Some Thoughts On July 4th, 2012

I woke up this morning thinking about patriotism, the american flag, and of course, this picture of JLM's office from the video you made for me and the GothamGal on our anniversary.

July 4th

That's a lot of flags. I particularly like the large one hanging sideways.

I am not overtly patriotic like JLM, but I certainly feel tremendous gratitude to the founding fathers who put together this incredible country we call America. It is a land of freedom and opportunity and incresingly tolerance. I am very proud to be a child of and a citizen of the USA.

We talk a lot about the problems facing America here at AVC. Kid Mercury tells us that we are headed for a financial meltdown of proportions we haven't seen and can't fathom. I appreciate that perspective and I appreciate all the folks who point out the problems we can't seem to get our arms around right now.

But the America I know and love is well summed up by Winston Churchill who said:

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.

I am optimistic, chronically so. It comes with my vocation and it comes with my personality. I think we can and will tackle our challenges here in this country. It sure feels like we've tried most everything else by now and so my hope is we are close to finally doing the right thing.

And so, on our birthday, I pledge my allegiance to this wonderful country, and I pledge to do what I can to help America continue to be an incredible land of opportunity, freedom, and tolerance, where dreams can come true, as mine have.

#Random Posts

Comments (Archived):

  1. Ricardo Parro

    Happy 4th of July to all Americans . What a great country you have!

    1. JLM

      .America’s greatness is founded on the shoplifting of the best of every culture whose people have come to America and shared their lives.We are a nation of immigrants and that is a very good thing.I am headed out for some TexMex breakfast tacos. God bless America..

      1. panterosa,

        @JLM:disqus America’s greatness is founded on the shoplifting of the best of every cultureYou made my day! I have been shoplifting my whole life as I lived abroad too. It is my theory of living and you just named it. Brilliant!

  2. jason wright

    Winston Churchill, a British aristocrat of an American mother. An odd combination.

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Thankfully for all of us, he worked out to be a pretty good hybrid 😉

    2. fredwilson

      indeed. and a favorite personality of mine.

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        Also mine. Today we are not talking about books, but I have to recommend his Memoirs of the Second World War:…Not as detailed as his six volume work about the same theme (I guess, I haven’t had the courage to tackle them), but still an amazing book. And only around 1000 pages 🙂

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Apropos my comment above, I haven’t tackled them 100% chronologically but dip in frequently – puts business/life challenges in perspective.

        2. JLM

          .”Winston’s War” by Max Hastings is excellent. I cannot get enough Winston Churchill. Ever.The description of WC’s poise under the crushing blow of the Nazi defeat of the French and English armies on the continent is some of the most inspirational prose I have ever read.Churchill literally “talked” Hitler down off the ledge of invading England with his “on the beaches” speech. The most inspirational Englishman of his century.Churchill, Marshall (VMI guy), Eisenhower, Roosevelt — this brain trust literally overcame the massed forces of evil while learning on the job.The saddest thing I have ever read is the description of Churchill coming to Walter Reed Hospital when Marshall was on his deathbed and standing in the doorway crying while paying tribute to the Architect of Victory..

      2. LIAD

        Next time you’re in London I’ll take you on a tour of the Churchill War Rooms deep underground in Westminister where Churchill lived and controlled the war effort from them during the darkest days of WWII.Admiration for him will only grow when you see what he managed to achieve despite the cramped surroundings and meagre resources available to him

        1. William Mougayar

          I visited them 4 years ago & was indeed impressed. It’s a must tour to really understand the man & his role in that war.

        2. Carl Rahn Griffith

          I am pretty sure I recently read that all his works are soon (already?) to be available in ebook format – I have hard copies of pretty much everything he wrote but for those ebook inclined – and they are a weighty ensemble of tomes – these are must-reads.

        3. jason wright

          An island’s strength is also its weakness. Napoleon’s Continental System tried, and failed, to exploit the weakness. It did though hasten the expansion of the British Empire in the nineteenth century. Churchill was a beneficiary of that expansion.

        4. fredwilson

          i would love that

  3. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Beautiful post, Fred.I have spent several July 4th’s in America and always greatly enjoyed them – my last one was when I was living/working in NYC, in 2003 – was a wonderful occasion, a much cherished memory – even as an interloper it was always easy to be sucked into the pride and joy.It’s a date/day I don’t like, typically, as it marks the date of my mother’s passing away in 1971. So, seeing joy elsewhere – and sometimes being in the right place to be a part of it – is a welcome distraction.Have a wonderful day, all.

    1. fredwilson

      41 years and still painful. wow. i am very fortunate to still have both my parents.

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        That’s one of the things I really like about America – great store is still placed on family and all it entails – that’s waned somewhat over here over recent decades, it seems to me.

  4. David Semeria

    Nice Winston quote, Fred.Here are some lyrics from one of my fave songs:I like to be in AmericaOk by me in AmericaEverything free in AmericaFor a small fee in America

    1. fredwilson


    2. JimHirshfield

      Semeria, I just met a girl named Semeria…

      1. David Semeria

        And suddenly that nameWill never be the sameTo me….

  5. William Mougayar

    The US has this unique ability to continuously renew itself and adapt to the rising challenges that it faces. It has done so decade after decade, and the collective wisdom of its people will allow it to continue to prosper. The US is still the BEST ROLE MODEL there is for a country. Everybody tries to copy parts of it or learn from it. I’m grateful to have a lot of American friends that have enriched my life & made it better from the day I first visited it in 1976 til now. Happy 4th of July to all my American friends & God Bless America for its strength & wisdom, because the world still has a lot of evil currents that must be tamed. 

    1. jason wright

      Swiss democracy has its plus points.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        As does the French healthcare system.

        1. jason wright

          I always say to friends that the place to fall ill in Europe is France.The combination of Swiss democracy, French health care, and German economy would be a good model.

          1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            what is that land called… Canada? :-).

          2. jason wright


          3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            ha… may be you are already in your Dreamland and not realizing it… one of my doctor friend told me a good advice … i used to have lots of frustrating moments during my research …to feel better… he wanted me to visit a general hospital (free treatment hospitals in India) … that really worked for me….May be you should take a visit to one of the poor countries to see what you already have.

          4. William Mougayar

            Canada has a lot of advantages because it is Canada and not the US, but also because it is so close to the US in so many ways. There are no 2 other countries where you can do business back and forth so easily and seamlessly as between Canada and the US. That’s a big plus for both countries.

          5. William Mougayar

            If you’re not working, yes France (or Italy) are the places to “live it up”. Even the south of Spain.

          6. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            William – Unless you are one of a very privileged, few Spain is not looking too good now, The massive property bubble (fueled by idiotic greed and corruption) is biting very deeply.

          7. William Mougayar

            True. It’s a distant 3rd or 4th. Yes, real estate took a hit there recently.

          8. ShanaC

            I wonder if we’ll ever get there

          9. Matt A. Myers

            Indeed.Swiss/France/German – I LOL’d. Very true. It can still all become better, though. We haven’t reached true wellness in any society, though I’ve not lived in the healthier nations so I’m not sure how close they may be.In France they’ll throw every test you need ASAP as they know you need it in attempts to diagnose something; Better to have someone healthy and productive sooner rather than later, and rather than getting worse and worse.I’m lucky to have dual citizenship – France and Canada – since my mother grew up there.

          10. William Mougayar

            You have a French/EU passport? +2

          11. Matt A. Myers

            Indeed. I’m lucky to have the parents that I do.

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        But. What are the fireworks like? 🙂

      3. William Mougayar

        True. But I was thinking of the business pulse that the US has. No other country parallels that.

  6. William Mougayar

    There was a typical Churchillian sarcasm in that quote, but he was dead-on right.

    1. Aaron Klein

      My second favorite Churchill quote was his exchange with Lady Astor.Lady Astor: “If you were my husband, I would feed you poison.”Churchill: “My dear lady, if you were my wife, I would gladly drink it.”

      1. fredwilson


    2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      How about – “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” – WCBut then after his failed bid at re-election- “What is the use of a WC without a seat?”

      1. William Mougayar

        He was witty all and all.

    3. Dasher

      I would have like Churchill, if he didn’t call Gandhi ‘the half naked fakir’.

      1. William Mougayar

        That’s not nice. Did he pull his foot from his mouth eventually on that one?

        1. Dasher

          No. He was a well known opponent of Gadhi’s peace movement for India’s independence. There a whole chapter on this on wikipedia.Here is an excerpt from wikipedia:”It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well-known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Vice-regal palace… to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor.”[111][112] He called the Indian National Congress leaders “Brahmins who mouth and patter principles of Western Liberalism”.

  7. Roger Ellman

    Happy 4th.And let the spirit of the country rule the day. I also, agree with Winston Chruchill. How well he perceived things, how splendedly he summed up what he saw!

  8. Rohan

    ‘History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.’So, we have a lot of hope for wisdom in the coming years. ;-)Of course I had to pop up with a quote..

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      Churchill has an almost infinite suply of them! only Groucho Marx stands near.

  9. Yb927

    Adventure, trial and error, perseverance, pushing the boundaries of what is possible, a constant yearning for something better…this is the american spirit that we celebrate every day. Never give up, never say die and a phenomenal energy of constant renewal – that’s what has drawn and continues to draw so many people here from around the world for as long as this place has existed and makes the US such an exciting, lasting and ever present idea and place.

  10. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    I have always believed in U.S. of America more than many of the Americans … if USA cannot … no one else can… kind of belief. I lived there only for few years but I loved what i saw and experienced … the real land of opportunity and freedom.Have a great Independence day.

  11. Fernando Gutierrez

    Happy 4th of July to all Americans. You have enemies, but you also have great friends all around the world.Another quote from Winston Churchill that always reminds me to America: You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.

    1. fredwilson


  12. LIAD

    It’s all about meaning and purpose.The US came into being for a reason. It espoused values and beliefs.It held them dear and fought for them.Pledging allegiance to something you believe in, something bigger than yourself, something with timeless values and absolute morals is a beautiful thing.The world would be a better place if more nations did the same.

    1. William Mougayar

      Well said LIAD.I’m still bummed I didn’t get to meet you in London.I think of you as the enfant terrible of AVC 🙂

  13. kidmercury

    alright, above the fold mention here in fredland! woo hoo!although i must be doing a poor job of being a broken record as i would characterize my view slightly differently…….worst case scenario, if there is no political revolution of any meaningful kind, is continued depreciation of the US dollar until nation-state governments intervene to create a new currency, most likely managed by the IMF or some other supranational institution, that is used to cancel part of the US’ debt and transfer wealth to china and other economies that have trade and budget surpluses, and impose a more onerous layer of supranational government on top of the nation-state system. something similar usually happens whenever there has been a currency crisis in history, and in fact we are seeing the same thing in the eurozone now, in which the solution being advanced by the nation-states is to merge the EU more fiscally. so, i think we can sort of see and fathom the path we are on, if we study how empires fail and how currency crises unfold, as well as what is going on now in the EU and the solutions being proposed.but anyway, this country is a goner. the constitution and what the founders gave their lives for is no longer with us. a shame, but alas, everything that has a beginning, has an end. nation-states around the world are self-destructing and the world beyond the nation-state is almost here. whether it is a one world socialist government where everything is rationed or an explosion of localized independent city-states and networks is the only question. the former brings us widespread poverty, the latter brings us widespread prosperity.also, on july 4, it is worth noting that 9/11 was an inside job. man, that’s something i still have trouble fathoming — how people still ignore that and won’t accept it, even though now we have the internet so all the facts and research are a click away, for free. 9/11 being an inside job is like the most obvious thing in the world, ridiculous how it’s still taboo to say something like that. you know it took about 20 years for people to accept the idea that something was seriously f’d up about the story surrounding the assassination of jfk and it looks like it may take a similar amount of time for 9/11 truth to gain widespread acceptance. i don’t know what it’s going to take for us to wake up. probably poverty, since all the “america is great god i love this place” type stuff goes out the window once the cash money is gone, lol. fortunately the universe always gives us what we need to continue growing.9/11 was an inside job,kid mercury

    1. Luke Chamberlin

      Don’t feel bad, America. The Kid is bearish on all nation-states.

      1. kidmercury

        lol good point!

    2. Richard

      Join the non-voting majority this fall?

      1. kidmercury

        well i’ll probably vote, if only to engage in the spirit of participation, though i’ll vote for some no name candidate that has no chance of winning or i’ll write in a vote.

        1. Richard

          Many progressives, from all political pursuasions, are working to make this the first non majority election.

          1. Foreign Observer

            Textbook example of “How the Conservatives win.” So many liberals or left-leaning people would rather feel “correct” and be out of power than compromise and be in power. That’s fine, but then don’t complain about anything the elected government does for the next few years.

    3. Carl Rahn Griffith

      “There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true.” ~ you know who…

  14. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Hanging too many flags in the house … respect.The one thing i cannot tolerate about national flag depiction is … when they put it on the underwear … give some respect people… in the name of freedom people act weird… hate.

  15. awaldstein

    My sense of patriotism comes to me through my grandfather.Here from Russia at 8 on his own. Horse drawn cab driver. Garment worker and union organizer.He just loved this country. He did what he wanted to do…better life, free from the prejudice that he fled in Russia, free to work hard.Really cool guy. Never went to school. Never learned to read English well. Head of his family. Proud American. A hero to me for certain.

    1. David Semeria

      That’s moving Arnold, nice.

      1. awaldstein

        Thanks David.Feel really fortunate to have immigrant roots that stylized how i was raised. Russian on my mom’s side, Polish on my dad’s.Has given me sense of perspective that I’ll never loose and a sense of culture as a changing mixture that influences me every day.

    2. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Wow. Amazing story. The Human Spirit of Endeavour. Priceless.

    3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      I don’t think The America has changed from what your grandpa saw…if America is a goner as per some kook theories .. then the entire world is a goner… that is my belief…and we will know it within this decade.

      1. awaldstein

        I’m optimistic as well.Though one of the great things about this community is that I listen hard and learn from points of view that are often contrarian to my own. I welcome the view from the other side even though I don’t often subscribe to them.

        1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          @awaldstein:disqus I also learn from contrarian view … not only this community the entire universe never will exist without opposite …. i believe i also have to express my view and belief …

      2. Dave Pinsen

        It’s changed a lot. There were plenty of manufacturing jobs (including garment industry ones) where immigrants without education could get jobs. There was no government safety net for those immigrants — some, like Arnold’s grandfather, succeeded, and the ones who didn’t went back home. And the immigrants and their family trajectories were different too. Their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren climbed the socioeconomic ladder — three generations, in Arnold’s case, from horse-drawn cab driver to chief marketing officer. More recently, not so much.

    4. JLM

      .More than a bit of it was apparently passed down. Well played!.

      1. awaldstein

        Thanks!My grandfather and my dad, the ‘two’ heads of my household growing up are my heroes.I choose my grandfather’s story today. My dad’s another time.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Something for us to look forward to next 4th of July.

      2. Dave Pinsen


    5. Brandon Marker

      this is what its all about

    6. fredwilson

      that is what we need to keep doing. provide opportunities for folks like your grandfather.

      1. LE

        I agree with you 100%. And think about this every time I see the hard working hispanics who are all over the place in suburbia mowing lawns and working at restaurant kitchens. (I’m in the office today and they are outside working on the lawn, today. The township workers of course aren’t working – it’s a holiday.) They are toiling all day probably being paid under the table for their labor. They don’t cause any trouble and they don’t even look you in the eye for fear (I’m guessing) of being deported. While they are paid under market rates of labor, and might appear to be exploited, they seem to be better off then in their own country. (And we all know about the Zoey Baird problem as another illustration… Economically the cost of having lawn care or restaurant help in many places would knock out the economic balance if real wages had to be paid. Everything would change most likely for the worse.The problem that we seem to have in the US though is the idea that everyone is entitled to the same benefits and protections immediately even if they are better off than in their native country and are willing to work for low wages for a period of time to prove themselves. (Not sure what that period of time should be.) This idea is extended even to the whole idea of interns where the government has dictated the conditions under which someone can be non-payed in a job that are clearly ridiculous.One of the reasons that this country was built by immigrants is that immigrants were a cheap, hard working, exploitable source of labor. That doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be treated better or that that system couldn’t be improved on to lessen the exploitation. But there is an in between state where we could achieve economic benefit and provide opportunity to immigrants who wanted to work hard and prove themselves without granting full rights as a US citizen. Many of whom are lazy and/or not willing to take certain jobs.

      2. Aaron Klein


      3. Matt A. Myers

        Hopefully doing this while taking care of everyone who still resides. Costs will continue to escalate from those that are left impoverished and which allows their condition, physical and mental, to worsen – allowing fear to take hold, leading to reducing productivity, happiness – and of course increasing violence and strain on the system.It works the same as a controlled ecosystem vs. a managed one. Managed ones being healthier, sustainable, and controlled ones create friction, cost to support the control, and hold higher risk, and aren’t as healthy. Sure, friction can be healthy and is needed, though it can come from other sources (say politics), as opposed to from side-effects of people just trying to survive.

        1. Mark Essel

          Is immigration a zero sum game?

          1. Matt A. Myers

            i) You get what you give.ii) Treat others how you want to be treated.The two above statements / quotes should lead to a summary of what’s possible. Every ecosystem can only be a certain size and has specific constraints.All you have the power to do is manage how things work inside of those constraints; Control creates friction as you’re trying to maintain something that naturally doesn’t occur, or want to occur.Karma is action causing more action.If you treat people well, you’ll get that in return. There are edge cases of people who’s brain structure and chemistry will have them being outcasts or maladaptive to functioning in a social tribe, though there are systems in place to deal with those – not all that humane in most countries yet, though management systems can exist, is the point.If you treat them badly, you’ll have an equal reaction. That reaction doesn’t necessarily come back directly at the abuser – angers can be displaced onto others, and regardless it affects the whole ecosystem.If you understand humans innate drives and reward systems then you can help direct people’s behaviour; Food and sex are the two foundational ones. You can use these innate drives, not just food and sex but including the whole ecosystem around those, to incentivize and lead people toward certain behaviours. It could be chaotic behavior or it could be healthy, healing, productive behaviour. The intent you choose to support will dictate where you end up.Intent equals behaviour.Facilitate and foster healthy behaviours, of being kind, and allow people be as productive as possible (that not being the leading metric) and you’ll maximize what’s possible within the constraints of any ecosystem; Luckily you don’t need to know what those constraints are, just how the economics of people work, human behaviour, etc.. using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the like as guides.Just had a 3ish-hours long interview/discussion – high-quality video and audio! – where I was talking a lot about my wellness-related plans, plans to help implement a preventative/proactive healthcare system in Canada, so all of this is very fresh on my mind and am totally in the zone. 😛

          2. Matt A. Myers

            Wanted to thank you for asking this. It got my mind going and enjoyed thinking through it. One thing I want to add too, regarding “you get what you give.” The amount you can give is attached to the natural resources you have at your disposable, what you’re essentially able to trade or barter to others for. Natural resources include physical but also people resources; Physical labour and mental labour. Also, “you get what you give” also works in the negative aspect. If you hurt people, whether locally or internationally, there will be action that happens in return. This action has potentially to be absorbed or affecting the holistic global community (merely reduced productivity/happiness for all, etc), or it could return in a directed manner. Easy example of this is imagine if there was no money going towards war, and that money was redirected at innovation which will make anyone and everyone’s life better. Generally we know a global issue that affects more than a single group, whether it being two towns working together to putting out flames for a fire that could destroy both towns, or nations coming together to work towards space exploration, or even dealing with global climate change, and then being rewarded with the values from that.

          3. Mark Essel

            There are opportunities for the newcomer, as well as opportunities for natives to work with them. There’s a cultural and social soft upper bound on rates of change (in and out! of a region).

          4. Matt A. Myers

            Indeed! 🙂

      4. ShanaC

        we’re not though

    7. LE

      “union organizer.”Probably a good time to share this story.When my dad came to this country after the war he worked in a lighting factory as a manager before starting his own business. The factory owner (a man who later developed a “tick” from all the pressure apparently and had a heart attack) wasn’t unionized but needed to get the union bug on his products in order to sell to certain places and get contracts. So he asked my dad to rile the workers up in order to get the union in. My dad did this and a union was formed. The other workers were quite miffed when they found out my dad couldn’t be in the union because he was management.

      1. Pete Griffiths

        great story

      2. awaldstein

        Good share.I used to go into the ‘office’ with my grandfather sometimes.Basically a large room with sewing machines, once which was his to work on. All Jews and Italians.He would go to do this work in a suit he made himself, and was so proud of these conditions which were a long way from how he started there.This was the birth of the sweat shop unions and in the beginning the unions and the work they did was proud and necessary work.

      3. leigh

        My great uncle Izzy lost an eye in the Union riots in Chicago. He and his brothers (including my grandfather) all sent their kids to Camp Naivelt a socialists Jewish camp outside Toronto that produced some of the biggest Canadian Capitalists! (go figure ;)…

  16. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Happy 4th of July to all the american readers of AVC. With a growing population, innovative clusters, world-class institutes and soon energy independence, I think the US has a bright future ahead of it. I am not a big history buff when it comes to American history but I watched the HBO series John Adams a few months back and it conveyed the struggle for independence and more impressively the struggle in the few years post independence very well.

  17. Jan Schultink

    The USA was created by people freeing themselves from ancient nation states founded by powers going back to the middle ages.Maybe in the not so far future the Internet will bring together a (credible enough) force of like-minded people across borders that will pursue freedom everywhere on the planet.

  18. BillMcNeely

    Thank you for the positive message. We have enough people in this country spreading doom and gloom on both sides of the aisle. Have a great 4th!

  19. Luke Chamberlin

    I never traveled much as a kid. In fact, I left my home state of California maybe twice.But when I turned 20 I was struck with wanderlust and couldn’t keep still.I moved to Australia for a year and traveled around Southeast Asia. I married a girl from Turkey and lived there for a few months. Then I moved to Japan for a few years for more study, before coming back to the US.Growing up in the Santa Cruz mountains, I wanted to try a few big cities like Chicago and New York, where I live now.When I returned to the US after living abroad I had a revelation on what it means to be American. I had been the “other” in foreign lands, and it gave me the ability to finally see my own culture, which had previously been invisible to me.In Japan, an old and ritualized society, there are many small customs that everyone learns from the time they are very little. Trying to keep up is like participating in a big, synchronized dance number that everyone has memorized except for you.In Turkey, you can’t pick out your own vegetables at the market. There is a vegetable guy, and you have to go up to him and ask him for a kilo of tomatoes, and then he goes and picks them out for you. If you try to get your own tomatoes, everyone makes a big deal about it (trust me, first-hand experience here).In Japan they have a word “joushiki” which means “common knowledge”. I would hear this word applied to the above scenarios and think, “Well it’s not common knowledge to me!”Now that I’m back I look extra hard at the things I always took for granted, what I thought was just “default” or “common knowledge”. I know these things are actually what make us unique, and I’m learning what it means to be American.The optimism in this community is what keeps me coming back. I’m also optimistic and I hope I can do my part to make the country a better place. Happy 4th of July everyone.

    1. Yalim K. Gerger

      I am from Turkey and I hate the fact that you can’t pick your own vegetables from a “manav” (a store that only sells fruits and vegetables). They actually go through the trouble of placing the good cherries visibly, on top over the bad ones and when you ask for a kilo, they dig it up and give you the crap cherries. True story. :-)I’ve finally had it. I am shopping from supermarkets now where you can pick your food yourself.

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        Domates, biber, patlıcan!

        1. Yalim K. Gerger

          I am sure you know that there is a song called like that. 🙂

      2. JLM

        .I am headed to the farmers’ market to get some honey. I will squeeze some peaches for you, friend.Another revealed truth about America, we have the absolute freedom to squeeze the fruit and vegetables..

        1. William Mougayar

          I once saw this sign in a fruit stand:”Feel free to squeeze me, but I will like so much you’ll have to take me home.”

          1. ShanaC

            yummy sounding

        2. Luke Chamberlin

          In your own parlance, well played!

        3. Yalim K. Gerger

          Thanks for the squeeze. :-). By the way, I’ve had different complaints about the fruit in U.S. when I was living there. My main problem in US was that fruit (cherries and peaches in particular) taste way worse than they do here. Being a fruit junkie makes my life very difficult no matter where I live.

          1. JLM

            @yalimgerger:disqus.I get the most wonderful tasty Rainier cherries at of all places — Costco and Sams.In TX, we get Fredericksburg peaches. Delicious and flavorful with juice dripping off your chin. Face licking good..

          2. Yalim K. Gerger

            You got me wondering now… I hope you will understand that I am a little skeptical because I’ve been given similar recommendations when I was living there. None worked out for me. The stuff I ate which was recommended as amazing was not even on the same planet compared to what I eat here. Very much like pizza here. It can be great but even the greatest pizza here can’t hold a candle to the pizza in U.S. Same with sushi, steak etc…

          3. JLM

            .Where is here?.

          4. Yalim K. Gerger

            Istanbul, Turkey.

          5. JLM

            Got it. Crossed with my message. Thanks.

          6. JLM

            .Oh, I see you are in Istanbul. How wonderful.I suspect that much of the fruit in the US has been genetically engineered for appearance and that has beaten the flavor out of it.Still, it is hard to get a better bit of fruit than those big hard Rainier cherries.But I would concede that the fruit is probably better in your part of the world..

    2. fredwilson

      you have to leave something to fully appreciate it

    3. Dave Pinsen

      Well said. Interesting anecdotes about your travels as well. Did you bring your Turkish wife back with you?

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        I actually met my Armenian wife who was born in the Netherlands but mostly grew up in Turkey at the University of California!Edit: Oops, forgot to answer the original question. Yes.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Your first sentence threw me off at first (“grew up in Turkey at the University of California”), but once I supplied my own mental punctuation, I got it. Congrats! Glad that worked out.

    4. ShanaC

      There is joushiki for American culture. It is a lot of subtle things, but despite growing up here there are always things I miss about other parts of american life

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        Yes, absolutely. And so many of them are from mass media.

    5. Donna Brewington White

      Very nice vignettes, Luke.Your last paragraph struck a chord. When I first read Fred’s post in the wee hours the thing that jumped out at me was his description of himself as optimistic. At that time, allthe commenters were from outside the U.S. and I was toched by the generosity of spirit toward our nation. I was reminded of the connectedness I feel with this community in spite of our different nationalities.I was too tired to comment but I went to bed thinking about being American and how my very existence represents both the glory and the shame in our national history. My personal history embodies it all: slavery, immigrants, coal miners, entrepreneurs, activists, et al. I come from a long line of optimists and people with strong survival instincts. I am American through and through and I love this country. I wake up every day with the belief that I can make a difference, that I can succeed, that I can become more than I am — no matter what happened the day before. Some of this is disposition, a lot of it is faith, but I realize that I can attribute this to a large extent based on the land where I was born.I know that Americans are not the only ones who lay claim to this attitude — this community demonstrates this daily. Yet, I do associate this fervent optimism with being American.So when you said “The optimism in this community is what keeps me coming back.” I strongly resonated with this. That may be one of the ties that binds us across the various borders.

  20. Richard

    Let’s celebrate results not efforts.

  21. Richard

    America the beautiful. This, we can all agree on.

  22. Guest

    I think we need to balance Winston Churchill with a little e.e. cummings:”America makes prodigious mistakes, America has colossal faults, but one thing cannot be denied: America is always on the move. She may be going to Hell, of course, but at least she isn’t standing still.Or you have the famous quote of Carl Schurz:”Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.”

    1. fredwilson

      e.e. cummings is so great

  23. Brad Lindenberg

    Chronically optimistic… I am as well but only when I really believe in what I’m doing. If I was a VC I would only invest in things I was chronically optimistic about.

  24. EmilSt

    I’m here in America for few years. Coming from a developing country, I can see, feel, live the values you are talking. It’s a platform to become yourself. Unfortunately I see so many people taking all that for granted.I’m optimistic about the future. Like Churchill said, America will pivot, iterate and finaly do the right thing. America is lean, because it’s build from entrepreneurs from all over the world. It’s one and only nation of entrepreneurs. Very well summed up in this beautiful opening scene from “The legend of 1900” (the best part from 2.20-5.30)…I’m grateful to everyone, from founding fathers to every singe citizen, who build this wonderful country, idea called America.

    1. fredwilson

      we are not anywhere near lean. and that is a problem.

      1. panterosa,

        so maybe ‘being lean’ could be a slogan to move us in the right direction….

      2. ShanaC

        How do we lean down?

        1. fredwilson

          cut entitlements. cut the defense budget. cut, cut, cut.

          1. Emily Merkle

            How about going beyond just cutting and working also to bring the efficiencies and skills of the private sector to the gov’t. I just today signed on to be considered for a 2-year term in a suitable role in the administration / Congress.

  25. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Happy 4th to everyone here and their families 🙂 Here’s to all things we all have in common.

  26. JLM

    .America will continue to be a great country and we will find our footing shortly. Why?Because of young men like Chase Prasnicki., 1Lt 173rd ABN Bde, was killed in action on Sunday in A’stan. Read his eulogy in the WSJ link above.I served on the VMI Foundation Board for a number of years and his Dad was the CFO of the VMI Foundation. VMI family. This hurts. English does not contain the right words to express my sorrow. Words fail me.By all accounts he was a fine young man. A star high school quarterback with unlimited possibilities.He chose West Point and was an accomplished cadet. Graduated in 2010 and went to the 173rd ABN Bde in Verona, a plum assignment.He was killed on his third day in country and after only 7 months of marriage.How do we deserve such sacrifice? How? How?We owe men like Lt Prasnicki our devotion to ensure that their lives have not been squandered and that our Nation is so well run as to some day deserve their sacrifice.I write through tears of sorrow but also with tears of stinging frustration. Enough. Let’s get our shit together so that we do not have to ante up the lives of our children.Godspeed, Lt Prasnicki.God bless America and may we deserve and revere such sacrifice. Celebrate today knowing that men like Chase Prasnicki have purchased our safety dearly..

    1. Raj

      I have deep sympathy for fallen soldiers and their families and extreme anger towards the politicians that abuse their generosity.

    2. fredwilson


    3. JimHirshfield


    4. William Mougayar

      Well said JLM. This world still has too many pain points that aren’t needed.I love that pic with flags. You wear the flag on your shoulder and inside your heart, and it shows. I wonder if you added more flags on July 4th than you had in that pic?

      1. JLM

        .We are totally “flagged out” and have no additional room..

    5. JLM

      .I would love to know why some anonymous chickenshit would “down vote” the preceding comment. If you are going to piss on a soldier’s grave at least have the decency to state your case, coward..

      1. ShanaC

        *sigh* welcome to the internet. You’re right, but there are lots of things not said – not everyone is pro-war, and a number of people (including me) want to get out of Afganistan quickly….)

        1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          Honoring someone who has made the greatest sacrifice is not the same as being pro-war.I oppose war as I believe does every decent person. This does not mean that decent people do not go to war.Sometimes morality is blurred by propaganda, but a look at world history tells us that standing aside peacefully can allow the most hideous atrocities to continue.Having many friends from many nations I know that no society is blameless. – I also know that innocent victims both civilian and military are sometimes sacrificed for the greater good.I may question those who command, but to disparage those who genuinely act in good faith at whatever level is unconscionable

          1. JLM

            .No person hates war like soldiers who have been to war.The abject failure of mankind’s ability to relate, the waste of precious life, the horror of unspeakable violence, the loss of life/property/control, the evil of bloodshed and the loss of personal humanity — that is war.The fact that old men disagree and ante up young men to settle their disagreements is a wicked calculus.I once had to tell a Mother her son was dead and that is the hardest duty I ever pulled. Seared into my brain like a hot, angry, unhealing scar.Anyone who would advocate war should have to do that a dozen times first.We have never been provoked into war because we were too strong. Sweat in peacetime to avoid bloodshed in wartime..

          2. fredwilson

            War is hell, William Tecumseh Sherman

          3. JLM

            .Little know fact about WTS — founding President of what became LSU where the first born sons of plantation owners were educated.It is said that he burned plantations across the South in retaliation against the brats he had to educate at LSU.America’s first war criminal said: “If I owned Hell and Texas, I’d live in Hell and rent out Texas.”.

          4. Donna Brewington White

            Well said, James.

      2. Techman

        All I can say is that people are like that. Wonder if Disqus could add a way to see who upvotes and downvotes a comment. Still, if I guest downvoted that comment, it would still say “Guest”.

    6. Dave Pinsen

      I’m not on Facebook so I can’t read the link. Was he killed by one of our so-called Afghan allies? Seems to be a number of stories recently about Afghan soldiers or policies killing US or other NATO troops.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Damn. Sad story.

        2. Techman

          Out of all things, an IED? I hate those bombs.

    7. Mac

      Thanks, JLM. We should pause and give thanks as a grateful nation.

    8. Dasher

      RIP Chase! This is heart wrenching. Heavy price to pay for the decisions made by the politicians to still fight in A’stan even after Osama is dead. What is the mission anymore?

    9. Cam MacRae

      Also killed: SASR Sgt. Blaine Diddams. During his 7th tour of Afghanistan.Seventh. Tour.There are not enough tears.

      1. Techman

        Did he serve continuously? If he did then this is just sad. This is what war does to people — kill them. Then it leaves families to mourn over their now dead relatives.

        1. Cam MacRae

          It’s sad either way.The guy was an operator in the SASR, with the rank of Sgt. That’s quite a statement of the qualities of the man as when you become beret qualified you receive the rank of Trooper (Tpr.) usually irrespective of your previous rank. He was an elite solider — think Delta Force for a US equivalent unit.He served in the following operations (at least officially. We might find out about the others in 75 years or so):Operation Solace (Somalia) – Jan – May 1993;Operation Warden (East Timor) – Jan – Feb 2000;Operation Tanager (East Timor) – February – May 2000;Operation Trek (Solomon Islands) – 2002; Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) – Nov 2001 –Apr 2002; Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) – May – Oct 2007;Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) – Jan – April 2008;Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) – May – July 2008;Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) – Jun – Nov 2009;Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) – Jan – Jul 2011;Operation Amulet (CHOGM Perth) – 2011; andOperation Slipper (Afghanistan) – Feb 2012 – July 2012.

  27. Aaron Klein

    I could not agree more. We can argue about the lack of sustainability in our policies until we’re blue in the face, but ultimately, we’ll come together and fix it. America is more resilient than any one President or any one piece of legislation.Happy fourth, AVCers!

  28. Tom Labus

    Our unique experiment has entered a renaissance.This may sound contradictory with our front page finance problems. But, bubbling below the surface are extraordinary positive events in energy and manufacturing that will become ground swells in the coming years.We are getting ready to take a great ride.Enjoy your day everybody.

  29. April Johnson


  30. LeahG

    Chuckling– read your post on Flipboard and it was followed by a banner ad for a presidential PAC. Only in America!

  31. John Ball

    Thank you Fred, for inspiring us all through your thoughtful dialog, which helps us pause, consider and reconsider. Happy July 4.

  32. FlavioGomes

    Happy Birthday from your northern friends,

  33. Rudy Cardona

    Has anyone of you guys watched Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom? The US is as divided as it has ever been. When the US political system is one of the ‘booming’ business in the US, what does that tell you? Political parties haven’t made a difference whose president since Carter or Reagan depending on your views.Sending people to prisons as our nations’ drug policy for the last 30 years has 4 sure taken a tole on some cultures of our society. Ask someone from an inner city how great this country is and what exactly do they have to compare to since most haven’t left there few blocks in their lifetime.The national debt of this country was in the vicinity of $200k owed per family. This is not going to be paid back. It is just shuffled and shuffled to a future administration. How’s that policy worked for cities across the country that can’t just print money. Miami, LA, Detroit, Chicago are just a few cities that have already spoken about bankruptcy.So, I think your correct that there is a lot to be thankful for, it’s just if you on the right side of the fence….

    1. ShanaC

      In a different Era I would have been a rockefeller republican. I have to admit that was the wrong move by him.

  34. Pete Griffiths

    Always an interesting day for a man born as a Brit then a naturalized American. 🙂

    1. JLM

      .Accident of birth v reasoned decision, no?Or as I like to say: “I got here as fast as I could.”.

      1. Pete Griffiths

        Precisely.I think about myself as a Californian who by some hideous mishap was born in the UK and waited far too long to remedy the error.

  35. Dave Pinsen

    An entertaining article that somehow seems fitting for the 4th of July – Jeffrey Goldberg’s piece on Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) and the rocker he’s idolized since he was a kid, Bruce Springsteen (D-Badlands): “Chris Christie’s Love for Bruce Springsteen goes Unrequited”. A brief excerpt:And then comes that moment in every Springsteen concert when he brings everything to a halt in order to provide his diagnosis of exactly what ails the country. It’s a tradition, like playing “Born to Run” with the house lights up. The band quiets, and Springsteen steps to the mic. I’m curious to see how Christie handles the homily. Springsteen has become an angry man over the past 10 years, angry at the sort of people—billionaires, to be precise—who gathered last summer in New York to try to persuade Christie to run for president. Christie calls over to his brother, Todd—who made his money as a Wall Street trader—and says, “Attention please, it’s a lecture. Lecture time.” Springsteen begins to mumble in what the music critic Jody Rosen calls his “flat Dust Bowl Okie accent,” and I can’t make out a word he’s saying. I ask Christie if he understands him.“You want to know what he’s saying?” Christie asks. “He’s telling us that rich people like him are fucking over poor people like us in the audience, except that us in the audience aren’t poor, because we can afford to pay 98 bucks to him to see his show. That’s what he’s saying.”Wait a second, this is Bruce Springsteen we’re talking about, the guy you adore?“I compartmentalize,” Christie says.

  36. Andrew J Scott

    Well Happy ‘We’re No Longer British’ Day! 😉 ..and if we at least gave you Winston to quote from, that’s good enough for me.I can only dream of reaching a few percentile points of his mastery of the English language in my life time…

  37. ShanaC

    I keep hoping that I should be optimistic, but sometimes looking at friends, I am just not sure. I’ll move as if it is though.Happy 4th, and hopefully next year will be less doldrums.

  38. bsoist

    “freedom and opportunity and increasingly tolerance” Very well said. I have no illusions that America is the one great nation, somehow ordained by God for greatness, but I am consistently thankful I was born here. I’m more optimistic every day that because of that increasing tolerance, more and more people may be presented with the same opportunities I’ve had.

  39. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    My wife was born in Rhodesia, which has since descended into the hell that is Zimbabwe – just one place where the British have not been popular recently!Generally, where people have demanded and won freedom, they are better for it, and as they say, you cannot “give” freedom – So congratulations on your recent victory (236 years is not so long). If it is not too soon to give some advice (from one declining empire to another)Thomas Carruthers said :”A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary”America must learn to teach in this sense – not as an adolescent superpower, but more as a wise statesman.If America could take a leaf by not abusing powers (as it sometimes does), and by withdrawing from areas of tension while upholding morality the world might be a better place.I would note that in European social conversation the use of drones to achieve video-game like kills comes up more and more.With great power comes great responsibility – It starts with personal values and they are contagious. So spread the better ones, because the world is watching .Beyond that sobering message enjoy your day ! 🙂

    1. JLM

      .Well said and well played!Drones are a very funny subject as they are comparatively inexpensive and do not require Air Force Academy grads to pilot them..

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        @JLM – I think this is exactly the point, and the danger, and I know it will concern you too.The following must be real issues:Reduced exposure to domestic political censure makes for less expensive “lower-pay grade” decisions. These may be pragmatic but are less politic.Reducing cost, moves a “market” supply curve down – as a result (given an assumed “political demand for death” ) the “market equilibrium death quantity” is increased. Yes lives traded !To be able to sensibly discuss these ideas using micro-economic principals and to fear we may be correct, suggests that death is a commodity market, with near perfect competition and implicity negligible barrier to entry. We literally price lives. Domestic lives are seen as more valuable than foreign “co-lateral costs”.If one can accept the following : One way to ensure driver safety would be to place a huge jagged spike between a driver and their steering wheel, then we can easily understand the opposite.We are at a position where (yet again) moral hazard for potentially despicable political decisions has been eroded.Saving “Our boys” is naturally a worthy objective – but not above all others …The road to hell is paved with good intent.

  40. andyidsinga

    Awesome post. I *LOVED* JLMs part in the video – it was a delightful surprise ..and yet not surprising at all when you think of it. :)I’m very optimistic about our future from private space programs to DIY.everything….running out to go to our neighborhood kids 4th of july parade – will post pics to twitter.

  41. Dahser

    We know you are very optimistic, but are most VCs generally that way? They have to say no many times each day. Won’t that kill optimism and make them skeptical and cynical? I know we entrepreneurs tend to be overly optimistic, but are the VCs like that as well? This dichotomy is fascinating to me. Would love to hear insights into this.Happy 4th Fred and AVC friends!

    1. fredwilson

      I say no so often. Its a drag. But it does not make me cynical.

      1. Dasher

        You are definitely not cynical. Your writing is full of optimism. That’s why I come here everyday.

  42. JamesHRH

    Terrific quote – trust Winston to nail it.As a CDN, we feel that we know you better than anyone else.From my personal PoV, noone gets away with slagging our friends to the south, if I am within earshot. After all, we could have been neighbours with Brazil for the last 250 odd years.The US of A is far from perfect, but it has done a pretty fair job of being the planet’s BMOC. Colour me a fan.America is always only a step away from greatness, regardless of the folly of its leaders.The idea – come here, work hard, improve your lot, be celebrated – cannot be and will not be killed.Celebrate that – and the great people who preserve that idea – today (and every day).

  43. leigh

    Happy July 4th!

  44. Taylor Brooks

    Woah, where is that picture from? Is that in Austin? I drive by that place all the time.

    1. JLM

      .Corner of Lamar and 25th St up on the hill in W Campus area. Stop in any time for a cup of coffee..

      1. Taylor Brooks

        Yup, I know the exact place. I live closeby in Tarrytown.Didn’t know you were in ATX, JLM!

        1. JLM

          .You knew it, you just didn’t know it.On Earth as it is in Austin..

          1. William Mougayar

            You have the flags up all year long or just around July 4th?

          2. JLM

            .Most of the year but cleaning in the winter time.They are all backlit at night and sitting on a hill make a magnificent tableau..

          3. William Mougayar

            Nice! Night pic pppplease?

      2. Emily Merkle

        nice. I know that area well. Lived in Hyde Park when I went to grad school at UT.

    2. fredwilson

      Yes. It is in Austin

  45. Donna Brewington White

    Great post, Fred. Thank you. I think that your optimism is part of what sets the tone for this community.I love this country too and want to help make it better.Happy 4th everyone. Let freedom ring!

  46. Ben Apple

    Residing in China, I’m thankful everyday to have been instilled with the pride and patriotism of being an American. There are obvious problems in both countries but the overwhelming difference I believe is that America at least gives its people hope of a better life and the idea that you can achieve anything. Maybe thats true in many countries, but America wears it on its sleeve and I’m proud to take that ideal with me no matter where I travel around the world.

  47. Robert Holtz

    Happy 4th one and all at AVC!!

  48. markslater

    today is a day of freedom indeed. happy hicks boson day – may this day mark the beginning of the end for organized religion.

  49. panterosa,

    I was lucky to be raised be an English mother who lived in London during the war as a child and was raised by the Churchill ethic to the core. Tough as nails that woman. She married my American father who went to war at 18 in the Marines, in Japan, after having finished undergrad at Harvard. Tough as nails him too. My parents were older than many people of my age’s parents, and I benefit from having been brought up with WW2 as a reality in my household, and the thinking that went behind surviving that war.I am not really a patriot, I am too abstract a thinker, and not political at all. I lived in several countries as a student, and don’t consider myself very American, and neither do my friends, half of whom are foreign. Perhaps I am more a New Yorker. But that said, America, as a country founded on ideas, is actually the kind of abstract concept which suits me. I adore JLM’s comment about American’s shoplifting their identities and practices from the nations of the world. Its the hybrid designing of an identity, a continuous work in progress which really appeals to me as a designer, an artist, and an entrepreneur. Smart borrows, genius steals. I adoreBTW Disqus ate my comment yesterday, and it said it posted but then didn’t show. Has happened a few times.

  50. Techman

    I enjoyed the 4th of July. I always love to shoot fireworks. Only bad thing about that is that it puts out a lot of smoke, which means that we are polluting the air even more on that day.

  51. Viktoria Michaelis

    I love the Churchill quotation, which is sadly taken out of context by many other people who claim that the US always comes in too late and then takes all the credit.We may well be heading towards a meltdown, thanks partially to the housing market and mainly to the banking sector and their demand for ever increasing profits without taking risk into account. The rating agencies with their idea of downgrading countries so that credit is even more expensive may be good for lenders in the short term, but bad for the West in the longert term and certainly bad for the US and Europe – and we need each other to be successful, profitable and stable.

  52. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Such simple pursuits offer us the pure escapism we all need, Charlie. The problems of the world, one’s country and society, can suddenly be cast aside and life is viewed benignly through rose-tinted spectacles. For a while at least.Nothing wrong with that – and you’re lucky, we only have football – which only (usually) offers some 90mins of escapism. Baseball matches enable one to escape for a lot longer! 😉

  53. fredwilson

    what system are the barnstormers in?

  54. Dave Pinsen

    Not a big baseball fan myself, but I’m reminded of George Will’s recent essay about his son with Down Syndrome, and the role baseball plays in his life. Great last paragraph.

  55. ShanaC

    I wonder what happened to that hospital. And enjoy the game!

  56. fredwilson


  57. Timothy Meade

    Some day kids will learn he had many, many complaints. We live in a world where half of the man’s ideas are stricken from our text books. Go read the first half of the “dream” speech if you never have.

  58. ShanaC