The Far Center Party

My friend and occasional AVC community member Steve Kane calls himself a member of the Far Center Party. As I watch the two parties and their defacto nominees gear up for another presidential election, I find myself wanting to tune out the whole thing.

I am socially liberal. I was thrilled when Obama recognized a gay couple's right to marriage.

I am fiscally conservative. Obamacare scares me.

I am not really comfortable in any political party. The social views of the Republican party are more frightening to me than the economic views of the Democratic party. So I hold my nose and vote Democratic most of the time. But that is less and less satisfying every day.

Living in NYC for the past ten years has been a joy. We have a mayor who is not hostage to any orthodoxy. A mayor who simply makes the most pragmatic and practical decision at the time given his various options. We have a mayor who epitomizes the values of the Far Center Party.

I believe Bloomberg would run for President if he thought he could win. And I believe he has done the math and the analysis and has concluded that he cannot. That has everything to do with how our two political parties control congress and the electoral college.

I was hopeful that something like Americans Elect would work. It did not.

Our country is hostage to the two political parties who control our electoral process. Those of us in the Far Center Party should figure out how to change that.


Comments (Archived):

  1. reece

    i dig Bloomberg, too. wish he would runsadly, he’s smart enough not to

    1. John Revay

      Ditto, I love the mayor, I think Fred’s comment is on point,””mayor who simply makes the most pragmatic and practical decision at the time given his various options”

    2. andyswan

      He better hurry up before that 17th ounce of Sprite kills me!!! SAVE ME FROM MYSELF!!!What an ass. The voters of NYC are getting the nanny they deserve.

      1. reece

        the implementation isn’t great, but the intention is rightbut let’s flip it around… the people who buy those drinks are the ones who end up obese with diabetes, in some cases unable to work, taxing our healthcare system among other systems, and costing taxpayers (us) more money

        1. andyswan

          Ahhh the slippery slope. Now that we’re nanny for one thing (healthcare), that gives us the RIGHT to be authoritarian nanny on another thing. See where this ends up? Any word on the cocoa rations, citizen?Your loathing of “the people who buy those drinks” is palpable. Your desire to limit their ability to think and act on their own, because of how it will affect YOUR pocketbook, is disgusting.Lastly…. I drink a lot of Dr. Pepper. I’m not obese. I could say the same for the 11 construction workers on the lot behind us who will be sipping out of their 64oz polar mugs all day.Mayor Bloomberg and any other prohibitionist that wants to limit the way we live can kiss my ass.

          1. reece

            cleve counterargument using the words “loathing” and pinning it as [my] desirei’ll just reiterate that i don’t like the way the bill is being implemented, but i think the intention is good, even if it’s just a bandaid to a greater problemno time to keep going on this today. have fun in here kids

          2. andyswan

            Prohibitionists always think their intention is good.

          3. ShanaC

            I’m fine with some authoritarian nannying as long as it doesn’t go the way of “absolutely no.” Why can’t I make it as difficult as possible for you to make the wrong decision – I’m not stopping you, just wearing you down on the subject so you are less likely to make it.And remember, some of your decisions affect me! So why wouldn’t I want to stop you if it means I have to pay for your diabetes by covering more of your work (you in the general sense, not you in particular). What about my personal freedom in this?

      2. BillSeitz

        Not to mention the ongoing FreeSpeechZone model. Yes, Mike, we have a FreeSpeechZone: it’s called the UnitedStates!

      3. Dan

        sadly, for the sake of society we need limits for the increasing number of people who can’t save themselves…your options seem to be:a) limit the stupid bad things people shouldn’t consume (either by limiting production or consumption)b) expedite and cheapen the dying process by refusing to do anything to help the obesec) do nothing and bankrupt everythingI’ll admit this is pretty simplified, but given the reality of things, which do you feel most comfortable signing up for?

  2. Cam MacRae

    Another great discussion for we foreign folk to stay out of. Despite my strong ties to the US I can’t get a handle on your politics; the most right wing PM in our history was still to the left of Obama.

    1. John Best

      Yes, its something I’ve learned from debating politics online. Generalising across national borders is doomed to fail. I think that as Brits, the temptation to see a “common” language as a common thought (and indeed democratic) process is strong, but the US is a wholly different system.Sauce for the goose is not always for the gander.

      1. Cam MacRae

        Couldn’t agree more.

    2. andyswan

      No he’s just to the left of where Obama can pass votes. He’s not to the left of where Obama wants to be.

      1. Cam MacRae

        Perhaps. My point was more along the lines that I can’t simply phase shift local politics (of which I have a high degree of understanding) in order to talk intelligently about the US.

        1. andyswan

          right on. I saw “Socialists” win in France and I thought “they’re doomed….then I thought…. wait!…there is something LEFT of where France already is?”

          1. Cam MacRae

            Indeed there is, comrade. And there’s a betting man’s chance that in a just a few days we’ll call it Greece.

      2. raycote

        We’re well into the age of network organics.(complex synchronous interdependencies)!Maybe it time to drop the left-right – left-right – left-right linear framing ?Is that a left-wing or right-wing network API ?

      3. MikeSchinkel

        @andyswan:disqus Very interesting. Do tell us about the conversation you had with Obama where he explained his desire to be more left. Please.

        1. andyswan

          Read both books he wrote about himself. Did you?

          1. MikeSchinkel

            @andyswan:disqus You’ve got a good memory, better than mine. I don’t remember the specific paragraphs where Obama explicitly stated the above; would you mind pointing me to one?

    3. Luke Chamberlin

      When I was an exchange student in Australia I went to visit Canberra got to watch Parliament in session.MPs were on their feet yelling at each other, many of them clearly drunk. The nefarious-sounding shadow ministers were plotting something on their side of the bench. There was a golden scepter that did something unclear and the judge(?) presiding over the the whole thing wore one of those old-timey powdered wigs.The best part was the wit. They would put each other down in ways so clever it was like watching a comedy roast.When I see clips of the US Congress I sign and remember my time in Australia.

      1. Cam MacRae

        Ah! Question Time. One of my favourite exchanges:Opposition Leader (Hewson):- I ask the Prime Minister: if you are so confident about your view of Fightback, why will you not call an early election?PM (Keating):- The answer is, mate, because I want to do you slowly. There has to be a bit of sport in this for all of us. In the psychological battle stakes, we are stripped down and ready to go. I want to see those ashen-faced performances; I want more of them. I want to be encouraged. I want to see you squirm out of this load of rubbish over a number of months. There will be no easy execution for you.

        1. JLM

          .The question about Question Time is does the PM know the questions beforehand?In England, they do.I used to love watching Question Time and seeing Margaret Thatcher flay the life out of her opponents but alas I found out she knew the questions ahead of time.I miss Margaret Thatcher..

          1. Cam MacRae

            Not all questions are known beforehand. A Dorothy Dixer (a question written by a Minister for a backbencher) is known, and questions with notice may be tabled beforehand, but there are provisions for both supplementary questions, points of order, and for questions without notice — of which there tend to be a lot.The above exchange was for a supplementary question from memory. Keating was a wit, so much so they made a musical out of some of his sprays.

          2. JLM

            .I think the US should adopt Question Time..

          3. Cam MacRae

            It’s a bit like a pub debate.

          4. JLM

            .@cam macraeHell, if they serve beer that would only make it better! Perhaps it should be mandatory that one has a beer or two before the questions fly?.

          5. Cam MacRae

            That’s why they have party Whips — to get the MPs out of the boozer and in to the chamber.A former PM, Bob Hawke, had an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for downing a yard glass of ale (2.5 imperial pints) in just 11 seconds while at Oxford. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. And that’s why this is a truly great county.

          6. JLM

            .Now are you making an argument for your COUNTY or your COUNTRY?Really, I can accept either but I just want some clarity and closure.There are some things in our otherwise miserable and meaningless lives which scream out for respect and that respect is the authenticity that we need in modern leaders.A chap who can down 2.5 pints — Imperial or otherwise, who really cares — of ale is a man who will rise to the occasion in a tight pickle and make it work.That man is all about outcomes and not about process. He believes in delivering results and perhaps a hearty burp.He, my friend, is a DOER! And we need more leaders who are DOERs!Just for the record, what kind of time do you think the American Presidential candidates would deliver when tested in a similar manner?.

          7. Cam MacRae

            Country. You’ll have to excuse the lack of typing precision — too exuberant; I’m very fond of beer, and even more fond of beery feats of endurance (I anchored my college’s boat racing team at university. Never managed 11 seconds though).I’m pretty sure you’ll find Romney retains a man to drink a beer on his behalf, so he’s disqualified, and Obama is waiting to hear whether Wen Jiabao will stump the funds for his beer kitty.In all seriousness, the last time I dared impugn the drinking prowess of an American he took a swing at me, so I’ll leave the estimate to your better judgement. (He missed — which some might argue proved my point).

          8. JLM

            .You are being a bit tough on my President. Though I often find fault with his policies, he is MY President and I will always rise to his defense.Our guy has conducted a real live Beer Summit replete with a Boston cop, a Harvard prof and Joe Biden (the entertainment?).They quaffed beers on the White House grounds though it is reputed that Joe had a non-alcoholic beer.Two beers, a few jokes and the world was a better place. A much, much better place.You are wrong about Mitt Romney. He would look at the beer and go buy the brewery, increase production by 20000%, sell it in a Dutch auction transaction and then drink a lovely little, naughty mischievous Pinot. Mitt is all about business..

          9. Cam MacRae

            Ha! Bless. I defer to your explanation.

          10. Luke Chamberlin

            Such a great story.

          11. Luke Chamberlin

            Our representatives would embarrass themselves.

          12. MikeSchinkel

            @JLM:disqus +1000!

        2. Luke Chamberlin

          Question Time! That’s the name.

  3. Avi Deitcher

    I think having no center is really quite healthy (ironically).The idea of a centrist, dominant party making technocratic decisions is highly appealing, in principle, to most people. But in practice, it isn’t the parties or the people who are evil (as a rule), it is the system of power, which exists in all political configurations at all times.I have lived in Parliamentary systems in Canada and Israel. When there is a broad coalition, it *sounds* nice, but it effectively guts any opposition. The parties in power become very good at maintaining their own benefits, at the expense of the people overall.A bipolar (or multipolar) system which changes hands from time to time, despite the tensions, is a very good thing. Healthy opposition is the real check and balance.And besides: the country exists not because of its technocracy, but because of ideals. These ideals conflict, and their implementations do, but parties need to represent those ideals, however poorly, or society will wither and decay.Long live the battle of ideas.

    1. fredwilson

      Thats an interesting way to think about it

      1. Avi Deitcher

        And it is coming from an avowed independent. Never joined any party, will vote for whoever I think best represents.

        1. ShanaC

          how do you deal with primaries? and local elections?

          1. Avi Deitcher

            Primaries should exist, and will primarily (pun intended) be the domain of ideology/party loyalists.Local elections are likely to be more diverse, but that is OK at the local level.@fredwilson:disqus how about you put together a reading list? De Tocqueville, Federalist Papers, Constitution, etc. We can have a virtual civics (or even CC) class right here.

    2. andyswan


    3. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Thank you for that excellent reminder 🙂 We just need to actually have two parties here, who differ on issues that matter not show-pony issues that only serve to stir up people emotionally.

    4. Dan

      I think the key is “healthy opposition”, which I would argue is not what exists in today’s landscape. Through much of US history I think the 2 party system has worked pretty well. We had parties that varied in strength and saw a good deal of both partisan and non-partisan legislation. The case today is different and, I would argue, unhealthy.Very few politicians today have the courage/know they won’t be reelected if they stray from party politics. Differing viewpoints is more than 2, it should be a sea of different approaches. In this scenario, a well functioning group will have an actual leader who is able to discern and facilitate the conversation needed to come to a compromise.That’s not what we see today. True leadership is nonexistent and alternative ideas are crushed before they ever germinate.Much like Fred, I am socially liberal, fiscally conservative and I’m completely turned off to politics today.

      1. Dave Pinsen

        “That’s not what we see today. True leadership is nonexistent and alternative ideas are crushed before they ever germinate.”The problem with the “pox on both houses” attitude is that, when it comes to certain issues (such as fiscal policy), it’s clearly not true. You may disagree with GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s approach in reining in entitlement spending, for example, but you can’t say he hasn’t exhibited leadership in putting it forward. Who among Democratic party office holders has exhibited similar courage and leadership on that issue?President Obama empaneled a bipartisan deficit commission (Bowles-Simpson) which made which made a reasonable proposal for tackling our long term fiscal crisis while moving toward a more pro-growth tax system, but the President and his party have been less than enthusiastic about it since. It took the threat of a government shutdown to get the promise of even modest spending restraint.

        1. JLM

          .I think that any reasonable person would have to agree that Cong Ryan’s plan and the Bowles-Simpson commission recommendations are the medicine that nobody wants to take.You are perfectly correct in pointing this fact out. Well played.They are both great starting points. Not perfect but great starting points.To not give them serious consideration while proposing nothing of comparable substance is just adolescent and irresponsible..

          1. ShanaC

            I don’t think the ryan plan seems holistic. I think what we really need is wholesale tax reform so we need less accountants.

          2. fredwilson

            i’d like to take their medicine. but you knew that already

        2. bsoist

          EDIT: something screwy going on with the rendering of comments today. I thought I was replying to someone else’s comments originally. My first sentence is now unnecessary. :)I always have to read your comments very carefully before I agree publicly (which I guess helps make your point here).This I definitely agree with!

        3. Shawn Cohen

          Yeah, what most people don’t know is that Congress only controls a small portion of spending whereas entitlement spending is baked in, outside of their total control. The arguments about spending today are completely wrongheaded.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Congress has the power to reform entitlements as well. That was a major component of Bowles-Simpson.

          2. Shawn Cohen

            good point. I should have emphasized that the broader discussion usually doesn’t take entitlement spending reform into consideration.

          3. JLM

            .But doesn’t that same Congress control the shape of legislation which gives rise to the shape and magnitude of that entitlement spending?Can any sane person not agree that SS reform will require some combination of the following:1. Increase in the age of eligibility to re-align life expectancy and retirement age.2. Means testing of benefits. Fred Wilson will not get SS.3. An ability to opt out of SS coupled with ability to invest your own money for retirement.In much the same way that major corporations have evolved from defined benefit retirement plans to defined contribution plans, this will have to happen to SS.In a perfect world, SS would simply disappear as folks under 30 simply opt out and invest their own money. Defined benefit becomes defined contribution.SS, in many ways, is like the National Helium Reserve — a great idea for ITS times which is now irrelevant.The problem is that no politician wants to be the bearer of this message. This is why Simpson-Bowles was so important. It dipped the turd out of the punchbowl for the administration..

          4. Shawn Cohen

            Yeah, i agree w/ all your points. The reality is that one generation has to take the hit. Even middle-aged citizens who hate SS still want their benefits when they hit 65.I’m toying w/ the idea of launching a “My Donation to America” campaign where people my age continue to pay in to SS but voluntarily relinquish our SS benefits.This idea is probably overly simplistic but I know that personally I’m willing to continue paying in so that older Americans can still benefit from what they’ve paid in as long as SS dies a few decades from now.I think there are enough Millennials who are socially, civically, and economically concerned that they’d join the cause.

          5. Dan T

            I’m 49. I’ll gladly sacrifice my SS benefits if everyone else that is “financially qualified” does. Just don’t keep taking my money for it – and I ‘ll call it even.

          6. JLM

            .The arithmetic problem is that everything you and I have already contributed — our money — is gone. I have already contributed for as many years as you have lived.The principal is gone. No interest of any kind is available. Everything has been spent through the fiction of IOUs from the general fund to the SS account.The funding of our SS requires future generations to pay taxes.We are way beyond simple “kiting” and deeply into Ponzi.The good news is that we are still within the shadow of an arithmetic solution if we can do the following:1. Delay eligibility from 62 to 70 — bitter pill to swallow but start with those under 55;2. Reduce benefits;3. Means test and deny benefits to the wealthy — basically breaking the promise while never returning contributions — tough and unconscionable but what will happen;4. Allow future generations to pay a reduced level of taxation and to simultaneously opt out of SS. Pay 1-2% for the privilege of not paying 7.5%. Employer still has to pay.If this can be done, the SS system will be solvent until future generations have so completely opted out, the system will disappear like the Helium Reserve..

          7. Dan T

            I’ll accept your counter-offer and continuing pay up to 2%, knowing I will never get anything from it . .even after 70. I’ll even agree to not take benefits even if I still qualify to take the $$ (based on means test). . .just let me go to 2% now. Where do I sign? 🙂

          8. Tim Kresse

            I find the claim that “The principal is gone. No interest of any kind is available. Everything has been spent …” argument interesting, but misleading. It seems to me that all financial transactions are thus – everything is an IOU. My bank doesn’t have the money of all the depositors sitting in a vault, the deposits are IOUs. SS was never established as an “investment” program – it was a pay as you go. The trust has “invested” in the safest/securest investment known – US government debt (that whole “full faith and credit” thing). What other investment could absorb and return the monies generated through SS? Ultimately, it’s about trust, all financial markets are about trust and given the changes and challenges we’ve seen in the financial markets, trust is sometimes hard to hold onto …

        4. ShanaC

          Why did he pull support from Bowles-Simpson?

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Two reasons, as I see it:1) It proposed reductions in the growth of Medicare and Social Security spending. Democrats have run on platforms of “defending” these programs by refusing any spending restraint.2) It proposed lower and flatter income tax rates, combined with an elimination of deductions to broaden the tax base. Democrats have run on a platform of making federal income taxes even more progressive.

          2. ShanaC

            both stupid.

        5. kidmercury

          the ryan plan is a joke and politics as usual, it will not result in a balanced budget and will have the same old budget deficits we are accustomed to. the same can be said for any plan that does not cut military spending, let alone increase it the way the ryan plan does.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            The Ryan plan is neither a joke nor politics as usual. Politics as usual is to avoid making tough choices (asking people to pay more in taxes or premiums or get less in benefits) and kick the can down the road.As for the “same old budget deficits we are accustomed to”, which ones are those?- the several hundred billion dollar deficits we had pre-2009, or the trillion dollar plus ones we’ve had since?Reining in Defense spending would also help reduce deficits, but, unlike Medicare spending, Defense spending isn’t growing at 3x our long term economic growth rate.

          2. kidmercury

            if you cut the welfare without cutting the warfare, and cut income taxes for top income recipients as well, you get greater wealth inequality and more fascism. as such the ryan plan is fascist, which is to be expected of any plan that comes from the republican party and gets attention. there won’t be cuts to military spending and there won’t be cuts to interest payments to banks because then he would lose his powerful fascist supporters.several hundred billion or a trillion is not as meaningful a distinction as it appears, especially at this stage in the game when we are already at 15.7 trillion in national debt plus rising social security bills on the way. unless the american empire is dismantled the result will be the same all around: more warfare, more welfare, bigger and more intrusive government, and currency debasement to pay for it all.

          3. Dave Pinsen

            Since when are high deficits, high income inequality, anemic economic growth, and yawning trade deficits characteristics of fascism? For all its faults, fascism wasn’t known for any of that.

          4. kidmercury

            fascism absolutely is known for all of that. hitler didn’t come to power with a vibrant middle class. in reality fascism is the same thing as communism, the only difference is marketing.

          5. Dave Pinsen

            Deleted. Duplicate.

          6. Dave Pinsen

            fascism absolutely is known for all of that.No it isn’t. This is a Godwin fail for you.

          7. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          8. Dave Pinsen

            The dinosaur is more astute than the kid: what we have isn’t fascism, but the kind of crappy economy that could make fertile ground for it (in theory, it could also make fertile ground for a form of leftist autocracy with pretensions of populism, but Communism has been too recently discredited to make that likely).

          9. MikeSchinkel

  …It’s interesting to consider which US political party checks off more of those boxes. Here’s my take:MORE LIKE REPUBLICAN- Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism – Disdain for the importance of human rights – Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause (i.e. ObamaCare, “Liberals,” Homosexuals, Iran, Taxes, etc.)- The supremacy of the military/avid militarism- Rampant sexism (though covertly, not overtly)- Obsession with national security – Religion and ruling elite tied together – Power of corporations protected – Power of labor suppressed or eliminated – Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts – Obsession with crime and punishmentMORE LIKE DEMOCRAT- ???ARGUABLY BOTH- Rampant cronyism and corruptionNOT YET REALLY- A controlled mass media (but they are controlled by special interests with deep pockets)- Fraudulent elections (or maybe there is?)

          10. Dave Pinsen

            “Disdain for the importance of human rights” = “More like Republican”? You are aware that the current Democratic President has a “kill list”, are you not? And the Nobel Peace Prize winner has approved 5x as many drone strikes as his predecessor?More generally, the list you quote is an old one. It’s also too broad (and vague in parts) to serve as a differential diagnosis of fascism.

          11. MikeSchinkel

            You are aware that one data point is not a statistic valid indicator of an entire set, right?And it’s really not fair to assume any POTUS to be a valid proxy for his party simply because the man in the oval office has to make decisions you and I would never wish on ourselves in a million years. Granted I’m not at all condoning the behavior regarding drones but I mostly grudgingly understand it. Obama as a democrat will be assumed to be soft and thus will be a political target by the right so he has to prove that he’s not soft by being extreme in the other direction. Sad, but reality.And I said “More like Republican” because on average (IMO) Democrats tend to be more concerned with human rights than Republicans, or at least I should say the Democrat’s base tend to be more concerned with human rights than Republican’s base. To that do you disagree?And if the list I quote is old, do you have a newer, better more valid one to provide in its stead? I’m open, I just grabbed the best list I was aware of.

          12. Dave Pinsen

            It’s a tendentious and poorly-written list (e.g., “corporations are protected” describes, to some extent, every country with a market economy and rule-of-law, from Sweden to Singapore), bandied about by those with an agenda of labeling Republicans as fascist. In reality, neither party is fascist: as I noted in a previous reply to Kid Mercury’s use of the term, our economy is in several ways the opposite of a fascist one.

          13. MikeSchinkel

            For sake of argument, let’s say that the list I included isn’t a good definition of Fascism. However you seem to agree that the list favors Republicans, correct? Given that basis, which of the items on the list would you say are a virtue? And which of any of the aspects discussed here would you say mirror the Democrat party and/or their base?

          14. Dave Pinsen

            There are two main usages of “fascist” today: one is its contemporary use as an epithet, meant to tar anyone politically right-of-center. That’s the way Kid Mercury used it in his comment about Paul Ryan; that’s the way you have used it, in your comments about the GOP; and that’s the way the author of the dog-eared list you quoted used it.The second usage of “fascist” is to refer to political and economic systems that were actually fascist. If you have a knowledge of this history, you will understand at least two things:1) Calling either major party in the US today fascist is puerile, inaccurate, and unhelpful. The system we today is democratic capitalism. With variations in the level and type of government participation in the economy, it’s the system that prevails in most of the first world (with exceptions such as Hong Kong and Singapore, which are capitalist but not democracies).2) Fascism arose in response to awful economic conditions, the perceived failure of democratic capitalism, and antipathy toward the other autocratic alternative to democratic capitalism at the time, Communism. To ignore this history (for example, by claiming that what we have today is fascism), is folly. What we have today isn’t fascism, but some of the economic conditions that gave rise to it, as I suggested in my initial response to Kid’s use of the term “fascist”, and as Fake Grimlock explicitly noted.

          15. MikeSchinkel

            @daveinhackensack:disqus I’ll agree that name calling is bad — it’s demonization of the “other side” — and to the extent I did it I’m acting no better than those who demonize.But my last comment bypassed the name calling; I asked you to instead look at the actions/intentions described by one author and ask you how those specific actions/intentions apply to R vs. D. You however returned to discussion of the name rather than discuss the aspects that the article I posted. There is no point of debating the definition of Fascist, let’s instead focus on more relevant points, shall we? So I ask again, which of the items on the list I posted would you say are a virtue (any?) And which of any of the aspects on the Wikipedia article would you say mirror the Democrat party and/or their base?

          16. William Wagner

            The two parties really branch based on how they intend to stem population growth globally.Republicans want to do it in a violent Revelation kind of way. They want people to be ignorant, make lots of babies and die early. Democrats want to do it more in an intellectual Nirvana kind of way. They want people to grow older and smarter but make less babies.If the idealists get our way technology will override the need for either.

          17. MikeSchinkel

            @facebook-28900774:disqus Well said!

          18. JLM

            .The issue is not wealth inequality. That is a measure of success.The issue is a matter of equal opportunity to create wealth. That is a very complex problem.Punishing the successful is not a way to spread opportunity.Opportunity is everything.Hell, we might have a black President some day if we are judicious in ensuring equal opportunity. Ooops, sorry..

          19. kidmercury

            income inequality is a function of money supply and government printing themselves money and giving it to their friends. if you want to deny the right to print money and give it to your friends creates income inequality, well, i suppose we will not agree on much in terms of what is fair and what isn’t.

          20. JLM

            .We are talking about several things at the same time.We started talking about WEALTH equality — a balance sheet item.You wandered over into income equality — an income statement item.I am at a complete loss to understand what you mean. But, hey, that happens more often that I care to admit..

          21. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          22. JLM

            .You raise a completely different issue with which I agree BTW.The government bailed out the banks with no strings attached. Bad business practice.The government made the bailout without removing the cancer — toxic mortgages and unhealthy relationships between lenders and borrowers in the past, present and future.The government should have required banks to cure their toxic assets — mark mortgages to market.The government should have required banks to be in the lending business not in the arbitrage business.These actions would have cured the past and set the groundwork for the future — the catalyst to create jobs.They instead cured the banks’ problem, ignored the toxic assets and killed the fuel source for economic recovery and job creation — credit.There is no credit and the banks are quite content with the deposit v securities’ return arbitrage and the percentage of loans compared to assets shows this clearly.The loan window is effectively closed..

          23. JamesHRH

            I agree completely JLM – equality of opportunity is what equality should be.We are not born with equal gifts, our early life quickly creates inequality and, most importantly, our reaction to adversities separate each us vividly & disparately.Equality to certain experiences, material wealth and other privileges are earned, as they should be.Of course, some people weasel eir way into these things, not on merit, but on the weakness of others. No system is perfect.

          24. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          25. JLM

            .What absolute nonsense.A political system — such as a dictatorship — is completely different from a social system and an economic system.The US is not and never will be a dictatorship while it has families who may enjoy great wealth — property, the most fundamental right under our Constitution — created by earlier generations.This is a cyclical phenomenon in which the current wealth creators — including my friend the Fake Grimlock — may decide to accumulate and pass along to future generations the sweat of one’s toil.Once one has created wealth and paid taxes, the state has no legitimate right or call on the disposition of that wealth. Ever..

          26. Aaron Klein


          27. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          28. Guest

            I believe the only judgement calls you make regard who to eat….

          29. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          30. JamesHRH

            Dan, if it is generated by Congress, it is politics as usual for the Kid!

          31. kidmercury

            not entirely true. every once in a while a miracle comes along and congress does something right. there is a bill in congress now to abolish the TSA. will it get any public attention? no, of course not. will it get passed? lol…….

          32. JamesHRH

            I am going to define generated as getting out of Congress!

          33. MikeSchinkel

            @kidmercury:disqus You just confused “Congress” with “A (few) member(s) of Congress.”Just sayin…

          34. JLM

            .I will have to disagree on your premise.The Ryan plan attacks entitlements and does, in fact, cut defense spending. It restores half of the “sequestered” amount of the mandatory cuts required by the deficit deal.I agree with you that defense should be cut. I think that defense could be cut by almost half by simply deferring or cancelling weapons system procurement programs and consolidating the varied and many military installations in the continental US.This would not blunt the tip of the spear in any manner. It would not inhibit the ability to fight two wars simultaneously in different theaters.I also think that the size of the standing army could be increased. This would have a direct impact on unemployment and could be wound down as enlistments mature 2-3 years from now.We cannot wage wars without a financial plan. Wars are the ultimate start up with the VC funding being generally ignored. We need some bean counters in helmets to control costs..

          35. LE

            I agree with you that defense should be cut. I think that defense could be cut by almost half by simply deferring or cancelling weapons system procurement programs and consolidating the varied and many military installations in the continental US. The upside to our military is it protects us. The downside is that it’s expensive.Having dealt with various situations where people don’t put enough time into protection or defense (say with cyber crime or computer backups) nothing really matters until the shit hits the fan. You can go for 20 years and save money and time not doing backups (and testing them) and if you don’t need the backup you have just saved money. As an aside although I’m sure that in your company you do backups but does your staff verify those backups and make sure they work? And are they offsite? Do you have a disaster plan? I don’t know your particular computer knowledge but if you relying on what “the tech guy told you” you might be in for a surprise should you need to restore something at some point.I disagree with the idea that an ordinary citizen who has access to the information that an ordinary citizen has is in any position to make a statement about this at all. While there is certainly waste, defense is a complex issue with many intertwining parts. One of the problems with decisions that are made based on money is that they don’t take into account benefits for the future.This would not blunt the tip of the spear in any manner. It would not inhibit the ability to fight two wars simultaneously in different theaters.What are you basing this on? The fact that some expert wrote something or appeared on a news show doesn’t make it so. You can talk to 10 doctors and get 10 opinions or 10 lawyers etc.

          36. JLM

            .My first suggestion as to where to cut costs is not at the level of current combat forces but at the level of development of future weapons systems some of which are 2-3 generations into the future.I would be inclined to delay them for 5-10 years. This in a framework in which we may be looking 25-30 years into the future.And when current competitive systems cannot hold the jocks of our current systems. There is not a Navy or Air Force that could withstand 30 days of sustained combat with our forces. They are that damn good.Hell, the Russians and the Chinese have 1.25 operational aircraft carriers between them.As to our ability to keep a sharp point on the spear, we are in one of those odd times in which we probably know and understand the nature of the threat — the real threat — better than ever before. Because we are so actively engaged in countering it.A lot of the financial issues with the defense budget are simply real estate and positioning — should the 2nd Inf Div sit astride the invasion route from N to S Korea on Freedom Bridge, should we have heavy armor units in Europe or should NATO provide its own armor units (the Krauts are pretty damn good w/ a tank), should the US Navy’s ports for resupply be in Australia as opposed to being spread out over the entire Pacific.A lot of these decisions are steel v stainless steel issues. We don’t need much of what we have and our ability to fight will not be impacted by these decisions.There is low hanging fruit in base closings.All of these things will rely upon the Pentagon truthfully answering the right probing questions. It can be done and handily.

          37. kidmercury

            sequestered and all that garbage is just designed to obfuscate the simple math which shows that under the ryan plan the offense budget will increase by 20% even when one factors in sequestering.http://www.huffingtonpost.c…this reminds me of clinton’s scam of saying he had a balanced budget when all he did was take money out of the social security fund to “balance the budget.”the simple math remains, cutting the offense budget is a prerequisite to balancing the entire budget. to cut entitlements without cutting the offense budget will only exacerbate problems of all kinds. of course, you don’t get on TV or get campaign money unless you are pro-offense.

          38. JLM

            .I think you are mixing your metaphors. The Ryan Plan was a proposal by Rep Ryan made without consultation with his Congressional colleagues. It was his plan.The plan that you note was voted on by the entire Congress in early May was a product of a Congressional subcommittee and committee process and was not the undiluted Ryan Plan.I agree with you completely that cutting the defense budget is a requisite to balancing the budget and further that it is tough medicine to prescribe if you are running for office, particularly as a Republican.Nonetheless, everything is going to have to be cut to get to a balanced budget.Entitlement reform is actually very easy, it is however a thimble of hemlock for some folks.Increase the age of eligibility, reduce benefits, means test benefits, allow for opt out. This could be done between now and the basketball game tonight by men of good character and just a smidgen of cojones..

          39. kidmercury

            ryan maintains all the pro war talk, he couches it in some “let’s cut pentagon waste” talk but he is still very much “support the troops = keep them at war” mentality. he says so himself in this video:…the cuts need to be big. the only way you get big cuts is to close military bases and bring the troops home. anything else is just political talk.

          40. JLM

            .I am not exactly sure what we are debating but why should anyone have to know what they are talking about to be able to offer an opinion.I agree w you that Paul Ryan is beating the drum of “for the troops” but he qualifies it by saying that it is because “we are at war”.The simple truth of the matter is that war is damn expensive particularly if you feel compelled to stick around and fix all the broken crockery.The issue of how to reduce defense spending without blunting the tip of the spear is an easy fix.Win a few wars and quickly. Consolidate every single stinking piece of real estate you can even if you end up with 4 Divisions at some posts. Stop planning further out than 10 years and pay soldiers well.The biggest threat to the military is at the recruiting and retention level and tinkering with military pay and retirement as proposed by the Obama administration has a chance to crap in our collective mess kit and ruin the military completely..

          41. MikeSchinkel

            But wouldn’t that deny members of the military-industrial complex profits that are rightfully theirs?Please read that with sarcasm, in case it wasn’t clear. 🙂

        6. matthughes


      2. Avi Deitcher

        While I don’t disagree that there are major issues, especially around finances and gerrymandering (which is an interesting word in itself), I actually think we are healthier now than at many times in the past.Alien and Sedition Acts of the 1790s? Jailing of opposing journalists? In the halcyon post-Revolutionary days, things were much nastier than now. How about the elections of the 1850s through the Civil War? Reconstruction? 1950s & 1960s Civil Rights fights?The beauty of capitalism, as Fred will tell you, is that by allowing people to fail and succeed, we give the opportunity for the system to move, like Brownian motion, towards the optimal situation much better than any central planner could envision.Democracy works the same way (and goes hand in hand with free-market capitalism). By going back and forth among party ideologies, we constantly improve ourselves.Let the battle of ideas live on.

    5. bsoist

      I couldn’t agree more that “broad coalition” is not the goal, but don’t you think both parties are essentially two wings of the same party? I think that’s where the problem is. There is the illusion of controversy, but not much real difference between the parties.Republicans paint Democrats as “tax and spend,” yet Reagan increased taxes more than he cut them.Republicans claim Democrats support a welfare state, yet they support all kinds of government subsidies and corporate welfare.Democrats claim Republicans are controlled by the one percent, yet most of them are owned by corporate interests too.Obama ran as an anit-war President, and we know how that turned out.

      1. Avi Deitcher

        I agree, both parties are two wings of the same party: the American party. Except at the fringes, both parties fall within a general belief of American exceptionalism, free-market capitalism, assertive foreign policy, individual rights, etc.They may disagree on some of the issues, and very much in how much weight to place on each, but that is the nature of our Democratic system.

        1. PhilNotPhil

          But they both agree on who runs the $how!

          1. bsoist


      2. Franklin

        Obama definitely did not run as an anti-war president. He said Iraq was a mistake that distracted us from the war in Afghanistan, which he said is where we should be focusing our efforts. He’s been disappointing on many fronts, but I believe this line of attack to be unfair

        1. bsoist

          Perhaps “anti-war” is overstating it. I voted for him, and plan to again, but I can think of no other area where his actions have been more disappointing.

          1. baba12

            If you expected anything to really change then you have been naive. People projected a lot on to Obama and are disappointed that those things have not happened. One should be fully aware of who backs the campaigns and who controls the strings. If you think he transcends all that then you have been fooled. Don’t expect change to come about from anyone currently who is standing for office at the Federal and State levels anywhere, if you are lucky you may find someone at the local level who may have the integrity that you wish others would have.In life there are no great deals at best you can hope for is a fair deal, unfortunately the last 40 plus years we have been told it is a great deal while being fucked and sadly we keep asking for more and now it is without any lube too. When will we stop drinking the coolaid

          2. bsoist

            I didn’t, and don’t, expect anything to change. As I’ve said many times, some comments here included, both parties are playing the same game. Franklin wrote that Obama has been “disappointing on many fronts,” and my point was that his position on wars has been the most disappointing for me. One of the reasons I’m not more disappointed is because I didn’t expect that much. If that makes sense.

          3. Franklin

            How about criminal prosecution of corporate crimes?

    6. ShanaC

      Truer than I’d like to admit, see the declining middle class in Israel. (open secret that a lot of engineers etc want to move away from there because they don’t feel represented)How do you feel about a tri-party system like britain?

      1. Avi Deitcher

        Funny, because Israel is financially much more stable, and has a higher GDP per capita than it has had in many years past. There is much yet to do – too much socialism, govt control and crony capitalism – but so much amazing works has been done.In principle, I like the idea of a tri-party system. I grew up with it in Canada – Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and NDP – but in practice the third party was always a fringe. In cases where it wasn’t, it allows two parties to dominate the third too heavily, removing effective opposition. It also encourages “fringeness”, because it discourages larger parties from having “open tents.”Ridings/districts, first past the post, and congregating around two parties.

        1. JamesHRH

          It worked well to have a third party that was fringy.Some people want to be the fringe – the NDP gave them a home and a voice.The Liberal / PC battle was the battle for the Far Center. Trudeau, Mulroney, Chretien, (Harper less so) would all make good Far Center Party Presidents.

          1. Avi Deitcher

            That is a very interesting perspective. Having multiparty blows up and creates weak and unstable coalitions. But tri-party may give room for the fringe, so that they leave the main parties who can focus on centrist ideas.But then fringe ideas have no influence on the main parties. Ideas we consider normal now were fringe and heretical at some point: freedom of religion (before the Revolution); equality of all races before the law (before Emancipation Proclamation and/or Civil Rights Act); the list goes on. These “fringe” ideas only took root because they could take root first in the fringe of a centrist party, then spread in the party, then to the whole body politic.Reconsidering, perhaps I don’t like the idea of siphoning off the fringe.

          2. JamesHRH

            Fringe ideas leak into the center over time. It works. Four parties might work too.

          3. thinkdisruptive

            There is no “far center” in Canada. The Conservative party is far, far to the left of the US Democratic party (have lived in both countries). Even Harper would be a socialist in the US.

        2. ShanaC

          I’m not going to disagree with you at all about a higher GDP/being more economically stable at all. And I am not going to argue with the strides israel has made economically either.It doesn’t change the fact that in the past few years, the army has becomed dominated by the data’im, the welfare system and the rabbanut by the chareidim, and that there have been protests on the streets about the cost of rent for everyone else in Tel Aviv, along with race riots (?! wtf is up with that ?!) because of lower class jobs taken by Sudanese refugees. It also doesn’t change the fact that Ha’arezt before it went paywall was reporting regularly that unless something changes, the tax base is going to dissapear as there are now more children in chareidi type schools than not.We’re having some similar problems in the US when it comes to education, but at least all except the most evangelical among us believe in work, and many believe in advance schooling.

          1. Avi Deitcher

            @ShanaC, IL definitely has issues, different in substance but similar in style to those growing in the US.Happy to continue the convo, but this is probably not the best forum. Feel free to drop me a line if you want to continue it at avi [at] deitcher [dot] net

    7. William Mougayar

      Having coalition governments is not the same as having a center party government. Coalition governments fall into mediocrity because they keep compromising on the lowest common denominator which is nothing spectacular, and 2-party scenarios that are diametrically opposed creates gridlock, as they each block each others programs.

      1. Avi Deitcher

        Was it Franklin or Jefferson who said that he who governs best, governs least? Gridlock isn’t always a bad thing. :-)My point was that center party tends to neutralize opposition, and then the froth of new thought – upon which all of our society was built – disappears, and the corruption endemic to government takes over.

        1. William Mougayar

          I’m sure it can work well up to a point, and it was worked well for several years, but the last few years have been tough. Maybe the system needs to be “shocked” a bit. Gridlock to improve things is OK, but gridlock that leads to standstill is not ideal.

    8. JamesHRH

      People really don’t want a battle of ideas on a daily basis.They want roads, the internet, power, safety, a good job, parks, etc.Very few people crave only freedom or to do the things that create freedom. Most people just want freedom’s benefits

      1. Avi Deitcher

        Yes, they want the fruits of freedom. But I have great faith in people, especially the American people. We have shown time and again that ideas and ideals matter.

        1. vulgrin

          When would that be exactly? I voted for Obama and will vote for him again, but let’s face it – he won 2008 due to cult of personality, not because of any great ideals. He passed some of his ideals and they got so watered down and made impotent by Congress that they pissed everyone off.Bush won because of SCOTUS and only just barely, then we put up Kerry to run against him. Might as well just not ran anyone at all.Clinton? He ran against a terrible President in a bad economy and ended up being a philanderer and a liar. And he’s been our BEST president in what, 30 years?Bush the first – don’t even bother. Thousand points of light my butt. Though at least he had some honor.Reagan? Please. The man’s myth has far outgrown reality. GOP and even Obama keep trying to compare themselves to that man and don’t seem to remember what was really going on back then. If Reagan ran today the Tea Party would run him out of town on a rail.I don’t think we’ve had a President of ideas and ideals since L.B.J. and the civil rights movement. NO ONE could have pulled that off but him, and you see how he got paid back.Sorry, but its all a narcissistic myth. Time to get pragmatic and back to reality in this country. We aren’t the “chosen ones.” We’re just people who need to learn how to get along and stop fighting each other so we can move forward.

          1. Avi Deitcher

            @Dave, what do you want me to say? That I am cynical about politicians? I am. They are all selling something.But I accept the messiness, the randomness, the missteps and misfits of the system, much as I would like to improve it, as an inherent part of liberal democratic society.It is not clean, optimally managed by a cadre of experts. Freedom and its benefits involve the messy compromises of many individuals. We are much freer and wealthier now than at any time past. More than 1,2,4,6 years ago? Maybe yes, maybe no, but on percentages. More than 50 years ago? Yes. More than 100 years ago? More than 200, 500, 1,000, 10,000? All without question. I am in my 40s; 100 years ago I would have been an anomaly to be young, health, playing sports. 200 years ago I would have been dead.Be vigilant, ever vigilant, treat politicians with a healthy dose of skepticism, but also appreciate the beauty of our free societies.

          2. Avi Deitcher

            @Dave And for almost all of recorded history, you would have been jailed, tortured, and probably beheaded, along with your family – well, they might have been raped and sold as slaves as a “mercy” – for speaking that way about your “Divine Right” leaders.Love Freedom.

      2. hypermark

        I think that you hit the nail on the head. There is no coherent narrative for what kind of country we want to build in the 21st century. There are only false dichotomies and attribute-centric, pitched battles based upon short-termism in politics today.As a result, we seem to have a collective inability to have anything other than a one-track, linear discussion about what ails our society. It’s as if our economy, industry, governance and way of life is just a big black box of inputs and outputs. The truth, however, is more complex:1) Both parties are completely conflicted based upon the revolving door between government and private industry, and the role of big money lobbying and PACs in instituting policy behind closed doors.2) Even if there was a spirit of adult compromise in Congress, 270 members of Congress and Mitt Romney have signed Grover Norquist’s Pledge, stating that under NO circumstances will they approve any legislation that creates new taxes. A policy that costs $2, but cuts $8? Can’t do it under The Pledge. Think about that one if you have ever been responsible for negotiating an operating budget with others.3) There are NO catalysts for net job creation, and haven’t been for a long time, and whether you appreciate the power of Creative Destruction or not, the reality is that it moves on its own timeline. It could be 10 years before a new job-creating catalyst arrives. What kind of safety net do we need if that scenario plays out?4) Americans haven’t been asked to sacrifice for ANY greater good dating back to when….WWII?As a techie and a systems guy, part of my view on this is that you can’t improve what you don’t measure, and if you have the wrong incentive systems, you get the wrong outcomes.So what should we be measuring, and what incentives should we change in government, business and on the street to change the outcomes?

        1. Dowwie

          measure political actions against electronically casted votes to show the extent that those who are in power deviate from the interests of those who elected them

          1. hypermark

            great point. what do they about light being the greatest disinfectant…

      3. Luke Chamberlin

        Whenever I’m around people who are ultra-political I scratch my head how anyone could view the world through that lens. It must be exhausting.

  4. Jan Schultink

    In many European countries we now have the other extreme: voter fragmentation that makes it impossible to form a government and/or take a decision…

  5. 1MattHopkins

    Totally agree with your thoughts here Fred and the bi-partisan / problem solving attitude was something in US politics that I used to brag about here to my British friends – some 20 years ago. Now, the US system has become more like the British parliamentary system with a government and an opposition… but without the power to getting anything done at all.But can you ever see it being resolved?

  6. Guest

    As hard as I try I have never quite understood the concept of “fiscal conservative.”When I see that the average net worth of an American family has dropped from $126,000 to $77,000 in a matter of a couple of years I cannot help but question is it the “fiscal” part that we do not understand or is it the “conservative” part that we seem to not understand?When I drive around and notice the state of our infrastructure, or talk to a young person at the local state university, or when I read something about the debate of “entitlement” I can’t help but wonder exactly what we, as a society, have been doing the last 30 years.When I realize that “free markets” has now created what our defense department has determined is the number one threat to our national security (which is why they are repositioning our military to the Pacific), I believe we refer to them as “China.”Of course I know that this post will bring out the Randians, the Tea Partiers, and all of those who believe that government is the problem but honestly, government is nothing more than me and you…So, doesn’t that make us the problem? I mean, Mayor Bloomberg heads a pretty big government and its doing all the right things…

    1. andyswan

      “When I see that the average net worth of an American family has dropped from $126,000 to $77,000 in a matter of a couple of years I cannot help but question is it the “fiscal” part that we do not understand or is it the “conservative” part that we seem to not understand?”Fiscal conservatives haven’t been in charge since the Democrats took Congress in 2006. That might help answer your question.

      1. Guest

        Did the problem start in 2006?” Nope.Did the Republicans do anything different when they were in power? Nope.Sorry, Andy, I can’t stand either party and believe that both parties represent the same interests but just tailor the message differently…

        1. andyswan

          Well first of all I was just reacting to your comment, which cited stats from the last few years when fiscal conservatives had absolutely nothing to do with policy. I found that ironic.And yes….a LOT of very very bad things started in 2007. Ask any bartender-former-mortgage-broker.

          1. John Rorick

            Problem was most of those former mortgage brokers were former bartenders before becoming former mortgage brokers…and were apparently serving drinks to the credit rating agencies.

          2. Blake Mitchell

            “last few years when fiscal conservatives had absolutely nothing to do with policy.”Are you serious? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Democrats may have a small majority in the senate, but “Conservatives” are in the majority. And the GOP definitely has outright control of the House. So the Republicans, and conservatives in general, have had more to do with the economy than liberals for at least 20 years now, that’s for sure.

          3. Guest

            Andy,If I plant a little tree in my front yard and slowly but surely it begins to grow, growth that is going to take 20 to 25 years to fully reach maturity.If one day I wake up to find that the roots of that tree have grown into my sewage line and cracked the pipe do I cuss the tree out that day?Or do I cuss myself out for the day 20 to 25 years earlier when I planted the little twig and did not take the sewage lines into consideration when planting the tree?The “twig” that represents the financial meltdown that we are currently living through was planted a long time ago. The statistics in question have nothing to do with who was in power when, because the meltdown would have occurred regardless of who was in power, but rather to show the before and after affect of piss poor policy.By the way, “bartender-former mortgage broker” would be included in the stats I provided.By the way, I don’t consider the current make up of the House or Senate “fiscal conservatives.” Regardless of how much they claim to be “conservative.”

          4. andyswan

            We agree. The welfare State is failure. The worst generation has provided us with both the cancer of.dependency and the government to enable it.

          5. Guest

            You know Andy, the concept of “Welfare State” is one that has shifted from being about individuals to now being about business, the wealthy, and our financial system.Considering that the traditional “welfare state” was a result of the same generation that fought WWII I can only assume that “the worst generation” refers to the ones that created the corporate/special interest “welfare state” or what has come to be known as “supply side economics.”

        2. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Someone smart once said, “This country doesn’t need a third party. It needs a *second* party.”

          1. LissIsMore


        3. kidmercury


      2. Raj

        That’s disingenuous. The damage from GW’s prescription drug plan for seniors and two unfunded wars was already in motion. You do realize that a fiscal conservative oversaw one of the largest expansions of government that the US has ever seen?

        1. andyswan

          GW Bush was not anything close to a fiscal conservative.

          1. Raj

            Who in the Republican leadership opposed a Republican President’s expansion of govt?

          2. pointsnfigures

            Representative Flake.

          3. Raj

            My point is that a bunch of Republicans who are supposedly mindful of government spending and oppose Obamacare spent like drunken sailors for, wait for it, a social healthcare program that will end up costing tax payers trillions of dollars.

          4. pointsnfigures

            You aren’t going to get an argument out of me. But they have found religion. They felt the cold steel of the ballot box. If they don’t cut spending with a Republican Senate and Republican President, they will be out on the street and we will be in for EU style socialism

          5. Blake Mitchell

            Then why did all the “fiscal conservatives” support him so enthusiastically for 8 years? It’s only Monday morning quarterbacks trying to re-write history who say Bush wasn’t a fiscal conservative.

        2. Tom Labus

          Bush was neither a fiscal conservative or liberal but outright incompetent.

      3. Tom Labus

        The republicans retook the house in 2010 and proceeded stop any of the president’s legislation which would have moved the economy.Like it not we are in an era of state capitalism.

        1. andyswan

          Moved the economy which direction exactly? Same as the stimulus and cash for clunkers? Obamacare?They were voted in for a reason….

          1. Tom Labus


          2. ShanaC

            cash for clunkers is actually a brilliant idea if the economy was stronger – you’re incetivizing behavior that you want to happen (less pollutive , safer cars on the road by giving a reason to get rid of your old one)

          3. pointsnfigures

            actually, it’s economically not efficient at all.

        2. pointsnfigures

          You and I would disagree. State capitalism is crony capitalism. That sux.

          1. ShanaC

            disagreeing is a healthy part of politics.

        3. JLM

          .We will look back at the 2010 elections as the beginning of a complete organ rejection of the Obama administration.Not only will he, President Obama, be soundly defeated for re-election the House and Senate will move toward increased Republican control.I wonder if we are not best served by continuously and complete divided government.Clinton-Gingrich was one of the best times in the history of our nation..

          1. Tom Labus

            Romney means the return of Glenn Hubbard in all his madness. He was/is the architect of the Bush financial insanity and I for one do not want to be kicked in the ass like that again..

          2. JLM

            .Tom, Mitt Romney is a guy with a To Do List.When he took over the Olympics, he simply cut expenses to less than revenues as any reasonable business person would have done. This was no mean feat.There are probably 50 things that reasonable persons would agree need to be done — streamline the budgeting process, reduce the costs of wars, etc.Mitt Romney will put those things on his To Do List and get them done.The guy we have today can’t find a pencil to make a list. He is not even in the office. But he gives a great speech..

      4. kidmercury

        i’ll go back even further…..fiscal conservatives haven’t been in office since grover cleveland’s last term, concluding in 1896

        1. JLM

          ,I know Grover Cleveland. Grover Cleveland was a friend of mine.And, you, sir, are absolutely correct.The second a President gets to DC, he finds the credit card in his desk and says — well, my ideas are so damn good who cares if we eat dessert first?Charge it!.

    2. fredwilson

      To me a fiscal conservative is somwone who believes in a balanced budget

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        I think most people would say they believe in a balanced budget. It’s when you start talking about how to get there that people’s opinions diverge.

      2. JLM

        .The “budget” of the US is unlike any other as it includes the complete cost of long term capital projects as if they were being paid for up front.We have to understand the difference between budgets (a kissing cousin of total commitments) and appropriations (the actual $$$ we spend that year on a discrete, such as defense, basis).We will never really have a workable financial plan for running the country until we “budget” for capital expenditures — such as aircraft carriers which should last for 30-40 years — separately from operating expenses.If we were really on our game, we would match fund long term capital projects with discretely identifiable debt with similar maturities — just like a bank.We also have to exclude enterprise funds — funds or programs which are self funded — from the budget and stop using internal IOUs to balance the books. This is why SS is such a farce.The numbers work just fine except for the fact that the Congress spends the money — no lockbox — and leaves a bunch of IOUs in their propwash..

        1. ShanaC

          Why don’t we separate budget from operating expenses? Can we amend the constitution to have them separate so that we understand what goes on in the government better?

          1. JLM

            .The Constitution provides no direction or authority on HOW a budget is constructed..

        2. fredwilson

          you have made this point before and its a good one. i wish more people knew as much about this stuff as you do.

      3. John Rorick

        Shouldn’t any description including the word “fiscal” begin with a balanced budget? It’s not like others run on an opposition platform of being a “fiscal renegade”. Sigh…this all sux.

      4. LissIsMore

        What about the size and scope of that budget? It seems to me that only focusing on “balancing” does not truly limit the profligate political class.

      5. Guest

        “Fiscal Conservatism” should not only focus on a balanced budget but also on sources of income, income rates, and spending priorities.Like any business and or personal cash flow situation sometimes debt can be necessary for the right reasons.

    3. ShanaC

      Part of the infrastructure problem is that this country likes cutting ribbons on new buildings, not repairing and expanding old ones.

  7. Brian Levine

    This is exactly how I feel Fred. I find myself in this situation every election. I was really hoping Bloomberg would run!

  8. willfprice

    Don’t be fooled by social politics. None of those Santorum types would ever win an election here. They just exist for some small fragment of the republican party and to give dems something to attack. Reagan was pro-life and nothing really happened his whole 2 terms, or the 3 republican terms after that on it. Social issues are a flag wave, but true republicans actually feel these issues are also best kept out of politics in the interests of small government and freedom of religion so once they get into office nothing happens.It’s Obamacare and the out of control spending that threaten to turn us into a new Europe that are the true threat.

    1. kidmercury

      social issues exist to serve as a distraction from real problems (energy crisis, national debt, etc)

    2. fredwilson

      Not true. Look at the supreme court. Its right of Reagan. Social issues matter a lot to me.

      1. JLM

        .Courts by their very nature as arbiters of things which have already happened, will always lag society.When you lag society, you will always tend to be a tad bit more conservative than your then current times.One of the consequences of elections is SC Justice appointments.Elections matter.Having said that, our SCOTUS often takes more than one crack at things to get them right. We will revisit abortion and Citizens United in the next 5 years.The decisions will be changed..

        1. fredwilson

          i sure hope so.

  9. Tom Labus

    But look at the Dimon “testimony” from yesterday. No hard balls, lots of kowtowing and apologies to the witness.After the largest financial implosion in history very little has changed.That’s power.

    1. baba12

      Dimon was holding court and the senators were testifying, everyone of them trying to be the chosen one to be the “personal left ball washer” for Mr.Dimon, the right ball is being washed by President Obama.

      1. JLM

        .You win the award for the most graphically compelling analogy in 2012.Well played.Of course, being a golfer I had a different initial picture in my head.Thanks for clearing that up.Again, very well played!.

  10. sprugman

    You’ve probably answered this before, but what scares you about Obamacare, and what would you do instead about healthcare? (Genuine question.)

    1. John Revay

      I think if you are lucky enough to work for the Gov, or a company that pays substantially all of your healthcare costs – you have no motivation to want any change…..Fred’s comment – “Obamacare scares me”It scares me if we do nothing – essentially what the other party wanted scares me.I worked for small companies – where annual increases were 20-30% /year before Obama passed the law – I had a High Deductable Plan / HSA and my annual costs were just under $20K/year.

      1. matthughes

        Why are businesses obligated to offer health care anyway?What is the root cause of this trend/expectation?It’s never made sense to me.

    2. fredwilson

      It takes healthcare cost decisions even further away from the consumer. Irrational markets lead to irrational behavior.

      1. ShanaC

        healthcare is an irrational market already because you are talking about your basic personage. It is about being alive. Some decisions need to be taken away because if not we’ll do expensive things, especially around the time of our deaths, for no reason other than fear/not knowing enough how to proceed.We need legislation/healthcare systems that is based on health and wellness and education, not pay to play as we have now. The intial setup for such a system is too expensive to switch over without government mandate and support. If you don’t believe me, just see how time expensive it is to share medical records between your healthcare providers.

      2. John Revay

        High Deductible + HSAUnfortunately – I am told that as part of the ACT – the Gov wants to do away w/ High Deductible plans for older americans

  11. Reader

    What is your proposal to replace the existing and ineffective social security system? Does it make sense to have a universal health coverage?

    1. fredwilson

      No to the latter. Means testing for the former.

  12. Barry Graubart

    Fred – I agree with your core argument. As the two sides become more polarized (despite the fact that the left has drifted to the center), it’s impossible to get anything done and everything has become a political game.I also have become a fan of Bloomberg, though I was highly skeptical when he first ran (having watched his business leadership from up close, I didn’t think his style would translate well to the public sector).The one question I have is about your comment on Obamacare. It’s not the system that any of us wanted, but I’m curious to what you, as a fiscal conservative, would have proposed instead. Clearly, the existing employer-paid healthcare model was unsustainable. The costs to treat those without coverage have been a huge financial drag on the healthcare system. So, knowing that healthcare costs will be high regardless of the approach, what healthcare options do you favor?

    1. fredwilson

      healthcare is complicated. but at its core i want a consumer centered healthcare system not a payor centered system. or maybe i want a consumer payor system.

      1. MikeSchinkel

        “Consumer centered healthcare” – Exactly.Recently I developed something called “frozen shoulder” which is very painful and my doctor prescribe physical therapy. After I finished the first visit I asked the front desk person how much the course of therapy was going to cost me. After about 15+ exasperating minutes the best answer I got was that she couldn’t know until 2 days after each visit (to be clear, this was after I was obligated to pay them for it.)So I picked up a card of the office manager and email the same question, and after several frustrating emails I got the same results. Imagine taking your car in for repair and having them tell you that you can know the price 2 days after the fix your car!Fortunately the regional VP emailed me to talk and then he said my emails made them think and now they are calcualting costs for the top 10 insurance companies and will be creating a one-pager that front desk people can give patients so they can estimate cost treatment for themselves.I was lucky that I finally got someone who realized this was an issue, but I had to spend a lot of time complaining to get there. This is one of the problems with healthcare, people in the healthcare industry act as if they are entitled to be paid and that patients are not their customers.And then we have free-market idealogues who believe everything should be free-market ignoring the fact that free-market healthcare may not be the best public policy; it results in people forgoing preventative maintenance because of cost and may result in a less productive workforce overall.Next we have powerful vested corporate interests who finance campaigns who don’t give a rat’s ass about what is the best public policy but instead only care about optimizing their own self-interests.And finally we have a polarized electorate that are completely manipulated by these vested interests and thus we get crap like ObamaCare.I think my doctor said it best: “ObamaCare is awful. The only thing worse would have been if ObamaCare had not been passed because that would have signaled to the insurance companies and other vested interests that they were free to run roughshod over our national common interest.”

  13. LaMarEstaba

    I’m fiscally conservative and socially liberal. I’m tired of not really having a home in our current political system. While I agree that we should allow dialogue so that the variety of ideas in America SHOULD be discussed, as Avi Deitcher says, I also believe that there needs to be a coalition of centrists to mediate the demands both parties. I’m a Hoosier and the defeat of Richard Lugar in this year’s primary was ominous. There’s too much money being poured in Richard Mourdock’s smear campaigns, where he says nothing about himself and tears the opposition to shreds. All campaigns have some advertisements like that, but in his campaign all of them shred the opposition without saying a thing about him. I have no idea what Mourdock stands for besides slimeball tactics.

  14. Jason Gelman

    Reminds me of this great Chris Rock clip, discussing politics. “Anyone who makes up their mind before they hear the issue is a fucking fool, ok?…I got some shit I’m conservative about. And I got some shit I’m liberal about.”…Fully agree w/ the sentiment. The political process is designed so that a certain type of politician can win. Bloomberg is not that type of politician, unfortunately. What makes him a great mayor would make him an unelectable President.

    1. andyswan

      Either that or his Statist approach to solving obesity issues….

  15. Chris Swan

    The figuring out piece might be done already – Larry Lessig ‘One way forward’ –

    1. fredwilson

      larry is working hard on this stuff.

  16. andyswan

    Division is an ASSET to government.Bloomberg and his Statist approach to curtailing individual liberty can kiss my ass.

    1. kidmercury

      bloomberg is definitely a statist. you hear about his recent attempt to control soda size in nyc… wtf……but everyone likes a statist — so long as they agree with the statist’s policies……

      1. johnmccarthy

        Just as long as he doesn’t come for my ribeye

        1. JLM

          .When it’s time to come for the ribeyes, you will be sorry you did not press for that 17th ounce. Haha..

        2. John Rorick

          and again, I stood idly by…”and one day, they came for my ribeye”

  17. John Revay

    Getting too late to draft Fred for 2012 :)#FredWilson2012

    1. fredwilson

      no way

  18. vniven

    Fred, I’ve been in the same no-man’s land (socially liberal, fiscally conservative) for at least eight years now. I’ve had the chance to defend both halves of my brain quite a bit, as we’ve moved back and forth several times between an ultra-liberal part of Silicon Valley and an ultra-conservative part of Florida.Do you find talking politics with close colleagues, family and friends difficult, like I do? if not, can I borrow a few of yours?

    1. fredwilson

      yes i do. i avoid it.

  19. baba12

    Sadly for us in the U.S. the change you want is not likely to come as for a few generations society of the elites has managed to put in place policies in place that have helped dumb the society into abdicating it’s ability to think.Since the 1970’s the upper class has worked slowly and steadily to get us to where we are, be it Democrats or Republicans. Yes go back to the smartness of Nixon who made a strategic deal with China in 1972, will work to get China the MFN status, will help American businesses move manufacturing to China which guaranteed until just a few years back cheap labor, break the unions of the U.S. that had gone to the other end of the pendulum and needed to be brought back to the center. China in return made it possible for America to withdraw from Vietnam gracefully.While American businesses has hugely benefited from the move to China, not having to deal with regulations of any kind be it environmental or labor is in the best interests of the business “profit maximization” at all costs. Nixon would never get elected in today’s U.S., as he would be deemed to liberal even though he paved the way for American businesses to thrive and generate profits for the shareholders. He also passed the Clean Air Act and created the EPA, but that was the tradeoff that while it benefits U.S. society also destroyed the Chinese environment, granted China’s corrupt communist party is to blame but American businesses killed their conscience to allow that to happen. So fast forward and here we are in 2012 where for the vast majority of Americans real wages have declined over the last 40 years, while access to so called cheap credit has allowed the same un-thinking American worker to feel like their wages have gone up, add usury laws that have been diluted and you have what Charles Dickens would describe a nation full of people who are living in a glorified debtors prisons granted they look better than the Victorian times Mr.Dickens describes so beautifully in his writing.Lacking critical thinking in large swarths of society has allowed us to get to where we are, both Republicans and Democrats have made sure that these policies be in place and sustained.I wonder if Mr.Wilson would be willing to state if his children go to public schools or state universities. As a fiscal conservative does Mr.Wilson feel that government’s role is to create only the environment for private enterprises to invest in infrastructure or in the sciences and the humanities.My guess is Mr.Wilson believes as a fiscal conservative role of government is minimal and that private enterprise and the financial markets will be able to self regulate and monitor themselves to provide a fair deal.I’d like to remind Mr.Wilson that we did not get to where we are in terms of the role of government be some thuggery or being held at gun-point. Almost all the regulations that we have worked hard to get are there primarily after society has been fucked over and over again before the same society felt it necessary to have regulations and a third party referee to monitor. Sadly over time the referee has been usurped and business has found a way to hijack the system leaving the society to bear the consequences.I would say that USV’s ability to create wealth for it’s shareholders would not be possible without government’s ability to have invested in infrastructure pertaining to the internet and making it possible for the USV’s of the world to thrive and build on top. I doubt any private enterprise has the desire and ability to take risks on fundamental research and development.I would think what Mr.Wilson would like to be as a fiscal conservative is have the government be more effective and careful in not wasting resources on frivolous things.Having everyone have health insurance is not a bad ideal and if businesses wont do the right thing then society should mandate and do the right thing. If we as a society have determined that public education should be free and compulsory for all then we accept that it benefits society to do so. That is progress, why should education be privy to the privileged, why should a healthy populace be only privy to the chosen few.Michael Bloomberg is a pragmatic mayor who thinks the government can be run as a business, sadly it may work for NYC but government is not a business it is not motivated by profit alone. If government is to be run as a business then I’d say you would never have seen humans get to the moon or any drugs to fight cancer or heart diseases or the many advances in sciences occur. So if you wish to be fiscally conservative maybe you would like to define it to be clear what it means for you mr.Wilson as I doubt you are against the creation of say NIH or DARPA or NSF or the Pell Grants or the FAA etc.Please edumacate me sir as I don’t believe you are a fiscal conservative in the sense of a John Galt.

  20. John Revay

    On June 9th – the following was quoted on“ The institutional structure of the United States is under stress. We might be in dangerous economic straits if the dollar were not the principal international reserve currency and the eurozone in deep fiscal trouble. We have a huge public debt, dangerously neglected infrastructure, a greatly overextended system of criminal punishment, a seeming inability to come to grips with grave environmental problems such as global warming, a very costly but inadequate educational system, unsound immigration policies, an embarrassing obesity epidemic, an excessively costly health care system, a possible rise in structural unemployment, fiscal crises in state and local governments, a screwed-up tax system, a dysfunctional patent system, and growing economic inequality that may soon create serious social tensions. Our capitalist system needs a lot of work to achieve proper capitalist goals.— Richard Posnerthat’s a pretty good list of what we need to fixFamous judge spikes Apple-Google case, calls patent system “dysfunctional” — Mobile Technology NewsI still hold by my comment;We can start fixing things w/1. Term limits – across all elected offices2. Campaign finance reform – get all of the money out of politics3. Do away w/ lobbyist4. Fix, Energy, Healthcare & Education5. Slow/Cut defense spend

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Start with (2). It’s the origin of nearly all the other issues.Having just spent a couple of years working at a highly politically charged website (and a few years as an activist), I learned something interesting: we all tend to agree on the really important things – most of us are in the Far Center. If we ever got together on those things, there would be real change. That’s why the two parties (and their corporate owners) only talk about social hot button issues, to keep us divided.

      1. raycote

        the two parties (and their corporate owners)Yes !They feed us a constant stream of SPECTACLE. This constant stream of emotionally charged SPECTACLE disrupts/fragments our collective ability to construct any historically coherent, cause/effect or policy/outcome, metrics based frameworks around which to carry on meaningfully focused social debate/analysis.My point, by the way, is not to villainize corporate conspiratorial behaviour. Conspiracy is the biological prime directive of cognition, of consciousness. Conspiracy is the primary survival strategy or job at hand for any individual or cohesive organization. I don’t know about you but everyday, the moment my eyes open, I am off-and-running using ever bit of my cognitive power to conspire to have things work out my way.That evolutionary volitional-conspiratorial-imperative is the core survival strategy of all living systems.The problem is that this volitional-conspiratorial-imperative has no built in self limiting, no internal systems for monitoring that transition boundary between success and excess. All such constraints on volitional-conspiratorial-excess are mediated by healthy external competitors and their volitional-conspiratorial-push-back.Corporate conspiratorial behaviour is totally fair game and in most cases executed in good faith and within the social limits democratically defined under the rule of law.Our challenge is to collectively get much better at being effective conspiratorial push-back competitors. We all need to become well educated conspiratorial competitors, collectively wheeling the power to force feed best-fit standing waves of conspiratorial compromise.It seems to me that H.G. Wells framing of historyhistory is a race between education and catastrophebest elucidates that challenge.K-12 education needs to add two more subjects to its core triad of reading, writing and arithmetic.- epistemology for the rest of us- media ecology for the rest of usThe best way to ensure organically distributive levels of wealth, power and control is through organically distributive levels of education. Of course, there in lies the basic chicken or egg problem of social evolution.

    2. Michael Elling

      The judiciary stepping in and saying the legislative and executive branches have failed. Haven’t followed Obamacare closely, but did the same thing happen there?Much of what we are benefiting from today (aka the Internet and our (re)ascendance as a tech/eco/finl/politico powerhouse in the 90s and 00s) was a function of a judical act (MaBell breakup) and not some all-knowing a priori govt act.Govt should be limited in its role. Regulation, regardless of how well intentioned, mostly results in adverse and unintended consequences. Agree with your list. Add telecoms de-monopolization to the list. It is critical.

    3. JLM

      .I agree more with you than you do with yourself.Well played!.

      1. John Revay

        The reply I got back from Fred was simplyfredwilson replying to John Revaygood plan. good luck.Assuming w/ emphasis on “Good Luck” or not in our life time.I don’t understand why we are unable to get control back – I am hoping through social media something will break. re: “2012 the year of the movement”

        1. fredwilson

          i was overly cynical in that response. it is a good plan.

        2. Timothy Meade

          How long will national media spending decide elections, and where in thell is a Foursquare-like DIY GOTV app?

    4. Dave Pinsen

      We can start fixing things w/1. Term limits – across all elected officesWorth considering, at least, but this would increase the power of unelected officials — e.g., Congressional staff members. 2. Campaign finance reform – get all of the money out of politicsHere’s the problem with that: TV stations don’t run ads free, so someone needs to pay for those ads. And if its not donors, it will be the government. Which effectively means that the current government will decide who gets to run for office.3. Do away w/ lobbyistLobbyists are how groups of people band together to tell Congress what policies they want them to enact. 4. Fix, Energy, Healthcare & EducationI love how you included all three in the same item, as “fixes” of each have been tried, without what you might consider “success”, for decades. 5. Slow/Cut defense spendReasonable, but the devil is in where to make the cuts. There is a temptation on both sides to keep certain expensive social welfare policies that bloat defense spending.

    5. ShanaC

      I really want supreme court term limits. I would vote for an amendment for that

      1. John Revay


      2. Dave W Baldwin

        Remember checks/balances. There are retiring justices for every administration to add one.

        1. PhilipSugar

          I think any institution which does not require turnover at the top becomes corrupt at the top as people try to hold onto their jobs.My biggest beef with my Catholic Church. Now I just added religion to the mix 🙂

          1. Dave W Baldwin

            Understand. The thing is, the judicial is to interpret constitution. Throwing out the judge in 6-10 will not change the issues/delimna from congress folks serving up to life. No matter what religious hierarchy claims, I think you’re alright. 😉

          2. PhilipSugar

            Understand I go to Mass every Sunday. Just because you don’t like the leadership does not mean that local can not be right. I think Andy had a great point on this. When you know you never can leave that is the problem. Tenure, appointment for life, etc. Its especially a problem as you get old. I am much more resistant to change than I was at 20. Everybody is.

          3. Dave W Baldwin

            Remember that Jesus had a message that confounds many, getting down to doing for your neighbor though that same neighbor may deck you. Those of us starting to get older experience more pleasure associated with helping those who think of us as enemy to see whichever Epiphany that may just be life changing…at least it lets them know they’re worth more than before. Experience does count and just force the young one to do their homework.

          4. LE

            I don’t think You can’t compare the church to the court.As has been pointed out the people who appoint the justices and federal judges change with the elections and parties. The appointment structure in the church essentially remains the same. The change at the top of the deciders is one of the differentiators. And there is certainly much more scrutiny on what the courts do then what is done in Rome.In Judaism of course I don’t even know who the grand pooh bahs are and there is nothing they do that really has any impact on me at all. I think the catholic church is special in that way and the control it has over people in this day and age.

          5. PhilipSugar

            The best court in the land is the DE Chancery Court. It is why everybody incorporates here. Term: 12 years

          6. fredwilson

            well done. it deserves to be on the list of corrupt institutions.

          7. PhilipSugar

            Add Universities at the very top.I was reminded of it this week as my brother’s team from Arizona State, Mesa won the Robotic contest beating out Berkley, MIT, Stanford, etc. He was banished to that Campus for political reasons. You see their Spiderman Robot on Best Buy commercials during the NBA Finals. Long Clip: favorite line from a student “well they said we couldn’t do that…well ya we did.”I said that must be your proudest moment of coaching and he said no it was when he won the GM Robotic competition with a bunch of Hispanic High School Students from the Barrios of Phoenix against the top high schools in the U.S.How does ASU view this? Well he makes $84k while the football coach makes over $3M. Good news is that is why I started SpringActive so all that talent could find a good home.

      3. LE

        If you did that then you might have retired justices angling to work in private industry or law firms similar to what happens with legislators.Federal judges also have essentially jobs for life (My attorney is engaged to one). They keep the job forever even working part time and collect a nice salary even if they work very little. It keeps them out of private law firms and so even though they could still leave with the life appointment there is less of a reason to make decisions based on future gain.…I don’t have a problem with that and think it keeps things clean even though they are appointed.

      4. Dave Pinsen

        Here’s a better idea: set a minimum age for Supreme Court nominees of 65.Both parties now aim for nominees who are about 50 years old — just old enough to be plausible candidates, but young enough that they may have avoided some controversial decisions and have the potential, if confirmed, of staying on the Court for decades.Setting age minimums at 65 would reduce the time Justices stayed on the court, and open the competition up to older and more eminent candidates: we could have a Richard Posner instead of a Sonya Sotomayor.

        1. MikeSchinkel

          @daveinhackensack:disqus I’m sure the Supreme Court would rule a law that required that as unconstitutional. <sic>

    6. Brandon Marker

      number 1 is important.

      1. John Revay

        Nothing bothers me more than to tune into the ‘State of the Union” address and see all of the white males w/ white / grey hair.So much for representation.

        1. Brandon Marker

          haven’t figured out how to up-vote more than once, but working on it with this one.

  21. Angela Min

    The problem is deeper than whether the parties are behaving dysfunctionally. The deeper and harder-to-fix problem is that our government is based on the zero sum game / You vs Me / Win vs Lose scarcity model of the world. One party wins, and the other loses. “Checks and balances” attempts to mitigate the fact, but still does not actually CHANGE that fact. We criticize the 2 parties, but the harder thing is to create something of our own. To leave it alone until we come up with something better, ourselves. To make it less about breaking down their model, but building our own. This is why I love the world of technology. We are a horizontal model of the world. Instead of top down, we are from the ground up, wherein incremental individual change ripples and radiates outward, laterally. It is about lots of little changes and small actions to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts — yet, without losing the value of each part (individual / small action) along the way. Each individual piece is an essential fibre with which this intricate tapestry, is woven. I will go out on a limb and also say that all of what I have described is beyond being the technology paradigm of the world. To see it more broadly, it is actually the female paradigm, and archetype, of the world. Rather than having to fight someone (the zero sum game) for something that has already been created (e.g., scarce and limited natural resources, seats of power, a place on the corporate ladder), it is about coming together to create something that did not exist before. Instead of fighting for the crumbs of someone else’s crusty old pie, it is about coming together, and synthesizing the ingredients, to bake our own. Last year I wrote a blog post about this very same thing (“Forget what the White House has to say about women, and let’s go bake our own pie”) which you can read here,

  22. mfeinstein

    There are two ways to be a fiscal conservative: Most current Republicans take the position that they want the government to be as small as possible. Some of them even want taxes to be even lower than that, leaving non-conservative deficits. Another form of conservatism just has to do with making sure that whatever government does, it has enough means to pay its bills. You can have a bigger or smaller government, as long as you have enough revenue to cover the obligations. It’s an exercise left to the voter to decide how big that government is, but, to be conservative, sound policy needs to be followed to make sure budgets are balanced.I am definitely the latter type of conservative, but think that government has a role of providing a social safety net, defense (in moderation), and suitable incentives and research money to keep innovation going.Don’t be afraid of the concept of health care access, Fred. The Massachusetts Health Care Plan works well, and hasn’t broken the bank. I agree that Obama totally flubbed the legislative strategy for his plan, but there is a great need for many of the high-level provisions of Obamacare. It should be streamlined, more in line with Romney’s Massachusetts plan.Having easy universal access to health care for everyone makes a huge difference. It can be done without crushing budgets. And, Massachusetts is now starting to manage the growth of health care costs, with a rate much lower than the national average.It ain’t perfect, but we need something like it on a national scale to keep health care costs from strangling us, including our government budgets.

    1. pointsnfigures

      When government takes over health care, it will be a nightmare. Better off giving people vouchers and letting them find their own insurance, and eliminate all the intra-state rules on insurance and let them compete.

      1. mfeinstein

        Yes, but you can mandate access to healthcare and transparency on healthcare plan pricing (as is done in Massachusetts), and still have everything delivered through insurance companies and private doctors and hospitals. As much as some people don’t like the idea, the key is to make it a requirement that everyone buy insurance and make it easy to buy. That removes a ton of cost in health care delivery (like people using emergency rooms when they don’t have to).That’s a long way from a ‘government takeover’, which is far from what I am advocating.

    2. Tom Labus

      The first Civil Rights Bill was passed in 1958. It was washed out from all the committees and deals. LBJ, the ramrod of the bill and leader of the senate, was given a huge amount of shit about the final effort.His response as that it was a start and would be built on with adjustments. There were small steps in1959 and 60 pre election.The bill was finally completed when LBJ became president.The Affordable Care Act can go the same route.

      1. JLM

        .Civil rights legislation was passed with Republican votes as the Southern Democrats filibustered it unmercifully.One of the greatest revisionist efforts in the political history of the US is the kidnapping of this legacy of Republican support for civil rights legislation by the Democrats.The ACA does not achieve the objectives of affordability it sets out in its very title. It dramatically increases costs.Civil rights empowered individuals. The ACA imprisons individuals..

        1. Tom Labus

          The objective of both the southern republicans and democrats was to produce a civil rights bill for PR purposes only. The leadership in the house and senate were to ensure that the contents were meaningless and completely empty.

          1. JLM

            .We are proud of Lyndon Baines Johnson in Texas because of his leadership on the issues of civil and voting rights — intertwined mostly.The reforms were meaningful, substantive and powerful.They changed our country irreversibly for the good.The Republicans provided the votes to pass this legislation time and time again in the face of continuous Southern Democrat filibusters.It is difficul to embrace your description as meaningless and empty.How can you say that? You are a very smart guy..

          2. Tom Labus

            My reference for the 58 comment is Robert Caro’s incredible most recent volume of his LBJ biography.…I am a huge admirer of LBJ’s legislative skills and the courage to do the Civil Rights Act of 1964 but the reality for that first bill was much different.

          3. JLM

            .I love the Caro books and they are particularly fun when you live where the stories took place. I used to own the Littlefield Building in Austin, TX where LBJ’s Senate offices were located.Our company offices were on the 7th floor where his offices were supposed to have been. I have always felt haunted by that presence.I understand you were referring to the 1958 attempt, I missed that on my first read. My bad.I do think that the civil and voting rights legislation pushed by LBJ were landmark pieces of legislation and defining moments in the history of the Nation..

    3. fredwilson

      i am in the latter camp of fiscal conservatives too mike.if Romney gets elected, do you think he will tweak obamacare to make the needed changes to bring it in line with Massachusetts or will he try to undo it?

      1. JLM

        .Repealing Obamacare will be the political equivalent of a sack dance.To fail to do it would be to doom any chance at a second term.A very wise person would repeal it and then find the 10 best ideas in it and that were not in it and pass a “small ball” bill that would totally confound and confuse the opposition.The most ardent critic of Obamacare could easily find 10 good ideas in it.We would be singing a completely different tune had Pres Obama simply passed a small bill with 10 good ideas including tort reform.How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time..

        1. MikeSchinkel

          @JLM:disqus “The most ardent critic of Obamacare could easily find 10 good ideas in it.”You assume that the average critic has far more analytical ability than they are likely to ever have. To assume that means the average critic would actually understand what they are criticizing, which is a very high bar indeed.

        2. Timothy Meade

          If you let the Health Care industry write the law, as the President did, you get pretty much what we have. At the same time, where does Romney get the ‘political captial’ to remove preexisting conditions provisions of the public law. How do the 10 small things balance out? Also, health IT is not going to be our savior, we are about to settle on a defacto standard for EMRs but with control at the state or system level.. The big players seem to have given up. Statistical analysis and big data could improve our outcomes over decades but are unlikely to change anything in the short term. It would be interesting to see what an effective Small Business lobby would put in a bill.

          1. JLM

            .My notion is a small bill — 200 pages, not 2800 pages — with 10 BIG ideas.I would take 3 from the Republicans, 3 from the Democrats and 4 in consensus — make that into a bill that folks can understand and read.Throw in pre-existing conditions, tort reform, etc. But don’t put in a hidden Federal property transfer tax — no slight of the hand.Conduct exhaustive debates — televised. Until people tune in to cure insomnia.Put it up on the Internet and conduct town hall meetings with free BBQ sandwiches.And then pass it.And then repeat the process until you had 10 such bills.It might rebuild trust because right now trust is in Intensive Care and the prognosis is not good.But, hey, I’m just a simpleton who can only understand simple things..

      2. mfeinstein

        Sadly, I think that Romney has no philosophical anchor. That’s why a lot of centrists in Massachusetts gave up on him. He was very popular as governor until he tacked hard right to prepare to run for President in 2008.The Romney who was governor of Massachusetts may have tweaked Obamacare to make it more like the Mass. health care plan. But, the current Romney is working hard to placate the far right. I am very skeptical that he will move back to the center either in the general election or after he gets elected.

  23. Laurent Courtines

    I’d like to hear from a working class person from the outer boroughs on the value of Bloomberg? I would say, they are not down with the dude.

    1. fredwilson

      he’s been re-elected twice

      1. kidmercury

        bush jr was elected twice. congress is elected all the time, yet the majority disapprove. bloomberg has lots of haters for sure.

  24. Joe Yevoli

    We need another Theodore Roosevelt back in office!

    1. Tom Labus

      Yes, Standard Oil was a huge hunk of the economy (larger than the banks now) and it took a TR to whack them. Our national parks won’t exist without him also.

      1. Joe Yevoli

        A large part of what TR accomplished was because he led by example (see TR and the Spanish American War). Unfortunately, there are very little, if any, leaders like that today.

  25. Dan Lewis

    I don’t think there is no Far Center party. You could fairly describe a lot of people (myself probably included) as socially liberal but fiscally conservative — and we’d rarely agree on a candidate. The reason is because in an binary world, we agree, in one with litmus issues and intensity, we most likely don’t.Finding consensus — especially when you’re talking about 300 million people — is really hard. A loose ideological scheme isn’t enough.

  26. Luke Chamberlin

    The slogan for the Far Center Party could be, “Down with Big Gulps!”

    1. kidmercury

      hahahahhaa +1

    2. JLM

      .I have for a long, long, long time thought that the sizing of soft drinks has been a critical impediment to the development of our civilization. And frankly to our Nation.With a bit of exacting and prudent portion control of sugary soft drinks — not diet drinks or tea which do not contain sugar, mind you — I see the economy expanding, the jobs crisis ending and more sunshine and fewer cloudy days.Count me amongst those who wholeheartedly believe that the proper role of government is to regulate the size of sugary soft drinks.To those who would argue that this is an unreasonable exercise of power — I think they call it a “nanny state” — all I can say is why does anyone need a quarter pound of meat on a hamburger and why is a chicken fried steak so thickly breaded?We are what we eat, uhhh, I mean — we are what we drink!.

      1. William Mougayar

        I continue to agree with you more than you agree with yourself.

        1. JLM

          .But then I know that you are a member of the leisure business class lounging around at coffee bars at all hours of the afternoon drinking espresso drinks that are not even on the damn menu. International really.Great work if you can get it..

          1. William Mougayar

            Shhhh….Everybody thinks I work when I’m in NY.

      2. PhilipSugar

        I was personally offended.

      3. LE

        Daddy may be on to something here. It’s like when I was a kid and was told that you have to limit the fishes food intake or they will eat themselves to death.The end game may not be to limit the size of the drinks anyway. Regardless of what else he has done that has worked the purpose may be to extract some other pound of flesh out of the restaurant industry. It could be a negotiating ploy with a plan b.Here’s an inverse of that.When I was a kid I hated going to hebrew school. One night I was upset because my parents didn’t get me McDonalds (that was a big deal back in the day as you remember we didn’t get much junk food). Seeing that I was moping (yes moping over McDonalds that’s how rare it was to us) my parents uncharacteristically asked me what was wrong. Realizing the opportunity I had in front of me, I said “I don’t want to go to Hebrew school anymore”. They said “if the boy is so upset about that then we should pull him out”. And it was done. Like Rahm Emanuel never let a good crisis go to waste.Later I did the same thing to get a dog.

        1. JLM

          .Haha, I am laughing at your manipulative — effective, mind you — anecdote.Again, I must say that I believe that the sugar content and size of drinks in NYC is the single most important impediment to the return to a strong national economy, the creation of literally millions of jobs and the improvement in local weather conditions.I further think that businessmen arriving in NYC should be compelled to obtain a shoe shine within 10 minutes of arrival. This also is vital to the long term economic conditions in the US of A and will create millions of jobs directly and indirectly.Soft drinks and shoe shines!Is this a great country or what?.

          1. LE

            “laughing at your manipulative”Why thank you! One of the benefits of being raised by a survivor. It was actually celebrated and encouraged. I would practically get rewarded for that type of behavior, not punished. I’m sure your daughter can attest to the benefits of what she has learned from you as a result of your experience in the military.

          2. MikeSchinkel

            @JLM:disqus Either heard of the concept of “Broken Windows”

          3. JLM

            .Hell, I’ve lived it. Fix problems when they are small..

      4. Luke Chamberlin

        It’s funny – the overuse of the word “nanny state” bothers me, but this is quite literally taking away from the responsibilities of a proper nanny!

    3. raycote

      That is a bit hard to swallow !

  27. mike

    I have decided to tune out until the 1st week in November on the Presidential race. Everyone sticks to their talking points and when they don’t (Booker, Clinton), they take it back the next day. We have returned to the pre-mass media days when limited media outlets pushed coverage to the middle. Now, everyone can find an audience, no mater how extreme to the left or the right. Throw in gerrymandering where candidates have to move left or right to get their party’s nomination, and we are stuck. I wonder what the “next big thing” is that gets us unstuck. Don’t think another new app will do it.

  28. Richard

    Vote every incumbent out of office until Washington reverts back to the sleepy town it once was. You can’t have the federal gov control 25% of the economy and have deficit spending of over 1 trillion per year. DC is too big, too rich and too powerful. 

    1. kidmercury

      25%? that would be a dream come true! government spending now at 40% of GDP: http://www.usgovernmentspen…but we’ve passed the point of no return already. with this much spending not enough people are going to vote for cuts because it means they’ll get impacted too. will TSA workers support abolishing the TSA? apply that principle across all the bureaus and we get to a point where nothing can get cut.

      1. Richard

        Yes. What I don’t understand is why, even for the big gov types, the state reps go along with so much of the spending happening within DCs TMZ? Why not take each of the major agencies and distribute across the weaker regions of the US?

    2. raycote

      Incumbency should bring value that comes with experience. The problem arises out of the corrupt financing of elections. This forces all contenders to compromise their values.And deficit spending has a flip side called deficit production. When you outsource your industrial production in return for short term windfall profits by the few at the expense of the many indentured foreign workers and the many unemployed US workers you will have problems paying the bills.When you distort the organically distributive alignment of production and consumption across regional populations you are bound to stall the complex homeostasis between production and effective-demand.Concentrations of wealth whether corporate or sovereign-funds are not so much an issue of morality as they are a denial of basic cyclical network dynamics.

  29. pointsnfigures

    Funny, I am the opposite of you. I worry more about big government than the social issues, although you and I would probably agree on a lot of the ticky tacky things that the political parties love to demagogue. I think a lot of this stems from economic incentives. I’d rather put the power in the hands of entrepreneurs and the private sector than a government bureaucrat, which is why I vote Republican. I live in deep blue Chicago. Not sure I agree about all the things you say about your mayor. I can get a Big Gulp here.Obama is a terrible President. We knew him well in Chicago. He comes from a sect of the Democratic party that is every bit as lethal as the far right Republican right wing. He needs to go.Seriously, Ronald Coase theorem works in all things. It’s a great way to think about things and go through life. As soon as you internalize it, you have respect for all people, and then use economic incentives to make things right.

  30. Dan Cornish

    Hi Fred,You are a proto-Libertarian. A strong central government is like a boat of directors meddling and dictating every move to a company. We have learned from you that a good board can provide advice, guidance and in extreme cases strong oversight. But we have also learned that the best boards let the company operate and set it’s own path.

    1. raycote

      The only blemishes on a libertarian landscape are all the other unconstrained libertarians.Society by definition means contractual compromise.As complexity and social interdependence rise with population densities the libertarian ideal must surely become ever more challenging?

      1. kidmercury

        this is true. it is people like me that turn people off to libertarianism. deep down everyone is a libertarian, it is just a branding problem.although as complexity increases, the less feasible central planning becomes — because no one is smart enough to plan properly for all that complexity, only an organic process can suffice. family is a form of central planning that works because it is small.

        1. raycote

          Couldn’t agree more about the decentralized organics.An if if I had a guaranty that all my fellow libertarians were as rational as Kidmercury I would be all in instead of just kinda leaning in.I think the principles of pure organic market driven probabilistic interplay which give rise to standing waves of best-fit dynamic stability structures seriously collapses above the cellular genetics level.Ounce the base components of that pure organic market driven probabilistic interplay reach the levels of cognitive conspiratorial consciousness that are inherent in humans, then the high volitility of behavioural attributes become too probabilistically unstable to generate sustainable dynamic structures without some form of consciously designed social contract to police the repeatability of those baseline organic marketplace behaviours.

    2. fredwilson

      i could well be a libertarian. the only problem i have with that label is i haven’t found a libertarian politician that i can get behind yet.

  31. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    I come from a country where currently a multi-polar Parliamentary rule is going on … horrible.No decision taken on any matter because of the multi-polar interest… each one has their own agenda to be met and for every action there are multi-reactions and the coin never moves out of the hole.One pro and One anti is a decent combo without landslide difference between the two parties. The fear of loosing the power if you don’t maintain the ideals should be there but should not be to the extent of running the parliament every day.All in all … if the elected candidates represent the ‘IDEAL’ of the country and does not worry about being in power is the good sign for any country. Putting country before power is the key.

  32. Joshua Cyr

    The answer is simple. Remove political parties from the equation. They are an old system of communicating values that we just don’t need anymore. They are also something at least a few of our founding fathers were rather concerned about.The path to do that is very very difficult. One small step is altering the primary system. Take a look at the California top two primary system. Interesting idea. Time will tell if the desired outcome comes to pass.The political parties are a money making machine. The media partakes in making money, insane money, from the current system. There is no incentive to change for anyone except frustrated voters, and too often that just turns into apathy.

  33. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Don’t let the bastards get you down.As much as I believe we are dominated by one party with two faces and one master, I don’t think focusing on overhauling the entire system is going to be fruitful. It’s like trying to boil the ocean.Real change happens on the local level. Focus on that and it’s easier to be happy. Don’t try to move the mountain, tunnel under it :)I’m reminded of Nick Grossman’s project that you pointed me to. I think projects like that are where it’s at when it comes to coping with our federal and state government.

  34. JLM

    .We are all really independent. Even if you are a card carrying party member of a political party, you will still stand alone in the ballot box. We have allowed outside forces to dictate the terms of the debate. Nobody can label you an R or a D unless you allow them to do so.Perhaps there is safety in joining a club rather than having to work through the issues of the day one by one.When Fred uses the term “fiscal conservative” there is a knee jerk reaction that that term is somehow a Republican adjective. I personally prefer the description fiscal “responsibility” or fiscal “competence”.I just want someone who knows how to manage money — revenues v expenses, capital funds v operating funds, timely reports and adjustments to reality. Money management.Someone who has a long term plan to get us out of these crushing deficits and who will not pretend that their particular brand of dessert for the masses can be put on the credit card because it is just so damn good.I want adult leadership.I want someone who knows how to manage across the entire continuum of ideas, policy, legislation, governing philosophy, implementation and management. Including financial management.When it comes to being a social liberal, there are not really very many unique red meat national policy issues out there which are used to define one’s politics — abortion, gay marriage, taxes, the social safety net, education, immigration — I am sure I have missed some.War and national defense come to mind but that is a more overarching issue. Probably the only legitimate concern of the Federal government on the list.Most of these issues simply require a debate, calling the question and making a decision. We have to live with outcomes until the issue again raises its ugly head.If you subdivide the issues, the differences among folks are really not that great. The philosophies and how that turns into governance are huge.But we fail to refer back to the Constitution for guidance. One example is the size of government. The FF clearly set out a limited role for the Federal government and we have abandoned that to our peril.Much more to say but that is enough for now..

    1. fredwilson

      i am sure we would agree on way more than we disagree on JLM. and that is your point.

    2. Timothy Meade

      How do you scale our original government under the Constitution to our larger population size and greater area, or reduce it in light of the easier means of communication? The Constitution provides for Amendment to most of it’s provisions and sets out two processes for effecting that, so are the Amendments considered core to the Founders’ vision? Even if we regaurd some choices as arbitrary, does the fact that they are established for so longer favor contiuing them? I find it disinginuos to refer to Constitutional government, as Ron Paul does frequently, without considering these modifications. I also find it equally dishartening to see constant reference to “reducing the size and scope of government” while choosing programs to reduce or eliminate that hurt a certain subset of people while favoring programs that enrich another.n I hope we can have an adult rational conversation on this as a nation.

      1. JLM

        .You raise a thoughtful question. One that deserves a quiet and thoughtful discussion.In some ways the size of the United States has been balanced by overcoming the temporal burdens that that size has created.As an example, during the 11 years that the Constitution was being written, a man had to travel by horseback from South Carolina or Maine — a huge temporal burden. Actually a physical danger.Now one can travel from California to the seat of government by airplane. In just a few hours.The advance of transportation has blunted the burden of size.The process for amending the Constitution — the result of 11 years of deliberation — was purposely made difficult as a check and balance against making rash decisions.The history of Constitutional amendments shows the wisdom and degree of difficulty clearly.In many of the deliberations pertaining to size of the government, there are no people directly involved.As an example, the Energy Department really adds next to nothing to the orderly regulation of exploration, discovery, development and production of oil and gas.The argument for Federal regulation of energy strikes a silly note if applied to say — timber.The abolition of the Energy Department — authorized in 1977 by Jimmy Carter in knee jerk reaction to the 1973-74 oil shortages — would be an example of a Federal power returned to the individual states.This is a perfect example of how the size and scope of government could be reduced in an almost bloodless change..

        1. Timothy Meade

          Yes, I believe I may have answered my first question. I alluded to two processes of admendment, the first being through Congress first, the second being State legislatures or Constitutional Convention. I would like to see a slate of thoughtful admendments introduced through a Constitutional Convention and then deliberated for some time by the serverals States without Congressional involvment.Your point about the DOE though misses an important fact, so many of those that want to abolish the entire department also want a strong defense. The DOE is the source of much innovation in weapon systems and maintaining our nuclear detterent. We can argue about the effectiveness or appropriateness of that but the simple point is they ignore so much of the function of the DOE it’s difficult to take the point seriously. I will sever yours from this though, and ask you what role DOE plays in energy regulation, what beaures would you favor dismantling? Also, it may have become the Department of Energy in 1977 but I have to assume many of the functions resided elsewhere in government before that time, ICC for instance.Maybe we don’t need the EIA or some of the other smaller functions of the department though.

  35. Joshua Cyr

    Another thought. There are some who thing the solution is a 3rd party. That is just trying to apply a bit of Novocaine instead of curing the actual problem. If you want to know what happens when you add more parties to the mix just watch Game of Thrones. Hopefully with less beheadings and dragons.

  36. johndefi

    The system only allows voters to pick 100% of one side or the other. Fred likes some parts of the Republican side and some parts of the Democratic side. I agree with that view. And I would be willing to bet many voters are in the same camp. I would rather take the power from the clutches of politicians, who are all participating in a motivation system that is do-anything-to-win and after winning do-nothing-to-lose, and shift it to the rightful owners: voters. How do we shift the balance of power? One way could be to create a process that allows the populous to vote on the same issues as elected officials so the elected know the will of the people.

    1. JLM

      .Do anything to win.Do nothing to lose.Brilliant turn of a phrase, really! Well played.Thanks..

  37. ErikSchwartz

    I still vote in Maine and we’re very likely to send an independent to the Senate this year.

    1. JLM

      .Don’t you currently have 2 completely independent Senators now?Posing as Republicans?Not saying that is bad, just saying their voting record is pretty damn independent..

      1. ErikSchwartz

        It is nice to have representatives who actually think for themselves and talk to all the citizens, not just the ones that gave them money.

        1. JLM

          .Texas is the only state whose entire state Congressional delegation caucuses as a state. No Republican Texas caucus. No Democratic Texas caucus.Only a Texas caucus.Geography and local issues are why we have a representative form of government..

          1. ErikSchwartz

            Which would be more impressive if they rejected the national caucuses.

    2. fredwilson


  38. John@PGISelfDirected

    I learned in martial arts that finding your center is a good thing. When you’re aiming for the good, finding your center is a priority. I don’t know about applying it to politics though.

  39. Dave Pinsen

    I believe Bloomberg would run for President if he thought he could win. And I believe he has done the math and the analysis and has concluded that he cannot.True.That has everything to do with how our two political parties control congress and the electoral college.False. That has everything to do with the majority of Americans who live west of the George Washington Bridge and east of the Bay Bridge not sharing Bloomberg’s views on key issues such as immigration, guns, nanny state policies, etc.

  40. OndoCreative

    I attended the Personal Democracy Forum in NYC earlier this week, and David Karpf spoke about Americans Elect as being fundamentally flawed and the American center as unmotivated. A compelling short keynote – that ends on a hopeful note!

  41. kidmercury

    a good opportunity for me to prove once again that i am a broken record who does little more than repeat the same stuff over and over again. here goes:1. 9/11 was an inside job; that is the moral justification for a non-violent revolution2. national debt is all that matters, and will be the excuse to fold the US into a larger, supranational government. 3. the solution is non-violent revolution and the development of non-state networks. unfortunately bubble 2.0 makes it very likely silicon valley will be tempted to delude themselves into thinking farting apps are a humanitarian godsend that will change the world and generate billions in revenue, but the natural resource sector and particularly the gold crowd is showing more and more interest in the world beyond the nation-state. here is a great article from legendary investor doug casey on the subject:… remember casey is as wildly successful investor so there is the social proof you’re looking for. 4. governments of the world face 7.6 trillion in maturing bonds, the majority of which are due in the second half of this year. bank runs in spain have already begun. and of course, this is 2012. all of this adds up to the collapse of the monetary system as we know it, and our chance to usher in the widely prophecied golden age.

    1. JamesHRH

      Do you use banks? Online?

      1. kidmercury

        reluctantly, yes. i’m in the united states.

    2. LissIsMore

      Plan for a post-State world. “Meet the new Boss…Oh, wait, there is no Boss.”

    3. fredwilson

      you need this in a script that you can invoke with a keystroke!

      1. kidmercury

        hahahahahaha! definitely…… @disqus can you hook us up with some programmable keybord shortcuts! lol

        1. John Revay


  42. bsoist

    “The social views of the Republican party are more frightening to me than the economic views of the Democratic party. So I hold my nose and vote Democratic most of the time.”I am going to have to steal this. This is exactly what I’ve been trying to describe for years. Very well said!

  43. Ptaco

    Wow, people get off course quickly with political issues. Where is the discussion on how technology and social media can change or improve the entrenched two party system? There are many grassroots tools that have been built, but none that really harness the power of the people. I’ve seen a few tools that are promising, like, but technology tools still need money to thrive and we’re back to one of the existing core problems. Who will crack the code and figure out how to make democracy work without as much influence from stupid or smart money? Sounds like a challenge for a hackathon.

  44. Scott Barnett

    I am very much in sync with your social/fiscal sensibilities, and equally disgusted with politicians. It just seems that common sense has disappeared and been replaced with partisan side-taking. Each side has to show why the other side is “wrong”, rather than work together to come up with solutions that help our country move forward.I do know there is no easy answer here, but I’ve always felt a third party helps tremendously – regardless of ideology. If it’s simply no longer 2 teams trying to beat the crap out of each other, you would see more people “crossing the aisle” to make compromises. If that party had the ideology of your Far Center Party, that would be great.Sadly, I don’t have any answers or suggestions right now, but happy to help/discuss.

  45. Mark Essel

    Not much to say on politics but yup, there’s no fiscally conservative, socially liberal party. We are a minority, an outlier, an anomaly.

  46. mattb2518

    Tom Friedman’s newest book talks about needing a party in the “radical center.” You’d enjoy the book.

    1. fredwilson


  47. Matthew Beale

    “CBO and JCT have previously estimated that the ACA will, on net, reduce budget deficits over the 2012–2021 period; that estimate of the overall budgetary impact of the ACA has not been updated.”…ACA is projected to *reduce* budget deficits.Beyond the fiscal concerns, it enables a younger generation to take more risks in business by providing a reasonable safety net should they fail. Insurance cannot deny coverage for a pre-existing condition, so we create more workforce mobility. It is a *conservative* approach to fixing our broken healthcare system.I wish you would go into what scares you about it more Fred. I usually respect your opinion, but this one throws me for a loop!

  48. markslater

    its not just the electoral process.these people we elect get on their horse and disappear into the abyss of Washington where the succubus lobbyists dine out on their votes for hire.We are supposed to trust these people to do us right – we are supposed to believe that they make votes with us in mind.Well in the words of carmin from south park “news flash tom brokaw” —- they don’t. They are bought and paid for the moment last voting slip hits the bottom of the dustbin.that horse they still climb on was an actual horse in the days of Washington. that horse is now an OC196 fiber channel right in to capital hill – that channel needs to carry the collective sentiment of the district to which the other end is attached – and that elected official needs to act in accordance with the sentiment of the electorate to which is is beholden.The way that we the people are represented in our halls of government is woefully broken. Our representation has been stolen from us.the internet can change this. It better do. It will.

  49. Jon Michael Miles


  50. ShanaC

    One of the best lines I ever heard about politics is that it is closer to religion when it comes to how people vote.When most people say they are center, they actually mean the reverse of Fred currently, socially conservative, fiscally liberal, which is how the Republicans get away with a lot of crap. Center isn’t a meaningful religious belief. You need to be more granularI think Far Center is a good name though instead.(me personally, I’m in the paternalistic libertarian religion, so I know I disagree with you respectfully about some stuff)

  51. PhilipSugar

    What struck me is that you used their terms “socially liberal” “fiscally conservative”That’s when you know its ingrained. I am neither. I make up my mind on each issue.

    1. fredwilson

      i would like to get where you are. i am working on it.

  52. Dave W Baldwin

    Love how the comments turn into blame GW for what’s going on now. The fact of the matter is both parties spend and the more spending that is placed in whatever entitlement then becomes sacred ground.Favoritism rules, just a matter who gets the favors bestowed. The result is mediocrity on all levels, no matter the false praise we are supposed to pass around because it’s our side. Last, I’m glad Fred brings back the gay issue, my disquis wouldn’t operate back then. My son is gay and technically (in our eyes) he is married, though the US will not recognize that. Instead of that issue being talked about rationally, we now have one side saying Obama is first gay president and the other figuring how many votes they can get from that side. Oh yeah, then there is the ‘Progressive’ (some responders on this forum) who tell my son to write up a contract and get over it.On the economic front, Obama is simply not inspiring. His charisma doesn’t really translate to the work room floor which you need for people to be excited about building forward. Romney is questionable in that regard. Bloomberg was talking yesterday (I missed it) in the fashion of how the cities need to lead the country (local out vs. statism in). Problem is, it starts to become the same catch phrases over and over not getting down to real numbers/facts. So for now, Obama will try to pull the ‘take credit’ for anything you can, Romney will counter plus prove he’s a real conservative in whomever expert opinion and a year from now we’ll be screaming about the deficit, no solution and see who gets the favors.

    1. fredwilson

      sadly this all true

      1. Dave W Baldwin

        It is time to force real numbers and in a way most will understand… The blame game (envy and blamed hasn’t a clue on what to do) will only perpetuate if we allow it.

  53. Dave Pinsen

    Fred,If you are socially liberal and fiscally conservative, you should consider voting Republican at the national level and Democratic at the state and local level. Here’s why: – Social issues are generally decided at the state level. Gay marriage was legalized in New York at the state level, and abortion was legalized in New York before Roe v. Wade. Some liberal organizations like to use the threat of a repeal of Roe to shake down donors, but realistically, there’s no chance of it: even conservative jurists consider Roe to be covered by stare decisis now). And even if somehow it were repealed, abortion would still be legal in New York (and other blue states), as it was before Roe.- Your governor happens to be one of the more fiscally responsible Democrats.- Republicans at the national level are currently more committed to tackling America’s looming fiscal crisis than Democrats.

    1. JLM

      .Damn good insight. Well played!.

    2. pointsnfigures

      Except if you are in Illinois. The machine runs everything here and crony capitalism is rampant. We can’t even get food trucks because alderman put the kitchen they used in Logan Square out of business. Kitchen wouldn’t grease the right palms or buy their insurance from the right guy. Illinois has been run by Democrats for years, with complicit Republican or Democratic governors that are now in jail. They barely got gay marriage through, and raised our taxes last year, along with a huge rise in spending.

    3. fredwilson

      hmm. that may well be what i do. except i can’t get past the idea that the president appoints supreme court justices.

    4. MikeSchinkel

      Unfortunately the current Republican party orthodoxy requires lock-step support for ideological positions and thus voting Republican at the national level currently increases the dysfunction of our government. Conversely the Democrats are far less effective at establishing and maintaining a common front. thus they are better at producing a reason governing body.As it is I can’t in good conscious vote for any Republican at a national level, no matter how good he or see might be, Hell, I’d happily vote for selected Republicans over Democrats if I knew that as a group the Republicans were focused on the good of the country instead of the good of the party.

  54. Jeff Pester

    Bloomberg 2016!

  55. William Mougayar

    Let’s hope that American politics can be fixed. The current gridlocks and race for mediocrity is hurting the US.Maybe Bloomberg should run and be the shit disturber for the 2 parties. That hasn’t happened since Ross Perot attempted it.

    1. JLM

      .Ross Perot handed the tiller of the ship of state to Bill Clinton.The simple truth of the matter is that the words “President” and “Clinton” would never have been found fornicating in a sentence together but for Ross Perot.He siphoned off the winning margin in two elections. The King maker extraordinaire!Every night when Bill Clinton goes to bed — even when it is not his bed — he gets down on his knees and says a prayer to Ross Perot.Ross Perot made Bill Clinton..

      1. William Mougayar

        True. I forgot about that part. But my comment was meant to say that – if the 2-party system is to be disturbed, that can start by having a very charismatic and capable “independent” that will shake things up. That person “could” have been Perot. And that person “could” be Bloomberg. But the reality is that the 2 parties are so institutionalized inside the bones and flesh of American politics that I don’t see how they could start losing their control grip. The first sign would be to start seeing independents or “Center” Representatives in the Congress who start to chip away at the 2 ruling parties.

  56. ttenneson

    Your first three paragraphs state my feelings PERFECTLY. But for the last paragraphs unfortunately I live in Seattle and we could use a Bloomberg

  57. Blake Mitchell

    Anyone who thinks Bloomberg is a genius needs to read Matt Taibbi’s column from yesterday.

    1. kidmercury

      oh snap….brutal diss. truth always hurts. thanks for sharing. i recommend folks read that article, especially the nyc bloomberg fanboys.

      1. fredwilson

        i guess i have to read it.

  58. celestus

    Except there are many other people in the “far center” who disagree with you as well, so there really isn’t a unified “far center.” A lot of people who are disappointed with both parties also despise Bloomberg.

  59. Richard Rodgers

    Well stated…my thought exactly.

  60. syntheticzero

    You seem like a smart and very reasonable guy, Fred Wilson, and I’ve read your blog with interest for a while. However, I think you’re giving Obamacare a bad rap (there’s a lot of misinformation and lack of comprehension about it out there). First of all, the plan is essentially inspired by a plan first put forth by the Heritage Foundation (a conservative think tank) as an alternative to single payer health care. It will achieve coverage for 30 million more Americans while costing no more than what we currently spend on health care, or even a bit less. It doesn’t increase government expenditures, and in fact the GAO projects it will slightly decrease them. The so-called “individual mandate” is nothing more than a nominal tax penalty with no criminal penalties for lack of compliance. More importantly, it is based on the current system of private insurance and private doctors and hospitals, and is based on the notion of competition as a means of encouraging health care innovation.The main reason, it seems to me, Republicans are opposed to “Obamacare” is simply that a Democrat proposed it. It’s precisely the sort of balanced, private sector-based plan that a “Center Party” ought to have proposed. It works in Massachusetts, it hasn’t broken the bank, yet has achieved massive increases in health care coverage.In a modern society it simply shouldn’t be the case that tens of millions of people go without health insurance. A recent study estimated that about 45,000 people die prematurely every year because of lack of health insurance. That is like fifteen 9/11s every year. Yet, despite this appalling loss of life, we spend 1.5x to 2x as much as other industrialized nations do on health care, and our health care outcomes are quite mediocre.

    1. fredwilson

      i am not an expert in Obamacare. but i’ve talked to a lot of very knowledgeable people about it, people without agendas, and i am concerned that it doesn’t do much to control spending

      1. syntheticzero

        But our current system is close to the worst in the world, already, when it comes to cost control, so it’s hard to imagine it getting any worse than it already is. Spending in health care in the US has been growing at twice the rate of inflation for decades, which is why we have the most expensive system of health care in the industrialized world, by far, per capita. Furthermore we don’t even have the best health care outcomes, except in a few areas like cancer — but then again, France and Japan also have good health care outcomes with cancer, despite having universal health care at a much lower cost per capita.There are quite a few cost control ideas in Obamacare: for example, there is support for alternative payment schemes such as pay-for-outcomes rather than pay-per-procedure which aligns incentives towards cost control. There’s a commission set up to review the results of cost control experiments and mandate them into Medicare reimbursement, which should tilt the playing field towards efficiency in private health insurance as well. There is support for electronic medical records and automating data sharing between health care providers. There are mandates for coverage for preventive care, and incentives for things like quitting smoking, exercise, etc., which also should reduce health care costs.There’s even support for states experimenting with totally different approaches as long as they can show they’re getting the same result of increased access to care.I actually am with you when it comes to liking the idea of pragmatic thinking when it comes to political and economic ideas. However, I think if you actually looked into the details of what’s in the health care reform law, you’d find there are a lot of good ideas in the law. I’d encourage you to do more research into it. It’s not a “state takeover of health care’, it’s based on market principles, it’s very pragmatic and a reasonable approach to solving a major national problem. It’s really too bad it has become so politicized.

        1. fredwilson

          i am not arguing for our current system. it’s bad too.

          1. syntheticzero

            There are no doubt many ways in which the law could be improved. But the basic idea: set up insurance exchanges for people who aren’t covered by their employers to enable them to get group rates, put in a tax penalty so younger people have an incentive to get coverage (so they don’t have to rely on emergency room treatment), to lower everyone’s premiums, subsidies for low income people… that basic framework is really quite centrist. It may be that a single payer system would actually control costs better — but that really would be a “government takeover” of the system. Health care reform is an incremental improvement over what we have. Perhaps not enough, but there are many good ideas in it.

          2. fredwilson

            i am not a fan of single payor. i am a fan of everyone is a payor.

          3. syntheticzero

            Whups, sorry for the duplicated comment — Disqus seemed to have lost my previous comment but now here it is.Well, anyway, thanks for the discussion. I just thought I’d share some thoughts about this since it’s a subject I’ve spent a great deal of time on (my current startup is in the health care space) and I’m also a fan of pragmatic thinking. Thanks for being so open to discussions with people despite being extremely busy!

          4. William Wagner

            I think the idea of single payer just means that there is one insurance body for the whole of the country – that means that it can throw a wide net, and get excellent prices and low premiums. That insurance body would basically treat free treatment like Wal-mart treats spoiled fruit. People would even be able to pay Wal mart prices for services they couldn’t get otherwise. But the insurance industry doesn’t want a Wal-mart size competitor and they have a lot more lobbying power than Sears did when Sam Walton was around. I would definitely like to see it.

          5. syntheticzero

            My previous comments seems to have disappeared. You’re right that the law can certainly be improved (perhaps with additional cost control measures). But the basic framework is really pretty centrist and there are more cost control measures in the law than the current system (which has virtually none).

  61. bernardlunn

    My dream ticket in ’08 was Obama + Bloomberg. I even wrote a spoof post saying that was who Obama chose just for fun. Obama really needed somebody who understands business and Bloomberg is a brilliant entrepreneur. I watched Bloomberg at the Google talks in ’08 and he that CEO style get the job done pragmatism plus super smart and tough as nails. And he is a techie. Oh well, sigh!

    1. William Mougayar

      Obama as VP & Bloomberg as P? :)That might be interesting

  62. JamesHRH

    I think the issue with America is the structure of government. Checks and balances, 2 senators for every state & a 2 party system were inspired……in the 1770’s.Parliamentary systems do allow governments to be free from orthodoxy, as the Prime Minister (if he can control / lead his caucus) gets a chance to do things.The great weakness in multiparty parliamentary systems is coalition governments – which then just turn into unmanageable / unleadable governments, where the winner is not the best person for the job, but the best greaser of special interests (hi, my name is Italy / Germany ).The UK has the best model – we are working on our 5th party up here in Canada & it has been a disaster since we got past having 3.And, finally, I am a Far Center guy too. But for our fiscally conservative US friends, I would suggest this PPT from Richard Koo, slides 13-15 are the heart of it: http://www.businessinsider….Its not orthodoxy, its history.

  63. Robert Davidson

    Decoupling health insurance from employment would be a huge factor in increasing entrepreneurial activity as losing health insurance is a big barrier to leaving big Co for a start-up. Obamacare (or Romney Care) would go a long way toward improving that situation.

    1. JLM

      .Hmmm, are you really serious?I have been thinking that employers should provide automobile insurance, renters insurance and pet insurance. Maybe trip or vacation insurance, no?It could work, right?.

      1. MikeSchinkel

        That’s a really good idea. One of the biggest things that keep some people from being entrepreneurs is the potential downside if they “fail.” As public policy we should do as much as we reasonably can so there would be little downside to trying and failing.

    2. alphaG77

      You won’t get that with Obamacare! the cost to a small biz(the penalty) for not providing employee health insurance is less than 1/10th the cost of providing it. Once small (non-startup) businesses start dropping their plans, startups will look foolhearty to offer that up.

    3. thinkdisruptive

      Why does it have to be socialized to be decoupled from employment? Health insurance as a product, packaged to non-consumers, is a big part of the problem. Costs would decrease dramatically if consumers had to pick a plan and there was real competition for it. And, we shouldn’t have insurance for routine doctor visits and penicillin and birth control pills. Those things are all predictable. Insurance should be for things that are big and unpredictable, like car accidents, or catastrophic care (cancer operation). It is insurance companies themselves, coupled with dumb lawsuits that have made healthcare unaffordable, and when you add in a 15% premium for government inefficiency, it will be even worse. That, and the fact that the consumer is insulated from the cost of the product, so they a) don’t realize when they are doing things that are expensive, and b) have no direct incentive to minimize costs — they’re actually incentivized to do the opposite, to consume all they can to get their money’s worth.Sometimes, back to basics (I buy what I need or want) is the right solution. Obamacare isn’t a solution to any of the problems that make healthcare unaffordable (or to reducing the government debt either — just another entitlement that won’t be funded).

      1. MikeSchinkel

        @thinkdisruptive:disqus While I agree in large part with your premise one of the big issues I see is that many consumers in the lower income brackets would opt out of routine preventative care because of it’s percentage of cost vs. their total income, and that results in much more expensive problems down the road. The “personal responsibility” advocates would say “Tough, that’s their choice” but I say it’s a public policy failure because it results in that percentage of the workforce becoming unproductive.I do agree that involving consumers in their own healthcare choices is critical, but I also think that it’s the responsibility of policy makers to ensure that largest percentage of the workforce reasonably possible continues to be healthy and productive and pundits who focus on healthcare for the health of the individual citizen vs. for the health of economic engine are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

        1. thinkdisruptive

          Can’t have social engineering and a cost-effective system. The two don’t work together. Instead of trying to solve a system problem that everyone is forced to participate in (with sub-optimal results — e.g. higher prices, poorer care, fewer choices), you only need to worry about how we help those at the bottom.By the way, back in the day before unions created the bandwagon of companies covering health insurance, and before mega-million $$$ malpractice suits brought on because the doctor stared at someone the wrong way, the people at the bottom were generally cared for. There were churches, charities, families and doctors working together to make sure that no one who needed care was left out. It worked, and was a heck of a lot cheaper per capita than what we have to spend today.e.g. I don’t know how much most people pay attention to what they’re actually spending (premiums deducted from paychecks + copays + tests + drugs), but I am increasingly agitated that I could buy a new car every year for cash for what it costs in premiums, and that’s with some subsidy. There’s no way that I could ever consume a quarter of that in real expenses (and I have a chronic condition), but the cost of not being insured is that if something catastrophic happens, I can’t get help and I’m broke. The reason that’s true is the inflation caused by insurance companies and lawsuits. I’d happily pay a couple grand a year for catastrophic coverage, and pay the rest out of pocket (especially if I could pay the same price the insurers do, which is impossible because doctors have to inflate their prices so that after 80% of it is taken away by the insurer, they still get fairly paid, and then insurers forbid the doctor from offering me a fair cash price), I’d be saving $15K/year. Unfortunately, due to the restraint of trade (now there’s a case for the DoJ to pursue due to anti-competitive practices) I have no choice but to stay in the plan I’m in.

          1. MikeSchinkel

            “Can’t have social engineering and a cost-effective system.”Actually, you can’t prove a negative so that statement is a logical fallacy.”you only need to worry about how we help those at the bottom.”I think that was the point I was trying to make…”I’d happily pay a couple grand a year for catastrophic coverage, and pay the rest out of pocket”I agree with you there. My annual health insurance is US$6000 just for me. And I agree that malpractice lawsuits are a huge impediment to affordable health care.Healthcare fundings need to be turned into a consumer-centric model. We need regulation that ensure the system is efficient and effective and for all so that system can’t be manipulated for the benefit of the few. We need government to subsidize for low income so that paying for healthcare vs. some other requirement is no longer an issue but that individuals benefit from directing the cost of their own care (vouchers?)We need to start viewing health and education just like conservatives view the military; that it’s critical for the benefit of our economy and our standing in the world that we are a healthy and an educated nation and stop viewing those aspects as something that’s merely for the benefit of the individual recipient. The USA will be best when it’s citizens are the healthiest, and neither ObamaCare, anything presented by Republicans nor anything presented by the Healthcare industry comes even close to properly addressing the issue.

          2. thinkdisruptive

            re: logical fallacy — nope, it isn’t. Social engineering necessarily adds overhead that doesn’t need to exist. Anything that is taken over by government generally costs about 15% more than the same function done privately — there was a study done at some point that calculated this, but it’s pretty easy to see in practice.And, you can help those at the bottom without imposing a system on everyone — that was my point. You don’t have to force everyone into a government healthcare system that is simply a worse version of the bad current system. Healthcare could be fixed privately with a few regulation changes and a lot of private sector disruptive innovation. Doesn’t require Obamacare. I would start by regulating insurance companies out of the business of routine services (annual doctor visit, blood tests, penicillin tablets), and capping lawsuits and restricting severely what can be sued for. Now, there’s no need for employers to be healthy population. Have you seen the research that shows the average weight gain and general condition of obesity parallels the increase in supply and cheapness of plentiful food? I know I’m always shocked at how expensive food is in Canada for example (easily costs 2x as much to feed your family there than here), but Canadians are also noticeably thinner and healthier. Of course, making food more expensive would make the socialists scream bloody murder, but it seems like that’s the core of the problem — people just eat too much when food is education. We need to get rid of “social passing” and everybody getting a trophy just for showing up. Standards in this country are appallingly low. Getting better performance is as easy as raising expectations and meaning it. And, getting union politics out of the classroom. The entrenched teaching interests are extraordinarily resistant to change, and you can’t fix something that you can’t change. (I’m not one who says that teachers are crappy — there are good ones and bad ones, although my experience with my own kids’ teachers, even in a private school, is that most of them weren’t that bright.) It’s the ability and willingness to improve, more than the quality of teaching that is the problem. But yes, America is rapidly falling behind a lot of countries with far fewer resources than we have, and it will result in lower competitiveness (as it already has) and lower standard of living for all. I don’t think this is a government problem though. It’s a parent problem. The two biggest factors that increase learning performance are parental involvement, and the kids’ peer group. Not the teachers, not the class size, not the amount of homework, not the budget, not how nice the facilities are. Not anything but the basics. Everything else is hygiene.

          3. MikeSchinkel

            You have a hypothesis about what you are calling “social engineering” (a “term has been imbued with negative connotations”[1]) which you stated as fact; that was your logical fallacy. Your hypothesis might be true in the vast majority of cases, but that’s not how you stated it; you stated as undisputable fact. Had you said “more often then not” I would not have challenged you. It’ll really hard for me to appreciate the valid aspects of a person’s argument when they choose to make hypothesis-as-fact statements, especially when they continue to defend them when challenged.”And, you can help those at the bottom without imposing a system on everyone”It seems you think I said we must impose a system on everyone? I didn’t. We do need regulations by which to enable a system, just like we have regulations that keep order on the road; we need “traffic lights” and “speed limits” for the actors in our healthcare system, but it doesn’t mean we have to all have the same healthcare.As for the rest I currently don’t think I have enough information to know exactly what should be done, but then I also think that very few people do have enough information to know what should be done; certainly the average voter doesn’t. So I won’t comment on your “regulating insurance companies out of the business of routine services” and other solutions because I don’t know what the unintended consequences of that would be. And I doubt anyone commenting on this post does average weight gain vs. obesity parallelsIn my view that’s because healthy eating doesn’t create cravings like unhealthy eating, and healthy eating tends to be more expensive. So businesses in the USA produce the stuff that sells, not the stuff that is healthy, and lower income people frequently don’t have to options to eat healthy because doing so would cause a significantly larger percentage of their income to be spent on food, so they don’t.”but Canadians are also noticeably thinner and healthier.”Hey, if it weren’t so damn cold there, I’d move to Canada in a heartbeat. I rarely meet a Canadian I dislike; can’t say as much for my own countrymen.”On average Of course, making food more expensive would make the socialists scream bloody murder, but it seems like that’s the core of the problem — people just eat too much when food is cheap.”What’s a “socialist?” Of, you mean that tar-and-feather epithet? But I digress…The proposed large soda ban in NYC has people up in arms, but if I’ve not mistaken it’s the right-learners that are most upset about it, not the leftist “socialists.”How to handle? Tax the unhealthy, use the taxes to subsidize the healthy food and use tax incentives for offering healthier meals by calories, fat etc. to restaurant chains similar to Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations.”social passing”, “low standards” “unions”No argument from me. But I’m not a zealot about it either. Rather than sweeping change, offer better options and manage it that way. More charter schools for example. But we also need a BHAG around education like landing on the moon once was. We need leadership at the top to drive an interest in education and I don’t see ANYONE who is every attempting to offer that leadership. I’d love to see Obama shine a light on the numbers and compare us to other countries and offer a challenge to the citizens that we will become #1 by important metrics within 5 years.”a parent problem not a government problem.”It is both. It’s a government problem (i.e. a policy concern) because the parent problem is not solving itself. We can say it’s not a government problem but that would be sticking our head in the sand (something we Americans have learned to be very, very good at.) It’s a problem that needs leadership from the Government because nobody else is providing it. I might not even be spending money, it might be providing the right inspiration or providing incentives or who knows what.But one thing’s certain; the left and the right are too busy pointing fingers and trying to discredit the other’s solutions that we’ll never address it (or much of anything else) even if one of the solutions is absolute right. Until we can break the left-right cycle, we have the goverment we deserve.FWIW.[1]

          4. thinkdisruptive

            How’s this for qualifying the cost of social engineering: I know of no cases, ever, where it does not cost more for the government to create an effect it desires than to create incentives for the private sector and individuals to do it themselves. Happy to listen to contrary examples.My point about healthcare is simply that we have created a Frankenstein of a system that doesn’t work in any sense through a hodge podge of bad regulation and mismanagement. There doesn’t need to be “a system”. In an absolute sense, we’d be better off without one. Supports to help the poor are a targeted program, not a system but if you want to call it a system go ahead. Just leave me out of it. I have no desire to live in a government mandated version of healthcare that runs as efficiently as say, the TSA.btw, for most intersections, especially outside of NYC, we don’t need traffic lights. Roundabouts are cheaper and work better. Just saying. Often simpler works better.The unintended consequences of getting insurance companies out is precisely nothing. There was a time when they weren’t involved when healthcare was affordable to all, or provided free to those who needed it. The unintended consequence of having insurance companies in the middle, a condition brought on by unions negotiating for more and more benefits that weren’t taxed as income (another reason not to have income taxes), are well-documented, and I’ve raised many of them:- higher costs (insurance companies extract high profits)- consumer insulated from real cost- consumer treating healthcare like an all-you-can-eat buffet, spending all they can because they’ve already paid for it (increasing cost to everyone)- insurance company deciding on your standard of care and what doctors you can see- the uninsured (often those who can least afford it) are the only ones who pay full price (which is often several times the “real” price)Basically, all the unintended consequences (distortions) because of insurance involvement in the system are bad. You can be skeptical of this, but rather than tell me that “no one knows”, I suggest that people need to know before prescribing or legislating solutions, and you should research it yourself. The people least qualified to create a solution for us are the ones in Washington trying to do it. I do happen to know, because I’ve spent a lot of time studying it, dealing with the consequences and costs, and looking at before and eating patterns. No, you are making a bunch of assumptions. There is a recent study that shows it has nothing to do with “healthy” or “unhealthy” food. It has everything to do with volume. And food costing less leads to greater volume consumed. You only need look at restaurant portions here. Whether fine dining or fast food, portions are almost universally too large. Sometimes the portion served in a single meal is the recommended calories for 2 or 3 days, especially at the popular mid-market chains like Appleby’s, Chili’s, et al. (Not picking on those two — they’re all over-stuffing their plates.)re: Canadians. Thanks. I am one. I noticed this problem after I moved to the US. I gained about 30 pounds in the first year I was here. Couldn’t figure out why, and started being more vigilant about trying to watch everything, but the above noted study, and my own observations of patterns in the US and Canada confirm price and portion size are the big factors. And, it’s hard to not eat what’s put in front of you, especially when you grew up in a home where your mother always said “Clean off your plate. Think about all those starving children in Biafra (and later China).” The problem in the US is that success in making plentiful food available to everyone at reasonable cost has had the unintended, but to be expected, consequence of people eating more than they socialists. OK. Unnecessary dig. Was intended to be humorous. I guess it didn’t come across that way. Maybe if I had said “do gooders”? Basically, people who are concerned about affordability of basics like food, don’t realize that isn’t the problem. The problem is we can afford too much, and it’s killing soda ban. Outside of NYC, we are amused. Seems like a real smart way to spend taxpayer money. Apparently politicians have too much time on their hands. Maybe they should be sent back out to do real work for at least 1/2 the day. The bit that rankles is, I don’t want my mother telling me what size of cup to use for a drink, and I certainly don’t want a politician doing it. 42oz cups are ridiculous, but it isn’t my business and it isn’t Bloomberg’s business either. I don’t think this matters whether you’re a rightist or leftist. It’s the authoritarian nanny control aspect.How to handle? I’m not sure it’s the government’s place to interfere. We have doctors. We have ourselves. If you must have a program to regulate the problem, requiring that all food be organic would be one way. Organics have lower yields and cost more. And, they satisfy your concern since for the most part, they are healthier. I just hate paying twice as much for a carrot that looks the same as the other carrot that isn’t leadership from government on education. Why? Because it’s worked so well up to now? The leadership we need is actually grassroots. And yes, charters and choice and competition, which would require breaking teacher’s unions, are all required.But the way we’ll get there isn’t by more “no kids left behind” and universal standards where teachers cheat and fill out test cards and correct answers so that they don’t look bad. A transparent set of metrics that schools are graded by would be a good start. If they were all published online, parents would be able to compare and choose schools based on objective performance criteria. The failing schools would fail. We’d get more of what was working. It will take a generation to fix, but that’s less time than anything the government could engineer, and the result would be better because it would force all parents to take an active interest and give them the data to make comparisons. It’s also a means by which you’d see continuous improvement and self-correction, which isn’t the case today.Your last paragraph: couldn’t agree more. Just between you and I on this post, there is more constructive thought that could be used to correct things than anything I’ve seen out of politicians in the past 50 years. I tend to look at things through a disruptive innovation lens, as that’s what I do, but I can’t think of a domain that is more in need of displacement of entrenched interests and disruptive innovation than education, from top to bottom.

  64. willcole

    Fred, I would suggest reading up on Gary Johnson. His fiscal conservatism as a two time governor of New Mexico is unmatched by any recent presidential candidate: http://www.garyjohnson2012….He’s also been an outspoken proponent of:Gay marriage http://www.garyjohnson2012….Marijuana legalization: http://www.garyjohnson2012….Ending our involvement in middle eastern wars: http://www.huffingtonpost.c…He’s a libertarian, sure, and I don’t get the feeling that you fall into that bucket exactly. But then again, who is matched 100% with any presidential candidate. I expect based on some of your past writing that you may not agree with some of his policies on taxation, or government involvement in ways that Mayor Bloomberg does, but maybe the rest will be enough for you to talk about him here and raise his profile.He has no real chance of winning anything as long as he is on the libertarian ticket, but my hope is that people like him will have more success in infiltrating and changing the republican party who do not live up to their fiscal promises and have a horrible record in the social space.

    1. kidmercury

      yeah gary johnson is solid, pretty good candidate

    2. fredwilson

      he sounds interesting. i would like to meet him.

      1. willcole

        I’ll try and arrange that. He’s done some small gatherings in the past in NYC and I’m sure he’ll be back again soon. I’ll shoot you a note next time he’s in town.

    3. Timothy Meade

      I have a long-held feeling that if the libretarian right and liberatarian left could find common ground on just those three issues something would change. Those groups are never going to agre on taxation or social programs but embracing the consensus of a new generation of voters as a third party (something like the LD have in UK). The sad fact is the libertarians of today are just as much about identity politics and party-first (the party they most identify with of the two majors) than they are about incremental freedom. Not all freedom is economic, not all tryany is either. People forget that the “tea parties” began as a fund raiser for Ron Paul in Bost, before the national attention made it the rebranding of various movements begun by established players and evetual suplanting the GOP as the “conservative” party. Is Gary Johnson the successor as the internet’s candidate? Are there a selection of issues, if not those three than something else, that could define a new coalition?

      1. thinkdisruptive

        That’s a concept I’ve never encountered before — libertarian right and libertarian left. Libertarians don’t believe in government funded social programs, and they do believe in minimum taxation necessary to fund the essential purposes of government – law + order, national defense + not much else. Like all things, there are small disagreements at the fringes (how much is necessary), but for the most part they are exactly what Fred said he was right off the top — fiscally conservative, socially liberal.The irony is that although the Libertarian Party has a way of always nominating wingnuts to leadership, the libertarian (small ‘l’) philosophy is what most Americans actually believe, and the way most of us live. I mind my business, you mind yours. Don’t spend more than you have. Don’t tell others how to live, or interfere with their rights, unless they interfere with yours. Fiscally conservative, socially liberal.So, why do the dominant parties not reflect the views of almost anyone?

        1. Timothy Meade

          Well that is exactly the point I’m making, it’s not that all self-identified librertarians wouldn’t embrace some form of libertopia, it’s the practical effect that label has on voting behavior. I’m saying that there is a division in the fallback choice of candidates and policies that libretarians use that currently has more effect on our system than the supposedly ‘pure’ positions they would take if we weren’t all rational actors employing game theory in our political actualities. And I would disagree with the notion that all libretarians embrace eliminating all social programs (redistribution), or agree on who the worse bad actor is between centralized government and private enterprise with similar character. It also gets more murky if you include civil libretarians in the classification.This is why I identify issues that the majority of libretarians could embrace as common ground and work together towards supporting and promoting those policy positions in the context of the two party system.

          1. thinkdisruptive

            A “civil libertarian” is a very different animal than a “libertarian”. And, it’s for sure that no “libertarian” (big or small ‘l’) believes in redistribution — that is the opposite of libertarian. Yes, it’s true that many hold their noses and vote based on what they value more (guns & money or dislike of control/authority/social conservatism), but the only way they could embrace common ground is to abandon the parties they don’t belong in and support one that more accurately reflects their views. The real problem though is that most people who self-identify as libertarians are extreme idealists, and they would quibble to death over little details of purity. Strangely, it’s easier to support something they don’t agree with than to support something that is 99.9997% what they agree with but takes one “wrong” policy stand. They aren’t very pragmatic about getting what they really want. Perhaps that’s why an “extreme center” or “pragmatic party” might be a good idea. Take a mostly libertarian view, taint it with pragmatism, and you’d have something that 80% of us would support.

          2. MikeSchinkel

            I have to call foul on the use of the word “redistribution.” It is a disingenuous code-word concocted by the right to rally their base against taxation, and to rally them against it regardless of it being good or bad policy. When used in the context of tax politics it is a dishonest at best.The reality is we cannot have a functioning society without significant redistribution. The military is paid for by “redistribution.” Libertarians do not believe in having a military? That’s not what I understand.”They aren’t very pragmatic about getting what they really want. Perhaps that’s why an “extreme center” or “pragmatic party” might be a good idea.”heh. When asked what my party affiliation is I’ve long told people I am a member of the “Pragmatic Party.” Maybe it finally time for one to really exist?

          3. thinkdisruptive

            Actually Mike, a libertarian would think of “redistribution” as being the opposite of progressive taxation. You’re only redistributing when you are asking those with more to pay more than their fair share. As it turns out, it’s mostly the middle class that pays more than their fair share, because below a certain level, you pay nothing, and above a certain level, you get lots of write offs and can leverage tax policy to pay less than an equal share. Any reasonable person understands that the basics have to be paid for. It’s what we do beyond that that is debatable, and who pays how much. I don’t care how tea partiers use the word, or if some think it’s a code word. We can’t have the whole language polluted by code words and have an intelligent conversation about something. The meaning of redistribution is pretty clear, and it wasn’t coined by the right. (And, paying for the military, or border control, or police and courts would not being considered redistribution.)I don’t equate redistribution with taxation, as you seem to. But, we had a perfectly fine functioning society before we began taxing income, and we could again. Taxing income is actually the worst possible form of taxation. It’s way too complex. It makes loopholes almost a structural requirement. It encourages politicians to create interest groups that they play against each other. It distorts economic activity. It creates the need for the IRS and all the time and money that is wasted on accountants and lawyers (imagine if that human productivity was redeployed to something useful). And, it criminalizes people who would otherwise not be tempted, because the whole game is to do the maximum legal things you can to avoid paying tax. Except, different people interpret the rules differently and we end up penalizing people who thought they were playing by the rules. We create compliance nightmares. We have FBI agents in flack jackets showing up at people’s homes and beating their doors down over disputed tax bills. Is this a way to run a civilized country? I say abolish income taxes and employ only consumption taxes — it’s the fairest way, and it ensures everyone pays, and it has the lowest compliance cost, and it gets rid of the IRS. And, did I say it was simple, and non-redistributive?

          4. MikeSchinkel

            “a libertarian would think of “redistribution” as being the opposite of progressive taxation. You’re only redistributing when you are asking those with more to pay more than their fair share.”The fallacy there is that people debate “fair share.” What I think is fair someone else doesn’t. And frequently what people think is fair is based on their ideological identity and/or whether it directly benefit in the short term.”It’s what we do beyond that that is debatable, and who pays how much. I don’t care how tea partiers use the word, or if some think it’s a code word. We can’t have the whole language polluted by code words and have an intelligent conversation about something.”You can ignore the fact that partisans have worked hard to load words with new meaning, but if you do your conversations with people who have been influenced by that loading will either be a pity party (i.e. you are talking to a true believer) or adversarial (i.e. if you are talking to an anti-believer.)”Paying for the military … would not being considered redistribution.”I strongly consider it redistribution that 17-20% of my tax dollars go to the military to in large part to support military contractors and other miltary profiteers; you remember that well more than $5 billion for the Iraq war was unaccounted for?If the military wasn’t a right-scared cow and we as a country stived to pay only for the military we needed, I would feel different. But anytime I Republican suggests lowering the military budget they are crucified by their own party.As an aside, I also think we use are military far more than we ethically should.Most people who complain about redistribution complain about people getting money from the richer. But the military contractors are getting money redistributed to the richer from the less rich.”I don’t equate redistribution with taxation, as you seem to.”I don’t have an equate; I see “redistribution” as a right-wing talking point. I chose “taxation” for simplicty of discussion.”Taxing income is actually the worst possible form of taxation.”I don’t have enough expertise to say that something else would be better. I’d like to hear non-partisan arguments, that is if there is anyone qualified to make the argument that really is non-partisan.I do agree that our current system is a huge drain on economic product. I just don’t know what would in reality be better.”I say abolish income taxes and employ only consumption taxes”I don’t know what the unintended consequences of that would be. Would it create a ruthless black market? Would the cost of compliance actually be less than for income tax? I don’t know. Are there other countries that employ only consumption taxes?I searched quickly but didn’t find any reference to countries who have just a consumption tax. If not, why not? Does everyone else know something about consumption taxes that we don’t about why not?

          5. thinkdisruptive

            Your assertion that use of taxed dollars to pay for something you don’t agree with is “redistribution” is ridiculous. By that standard, an anarchist would consider all taxation to pay for government redistributive. That isn’t the definition, and I don’t know anyone who’d support you on that. You could just say “I would prefer my tax dollars not be used for military — that would be clear, but my friend, you are the one using code language if you think spending on the basic functions of government is redistribution.Redistribution, the word, has no political connotations. It is clear that left leaners support progressive tax policy that takes a higher percentage from the wealthy than from the poor, and that conservatives and libertarians believe the opposite. It’s also clear that redistribution is not a one way street. In the medieval times, kings took from the poor to support the rich. By definition, this is also redistribution. Most of the time today, it means taking more from the wealthy and giving more to the poor. Left or right, everyone agrees that’s what it means. it’s just that people don’t agree on the degree to which we should do it, if at all. You are far too sensitive here — when I learned about the concept of redistribution as a policy in economics, nobody said “don’t ever use this word because it’s a code phrase” — if you don’t use that word to describe the concept, what word would you propose? A new invented one, that will quickly become a new code phrase?As an element of tax policy, redistribution was introduced by “progessives” almost from the very first, with the notion that no matter what the money was used for, that more should be taken from those perceived to be able to afford more. That’s all.I personally have a problem with redistribution because in practice, it’s impossible to implement, and the wealthy can usually find a way to pay less if not the least, while those who work the hardest for the least gain (the middle class) pay the most. It’s impossible partly because the definition of income is somewhat fluid. The only way to avoid this is to tax based on what you spend, not what you earn. It’s a truer measure of ability to afford it. And, you can make this progressive by giving everyone a “pre-bate”. In other words, you could offer quarterly or monthly payments direct to bank accounts totaling 20K per year to everyone, for example. To someone who earns only 20K, but spends everything, that means they effectively pay no tax, and are actually having their income supplemented by the prebate (no matter what the level of consumption tax is). To someone who is unemployed, they are guaranteed 20K to spend on basics (minus whatever the consumption tax is). To someone earning $1M, the 20K is almost meaningless — they will spend that back into the economy, and it doesn’t really reduce their tax load very much (again, no matter what the tax rate is). If I choose to save all my money, no taxes, but so what? Eventually that money will be spent, one way or another, and it will be taxed. No escaping it. No loopholes. You can also implement so-called “luxury taxes” that only apply to goods like yachts, expensive jewelry, cars above $50K, houses above $1M, etc. Obviously, the poor aren’t buying those things, so they aren’t affected. This is, in fact, the only practical way to ensure that everyone pays a fair share, and that the rich pay more.The reasons this isn’t done are many:- income was considered the best indicator of means and the easiest thing the government could use to project revenue when the first tax systems were developed- there was a bad taste left over from the middle ages when kings taxed wealth. The tax collector literally went door to door and looked at what you had and took a percentage of it. This penalized the savers and builders of wealth, and let those who spent all their income off the hook to contribute anything.- if money comes out of a paycheck before you receive it, you don’t perceive you are paying as much. You hear people say “my take home is x” all the time, but they really internalize that their income is x. And, they’re excited to get a refund, because they perceive it as a windfall from the government, not as overpayment of taxes. Income tax is a way of hiding how much we pay and minimizing dissent. That is, until it becomes almost universally perceived as an unfair and unnecessarily complex system. That means governments like it.In past times, it was far more difficult to implement a consumption tax, especially before computers. The burden a merchant faced calculating sales taxes owed and properly accounting for it was large. And, more transactions were conducted in cash, which made black market transactions a real concern of taxation authorities. Today, it’s pretty easy. Cash is rapidly disappearing. Everything gets taxed at time of sale and recorded by computers (and can be reported to the government in real time). The burden on the merchant is smaller, and in countries that have a large consumption tax (no one uses it exclusively that I know off), compliance is very high because the penalties for getting caught aren’t worth it, and you can’t know who will report you (and this typically happens only when services are taxed — it’s much harder to hide sales of goods). In terms of enforcing compliance, it’s pretty clear cut — you either paid your 22% of the sales price or you didn’t. There’s no fudging of deductions and expenses and what your income actually was, or whether part of it was deferred. The only thing that’s relevant is what you spent.And, the compliance cost is no different than any government faces with any sales tax. It doesn’t seem a big concern, and it doesn’t require 100s of thousand of auditors to check your returns, verify deductions, challenge your write offs and basically try to prove that honest people were cheating them. And, it means that everyone lives by the same rules. I don’t pay lower taxes because my accountant is more aggressive in using every available loophole than my neighbor who earned the same income, but interpreted the rules differently.The only reason not to do it is purist theory of redistribution. If you really believe that a tax rate of 50% for a wealthy person and 20% for a not wealthy person is what they will pay, and that you can control for “how progressive” the tax system is, or that the wealthy should pay even more, then you won’t like it. It makes it harder to have big differences in percentage paid once you get past the middle class. The contrary argument is that the wealthy will never pay the 50%, and the cost of trying to force people to pay their fair share is wasted administrative funds that would be better used providing services with the revenue that you have. And, that the only way to ensure that those who can afford to pay more do, is to charge tax on what they spend, because they can’t spend what they can’t afford. In fact, what an income tax system produces is a million different rates of taxation, with little rhyme or reason to who pays how much or to the fairness of who pays the most (remember Warren Buffett’s famous comment that he pays less than his secretary).One of the biggest problems you have with any tax system is transparency and the perception of fairness. The current tax system is not remotely transparent, and no one perceives it to be fair. When no one perceives it to be fair, it’s easy for tax cheats to rationalize what they’re doing, which lowers funds collected and raises compliance costs and unnecessarily turns more people into criminals. It also means that any argument that any group deserves a fairer shake is looked at skeptically.I’m afraid that I’m about as non-partisan a person as you’ll find out there. I simply stick to the facts, and am happy to tell you advantages and disadvantages of any system.

  65. matthughes

    I can’t stand the rhetoric on both sides – it’s nauseating.When I hear Republicans talk about deporting everyone I feel sad, and when I hear the Democrats talk about fairness (ie, demonizing other’s success) it makes me angry. There doesn’t seem to be any room for intellectual problem-solving in the rhetoric.While I believe spirited debate is positive for the country that doesn’t mean the debate shouldn’t culminate with reasonable compromise – something that has been increasingly missed the last 11 years.

  66. PhilNotPhil

    “I am fiscally conservative. Obamacare scares me.” Because god knows the current system doesn’t waste billions of dollars, right? Oh, but they’re not gubmint dollars and they have a funny way of floating upwards to hostage–I’m sorry, stock-holders, so a-ok!

  67. DaveGoulden

    I was surprised to hear that Obamacare scared you. Is it the exchange concept? The individual mandate? Because the insurance reform section (can’t deny pre-existing, can’t dump after getting sick) is critical. I hope you never have to go through getting “individual” insurance for yourself or a loved one who has a pre-existing illness. It is a disgrace, and we shouldn’t allow it in this great country.

    1. fredwilson

      i like that provision. i just don’t think it does enough to put the consumer in charge of their spending decisions.

      1. DaveGoulden

        Got it. That’s a great topic for another post. What innovations/disruptions do we need to align incentives across the system for focusing on health and wellness, instead of on treatment?

  68. Alan

    Fred,You’re a liberal and you’re using the term ‘conservative’ incorrectly – especially ‘fiscally conservative’.’Fiscal conservative’ is a myth – were Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and Bush ‘fiscally conservative’? They spent like crazy and expanded the government considerably (usually via military / industrial complex)You strike me as being, generally, in line with the ‘Economist’ publication, which describes itself as ‘extreme centere’ and ‘liberal’.Even Milton Friedman considers himself a liberal.….…(Former editor of Economist)

    1. fredwilson

      i guess it depends on your definition of a fiscal conservative. as i stated above, mine is someone who wants our country to operate on a balanced budget.

  69. matthughes

    I don’t live in New York but I like a lot of what Bloomberg has done from afar – it seems his commitment to jobs and technology is on point.(Granted the soda thing is ridiculous.)Correct if I’m wrong, but isn’t much of what Bloomberg has been able to do in recent years partially due to Giulliani’s hard nose approach to cleaning up the city? Didn’t taking care of all that dirty work pave the way for Bloomberg to pursue some of his ideas around jobs and technology?

  70. alphaG77

    ” As I watch the two parties…I find myself wanting to tune out the whole thing.” — seems that’s been the goal of both parties’ use of media (perhaps more so on the right): avoid any real political discourse so that free thinking independents drop out of the process, thereby allowing them to gerrymander the electoral map.Why? because it makes sense for the political class to do so. It makes our elections very tight and annihilates any mandate to make real changes. In this view, 2008 was an aberration, as evidenced by republicans taking back congressional seats in 2010.To get real change, requires very tough choices. Neither party wants to make them, either because they can’t or because they fear losing whatever power they currently have. Obstructing the other guy is just a game for ephemeral control over the center; the long game is to do nothing and get re-elected as often as possible.

  71. LissIsMore

    Allow me to howl at the moon.The system is rigged. Has been from the Founding. It was set up to maintain power and control by the elite of that time. This is why we have a representative system and not a direct system. This is why we have an Electoral College. This is why the Articles of Confederation were replaced with the Constitution.I would ask a more fundamental question: Why vote? Why do you think it makes a difference? Why is it that having your participation limited to this singular event, that occurs once every few years, feels “democratic”?I am not sure why you think Bloomberg would be fundamentally different than anyone else. The system that we have is an evolution of the monarchy system that came before it. There is still a central controlling State, and whether the next “leader” is chosen by lineage or by oligarchy the apparatus remains the same. We are all “Subjects”.Howl Off.

  72. JohnEaton2012

    I am stuck on the name and the marketing. “Far Center Party”. This makes me think of the z-axis on a 3D chart. Any thoughts on exactly what “Far Center” should signify besides “not blue or red”? With a little definition we might be able to come up with a more marketable name. “FCP” sounds a little like the signs you see in Central America/Mexico promoting their political parties, let’s cross that one off the list.

  73. dg

    Recognizing a gay couple’s right to marriage doesn’t cost anything. If you live in a big city, it benefits you socially. Allowing someone with a medical condition to get healthcare and start a business does cost something, but its an investment. Nothing destroys american entrepreneurialism more than the fact that people are tied to their jobs for healthcare.

  74. alphaG77

    Obamacare shouldn’t scare you — it’s really not that different from what we already have, it’s just a way to change the accounting so that the real cost of healthcare goes on the balance sheet.What’s scary is that there is almost no discussion of what is really driving up healthcare costs; namely end of life care and obesity (type II diabetes and other associated ailments). Why? because the solutions are political suicide — rationing and taxing MickeyD’s or sugary sodas.

    1. fredwilson

      what we currently have scares me even more

  75. Otto

    I know moderates and Bloomberg is no moderate. I’m not sure what he is exactly other than some rich guy who decided to play mayor, but calling him a moderate seems generous.

    1. fredwilson

      i am open to other views on this. where would you call him an extremist?

      1. Otto

        Appointing himself everyones personal nutritionist in NYC. I don’t drink many sugary beverages, but food bans of any kind horrify me because where does it stop? The salt ban was laughable, but disturbing nonetheless. The homeless shelter food donation ban was the one that told me he is just a paternalistic neurotic with too much time on his hands. From an outsiders POV he doesn’t seem the moderate indie hero, instead he just seems like a rich guy who bought himself a campaign and a powerful role play fantasy that just happens to be real. Why? Because he could and because he was bored. He is just LARPing as King of NYC. People outside NYC likely get this, at least intuitively, which is why he will never be a serious Presidential candidate.

  76. Emil Sotirov

    Tuned out of Obama after he aligned himself with the big banks – as simple as that.There was an interesting article on Bloomberg yesterday –… … where Henry George is discussed –…I’ve never heard of Henry George before. Is he relevant to today’s debates? Should we read him (or about him)?

  77. Rick

    The democratic party has served as the far center party. Other than Obamacare, which actually has a large number of measures to reduce cost in the system, what examples could you cite for them being too far to the left?Bloomberg is not far center. He is farther to the left than the President. The notion of placing limitations on the sale of sugary drinks is a bit appalling even to a democrat like me. It’s well intentioned programs like these that gradually convert us into a more government knows best society. Not a good thing.

    1. alphaG77

      A government knows best society would be terrible, but the idea that people know best for themselves doesn’t seem to be working either. Even measures like labeling calories on food menus hasn’t really made much of a dent in getting people to make healthier choices for themselves — maybe making it economically less attractive to fast food companies and soft drink makers to push sugar consumption isn’t such a bad idea.

  78. tesa

    Real question is whether or not Fred was voting Republican while making his money and how quickly he switched afterwards.

    1. fredwilson

      i have never voted for a republican in my life. i may start doing that in places. i like dave pinsen’s advice above.

  79. CJ

    The social views of the Republican party are more frightening to me than the economic views of the Democratic party. – As much as I like this statement, increasingly the economic views of the GOP scare me as much as their social views as increasingly the economic views are used as a backhand way of setting their social policy. That also doesn’t mention the falsehood of trickledown, the fallacy that paying less in taxes creates more jobs, to borrow a page from Kid’s book, the military-industrial complex, so on and so forth. Money IS the new view of the Republican party and everything they do ties back to it.

  80. William Wagner

    The dipole shows up in nature in magnets and society. For some reason we have democrat vs republican just like we have pepsi vs coke or ford vs chevy. Staunch republicans in my home state have extreme cognitive dissonance right now, they voted Santorum in the primaries but now they’re left with Romney. They hate Romney even though they are die-hard republicans. It might be the first time since Nixon’s first election that my mom won’t vote republican. That is, unless she reconciles Romney into her personal republican archetype.I would prefer to see political parties more like team sports. In any given legislative or executive action, we have millions of people observing the play-by-play and even offering judgements (votes) to determine the outcome. We have many different teams shredding the court over a particular issue.Instead of a bunch of insiders drafting policy while lobbyists hold their hands, we have the lobbyists and executive branch (metaphorically) play a game of bball in public. If the public likes a particular part of a potential law, it’s a slam dunk and there are cheers – if not, foul ball.Then people could pick out their views and wear them on their ball caps, instead of just picking 1 of 2 parties. I’m for free healthcare and gay marriage just like I’m for the rangers and the knicks.

    1. fredwilson

      great comment.

  81. sevesteen

    There is (obviously) more than left-right-center. Bloomberg may be centerist, but he is also strongly authoritarian rather than libertarian–and that is a much more important distinction.

  82. LE

    “Living in NYC for the past ten years has been a joy. “A quick read of this would give someone the idea that you were in the bridge and tunnel crowd prior to 2002.

    1. fredwilson

      yes. but i think you know what i mean by it.

  83. Pete Griffiths

    I think that a lot of what passes for political discussion in the US is ignoring a much bigger problem. Our lame politicians and their hopelessly compromised policies are the consequence of a structurally broken system. Our democracy is creaking under strains which it is ill designed to address and the lunatics are running the asylum.I recommend reading “It’s Even Worse than it Looks: How the American constitutional system Collided with the new Politics of Extremism”…

    1. Tom Labus

      Along with Joseph Stiglitz’s “The Price of Inequality”…

      1. Pete Griffiths

        Yes. An important read.

  84. Matt A. Myers

    Now that’s a big problem to solve.. Luckily there is infinite value is solving it, so there are lots of people working on it.

  85. Matt A. Myers

    The problem is that both extremes benefit from the voting system being the way it is, and so long as either of them continue to get into power then it will never change – unless you help get elected the majority of a party who want the system changed.

  86. MikeSchinkel

    “The social views of the Republican party are more frightening to me than the economic views of the Democratic party.”That’s EXACTLY how I feel, even down the me having used those exact same words in the past to describe my positions. DAMN the political orthodoxy we have in the USA today.

  87. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Not to change the conversation but I recently had the chance to listen to Eric Ries talk about how some US federal departments (particular FDA) adopted lean startup methodology and I was very impressed by their progress. Perhaps there would be a future solution to the inefficiencies of most governments by adopting a lean startup mentality and bring social web into the mix.Here is the link: http://www.startuplessonsle

  88. LE

    “A mayor who simply makes the most pragmatic and practical decision at the time given his various options.”I’ve seen a number of times where a “I don’t give a damn” attitude works. It completely takes the wind out of, and gets in front of, anyone who tries to attack you or the press. Any story has less weight when someone isn’t a pussy. Mike has fuck you money and while he certainly wants the job he’s decided (similar to Christie) that he is willing to take the risk of not getting reelected and using it to his advantage.I watched something last night (“It’s good to be President” History Channel, 2 hours, very good btw) and they showed Truman responding to critics about something. His response was that he didn’t give a shit. I think the issue had to do with renovating the white house.

  89. Dan Epstein

    I don’t think there’s any politician I’ll agree with on everything, and I’m ok with that. But I do wish I had more than 2 choices when it came to an office like President or Congress.

  90. JamesHRH

    I think that Bloomberg’s greatest failing is that he will not run unless he thinks he can win.

  91. Michael Simonsen

    It sounds like you’re Libertarian. Democrats trust you socially but think they’re smarter than you economically. Republicans trust you economically but think they’re more moral than you socially. Libertarians trust you.Or at least that’s how it should be. For some reason, Libertarian candidates tend to republican party rejects. And the Greens steal the pot-smoker vote.sigh. #apatheticlibertarian

    1. MikeSchinkel

      Hi @twitter-14072950:disqus Agreed! One of the issues I’ve seen with most of the Libertarians I’ve known is they tend not to be very pragmatic; they (say) they’d prefer complete chaos rather than “compromise their core principles.” I’ve come to believe that if someone has an ideology they would follow 100% of the time they are by-definition in-the-wrong at least some of the time.

    2. fredwilson

      i may join you.

  92. Aaron Fyke

    I’m always late to the party here at AVC! Here’s my take on Obamacare. I think that any system that decouples employment from healthcare is a good thing. Limited labor mobility hampers many things, but most crippling is the effect on entrepreneurship, or people wanting to join an entrepreneurial company. I realize that private health insurance can be purchased, but it is usually far more expensive, far more difficult to obtain, and far less tax efficient than obtaining healthcare through a stable job with benefits. That is what needs to change, and that is something that should be near and dear to everyone here, even with the range of political opinions here on AVC.

  93. Max Yoder

    As a few people have mentioned already, America is in need of serious campaign-finance reform. I wrote a book in college that attempted to explore some of the core realities of the problem:Based on Congressional records, one could thought-provokingly argue that money does not just talk—it screams. Empirically speaking, the more fundraising dollars candidates have to spend; the more votes they tend to get. While the candidates with the most money are not guaranteed any victories, outspending the lot puts the odds staggeringly in their favor. Recent elections have only reinforced this trend: November 5, 2008 found 93 percent of the victories in the House of Representatives and 94 percent of the victories in the Senate went to those candidates who had outspent their competition throughout their campaigns.In this world of high-cost, high-stakes politicking, fundraising is, necessarily, first priority. And even if the candidates are fortunate enough to win their seat of choice, this priority does not disappear: “[T]he congressional money chase,” writes National Journal, “has become an unending marathon” that finds candidates and incumbents constantly looking for that next donation in preparation for the fast-paced election cycles that face them.It is during this race to outspend and financially dominate one’s current or prospective opponents that the legislator’s priorities become compromised. The bulk of their donations, in reality, do not come from the people they represent. In fact, most of the general public doesn’t even donate to federal elections; a stupendously low percentage of our population—one-fourth of one percent—gives more than $200 to federal candidates and their parties. So who, or what, gives?If you’d like to keep reading, you can do so here:

  94. Guest

    Socially Liberal + Fiscally Conservative = LibertarianThere’s no “Far center” or “moderate”, one can be considered a “centrist” but in political practice today that’s not a very plausible orientation; very quickly it will shift to an actual direction.There’s a current problem in the US political scene. The mass media establishment is under the impression that there are only two political parties. They quickly write off anyone who is either “Independent” or “3rd Party”. Any campaign efforts are perceived as an attempt to “draw votes away from X”. Gary Johnson was asked this by on some news show, and he replied that his goal is to draw votes away from BOTH Republican and Democrat candidates.Here’s some quick stuff from the Wikipedia article (…Gary Earl Johnson (born January 1, 1953) is an American businessman, a former Governor of New Mexico, and the Libertarian Party nominee forPresident of the United States in the 2012 election.[1] Johnson served as the 29th Governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, as a member of theRepublican Party, and is known for his low-tax libertarian views and his regular participation in triathlons.Johnson founded one of New Mexico’s largest construction companies.[2] He entered politics for the first time by running for Governor of New Mexico in 1994 on a fiscally conservative, low-tax, anti-crime platform.[3] He beat incumbent Democratic governor Bruce King by 50% to 40%. He cut the 10% annual growth in the budget: in part, due to his use of the gubernatorial veto 200 times during his first six months in office,[2] which gained him the nickname “Governor Veto”.[4][5]Johnson sought re-election in 1998, winning by 55% to 45%. In his second term, he concentrated on the issue of school voucher reforms,[6] as well as campaigning for marijuana decriminalization. During his tenure as governor, Johnson adhered to an anti-tax and anti-bureaucracy policy, setting state and national records for his use of veto powers:[2] more than the other 49 contemporary governors put together.[7][8] Term-limited, Johnson could not run for re-election at the end of his second term.Johnson announced his candidacy for President on 21 April 2011 as a Republican.[9] On 28 December 2011, he withdrew his candidacy for the Republican nomination and announced that he would continue his presidential campaign as a candidate for the nomination of the Libertarian Party.[10]As a fitness enthusiast,[11][12] Johnson has taken part in several Ironman Triathlons, and he climbed Mount Everest in May 2003.[13]



  96. Jubal Harshaw

    We had plenty of government in, say, 1999. I’d be VERY happy if we just reduced government to 1999 levels and held it constant. 1989 would be even better. All we need on the social issues is for states to exercise their rights to amend the US constitution to codify gay marriage & abortion.

  97. vulgrin

    Take a look at It might be one way out of our current quagmire.But honestly, NOTHING is going to happen until money is removed from election cycles. And no one has the guts to make the first move due to our current ‘arms race’.We need perestroika for our political process. Until that happens, we’re going to just keep spinning down the tubes. If it doesn’t happen soon enough, we’re talking Revolution. Not being radical, just look at history. Whenever things swing out of balance, things change fast, and rarely for the better in the short term. It’s happened hundreds of times in human history and there’s no reason to think it won’t happen here.

  98. Mark Mohler

    Fred 2016. Count me in

  99. Brian Andersen

    There is a very strong analytical argument against fiscal conservatism. Fiscal conservatism as based on the belief that if the quantity of financial assets (money) is fixed then its price will also be fixed, preventing inflation. But this is utter nonsense. For any commodity, if the supply is fixed, then the price will fluctuate with demand. On the the other hand, the price can only be fixed if the supply is able to fluctuate. Fortunately money can be created by the government at will through spending and destroyed with taxation. But unfortunately, the dogma of fiscal conservatism has led us to believe that government spending is subject to very harsh constraints which do not exist in reality. The truth is that we need a liberal fiscal policy in order to promote growth and to restore the spending capacity of households which has been lost over the last several decades of conservative fiscal policy.

  100. Guest

    We spend a lot of time here discussing “community” and mostly of the online version, but what does “community” actually mean? When we talk about “sharing” online does it have a real life equivalent?What is society? What is a country? What is government? Aren’t they all nothing more than “communities.” If we talk about “disruptive networks” why is it that we think only about online?The vast majority of Americans work hard and believe in the promise of what was once referred to as “The American Dream.” They played by the rules and kept their word. Yet now it appears, based upon the majority of the comments to this post, that the promise of social security, a promise made by our “community” is going to be gutted because to fund it is too expensive and might cost a few within our community something (like higher taxes).This country has generated an immense amount of wealth over the last 30 years and yet the median household income and the median household wealth has dropped and or stagnated. So now to add insult to injury, we are going to pull social security away from those who worked hard and played by the rules.There is no doubt that our government has failed. But is that due to the fact that the concept of government is by nature a failure or is that because government is no longer “of the people, by the people, and for the people?” For government to be the cause of all of our problems then obviously it should benefit no one. But the reality is government has been very beneficial to certain segments, industries, and special interests of our community.Rather than renege on our promises, rather than dismantle social security, rather than give up on the promise of affordable healthcare for everyone, why not just dismantle our government and start over?

  101. Rob K

    I really couldn’t agree more about the Far Center and the extreme forces of both parties. It’s incredibly disconcerting to watch the moderates disappear from national politics.We are reaching the point where compromise and reasonable disagreement are gone and shouting down the other guy (or outspending him) is what wins the day.

  102. Steven Kane

    I think the Democrats could easily recapture the Far Center — which they held from FDR until Reagan. But it would mean distancing themselves from 1) the reflexive-left, the left wing of the party that things “war is bad” is a policy, 2) the massive economy-within-the-economy which thinks entitlements should always be exapnded, and 3) wall street.1) the Dems used to be the hawkish party — the promote-democracy-around-the-world-because-its-better-for-everybody party. then came the 1960s, and the anti-vietnam war movement which morphed into a anti-every-and-any-war movement with sweet altruistic rhetoric and disastrous myopia. heck, have we already forgotten Woodrow Wilson? FDR? JFK? LBJ? the Democrats who thought that spreading capitalism and democracy to around the world was our noble mission – “to whom much is given much is demanded”? somehow that became the vaguely isoltaionist, very ostrich-head-in-the-sand party of Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore. I mean, even Bill Clinton begrudgingly deployed the military in Kosovo (though he tragically caved to the anti-war faction and did not puruse Al Quaeda with consistent military pressure. call it “american exceptionalism” or call it enlightened self interest but the richest, most free nation in the history of earth has a moral obligation to share the wealth, even if it sometimes means messy and blowback-risky global military interventions2) sorry, public sector unions should not have collective bargaining rights. again, FDR and JFK vigorously opposed that — because public sector unions also can effectively fire their opponents by getting them elected out of office (other than scott walker, i guess!) likewise, why o why did the obama administration go on bended knee to the insurance industry to craft health care reform? and while we need to reform the tax code to colect more from the affluent, we also need to take a hard look at the fact that nearly 50% of americans pay no federal income tax at all. and that most of them collect large federal subsidies and benefits. that’s heartwarming, i guess, but its not sustainable. no one accuses the GOP of protecting entitlements. that’s the Democrats nostalgia for when the New Deal cemented their stranglehold on Congress for 40+ years3) where is “wall street” located? New York. California. Massachusetts. Connecticut. ahem. all true blue states. obama bragged about raising what, $800 million in 2008? and that half of that came from small donors? ahem, where di the other half come from? the other $400 million? if wall street reform was ever going to pass it should have been during 2009-2010, when Obama was in the white house and the dems controlled both houses of congress. but not even close! again, the Dem party has strong roots in financial services reform and governance.if the Dems went in this direction, I daresay they would shake up a lo of folks but they would regain the far center and build a coalition that would dominate for another 40+ years. the GOP would be left with fringe social issues and shrinking deomgraphic footprintmy $0.02

    1. MikeSchinkel

      One of the (VERY UNFORTUNATE) flaws in that logic is that if the Dems tacked to the center then the Repubs would tack to the very far right and thus reposition the Dems back as far left. It’s all explained by the “Overton Window” theory[1]The best thing the Dems can do (VERY UNFORTUNATELY) is tack as far left as possible to counter-balance the Repubs tacking to the far, far right.(And yes, this logic goes both directions Dem <–> Repub / Left <–> Right.)Really the only want my simple mind could see around this is a truly viable 3rd party, but given our current political system that’s simply not possible[1]

    2. fredwilson

      totally agree steve. i was happy to see Scott Walker win that recall in wisconsin. public sector employee unions are ridiculous. the worst is the teachers union.

      1. Dale Allyn


  103. David Smuts

    Interesting post Fred, and may I say, we are fully of the same view you and I. Also interesting you should mention America Elects. I’m not surprised at all by the end result here. We first launched this ourselves back in 2008 with London Elects You!… Significant lessons were learned from that experience which America Elects has all had to go through 4 years later. 12,000 votes is remarkably dissapointing, especially for the US. We had significantly more in London with a fraction of the resources (3 entrepreneurs) and a much more condensed campaign (just 4 weeks).There is a model behind this however, and I don’t want to spill the beans as it is something we are working on and is commercially sensitive. My point being, don’t give up hope Fred and keep your eyes peeled ;-)David

  104. Richard Dedor

    Fred, I definitely feel the same way about politics with the same view and don’t have a home for myself at the moment. And for someone who is involved like myself, it is difficult. Let’s make something happen!

  105. Louis Chatriot

    I am always puzzled by the negative opinions the Americans have on Obama’s healthcare reform. Having lived in France (where we have much more than Obamacare) and in the US (where there is much less), I don’t understand why there even is debate. In the US, I had to pay $5,000 for 4 hours in a hospital’s emergency unit. For the same service, I would have had to pay $30 in France. This kind of difference explains why so many people can’t afford healthcare in the US, something unacceptable in France.And, contrary to popular belief, France spends much less on healthcare then the US (see this OECD chart :… )

    1. Tim Kresse

      I also don’t understand, unless its that the healthcare reform as enacted is such a mess that it won’t make a difference. I’d much prefer a single-payer system, because I have yet to understand the value of for-profit insurance in health care. Additionally, having a single-payer system would, I think, make it much easier to be an entrepreneur. There are many people with ideas that might be able to afford their living expenses (excepting health care) for the time needed to get a new business started, but when they are hit with the reality of the cost of health care (especially if they have a family), then it is no longer possible.

  106. Stephen Cunningham

    Aaron Harber is doing something about it with the great economics debate that he is putting on at Princeton. Maybe you should be on his panel, with people like Paul Volker (sp?), Al Simpson (simpson-bowles), and a litany of other economics luminaries. More info here – Go to for the new one-page summary and to for a revised detailed description. The need for civil discourse from opinion leaders is greater than perhaps ever.

  107. markslater

    self serving i know but we are doing our little part to change the system.See this release on jon golnik running for congress – and how you can text with him using our service

  108. John Revay

    Just came across some good summaries on new health care law…Summary and then time line

  109. andyswan

    I love when Charlie and I agree. LOCAL solves problems. LOCAL is where our neighbors are held accountable to us.That is why the Federal government should be STRICTLY LIMITED in power and scope….sorta like the founders intended, and like the tea party is fighting for (well some of them haha)

  110. BillSeitz

    Yes, the problem is that while Local is getting some things done, National is taxing and spending us into oblivion and starting war after war to any BlowbackLull…

  111. fredwilson

    i am increasingly doing that too charlie. and enjoying my interactions with Bloomberg and his team for the most part.

  112. Dan

    Word on the single payor argument – I’ve wrestled with this one for a few years. I don’t believe market forces will ever make health care delivery efficient. The profit maximizing position, regardless of the reimbursement mechanism, will always be in conflict for payor and provider. More over, to have efficiency in a fragmented market we need open information sharing – it’ll never happen in health care.I could go on for hours about this. I’ll cut myself off.

  113. ShanaC

    halthcare shouldn’t be tied to a job, bad for the economy, prevents people from switching jobs and starting new business.This is basic cause and effect. I don’t know why we are all up in arms about trying to get people off this system anyway.

  114. JLM

    .For a third of a century running small, large, private and public companies, I have provided health care insurance to my employees.Not once did the government ever assist me in this effort.Now, they have literally made it impossible for me to do it in the future.The first big assist to healthcare would be a vibrant economy in which companies could operate profitably and thereby generate the necessary funding to pay for healthcare.From a corporate perspective, health care is simply a purchasing cooperative..

  115. John Rorick

    The problem with the crying over Obamacare (which solves little of the healthcare issue) is the complete absence of another solution. You want to help out businesses? FIX HEALTHCARE costs. It is choking companies big and small. Repubs claim to be the pro-business party but opponents of the current healthcare proposal are decrying one failed approach to knowingly return to the clearly broken current system. I struggle daily with the notion that healthcare is for profit. Not sure how you make that work. I do know that it certainly does not work in its current state.

  116. Dan

    I certainly don’t mean to imply that the current structure is the one that solves the dilema – the government is rushing forward and focused too much on small steps vs. focusing on the desired end state. Realistically, the government is going to screw this one up, but I still think healthcare can only function at optimum efficiently in a single payor system.Employer provided benefits can/have worked for a large portion of the population, but they don’t work for society. The costs associated with caring for Medicaid and uninsured patients are stagering and reform is required.I’m going to idealize reality, but what’s a larger purchasing cooperative than everyone in the US? If we join a single cooperative, and there are still multiple providers of the services we need to purchase, prices should decline.Health care is the only market I can think of where prices can experience double digit growth without any perceptible change in services offered to the consumer. It’s just broken.

  117. PhilipSugar

    You know JLM you should call your payroll company (maybe you do it internally but I don’t) and have them add up all the fronts of checks you’ve signed (I actually require direct deposit).I was having a discussion with one of our Senators and I dropped that on his desk. Damn, sometimes I consider myself too fortunate, but when I looked at that number…..I thought the government should be paying me.

  118. Dan

    Working on it John. It’s a beast of a problem with no silver bullet. I’m currently working on it from the “eliminate Medicaid waste” perspective.I could go on for hours. I won’t for everyones sake.Health care is broken at the enterprise level – I think very few would debate that.

  119. JLM


  120. JLM

    .You can’t have a national purchasing coop if you allow state lines to impact the nature of service..

  121. JLM

    .Well, uhhh, because when it works, it works?.

  122. Dan

    Agreed energy is the closest comparison I can come up with, but health care still blows energy away in an absolute sense.Between 1980-2010, in nominal $:HC spending went from 256b to 2.6t – over 1000% climb (Kaiser Family Foundation)Total energy went from 374b to 1.06t – a little less than 300% climb (eia)To the consumer thinking more in terms of gallons of gas vs. ins premiums, energy has the nudge.Employer provided premiums have gone up around 113% since 2001 (and employees don’t sense the full cost).With cheap gas in 2001, prices at the pump have risen from 1.45 to 3.90 (us avg according to eia)…168%.

  123. JLM

    .Not to put too fine a point on it but health care is literally a matter of life and death.We are buying the outcomes.Would you pay %100K to live 10 years longer?Energy is a commodity whose production is equally charged with political travail.You can only use it in a utilitarian manner.Yet still energy has gone up more than health care in percentage terms. Even while fleet efficiency has increased dramatically..

  124. Dan

    @JLM shake hands and call them both crazy out of whack verticals with lots of room to build a successful business by doing the right thing?Yes, I would pay to live longer.

  125. JLM

    .Funny you should say that. I recently read a tweet from Michael Dell enumerating the size of his revenue at founding and recently.$6MM v $47B.Dell has 110,000 employees world wide.He used to be in our local YPO chapter and I once turned him down to build a corporate HQ because I could not swing the financing on his credit.That guy should never have to pay taxes..

  126. fredwilson

    it’s a rare moment, particularly when the post is tagged “politics”, so we should open some pappy and celebrate it.

  127. PhilipSugar

    No he should only never pay taxes for the amount that he contributed for SS taxes, Healthcare, and Retirement in the US.All overseas employees do not count.

  128. JLM

    .Deal! I will call Michael and tell him he has two supporters now..