Senator Ron Wyden

We’ve had a vibrant political conversation on this blog this weekend (almost 900 comments and they are still coming). There is no question that our government and our politicans are failing us, particulary around innovation and the way forward.

But there is at least one Senator who has been an unfailing protector of the Internet and the innovators. His name is Ron Wyden and I am a huge fan (and donator to him).

This week at Web2 in San Francisco, my friend John Heilemann interviewed Ron. It is a terrific interview and if you have some time (35 mins), you should watch it.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Rohan

    879 comments! Senators should make it a point to drop by here once in a while!

  2. Dave W Baldwin

    Thanks for posting!

  3. jason wright

    John’s silent confirmation technique reminds me of a scene from All the President’s Men where Dustin Hoffman counts from one to ten over the phone to a source. It never really works.John’s assumption that most people in Washington D.C have no brains – never underestimate your opponent(s).Political donations – set a limit on the total sum any one politician can receive in a fiscal year. That would help to limit corporate influence in the policy forming process.  

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      Remember as you say “any one politician..” which just turns it into giving big to party.  Then the good ol network controls which of the “any one” gets. Hence, a real needed movement strengthening the Blue Dogs is tough.

  4. andyswan

    I disagree with him on a lot of (mostly social and trade) issues, but we need more people like him.  People that are passionate about doing a good job and who don’t see society in terms of artificial “groups” of voting-blocks that must be advantaged using government power.He is an agent for slow, transparent, intellectually honest and simple government.  If all our politicians took the approach of Ron Wyden, we’d have a Federalist government with representatives elected based on their approach to the issues….rather than their ability to pit one artificially-created group of citizens against another.I dig.

    1. fredwilson

      I would love to learn about similarly minded senators who i dont agree with on social issues.For all the reasons you cite

      1. andyswan

        Rand Paul is a hell of a start.

        1. fredwilson

          Well i know of him and dig him in the same way you dig ron

          1. Morgan Warstler

            The guy you ought to be paying 110% of your attention to is Newt Gingrich.He’s all about automating government. The kind where $200B in new private sector tech revenue replaces $1T in public employees salaries…. balancing the budget without raising taxes.Make $1 on $5 you save taxpayers should be the mantra of the next tech boom.

          2. fredwilson

            Ive always enjoyed newtI dislike some of his viewsBut i agree that he has good ideasHe is forward thinking in many areas

          3. Dave Pinsen

            Newt is good at throwing spaghetti against the wall, but he’s been around long enough to know that those jobs are a feature, not a bug for many participants in the political system. Part of the reason some people volunteer for campaigns is for the shot at a government gig if their candidate wins.

          4. Morgan Warstler

            Dave, shutting down the post office is a perfect example.  Government saves $250B over next 8 years.Internet BOOMS like 1998.My point is that the real political players for any technologist are harden fiscal conservatives.On its surface, technology is the opposite of a jobs program.  We know it is, but tech exists to topple industries, to make the weaker the stronger.And government is officially the most inefficient part of our economy by a long mile.We shouldn’t be paranoid of the social junk, to co-opt the GOP, the smart guys all have to JOIN the GOP.

          5. Ray Cote

            @MorganWarstler:disqus”government is officially the most inefficient part of our economy by a long mile”Inefficiency is simple the cost of doing business in a democratic fashion, all other forms of governance are more inefficient in the long run.The solution is collective hard work to          improve the process literacy of govern operations by improving the political process literacy of the citizenry at large.Citizens ultimately get the democratic governance they deserve. We all need to worker harder at thinking for ourselves and questioning authority.better social-networking platforms=better collective political-IQ

      2. Tom

        This senator is the # 1 reason Occupy Wallstreet exists.Tech industry donates major $$$ to this guy to influence policy.It’s absolutely disgusting and hopefully OWS will raise awareness.

        1. kidmercury

          no one wins without help, gotta know when to sell out and who to sell to. what specifically don’t you like about wyden’s policies? 

        2. karen_e


        3. ObnoxiousGeek

          Well Tom, the #1 reason OWS exists is because there are too many people in our country who don’t and won’t take personal responsibility – for their own success. They want government to play nanny for them.What kind of BS is “Wipe off all my student loans”, “Pay living wage to even those who do nothing”, etc? This BS is 100% un-American.Countries like Egypt need protests and chaos to create change. We are a democracy – last I checked. We have a system in place to create change. It is called elections.But working on elections is hard. It is easier to protest and blame it all on some bogeyman – especially “wall street”, “1%”, etc.If OWS sheep want to say “But elections are corrupted, we can’t create change via elections” – I have 2 words: Tea Party. They were able to create change (for better or worse) via elections just this last cycle.

          1. Simon

            Sorry, but the Tea Party is not a political party. It is a subset of the Republican Party.  Thus, anyone can claim to be a member of the Tea Party. In 2000, I supported Ralph Nader. And supporting him meant hitting the pavement collecting signatures to get him on a ballot, and basically creating the infrastructure of a third party in all 50 states (he was “Green Party” in some states “Independent” in others, etc).  That support is difficult.  The Tea Party needs to do no such thing, because they aren’t a stand alone Party, they are a showing of hands of anyone who wants to claim the name, from those situated in one of the two major parties. It’s worth keeping that in mind.

          2. DemocraticGeek

            What’s wrong with protests? Protests are needed in democracies. Japan and South Korea and so does Europe, seemingly daily. Last I checked we had freedom of speech and assembly. Use it or lose it.

          3. ObnoxiousGeek

            I agree with you, our citizens have freedom of speech and assembly. Granted by our constitution.But, if all they do is assemble and “speechify” – and do nothing else: They shouldn’t expect to be paid a “living wage”. That’s all.

          4. Tom

            This senator Wyden gets about 60% + of his campaign $$$ from outside Oregon.Yeah, he’s a good guy.This is the reason of Occupy Wall Street.Don’t you get it!!!!

          5. LE

             “too many people in our country who don’t and won’t take personal responsibility – for their own success. They want government to play nanny for them.”There was a sound bite the other night on the news about a town that discontinue fluoride treatment of the water to save money.  And a mother interviewed says something like “well I hope they are now going to pay for all the dental care that my kids are going to need!!!”

          6. ShanaC

            You know, if there were no protests in 20s and 30s, there wouldn’t be the idea of overtime. An idea which is slowly going away.And the debt load is crushing. It is not about debt per say, it is about being able to discharge your debt reasonably, ideally via paying it off. That is much harder when many student debt loads are as badas mortgages with more punitive interest rates. They are also impossible to discharge.

        4. ObnoxiousGeek

          Oh, one more thing. What is wrong with the tech industry donating to politicians?Do you think only some religious nutcases/organizations should be able to influence the political process?Corporations are persons too – it is a fact, per the U.S. law. In fact, they’re far more important to the health of our country and economy than many human persons who have a vote.

          1. Ray Cote

            And swimming pools are drinking glasses.If corporations were persons we wouldn’t need two separate concrete nouns to describe them.

        5. vruz

          Tom, with all due respect.You know the #OWS tag on Twitter?It was made possible because an open Internet, free-to-tinker-with web,  and the necessary technology were available back in 2006 to Jack and the other guys who started Twitter.We can probably agree that a free service of global scale that has been instrumental for the communication of several high profile events in the last year have been served well by services like Twitter. ( See Tunisia uprising, Tahrir Square, Egypt; Indignados, Spain; Education budget protests in England and Chile, etc. etc.)The whole point of engaging guys like Senator Wyden is to make sure that the free flow of innovation and an open internet don’t cease to exist.It’s a battle we are losing, the web is becoming more closed, and the only way to solve this problem is engaging all actors who can understand technology, who can also help to drive policy in the right direction.Regardless of his title and affiliation, Wyden is one of them.

      3. Steven Kane

        scott brown?olympia snowe?maria cantwell?tom coburn?susan collins?orrin hatch?joseph lieberman?ben nelson?marco rubio?

        1. fredwilson

          I wish they had all shown up at web2 & sat for 30mins with heilemannIm sure i would like some of them

          1. Steven Kane

            well, senator wyden does raise a huge amount of funding from the tech community. for that kind of scratch i’m sure pretty much any u.s. senator would be happy to drop by;)

    2. Mark Essel

      Now this is getting interesting. I’ll begin to support representatives I don’t agree with because of their style of representation.

    3. Carl J. Mistlebauer

      Statistics have created the “…artificial “groups” of voting-blocks” and in turn turned the two political parties into marketing firmsThus we have no political leaders any longer.  Leadership points the way forward, and polls and data is all about advertising and marketing; thus our politicians become nothing more product hucksters….Much like Ron Popeil and the pocket fisherman.

      1. ObnoxiousGeek

        Good point Carl. Two differences:1) Ron Popeil sold products that worked, and added value to the lives of buyers. Most of the time.2) With his products, you could set it and forget it.

      2. raycote

        Hey – watch your mouth!That old POCKET FISHERMAN really worked well.Unlike these political huckster products.

  5. William Mougayar

    If you’re mobile or can’t play by clicking the embed, this will work from the browser:…(I couldn’t play it straight, so had to find the original URL from YouTube)

  6. Matt A. Myers

    I need a Boxee so I click that “watch later” thing you do Fred – would make life so much easier..

    1. Mark Essel

      I use instapaper for that purpose. I click a bookmarklet which sends this url to my read later bin. Then when I’m at home at night or early in the morning I can watch it at my convenience, even weeks later.I’m not afraid to delete or archive stuff that I’m no longer interested in.

    2. fredwilson

      You can download the boxee mac and windows software and get that feature

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Hm.. So you don’t need the physical Boxee ?

        1. andyswan

          Boxee, listen up.  Matthew and I are two smart people that WANT to want your product(?)  service?  software? but just don’t understand it.I am to the point where I concede that I would love it.  It just never seems like I’m in the mood to figure it all out.Your job is not to tell us what we CAN do.Your job is to tell us what to do.  Our job is to then say yes or no.  

          1. Matt A. Myers

            I hope they hear you – that’s why I posted the question. That’s a big marketing feat to get into mainstream – what to do / the why. :)I’m still convinced, for whatever reason, that I need the physical box… might take some time for my mind to shift for that thought..

        2. Mark Essel

          I tried their software on my living room mac mini, but ended up just using netflix, and web browsers instead.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Maybe that’s why I thought I needed the box itself (as that’s the only way in my mind it had added use value), as it’s only useful with my TV / non-internet connected device.

        3. Brad Barrish

          Just add the Boxee bookmarklet to your browser, download the iOS app and stream to your Apple TV. That’s what I do. Or I just watch it on my iPad. It’s awesome.

    3. Vasudev Ram

      There’s another recent startup called Spool – – that does the “read it later” thing. I got on to their beta very recently. Still to try it out much. They also seem to have mobile app(s) and a browser add-on. Here is a video about them from the email they sent me after registration:

      1. Vasudev Ram

        I forgot to mention that they also support watching videos later, not only web pages.

      2. Vasudev Ram

        I should also mention – for anyone who read my original comment about Spool and is thinking of trying it out – that, like many other browser extensions or mobile apps, it can access “your data on all websites” and “Your tabs and browsing activity”. Those quotes are from the Chrome Web Store page for the Spool browser add-on at:…(That URL redirects to a Chrome Web Store page for the add-on.) So, take a call (before using it) on whether you want to use it or not, for reasons of privacy, etc.This is a concern I have with many such web / mobile apps or browser add-ons / extensions. Most of them seem to “grab” more privileges than they need (such as access to your data on all web sites), by default, and many or most of them don’t seem to have a way to let the user reduce the number of privileges they require or grab (whether required or not).I wish the makers of these tools would stop that and start using only the privileges that they need to. I have not gone into whether they need all those privileges or not (some may), also it may differ case-to-case, but I can’t help thinking that, in general, it seems excessive and is a potential security and/or privacy risk.

  7. Mark Essel

    Bonkers, with ~900 comments (fortunately not per day yet), how do you @ShanaC:disqus , @wmoug:disqus  divvy up reading them all, or do you all read each comment as you historical have @FredWilson:disqus

    1. fredwilson

      I read every one but it often takes me a day or two to get to them all Shana and William hekp me by moderating while i am awol

      1. Mark Essel

        Nifty. Friendly bouncers while Kids busy.

    2. William Mougayar

      It’s an ongoing thing…i.e. I start when the comments start, so it’s not as daunting. If I were to come and see 900 comments, then that’s more difficult. I also get email notifications, so a quick scan helps. 

      1. Mark Essel

        Ah, that sounds manageable.As I value your attention, and I’m certain Fred and the rest of avc does, it’d be nice if we as a community could do something special to show our appreciation.

        1. William Mougayar

          I should add that I also use the Disqus Dashboard sometimes, as well as an iPhone app called DisqusPro.Thanks for suggesting, but no biggy for me on something special. Being a mod is special.

    3. ShanaC

      A) it is very ad hoc.B) I use email at this point to primarily scan through and pick up on linguistically and socially off comments.  It can be a bit intense (as seen on 900 comment days).  i usually sit down 1-3 times on the website to see if there are things I want to respond to.  It caps the amount of time I am here, and it allows me to work on other things efficiently.C) i keep an active eye on flagged comments, deleted comments, and comments marked as spam in the disqus moderation panel throughout the day while working.  So if you flag, I will know (please flag spam, it does help)D) We’re actively trying to blacklist spammers. @disqus:disqus – if we create blacklists, does it help systemwide?

      1. Mark Essel

        Wonderful workflow, thanks for sharing it. I’ll attempt to flag spam as I see it. Distributed moderation is a great way to scale smart filtering, glad avc and Disqus are taking advantage of it.Paul Buchheit formely of FriendFeed (now supporting Y combinator) had an excellent approach to this, and he may share some insight with the Disqus team. cc @danielha:disqus @paulbuchheit:disqus

        1. ShanaC

          we’ll see how it scales.

  8. William Mougayar

    Very impressed by his knowledge of technology and its impact. Money quote “the Internet is the shipping lane of the 21st century”. He definitely gets it. 

    1. Cam MacRae

      It was well worth the 35 minutes, no doubt about it.

    2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

      I know folks in the industry are supposed to believe they are changing the world and they represent the best ideas for the future.  But reality is that in the quiet of your own thoughts you have to ask:1.  How exactly does the internet represent a “shipping lane?”2.  Does this shipping lane increase the availability of goods at a lower price AND leads to an increase in the standard of living (wages) for a country?  Or whatever ever geographical border you want to use.3.  In reality the internet is just a “tool” it is not an end of and by its self.  As such the true revolutionaries the true innovators are those who take these tools and apply them (produce goods/services and or create a rise in standard of living). We have not reached the point with tech/internet where we can claim that it represents a positive force such as the industrial revolution or the assembly line in the history of our society. 

      1. Matt A. Myers

        1. You can make people’s lives better (assuming you’re actually doing something for a cause); Lots of bad things were shipped/spread with shipping too – including sickness and war.2. Increase availability of goods at a lower price? No, not currently. Because government is broken. The point of capitalism is innovation, the point of innovation is to reduce costs of production to pass those savings off to consumers (so more people can benefit). It’s this last part that doesn’t occur – and then new innovations are prevented from coming into place because the profits are going towards perpetuating the machine, instead of profits not existing any longer on those previous products.3. Agreed.I agree with your conclusion as well. There are people who have interest in hijacking the benefits (of keeping/maintaining control).This is why it’s fundamental that a political “lobby” is formed by new tech companies to have government legislation be out with the old (such as Carlota Perez stated).

        1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

          Matthew, You are a brilliant guy, but you need to step back and view reality rather than trying to superimpose an ideology on reality.The purpose of capitalism is nothing more than the orderly and most efficient allocation of resources. Its a resource allocation system. Innovation is not part of the economic system but rather part of the intellectual system. Da Vinci was quite a visionary and very innovative but capitalism was not even invented then.While all of us would love to be able to point at government and blame them for all that ails this country the reality is that globalization, and the ability to reduce the costs of production by seeking lower labor costs is just easier to implement today as a way to continue to provide the consumer with savings; thus the delay in implementing innovative ideas.Innovation and technology does not live in a vacuum, and its benefits and its promise may be delayed due to forces larger than its self.Obviously, government is broken, but then so are our beliefs in capitalism, which was written and explained as “The Wealth Of Nations” and with free markets, the concept of “Nation” is no longer relevant. Money is going to go where ever the cost of production is the cheapest, that is as fundamental as the law of gravity. So, logically, we cannot produce jobs in the US until our costs of production equals that of the cheapest production cost nation. When that occurs then our GDP will equal that of the country with the cheapest production costs too. Our biggest issue is that we always prided ourselves on producing the most goods at the cheapest price; that was always our claim to fame. Now, we are arguing about creating a 21st century economy and creating technology for the rest of the world. To make that change is going to involve some really awesome central planning and government….which goes totally against the American ideal.I doubt that a “lobby” would be effective and the reality is that wouldn’t that just be reinforcing our existing problem rather than solving it? Or as they say in Kindergarden, “…if you cannot beat them than join them?”Human nature is about control; in government its known as a tyranny or a plutocracy and in economics its known as a monopoly or “too big to fail.” One did not create the other, unless you want to spend the day in a philosophical discussion of whether the chicken or the egg came first.

          1. jason wright

            The ‘theory’ of capitalism may be the orderly and most efficient allocation of resources as you say, but that isn’t how it works in the real world. The “99% Club” is testament to that.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        will re-post comment after viewing the interview…

      3. William Mougayar

        Carl, I disagree. The Internet has enabled cross-border & within borders commerce and brought a number of efficiencies everywhere. It is a lot more than a toolset.



        1. vruz


      5. Cam MacRae

        Re: point 2), for a lot of countries the answer is yes. It’s opened up the powerful US market to countries with smaller, less competitive markets. It becomes very apparent when you live overseas:”$60 for a t-shirt? Not likely, I’ll order it online for $12 + $5 shipping.”This applies equally to the range of goods now available to smaller markets.

        1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

          Yes, you can now buy $12 tee shirts with shipping at $5. But the shipping is subsidized because UPS will charge a minimum of $7.50 for residential delivery and thus to make that tee shirt profitable, in a world where commodity prices increases regularly, labor costs have to drop.So, apparel once made in New England then made in the South, has gone from Mexico, to Honduras, to Guatemala, and now to Columbia.In turn you saw consolidation within the apparel industry where smaller specialty firms fell by the wayside and now you have 7 major tee shirt manufacturers, manufacturing 30 different labels.Technology may have made you aware of the cheap tee shirt, but it did not make the tee shirt cheap; Walmart sells tee shirts for $7.

          1. Cam MacRae

            Very interesting, but you may have missed my point: There is no Walmart. There are only cheap t-shirts because they can be purchased via the internet.

          2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Cam,You are remote!Now, most likely, and I am speaking from experience, the tee shirt cost more to ship than you paid for the shirt.From your perspective you have access to cheap goods, from the manufacturer’s perspective you benefited from an inefficiency.If I offer $5 shipping, I know that I am going to lose $3 per order, that is on one shirt. If it entices the consumer to buy between 2 and 4 shirts I lose less.When someone from Wyoming buys a shirt, and they live in a remote part of Wyoming, then shipping will cost me more than what I am selling the shirt for.The reality is the internet did NOT create an efficiency to lower the cost of your tee shirts, it created access for you to buy cheap tee shirts.For a year, year and a half, after the passage of NAFTA, the tee shirt market was flooded with 3 tees for $10! That was 1995/1996….Again, as consumers and or individuals we can marvel at how much the internet has changed our lives….but sometimes you have to open the curtain behind the myth….We see cheaper prices and give thanks to the internet without realizing the true impetus for lower prices.

          3. Cam MacRae

            @tao69:disqus I can’t fault you there, except to say on the points:Does this shipping lane increase the availability of goods at a lower price AND leads to an increase in the standard of living (wages) for a country?The answer is yes.

          4. jason wright

            The price of everything and the value of nothing. If all costs were factored in the price of all goods would be higher. The one cost that is never factored in is the cost to the environment. Carlota Perez believes the next economic stage is the green revolution, a massive investment in reinventing our physical and manufacturing infrastructures. Not soon enough in coming IMHO. 

  9. kidmercury

    900 comments is too much, like nyc subway during rush hour on a 100 degree day when the air conditoining in the train is broken and there are delays in the station. a number of solutions will surely emerge to the population density crisis in fredland, let’s see what people like. wyden is cool, definitely has lots of kook cred for his comments regarding the surveillance grid govt has setup.anyway, though, i did not want to end on a happy note but rather with some doom and gloom: those interested in an internet free of excessive government restraint will want to shut down the military agenda. wars only exacerbate the threat of cyberterrorism, both real and manufactured false flags. supporting pro-war candidates is one of the biggest mistakes i expect people to make in the 2012 national elections. as we will increasingly see revolution is the only answer, the system is beyond reform and it is cheaper and more feasible to start anew than try to fix this piece of crap, especially when there are still a lot of people who like bush jr (lol seriously how dumb can one be……it is irresponsible at this point). the only question is whether the revolution will be peaceful and orderly or violent and anarchic. seek the truth and you get the former, choose ignorance and you get the latter.9/11 was an inside job,kid mercury

  10. ShanaC

    He has some super interesting perspectives on privacy and what we have a right to know.He’s right things will change, but we’re also becoming a less private society overall.  Maybe that is why the government is getting more secretive – because it is becoming a much more either/or situation when it comes to any given piece of information, rather than an and.

    1. andyidsinga

      there was a great ‘fresh air’ episode on ‘Top Secret Amercia’ ..worth listening to.

  11. andyidsinga

    hope this isnt too far off topic since we’re giving props to Ron Wyden ( and with all the discussion about ows this past weekend )…Wyden and McGovern are attempting to block arms sales to Bahrain government due to violent supression of protests.…a very good thing.

  12. Tom Labus

    He was very good.None of those topics ever make it through in news coverage or very minimally and god forbid into a national debate.What amazes me the most is that he has been in DC that long with these views and hasn’t been targeted for political extinction.

  13. kidmercury

    here’s wyden on the issues:…ammo for haters:1. voted to re-authorize patriot act2. voted yes on sending 17.9 billion to IMF3. obviously skipped school the day they covered the 2nd amendment4. voted yes on stimulus packages5. voted yes on greater federal intervention in education, no on vouchers for private school

  14. gerald

    I don’t understand the Senator’s focus on preventing a private right of action.  Let’s say the fed gov eventually passes some kind of IP legislation.  What happens if they never enforce the legislation? (for overtly political reasons, or more covert political reasons such as the agency is underfunded, understaffed, etc etc). Then it’s essentially deregulation, it’s not a regulation.  Thus, the regulation should come in the form of a private right of action to enforce the legislation.  But If the legislation precludes a private right of action (and the fed govt agency does not bring any actions) the fed govt is basically seceding the rule of law. Senator Wyden’s answers suggest that he wants a pretty free internet. In such a case, private rights of action should be encouraged over federal legislation. To say no to both might make a good sound bite, but it’s not a solution to any problem. 

  15. Dave Pinsen

    I wonder if @Cchrystle:disqus will weigh in here. He says we need to “end the plutocracy”. Presumably, @fredwilson:disqus, by being a wealthy political donor, is part of that “plutocracy”. And yet the Senator he’s supporting here seems like a decent fellow, considering that  @andyswan:disqus, who disagrees with him on many positions, still thinks we’d be better off with more like him.Ultimately, complaints about campaign finance remind me of complaints about politics being “broken”. It’s not, and, while imperfect, neither is the campaign finance system. It just seems broken when you’re side isn’t winning.

    1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

      “Do not go gentle into that good night…”If nothing is wrong, if nothing is broken, then why the dissatisfaction? If its nothing more than “…you’re side isn’t winning” then based on recent experience the losers are outnumbering the winners…

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Who said nothing was wrong? There are plenty of things wrong. But the political system didn’t all of a sudden break after 200 years. It wasn’t broken when millions of people donated to and organized online to elect Obama in 2008, and it wasn’t broken when millions did the same to elect Tea Party candidates in 2010. And it’s not broken now.The OWS protesters have demonstrated an ability to organize and raise funds. There’s nothing stopping them from channeling that into seeking change through the political system, by running their own candidates in elections next year.Why the dissatisfaction? Mainly, because of the lousy economy. In the case of a subset of younger folks, the additional realization that they racked up $100k of debt helping to inflate the education bubble, and have little ROI to show for it.  

        1. matthughes

          I don’t think the political system is broken but I do think the party system is skiwampus.A lot of good ideas get marginalized by party rhetoric (on both sides).

          1. Dave Pinsen

            I always like learning new words, so +1 for “skiwampus”.The only thing that has stopped 3rd parties from being successful at the national level is the 2 major parties co-opting their ideas. An example was when Perot launched the Reform Party, which was concerned mainly with the deficit (how quaint, I know.). In response, both the major candidates added deficit reduction to their platforms, and the guy who won, Bill Clinton, managed to at least temporarily eliminate the deficit (thanks in part to the tech boom).So even though the Reform Party didn’t win, it’s major concern got addressed. Which shows that 3rd parties can be useful agents of reform. Maybe we’ll see another one soon.

          2. matthughes

            I think I picked up that word from my dad.I believe term limits would effectively reduce the influence of the two parties.Make the politicians slightly less dependent on party money and favors and allow them to act more independently. 

        2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

          If you back up you realize that the polarization and dramatic shifts in power have been going on for a while now. The dissatisfaction with government has been reflected in polls for a long time.Yes, the economy is lousy, but the OWS has the potential to represent a much broader segment of society than just kids with student debt. How about elderly that cannot retire? Working class with underwater mortgages? People drowning in medical bills?The concept of “outliers” and innovators applies to a much broader perspective than just business and technology. Why didn’t IBM develop DOS and exploit the potential of the personal computer? Why did Steve Jobs feel the need to go off and develop Apple? Couldn’t he have been satisfied “channeling that into seeking change through the (existing economic system?)”So now we have front row seats to history: The change of the Tea Party operating from within the system and the threat of OWS operating outside the system.Thanks to the internet and technology we are able to have these front row seats rather than waiting years for these movements to develop and grow to the point that they are getting our attention.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Congress perennially polls low, but when voters are asked about their Rep, he or she usually polls much higher. So some stated dissatisfaction with government needs to be taken with that in mind. It often amounts to, “I like the guy I voted for, but not the SOBs keeping him from doing x”. But making it hard for anyone to do x is how our system of government was designed, and it’s an essential part of protecting minority views and preventing the tyranny of the majority.Regarding OWS having the potential to represent a larger swath of the population, perhaps, but apparently that’s not currently the case, at least not according to President Clinton’s pollster Doug Schoen, who polled a couple hundred of them and found their views to be far outside the mainstream.As for Steve Jobs, he did channel change through the existing economic system. Offering new products and services as part of a profit-seeking business is a classic example of our mostly-capitalist economic system in action. He certainly disrupted certain industries (e.g. music) and largely created others (mobile apps), but he still did it as a capitalist.Suggesting that OWS operate outside the system would be like suggesting that a smart phone maker that can’t compete with Apple operate outside the market system by, I don’t know, asking government to buy their phones in bulk and distribute them to citizens?What Steve Jobs and the Tea Party have in common is that they were willing to compete on their ideas — Jobs in the marketplace, and the Tea Party at the ballot box. If OWS isn’t willing to compete on its ideas, that suggests it may be because Schoen is right, and their ideas are too far outside the mainstream to win.

          2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Yes, and like Steve Jobs and Capitalism, the OWS is wanting to change our political system within the democratic system, but not necessarily within the existing political parties. Just like start ups within the existing economic system.Yes, our political system has been around for over 200 years but their have been political systems that have lasted much longer and failed miserably. We tend to forget that our revolution was quite a radical idea in its day and age; I mean we annulled the concept of divine right of kings.The thought that men, common men could rule themselves, was an alien concept at the time.I can just imagine the folks at IBM laughing at the thought the some kids had the crazy idea that computers would eventually be in every home.I am not advocating one group over the other, but rather just trying to point out a new way of looking at things…..

          3. ObnoxiousGeek

            If some elderly cannot retire, it is because they didn’t save enough. If some students have too much debt, it is due to their and their parents’ decisions. If some working class people have underwater mortgages, it is because of poor decisions to buy during a bubble.Taking personal responsibility is hard – but very beneficial. Blaming someone else (wall street, 1%) is easy – but mostly useless.

          4. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            The myth of “personal responsibility” died on the day TARP was passed.

          5. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Myths are dangerous because they can come back to haunt you! Like the myth of supply side economics and “Job Creators.”Back in the day when rising demand created a job, then cutting staff was easy, all you had to say was “…sorry, the business isn’t there….” but now that we want to claim that “we” create jobs then of course, when jobs are lost, who is to blame?The 1%? They created the myth of being the job creators! A myth that this country bought into in a big way over the course of the last 30 years…I have never called myself a “job creator” but always referred to myself as nothing more than a simple guy trying to make a buck satisfying a demand.

          6. LE

             I essentially agree but realize also that you have to try to prevent people from their own folly. Otherwise as in any “the buck stops here” situation it becomes someone else problem to clean up the mess.Think about all the people out there with unhealthy eating habits and other excesses. In the end everyone else who does the right thing ends up paying for them.That’s one thing you know as an entrepreneur. It doesn’t matter who’sat fault. In the end if the right thing doesn’t happen it costsyou money and/or becomes your problem.

          7. raycote

            History is strewn with the bodies of the powerless who had neither the wealth nor education with which to seize those self-bootstrapping responsibilities.Yes, responsibility plays a major role but to imagine ourselves as omnipotent in the face of historical circumstance seems incongruent with reality.when you zoom right inwhen you get right down on itTHERE ARE NO NOUNS JUST VERBSeverything is just one big giant conjugation far beyond the control of any imaginary personified nounsThe last few decades of IT innovation have accelerated the flux density of social, political and economic interdependence well beyond the linear, single variable, equations of me and my shareholders wash our hands of the rest.Planned , co-operative, optimized, social syncopation is a mandatory constrain in an age of network accelerated everything.Micro-manage everything at light speed or die. Those are the card history has dealt us.Lets all take responsibility for recognizing our accelerating interdependence!

    2. fredwilson

      i am going to play by the system while at the same time i’d like to change the system

      1. Dave Pinsen

        To what? 

  16. kirklove

    “I used to love politics. But now its all about money. I don’t love politics anymore.”From your very first post. Sept 23rd, 2003.

    1. Tom Labus

      That’s pretty good.

    2. vruz

      Oh, so your point is that it’s a great thing Fred learnt that no matter how much he disliked politics, politics would always come back to haunt us in the current state of things, and that it’s a good idea to improve the conditions for web startups to flourish?If that’s what you’re saying, I agree with you!

    3. fredwilson

      i’m trying to figure out a new way to love politics

  17. matthughes

    “I know what I don’t know.”That’s the first step to fixing anything.

  18. testtest

    did you see clayton’s tweet fred?

    1. fredwilson

      i did. now i need to figure out when and how

  19. Douglas Crets

    I am happy that someone — and I think it’s ironic that it’s a politician — is telling us that we need to find out about the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act. Clearly there are also two governments at play, in this case.  There is the government we think we voted in or didn’t vote in. And then there is the one doing the dirty work. 

  20. Douglas Crets

    Fred, why do my comments disappear in the stream when I leave them? Are you seeing them or are they lost in the aether? 

    1. William Mougayar

      I’ll check

      1. fredwilson

        i am so happy to have some help with these issuesi wasn’t in this thread for almost 24 hoursseeing something like this is painful when you know its been a problem for a long time without attention

    2. William Mougayar

      Nothing in spam from u. And I see another comment of yours below. Were there others?

  21. Kenyan

    As an African living in Australia reading British news websites and American blogs,Politicians the world over who understand the internet’s impact and importanc are important to me. Thanks for the link.On a side note – the BBC thinks that your country’s political system is illegal – maybe England can take back the running of politics again and you all won’t have to worry so much about a broken democracy?? 😉

    1. fredwilson

      I love thatThanks for sharing it

  22. mikenolan99

    Just yesterday I had lunch with our Congressman, Tim Walz. We spent most of our time discussing how the SBA works to a degree, and how we can make it better.We then visited a manufacturing firm that has grown from 3 to 30 employees in rural Minnesota in 3 years.  While it was tough getting them funded, we did help secure a ~2.0M SBA backed bank funding round for them.I am interested in the BIG IDEAS debate – but am also working everyday helping small business obtain working capital.  Would love to hear this groups ideas on the subject.

    1. Tom Labus

      Access to working capital is a major issue at this point for most SMB’s.

  23. Prokofy

    I don’t know much about this fellow and will study up on him, but I want to highlight another issue — it’s a great thing to like a politician and give to his campaign.I don’t think I personally have ever given to a candidate because it just isn’t the way I want to spend my limited funds — I do give them votes, however, and show up for every poll.Citizens United is a good thing; corporations as people are a good thing. Monied interests like yours affecting politics is a good thing as it keeps the system free — there is enough plurality and diversity of views backed by money that you cannot speak of “the rich owning the system”. They don’t. There’s the Koch brothers; then there’s Soros and Katrina vanden Heuvel and and Michael Moore.But if your pals down there “occupying Wall Street” whom you say you want to join had their way, no one would be able to give to politicians. Corporations couldn’t because Citizens United would be repealed, and their lefty unions and nonprofits would get to be corporations and nobody else could. Of course, there would be bundlers and individuals, but that’s not the same and not sufficient for plurality.If they had their way, elections would be run out of a federal fund — and that would naturally reward those already in power.It is a perfect system, like investing in start-ups — somebody has a set of views and past record you like; you give to them; they serve your business interests by introducing legislation or policies that advance your sector — everybody wins.Of course, your Venezuelan friend believes that government and industry shouldn’t work that way with the marketplace of ideas and cash to back ideas politically. She thinks you should gang up and creatively destruct those old sectors like telecoms or cars you don’t like and and favour only “innovative technology” that helps the ruling class. So maybe the system isn’t so perfect, but I tend to think it’s the worst — except all the others.

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t like money and politics. i’d like to see that end. but until it does, i will play their game their way.

  24. raycote

    SAY WHAT ?”If they had their way”Who is this amorphous THEY of which you speak?Your stereotyping is simple the expression of a very low sampling rate!

  25. raycote

    @ProkofySAY WHAT ?”If they had their way”Who is this amorphous they of which you speak ?Your stereotyping is simply an expression of a very poor sampling rate !

  26. Michael Tupper

    Outstanding!  Makes me proud to be an Oregonian.You can sense that Sen. Wyden holds a set of ideals (whether you agree with them or not) that haven’t been compromised.  He is straight forward, sincere and appears to have maintained his integrity in tact after 15 yrs in the senate.  He is a Senator who can’t be bought, and that is what I believe to be at the core of our rotting and infected political system: $.