord has made/And the complications when I see His face/In the morning in the window. Oh, the glory when He took our place/But He took my shoulders and He shook my face/And He takes and He takes and He takes.”

  31. andyidsinga

    Very very very good post. I often think education needs more time spent on making things – anything really – just pick something and try to make it – being naive can be a good thing :)When I heard the story of the two scientists who just won the nobel prize for physics I just about burst with excitement about their use of scotch tape! npr story here – must read: http://www.npr.org/blogs/13

  32. FlavioGomes


  33. FlavioGomes

    From a vendor/client viewpoint, when both are makers….that’s when mutual exponential value is created.

  34. Tereza

    Great post. I’m gonna use that one.We connot believe the pie is fixed and fight over slices.We all have to be committed to making the pie bigger.It works out in the end. It really does.

    1. panterosa,

      I think there is a term for making the pie bigger rather than believing it is fixed and limited. It’s called the ‘starvation economy’. I think takers believe in the ‘starvation economy’, and makers don’t. It works for every type of pie scenario, money, market, interest, attention and so on.Makers believe in the expanding universe.

  35. mike gilfillan

    …reminds me of “Schmoozers vs. Doers” – my explanation for when we realized that several of the “high profile executives” we hired into my Web 1.0 company didn’t know their shit. Sure, their resumes looked good to my investors and in our press releases, but they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. They were clearly better at talking and schmoozing than they were at doing any real work. Even though their intentions might not be as bad as the “takers’, their impact on a company can be worse — like cancer.

  36. Vijay Sundaram

    A dangerous meme that I see and hear often enough that it’s worth pointing out (particularly in the valley), is that “business people” == takers and “technical people” == makers. In reality, it is the person / character / values / etc., not job roles, that define which bucket one falls into. The best teams in the world bring together people who are great at different things but all share the same passion for making.

    1. mike gilfillan

      That’s scary. But unfortunately that is probably the backlash from all the “empty suits” that were brought in during the dot.com boom to provide “adult supervision” to all the aspiring and innovative technology folks. You’re right that any company requires both and that it’s as wrong for the tech guys (a gals) to just lump all business oriented people into “takers” as it was for the VCs and bankers to think that few tech people could also be good business people — I can’t count how many time I had to point out to my VCs in the late ’90s that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, etc. were just some of the great examples of founders possessing both skill sets.

  37. Jamie Lin

    Can’t agree more. Have been dealing with some takers at our accelerator lately and it’s hard not to get pissed.

  38. Dave Pinsen

    All true, but it’s also true that Mercedes would probably offer workers less in Alabama if unionized workers hadn’t raised wage expectations for auto workers elsewhere.

  39. johnmccarthy

    Reading about industrial policy caused me to wonder if Michael Porter is preparing a follow up to “The Competitive Advantage of Nations.” It was an influential book in setting/ the tone for American industry and business in the 1990s. Much of the intellectual enthusiasm for the de-industrializing of the US can be traced back to the ideas in that book and a revisiting of its ideas and conclusions in light of the last 20 years would be quite an interesting read.

  40. Mao_Junior

    usually takers lack passion…thankfully this is so.

  41. Gary Sharma

    Great post. And I think in today’s world of ever increasing openness and transparency, takers (and fakers) are much more easily identified and exposed than they would have even a few years ago.

  42. William Mougayar

    Makers are also great givers. By giving back, they receive even more and it becomes perpetual.

  43. herve

    Isn’t this a little simplistic? Aren’t makers takers and takers makers? I remember this story from a speaker in graduate school: “work is what makes you rich” so the speaker talks about his friend “he bought an apple, polished it, made it nicer and sold it for more than he bought it; he reinvested the profit and with a nice snow ball effect, he made more and more money; and one day, his uncle died and he became rich”. I am not saying takers win all the time, but I have seen many takers make enough money before they career finished in failure ebcause they did not need a career anymore. You have a nice moral judgment, which I appreciate a lot, but I am not sure that historically makers have been more successful than takers…

    1. Pete

      “…but I am not sure that historically makers have been more successful than takers…”Depends how you define success.

  44. Joe

    Who is the taker and who is the maker in your story?

    1. fredwilson

      The maker is JLMthe taker is the guy who screwed him

  45. s12345

    don’t you work as a vc?

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. And it is very hard not to be a taker in my business

  46. Carl Rahn Griffith

    I dare not even start on this one…So damn true!Just as well I am reading this in the cold light of day, and not late of night with a glass or two of red wine in me! ;-)Maybe next time, lol…. 😉

  47. Steven Livingstone

    I have someone who isn’t paying me for a software i wrote – a taker. As i still have the IP i’m planning to release it as a product myself. He wouldn’t know how to start making if he were given all the time in the world…

  48. T_R_O_N_I_X

    So how would you explain Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook take? Being that he’s still rich on paper and all.

    1. fredwilson

      I wasn’t there when it happened so I will not judgeMovies, books, and lawsuit claims are not nearly as useful as bearingwitness yourself

  49. Elie Seidman

    More broadly, I feel that this also applies to traders who are making money off the net worth of the country and it’s people. They are rich and sometimes glamorized but at their core, they live off buying and selling vs creating. Too much of the wealth of the country is being skimmed off by this set of people and too many of our best and brightest are going into that form of work.

    1. fredwilson

      I agree ElieI feel that VC sits in the middle and can be in either camp depending on thecircumstances and practicioners

  50. RJ Johnston

    “For once upon a time I was a taker, a friend of mine open my eyes to the benefits of being a maker, now my only task is to watch out for the faker, thank you to my friend Fred the deal shaker.”

    1. fredwilson


  51. Guest

    Great advice, Fred — regarding makers, I love this tweet from Umair: http://bit.ly/cTFHw2“Advantage-seekers take opportunities. World-changers make opportunities.”

  52. andrewdeandrade

    I would also add that you should always warn others of takers you have done business with and speak highly of the makers. Both deserve a reputation that precedes them.

  53. FlavioGomes

    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  54. Dave Pinsen

    “Every time we send factories offshore, we also send the innovation, the tax base, the economic impact of local jobs, and our own local security.”Agreed 100%. Some econo-pundits forget the close interaction (and geographic proximity) R&D often needs to have with manufacturing. The idea that we can outsource manufacturing jobs and have everyone work in higher-end jobs is folly: the higher-end jobs have been following the manufacturing jobs offshore.If a high-wage country such as Germany can have a much higher percentage of its workforce employed in manufacturing, we ought to be able to do so too, given the right policy mix.

  55. PhilipSugar

    I have been pushing on this for the last ten years with the Senators Biden (former) and Carper…argued about this with Jeff Immelt on a panel with all three. Until the great recession people thought I was a kook. Lets say you have two theoretical companies that make $5M in profit. One is an importer (or hedge fund) with one employee and one is a U.S. manufacturing firm with 500 employees making on average $50k. What taxes do they pay? They pay the same. Ok, but what additional taxes are paid?? FICA and FUTA and medicare are at least 10%, insurance and benefits are 10%, and retirement is 5%.So the one is paying $6.25M (25%*$50k*500) in extra taxes and fees which if they don’t pay somebody else does…which would we rather have? Since we live in a society where we don’t say if you don’t work you can eat dirt (travel the world and you’ll see that is not the norm) Those are real costs….now that we have 10% unemployment people are really seeing that….its not theoretical anymore. Don’t get me wrong a huge reason why the U.S. is as great as it is, is exactly because of its middle class.

  56. Dave Pinsen

    Related to our discussion here is this letter to the editor published in today’s FT, “US Must confront its economic woes”:From Mr Sheldon Dorenfest.Sir, Steven Rattner’s article “How an unloved bail-out saved America” (October 4) is another example of the US denying responsibility to take appropriate corrective action.If there were only two options, one to do it the way it was done or to not do it at all, then Mr Rattner’s position would be accurate.What Mr Rattner failed to mention was that the “bail-out” could have been used to correct the problems of the financial industry that created the need for “bail-out” in the first place. The failure of the “bail-out” is that corrective action was not adequate.Based on the lack of teeth in the troubled asset relief programme, the problems that caused the need for a “bail-out” will repeat themselves sometime in the near future. That is why the American public has good reason to not love the “bail-out”.After looking at Mr Rattner’s article, I turned to Fred Bergsten’s (“We can fight fire with fire on the renminbi”). Again, it is a case of the US not being willing to address the fundamental issues it can control.Such actions could include tariffs or, more significantly, taking back the manufacturing it shipped to China.Of course, either of these actions would be inflationary, but so would increasing the value of the renminbi. Placing the blame on China is the best way to assure that these problems will never get solved.I took a moment to write this to you because many of the opinion pieces published in the Financial Times in recent days do not deal with the fundamental issues caused by the US’s broken political system, which has resulted in the actions required to return the US to a world leadership position not being taken.The longer the delay in taking appropriate actions to rebuild the foundation of the US economic system, the harder it will be to save the US and return it to the great country it once was.Sheldon Dorenfest,Chief Executive,The Dorenfest Group,Chicago, IL, US

  57. CJ

    The last leg of our industrialized economy was founded on the premise of exploitation. We decided to sacrifice local employment for price and commoditized industry. We sent manufacturing offshore and reduced its cost to the absolute lowest possible in order to feed the consumption machine that is our economy. Now we’re realizing that people don’t spend if they don’t have jobs and it’s hard to build a huge, educated, middle-class job base as easily as it is to build the same with jobs that require less education. Especially in a society such as ours that promotes ignorance over education and ‘elite’ is a bad word.The biggest mistake, in the race to zero production costs, was that no one thought out what the next step would be for the workers who drove the production machine once they were made redundant. We didn’t shift our educational priorities to compensate for the lack of middle-class jobs that required only a high school education so now we’re stuck with an undereducated, underemployed society incapable of driving the consumption machine we spent decades building.

  58. Dave Pinsen

    You’re right that a race to the bottom in labor costs has reduced the middle class’s ability to consume (and would have done so a lot sooner, had the gap not been papered over with easy access to credit in recent years), but the part about education is a red herring. If anything, we’ve been over-promoting education as a panacea for economic advancement.I’ve blogged about this several times over the last couple of years (perhaps most recently here, “A stripper’s lament”), but it seems clear that we have an education bubble in this country. Like housing prices, education prices (i.e., tuition) have been rising faster than inflation for decades, fueled by government-facilitated cheap credit. And just as many homeowners have belatedly realized that their houses aren’t worth all the money they borrowed to pay for them, many graduates are realizing the same thing about their degrees.

  59. Dave Pinsen

    The problem isn’t productivity but a lack of a national industrial policy designed to promote the creation of more high-end manufacturing jobs here. Mercedes plants in Germany have high productivity, which enables them to pay their workers high wages. That’s the positive trade-off made possible by high productivity.The fraud is the idea that free trade necessarily results in win-win outcomes for everyone. The economist Paul Samuelson refuted this toward the end of his life. Nevertheless, most mainstream pundits and politicians continue to dogmatically adhere to that view. That leads to a complacency that’s the opposite of having an industrial policy promoting high-paying jobs here.

  60. Andrew Greene

    I agree that the US needs to implement a national industrial policy, but I’m not sure that we have to promote the creation of high-end manufacturing jobs. I think even low-end manufacturing jobs could work. Personally, I am working on a bicycle company that will take unemployed ex-convicts and train them to weld bicycles. This is really basic stuff, but it is also a viable business. Low-end manufacturing can succeed in the US if you offer quality or value in other ways besides price. I think your product/service/marketing has to be contrarian in some way. Yes, Chinese factories can make bicycles for dollars, but a bicycle made by local people and used by local people can revitalize a city.I think Etsy is cool because it takes thousands of people who aren’t makers and who aren’t fully-employed (I’m guessing here) and gives them incentives to add value to the national economy.

  61. JLM

    It is a complex issue because we often confuse knee jerk free trade with fair trade. They are not the same thing. The transformation or transposition is created by the application of trade policy both internally and externally.Oh, yeah, did I forget to mention politics?You have GM — the UAW — unable to effectively compete while making GM automobiles in Detroit while Mercedes is able to make a bit more complex vehicle in Tuscaloosa, Ala profitably.The big difference maker? Trade policy — internal and external — and more than a bit of union politics.We need to MAKE stuff to provide work for our citizens and we should use leadership, political will and good trade policy to ensure that we have enough taxpayers to fund our government. When our folks are not employed the tax burden on the productive elements of society is crushing and that just makes it more difficult to coax them out to make jobs.You know what — I just realized that might be what is happening today?Last point — every SOB who wants to make a product for the US market in China or Mexico should have to embrace that country’s securities laws, stock markets, VC environments, banking safety, culture, lifestyle — you see where this rant is going, right?If you want to employ others than Americans then you shouldn’t be able to repatriate your money to America and enjoy the same advantages.This is nationalistic trade policy w/ just a smidgen of pragmatic politics.If you want jobs, you will have to make stuff.

  62. ShanaC

    Do you have that Samuelson paper?

  63. JLM

    Welders? Are they going to become good welders?The best welders CAN weld the crack of drawn, a broken heart and tissue paper.So are they going to become good welders? LOLOil field humor, sorry.

  64. Dave Pinsen

    If it’s a viable business, then sure: those jobs would be a good addition as well. But at the higher end, companies can afford to pay workers higher salaries, and it’s those higher salaried manufacturing jobs that can be the backbone of a middle class. A worker getting $25 per hour to build a luxury sedan can afford to go out to eat (among other things) more often than a worker getting $10 to build a bicycle, so the $25 per hour jobs lead to more jobs in the restaurant industry (among other industries) than the $10 per hour jobs.But $10 per hour jobs building bikes are infinitely better than $0 per hour jobs or living on public assistance, so they would be a welcome addition, provided those jobs didn’t go to foreigners who were brought here just to do those jobs. <– Incidentally, that’s what happened with one of our free trade deals (with Jordan, if memory serves). Instead of creating new jobs for Jordanians, Jordanian businessmen brought in lower wage immigrants to work in sweat shops there.

  65. ShanaC

    Union Payroll and politics that go with it is crushingly complicated. I know a guy who is writing his accounting MBA paper on just Union payroll for one small Union in one Small area because the complications involved are enough that he could write a paper double the expected length if needed.So I own a leather jacket made in China- I know the firm that hired the factories through secondary markets (Rarely are they directly made) to make the jacket. They primarily did work for Walmart US. I should know, it was the first “real job” I ever held (though I wasn’t doing work involving Walmart). I was hired to do research about manufacturing electrostatic resistant cleansuits in China for the general market as a new business unit. We were planning on potentially selling them to Fabs both here in The US, in the EuroZone and Asia. Whose regulations should we go with, considering the environment these suits go into (you screw up an electrostatic resistant cleansuit, you screw up a chip or a drive). Same is true of the coat that I own. It was actually made for a Division of Walmart in Argentina, but if I remember correctly a small run was going to go to the US. So labeling has to be consistent for both.*And for the record, the Main office in Shanghai seemed pretty happy. They did company picnics…I saw pictures.*Most people don’t realize when you enter these businesses that they are totally buyers market. It’s all about price and positioning, even for something as obscure as electrostatic resistant cleansuits for grade 5-6 (and 4 if you can get those breath things)

  66. PhilipSugar

    And that last point is exactly correct. If you can spew stuff into the environment, not deal with OSHA rules, not have a safety net for your citizens, than of course its not fair trade.As to why Hyundai can build a better car in the U.S. its because the best and brightest want to build cars not do finance and make a ton of money on the backs of others.I know for a fact there was a finance guy at GM who refused to buy good plastic from my friend because it would cost $100 more a car…the result….you drive a Chevy and have the dashboard turn to dust while your Camary looks like new after 15 years. Which is a better long term strategy.

  67. Dave Pinsen

    Agreed for the most part, Jeff, but a few points re unions and labor costs:1) The UAW has a bad reputation, for good reason, but it isn’t representative of all unions.2) Mercedes makes cars more cheaply in Alabama because it doesn’t have unions there (note the long shadow of history here: The South was America’s bastion of free trade in the early 19th Century, because it didn’t have to worry about lower labor costs overseas, thanks to slavery; meanwhile, protectionism was favored up North, because political and business leaders understood that tariffs were necessary to shield a nascent industrial base that could afford to pay its employees).3) Mercedes has strong unions and higher labor costs in Germany, but it still makes cars profitably there. It has first rate infrastructure and first rate manufacturing workers and craftsmen, thanks to its embrace of vocational education/apprenticeships and its respect for this sort of work. So it can make excellent products, which enables it to charge higher prices for them, and, in turn, pay its workers higher wages. That’s the sort of virtuous cycle we need more of here.

  68. Peter Beddows

    Back in the UK where I had responsibilities for Operations of a linear accelerator design and manufacturing business (Think components for the Hadron Collider in Europe and equipment installations like SLAC – Stanford Linear Accelerator, medical cancer therapy systems, medical and food sterilization and industrial polymer-plastics cross-linking systems – this is an example http://www.missi.com/missic… where I had a staff of just under 200 who had membership spread across 5 different (blue and white collar) trade unions, my daily life was often forced to be pre-occupied with having to deal with the demands of the related 5 shop stewards which inevitably took attention and time away from productivity issues.With this kind of hurdle, there was an ever greater incentive to find other resources to produce components and reduce the impact of the union influence upon the results. I was able to get the blue collar groups to consolidate membership into just 2 unions leaving only 3 shop stewards with “key” to my office but when I was offered the opportunity to transfer to the States, I was highly motivated. This was just before Margaret Thatcher was voted in as PM: Subsequently, Unions then came under increasing constraints during the Thatcher era but prior to that, they were a very significant influence in reducing UK productivity.

  69. JLM

    The European unions are the descendants of the trade guilds whose organizing theme was craftsmanship and artisan expertise. You became a member of a trade guild to learn a trade. You were loyal to the trade.The American unions are the descendants of workers organized to collectively bargain with existing employers — and in many instances, rightly so as employers were predatory in their practices.American trade unions have now simply become political organizations whose primary function is to bleed their members to fund the political instincts of the leadership rather than the sentiments of their members.As an aside, the Mercedes plants in the US provide their workers with compensation and benefits which are comparable to the “after union dues” comp of their UAW brethren without the necessity to pay the mordida and baksheesh and fealty to the union bosses.

  70. Peter Beddows

    What differentiates unions in the UK from those in Europe in general, albeit that they originated from trade guilds as you have said, is that by the ’60’s going into the pre-Thatcher ’70’s they became very political and also obstructionist to the point that they would even jeopardize the future viability of a business, even to the point of putting their own members jobs on the line, if they did not achieve the concessions they determined that they needed to get by striking. More and more they became strongly allied with the Socialist party and the Socialist/Labour Party equally became synonymous with labour unions.The unions were providing considerable funding to that party which, when they were in power, resulted in many laws being promulgated that gave additional “Workers Rights” which the shop stewards then rigidly wanted to enforce wherever possible. Management of anything became a game of diplomacy and stealth within an ever more constricted range of things that one could do without incurring a visit from a very vocal shop steward about some grievance of his “brothers”.Often, those grievances were around an issue going back to the Trade Guilds segregation of functions. I had one situation where we were assembling an exhibition in Earls Court, London where work in the hall was called to a halt because one of my people was cutting floor tiles: Turns out, the union he was in allowed the laying of floor tiles but not the cutting of floor tiles???? Cutting tiles was classified as “A skilled Job!”On another occasion, I came back from lunch to the plant with a customer in tow only to be greeted at the gate by a bunch of staff carrying placards. Turns out, one of my managers had done something to “offend one of the brothers” in his manner of handling a situation just in the course of time it took for me to have lunch. I almost never went to lunch again after that. {grin}If you’ve ever seen the “Andy Capp” movie, you’ll get the picture. I had one steward who actually looked the spitten image of Andy Capp and operated along the same lines.

  71. Fernando Gutierrez

    Aarrrgghh!! Don’t get me started on European unions! They are the worst in our society (well, most of our politicians are also quite bad). It’s not the same in every country –I know best Spanish and French ones), but they are not trade guilds at all.They are a bunch of loafers that feel that working is bad because the evil employer will get a profit with THEIR work! They menace and use violence when necessary. And they usually don’t suffer any consequences because politicians are afraid of them. Criminals at least take a risk.And worst of all… They do it with my money because very few workers are unionized and their biggest source of income is government subsidies.As said, don’t get me started on them!Now I’m gonna take my medicine.

  72. JLM

    American has had it so good for so long, that we have a bit of travail and everybody is ready to mark the final report card with an “F”.While I think the current situation is almost beyond hope — primarily because the current administration, well what is left of it now, eh? —- America is still the strongest country on the planet and things will ultimately right themselves.It has become fashionable to be a bit detached and to question the exceptionalism of America as if to be so simplistic is to expose one’s naivete.Let me state unequivocally — there is no country with more promise or a stronger citizenry.America is going to be just fine in the long run not because the pinhead geniuses develop some incredible solution but because we all just get back to basics and back to work.The opposite of love is not hate — it is indifference.What is happening in the public square is an unpleasant realization that President Obama and his administration cannot make chicken salad out of chicken shit and to “hope” otherwise is to ensure you have an empty belly.They simply cannot deliver on any — ANY — of their promises. If you cannot shut down Gitmo within a year and a half of taking office, then what can you REALLY do and what are you really competent at?The developing indifference of the American people to President Obama and this administration is based upon an evolving realization that they are all collectively incompetent.I am actually starting to feel sorry for the guy. Talk about being inundated and under water.

  73. Peter Beddows

    Mr Sheldon Dorenfest; very well stated.As in “The Wizard of Oz”, while the “Wizard” in that case was just one little person behind the curtain using his technology to keep the people of Oz in awe, consternation and fear, perhaps behind the curtain out of sight of the American People, the real management of US policy that has been instigating our “national fear and inability to confront issues with meaningful teeth” for many years now may be due to behind the scenes existence of a “wizards consortium”; a bunch of extremely powerful, influential but non-elected people who hold the reigns of real power over our governance.

  74. Dave Pinsen

    Journal of Economic Perspectives Vol. 18, No. 3, Summer 2004: “Where Ricardo and Mill Rebut and Confirm Arguments of Mainstream Economists Supporting Globalization”I included a link the first time, but Disqus held it for approval.

  75. Andrew Greene

    You are in Lancaster PA? I am working on this in NJ. Thanks for the offer.

  76. ShanaC

    Thank you.

  77. ShanaC

    can you shoot me an email shana dot carp at gmail yadda yada i hate you too spammer people but I like killing your string engine. I think you and this other person who is writing about unions would have an interesting conversation that I can’t have.

  78. Dave Pinsen

    America certainly still has enormous strength and potential, and it’s been written off before prematurely (e.g., in the malaise of the late ’70’s), but someone’s got to turn the ship away from the rocks. The current course leads to disaster.I agree that the current administration seems overwhelmed here. My view is that neither the president nor his allies in Congress ever appreciated the severity of the current downturn, or fully understood its structural causes.What scares me is that I don’t get the sense many of the Republicans get it either. And with only two major parties, they don’t have to get it to win. In 2008 the Dems won big not, I think, because most Americans thought they had better ideas, but because most Americans thought the GOP had screwed up royally. Next month, the GOP looks poised to win because most Americans think the Dems are screwing up royally.This may give Americans a temporary feeling of release, but there really isn’t a lot of daylight between the policies of most mainstream Democrats and Republicans: the cores of both parties were complicit in inflating the housing bubble; both favor an immigration policy that makes no economic sense for this country and is opposed by most Americans; both have abetted rent-seekers on Wall Street and elsewhere; both have left the growth in entitlements unchecked; both have ignored the hollowing out effects of globalization (in its current form) on our middle class; both continue squander resources on quixotic education “reforms” predicated on everyone being above average in academic aptitude; etc.

  79. JLM

    I agree with everything that you say and in particular the observation that the Republicans are equally clueless.In the short term, there is almost nothing as important as job creation — not everybody being a college educated wildly fulfilled professional but just folks having a steady job and paying just a smidge of taxes and getting off the dole.I cannot help but notice that the Pres is headed to Asia for 10 days the day after the election — not willing to face the cameras with the blood in the streets.I always had him figured for the brass of a second story man, I guess not.

  80. Peter Beddows

    See my response to you and JLM below.

  81. Peter Beddows

    I also think you may find this CNBC Faber report “Goldman Sachs: Power and Peril” interesting as an adjunct to this discussion: I watched it last night. http://classic.cnbc.com/id/…Goldman Sachs has come under intense scrutiny following a government investigation into its practices. The firm is a powerhouse whose 34,000 employees are known as the best and the brightest. It’s unique corporate culture and its long history of success have always been the envy of its competitors … but now Goldman Sachs is fighting to maintain its reputation. The firm has been accused by some critics of misleading investors, and taken to task for accepting a government bailout when, less than a year later, it was able to reap massive profits. Some ask if its connections to the many Goldman alumni who went on to influential government positions gave it an unfair advantage in surviving the global financial crisis.In this CNBC original documentary, correspondent David Faber reveals how Goldman Sachs benefited from some of its most controversial deals before, during and after the economic collapse. He describes how Goldman, throughout its history, has fought back from adversity with innovation and fierce competitiveness. Faber also examines the future of Goldman Sachs, asking whether the bank can maintain its dominant position atop the world of finance.

  82. Peter Beddows

    JLM and Dave Pinsen: Between the comments and observations here in this thread by JLM and those of Dave Pinsen, I think that you have both brilliantly succinctly summed up the basic situation before us in our national state of affairs, as well as the potential impossibilities for simple, quick, easy correction regardless of which party is in power, extremely clearly and well.The parties are clearly now nothing more than toothless, paper tigers acting little short of imbecilic in their posturing.Between “The developing indifference of the American people to President Obama and this administration is based upon an evolving realization that they are all collectively incompetent.” and “I don’t get the sense many of the Republicans get it either”, Houston, we really have a problem!The root malaise that we are facing, aside from the consequences of their indiscriminately throwing money like confetti at the very sources/instruments of our economic problems, lies in the failure of either party to put forward a viable answer to the fact that “there is almost nothing as important as job creation — not everybody being a college educated wildly fulfilled professional but just folks having a steady job and paying just a smidgen of taxes and getting off the dole” doing productive work, taking home a paycheck and being able to meet their basic obligations such as housing, food, transport and once more contributing towards our fundamental consumption machine that, in turn, then creates more jobs.While I agree with you and also think that “while the current situation is almost beyond hope, America is still the strongest country on the planet” and thus it could still be saved if action can be taken before we reach that critical tipping point where the downward slide becomes irreversible and unstoppable. However I also think that “things will ultimately right themselves” only if some how from some where other than from within any existing group of politicians — because the current batch is so addicted to self-preservation and myopia now that they are already self-proven beyond leadership capability — a true leader comes forth and quickly. In my view, there is no one amongst any of the current swarm that I would consider as having the requisite level of integrity and character to be up to the task man/woman enough to withstand the onslaught of vested interests. Perhaps we actually need to look to a proven military trained leader for any realistic chance of turning this ship around now: I’m not talking coup, just the kind of people, resources and logistics leadership training, capability, experience and skills that a four star general would naturally have.So where are we going to find the strength, courage and true leadership in each branch of our future government that is not beholden to vested interests, that does have the betterment of our nation and our people at heart and that will take this challenge as their cause celebre? I’m open to hearing suggestions.

  83. Dave Pinsen

    For all of their talents, I don’t think a four star general is what we need. Our problems are largely economic, and our generals are used to fighting small wars in decidedly uneconomic fashion (e.g., our cheapest precision-guided bomb, the JDAM, probably costs more than anything we’ve dropped it on). Regarding the need to withstand the onslaught of “vested interests”: when it comes to our biggest fiscal issues, the vested interests are us, the American people, who have become accustomed to getting Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlements without paying the full bill for them. What we need are more politicians with the courage to be honest with us about the sacrifices we’ll all need to make instead of pandering to us, or telling us that the budget can be balanced solely on the backs of the JLMs and Freds of this country — the ethics of that aside, the math of that simply doesn’t work. In short, we need politicians who are willing to speak to us the way Gov. Chris Christie has spoken to NJ’s public employee unions. One bright spot in the gloom is that I think a critical mass of Americans may be ready to hear and accept an honest, non-pandering politician for a change.

  84. Peter Beddows

    Dave: You are, as so often in quieter, more reasoned, thoughtful and rational response than some of my own expressions of frustration and disappointment over our current state of economy and governance, perfectly correct and actually I agree with you. Your posts are always commendable and worth reading.When I was living in NorCal and it snowed, I would joke that I did not travel 8K miles from the snows of winter in Wales and choose to become a US Citizen to then be confronted with snow in winter in California. Now I’m more inclined to say that I did not travel from the economic malaise and socialist driven, anti-business growth and anti-jobs growth policies of the then Labour Government (era before Thatcher) in the UK only to find that many of those same challenges are now to be found here in the US ~ hence as a Citizen of the US but with the history of experiences as a Citizen of the UK, I am strongly moved to express my very grave disappointment and immense frustration perhaps more vehemently than do many natural born US citizens who have never experienced life anywhere else in the world and thus may be rather like the proverbial frogs in the pot of water that is slowly being raised to the boil and thus they are being blithely unaware that life in the US, as they have known it and hope for it, it is subtlety and insidiously dying.So of course a four star general, in fact, would not have the breadth of relevant experience to adequately handle the responsibilities of not only being President but also of handling the many challenges that we face overall in our nation today. We have the precedent example of Eisenhower who became President more out of gratitude and relief of the America people as the sad chapter of WWII was closed. Same in the UK with Winston Churchill, albeit he was not a general per se.Secondly, I admittedly – in retrospect – contradicted myself here by choosing to suggest a candidate type for just one political position when previously I had stated, and still believe, that we need change at the head of all factions of government from the type of person for president to type of person at the head of each of the political parties and even within those parties: In other words, we really need to change at the systemic level not at the rhetorical level. In the context of that last statement, and relative to the “vested interests”, while unquestionably “we need are more politicians with the courage to be honest with us…” that will never happen as long as those same politicians are elected only because currently, in order to succeed, they need, and must have, access to, and are accordingly funded by, the “moneyed” interests ~ the unions on one side, big business, Wall Street, etc., on the other: So I believe that, free speech issues not withstanding, we need to change the way getting elected into power is handled.We need to remove the need for vast sums of private money to bankroll election campaigns that effectively disbars many who might otherwise be far more appropriate and suited to office than any of the current batch of incumbents and wanna-bes but who cannot even enter the fray because of lack of sufficient funds: We need to change to a system where only public money can be used to fund election campaigns: Surely that would remove all bias and obligation towards the singular “deep-pockets/big moneyed” vested interests by thus effectively converting “vested interests” into a phrase that refers now to the interests of us the America People? Bye the bye, just look at the extraordinary amount of money that Whitman is throwing into being elected: Does it not even beg the question as to why anyone in their right mind would invest so much money unless the actual “ROI” is going to surpass any such investment and thus, if that is the case, surely that just is another indicator that there is something going on that is not in the best interests of the peopleOne other very critical element of our method of governance also has to change: No more tacking on of earmarks or any other definitive “rules” that have absolutely no relevance to the issue being ruled upon by any bill to which the earmark or addition is being attached. Nancy Pelosi is supposed to have stated that “we have no idea what is in the Health Care Bill UNTIL IT HAS BEEN PASSED”!!!!! Is that not incredible? Is it not absurd, if not actually bizarre, that we the people have not reacted vehemently to that statement and demanded some correction? How is it possible that we have people in congress and the senate blithely putting an OK on documents the content of which they have no idea about? This surely boggles the mind and should leave us all feeling that we have no representation of our interests by those elected to represent those interests: No wonder we now have so many problems and no one capable of leading us out of this morass.Along the way, I applaud Gov Christie for his stand and his efforts in changing the way things are being done in NJ. Gov Schwarzenegger came into power in CA with great promise but crumbled before the power of the entrenched vested interests ~ the unions and the incumbents funded by the unions. Ironic that, in retrospect, records now show that Gray Davis, who was ousted b y the people of California, had actually been making more progress towards reform than any preceding governor or Schwarzenegger. While I also agree with you that “One bright spot in the gloom is that I think a critical mass of Americans may be ready to hear and accept an honest, non-pandering politician for a change”, you can sum up the gist of my own rant in these few words: “OK, maybe they are ready but ~ WHERE ARE THE NON-PANDERING POLITICIANS WHEN WE NEED THEM?”Lastly, I particularly liked, because I agree with, your comment “our cheapest precision-guided bomb, the JDAM, probably costs more than anything we’ve dropped it on”. Absolutely; no question that is true. Of course, if we did not have Defense Contractors making all of these weapons, ironically, we would have an even bigger unemployment scene on our hands ~ but that’s another matter.Having been a country founded on the principles of being Makers, and accepting the fact that, inevitably, wherever there are Makers, human nature being what it is, there always will be Takers; perhaps once the Takers finally realize that there will be nothing left to take if the Makers are constrained, abused, discouraged, not supported and ultimately decimated, perhaps then change will come in which we can redirect our energies once more towards being Makers?

  85. Dave Pinsen

    Peter,Thanks for the kind words. Can’t say I agree with you about the need for entirely “public” financing of elections though. What “public” financing means, in practice, is government financing; and if you’re going to ban private financing, then what it really means is letting the government decide who gets to run for office. That would be more like the system in Iran than the one we have now.What dissuades some individuals from running for office isn’t the need to raise money per se, but the legal requirement to raise it in such tiny amounts that you have to spend so much time fund raising. Better to allow candidates to take as much money as any individual or organization is willing to give them, provided there is full and immediate disclosure of it.

  86. Peter Beddows

    Thank you Dave: Thank you for your acknowledging my posts and giving feedback.I really enjoy thoughtful and thought-provoking discussion which, it seems, is always to be found here on AVC. Particularly have enjoyed participating in exchanges between us, JLM and others here via AVC and elsewhere in this new universe.Have to admit that I now seem to spend way too much time glued to my PC and not enough time getting out meeting directly with people: Reminds me of some of the challenges that Mark Essel has referenced in his own experiences when attempting to be working concurrently on multiple projects. I had intended to go to my workshop this morning to fix an air-compressor but here I am still at the PC. After this post, I will commit to doing that.You are, of course, right again about the consequences of Public Funding: Shudder at the very idea that we could inadvertently encourage adoption of any electoral system that could thus lead us anywhere even close to going down the path of a country like Iran. Nuff said to that.I would certainly support allowing candidates to take as much money as any individual or organization is willing to give them, provided there is full and immediate disclosure of it. With disclosure, at least we can make our own minds up about the potential integrity of the candidate along with all other publicly declared elements of the candidate character and positioning.