Capitalism At A Crossroads

I am on a plane flying up to SF to attend a two day conference called NewCo Shift Forum.

The premise behind this conference, put together by my friend and tech conference impresario supreme John Battelle, is that capitalism is at a crossroads brought on by changing political winds across the globe, technological advancements, and a growing consolidation of power and wealth at the very top. The longer treatise on why this conversation needs to happen is here.

This is not your ordinary tech conference where we are all promoting how great tech is and how successful our companies are. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of those kinds of events. This is a conference that features more academics, policy people, authors, and analysts than founders and CEOs. There will be some of that too, but it’s a balanced discussion covering all sorts of important questions that will need to be answered as we move things forward.

I am participating in one panel (Tech Under Trump) and moderating another (The Future Of Labor). I am looking forward to both conversations.

I don’t know about the plans to record and/or stream the conference. I suspect it won’t be streamed but will be recorded. But I will find out and update this post or post a comment with that information.


Comments (Archived):

  1. andyswan

    Capitalism is creating so much wealth around the world… eliminating so much poverty. I can’t believe any of this is still up for debate. Why would I be bothered by someone else’s high levels of wealth? Are we really going to base policy on envy?What ever happened to “good for him! I want my kids to look up to that and know what is possible!”Let capitalism roar…. we’re just getting started.

    1. Farhan Lalji

      Think people who make it big are just taken seriously about the issue. Whether you’re right or not with AI and automation and trade we’re looking at unmanageable unemployment for the next generation or the generation after. Something will have to change.

      1. andyswan

        My grandpa Rock once told me about all the panic over tractors in farming eliminating the midwest. Good stories.

        1. Farhan Lalji

          And subsidies for farmers are working so well.

          1. andyswan

            We likely agree here. They must be eliminated. Redistribution schemes destroy wealth, innovation and ambition.

          2. Farhan Lalji

            Thought we might. So how do you remove subsidies, allow trade and take care of farmers who are too old to retrain. And how do we not make the same mistakes in trying to protect the next gen of labour.

          3. andyswan

            expire subsidies slowly but completely over a generation.Reject all redistribution schemes.

          4. pointsnfigures

            I’d don’t know if I’d be on board with letting them expire slowly. I might have a sunset date certain-and let markets adjust between now and then

          5. Darius V

            Interesting nothing about the environment, human rights, or justice in your list. You can’t have a thriving long lasting system without these.

          6. LE

            Redistribution schemes destroy wealth, innovation and ambition.Isn’t part of that maintaining robust food supply sources even though there is oversupply of food? Look what happened with all the eggs in the China basket.

          7. ShanaC

            Of diverse food using diverse open seed #yetanotherproblem

          8. pointsnfigures

            Interestingly, subsidies weren’t anything except a way to get the farm vote for FDR. Farmers were (and are) fiercely independent. FDR pandered to them with subsidies. Freedom From Fear is a great historical book on FDR that people should read if they want to understand why he did what he did. It was politics and creating a permanent majority for his party. He also believed govt could create better outcomes for society-and on that he has been proven incorrect.

        2. bsoist

          You know, it doesn’t surprise me one bit that you have a grandpa named Rock.

      1. andyswan

        Should I put up a chart of % of GDP consumed by government over the same time span? That chart is a direct result of the expansion of the welfare state and the REDUCTION of free market capitalism.or should I just show what has happened around the world as capitalism is embraced?https://uploads.disquscdn.c…ROAR INDEED

        1. Jess Bachman

          You should put of both charts, then I can claim that the welfare state has reduced world poverty. Correlation is pretty rad!

          1. andyswan

            I’m curious about your chart. Why would we expect someone that is 32 years old to be making more than their parents? Seems like you can ignore everything after 1960 simply because the full career data isn’t in yet.

          2. Jess Bachman

            Great question. According to their research, they are only looking at age 30 and adjusted for inflation. So in 1940, 90% of 30 year olds made more than their parents (at age 30). In 1985 it’s 50%. I do wonder what it is now.

          3. andyswan

            I’m not sure 30 year olds making more than their parents is a goal to be pursued… much less the defining characteristic of “The American Dream”

          4. Girish Mehta

            I read that (Jess’ comment) as – 30 year olds making more than their parents when they were 30 (adjusted for inflation).

          5. andyswan

            got it. makes more sense. Seems ripe for trouble though….I would expect that as economy becomes more knowledge based, the compensation curve gets steeper in rewarding those who have accumulated knowledge (i.e. older people make more and more)

          6. Jess Bachman

            I’d posit it’s almost the opposite, espeicallty if tech is fuelling growth, and older people know less and less about it. Knowledge is accumulated on the internet now, now in peoples brains.

          7. Jess Bachman

            I don’t think it’s a goal, so much as it’s a measure of social mobility across generations. There are other tracked measures as well like this one. Probability of reaching the top quintile by age 26. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…Everyone has a different version of the American Dream. For some it’s “can I be a multi-millionaire!” .. for others it’s, can I make a decent living and raise my kids without hardship.

          8. andyswan

            I’d like to see this exact same chart for countries that have a more capitalistic structure than U.S. and countries that have a less capitalistic structure. What are my odds of reaching “the top” in Russia today vs the USSR? etc. Fun stuff.

          9. Jess Bachman

            It’s probably abysmal in Russia, but “a 2010 study by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, a Paris-based think tank with 34 member countries, including the United States. The study found Denmark, Australia, Norway, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Germany, Spain and France out-ranked the U.S. in terms of a child’s ability to earn more than his or her parents.”More here:

          10. leigh

            yeah Canada 🙂

          11. pointsnfigures

            Or France. Or Germany. Or China. Or…..

          12. David Gobel

            does the chart normalize for the effects of the depression of the 1930’s and the manpower distortions of world war II

          13. Greg White

            If we’re playing “find a curve which appears to match miscellaneous data”, I think this one is worth entering:https://uploads.disquscdn.c…This chart also suggest something else: if we’re worrying about capitalism at a crossroads, might we perhaps consider whether or not the problem is not capitalism, but rather what we have today, which is capitalism corrupted either by cronyism or by regulatory capture (depending on whether you are currently leaning left or right) or both.I’d suggest that what we should be striving for is a more pure form of capitalism, and that the chart I posted *might* be indicative of a broken market (i.e., the buyers of labor developed more and more market power as unions declined – to the detriment of workers?)Not likely to be a comfortable discussion: how do we find broken markets? Look for excess profits. If the market is working, there really won’t *be* any for long, absent either a broken market structure (leading to a monopoly or oligarchy) or some form of cheating (regulatory capture or collusion.)

          14. Jess Bachman

            I don’t think anyone is saying capitalism is the problem. It’s clearly the best thing ever. But it has it’s own issues which need to be addressed.

          15. Gregory Magarshak

            “It is clearly the best thing ever” — I think things like this must be said as a caveat because Capitalism is the semi-official state religion of the USA. Like Islam is of Saudi Arabia.

          16. Campbell Macdonald

            This is pretty insane for correlation. Can you point to the source of data or doc for graph?

          17. ShanaC

            I don’t think it is regulatory capture. During that same period we’ve also weakened Regulations at times. Chart still went down.

          18. Jordan Thaeler

            I got ya: the US poverty rate has been unchanged since LBJ’s war on poverty. But that didn’t stop us from spending $59T to get there. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

        2. LaVonne Reimer

          Ah “welfare state.” De-positioning language again. As opposed to, say, we scramble to keep the least of us from crushing poverty. Because. Capitalism as it has become in recent decades.

          1. ShanaC

            Ah, language wars. We should listen to each other more.

        3. Jordan Thaeler

          I found this chart equally compelling, because we must mathematically account for the cohort of population growth:… Why are people earning fewer than $10,000 dollars having 50% more offspring than those making more than $200K? It’s facetious: because they show up to pull the “democrat” lever and collect my money for doing so.

        4. JackL

          Correct – the system we have now is so far removed from capitalism. That’s the problem – capitalism gets blamed for the ill effects of the non-capitalist aspects.

        5. SubstrateUndertow

          That speaks to a moving technological baseline rather than capitalism/poverty.I’m not making the case that capitalism historically does not have very positive/effective economic features/outcomes. Just saying that it is running out of gas as presently formulated when butting up against a complex array of modern organic interdependencies all accelerated by a ubiquitous network-effect.Anyway all the superficial graph wars here may be fun but as I’m sure you well know they are meaningless without any supporting evidence to show they are causal and not merely associative patterns.

          1. Twain Twain

            BRAVO to this bit of brilliance: “Against a complex array of modern organic interdependencies all accelerated by a ubiquitous network-effect.Anyway all the superficial graph wars here may be fun but as I’m sure you well know they are meaningless without any supporting evidence to show they are causal and not merely associative patterns.”

    2. Mark Essel

      There’s certainly a healthy level of freedom and creativity in non-monopoly fueled capitalism.The alternative (social economies) have had their share of problems historically. Is there talk of a new tax to redristibute wealth to me, er I mean everyone. That sounds like stealing. It’s weird when a group sits down without me to determine how to spend my earnings.Maybe capitalism at a crossroads has more to do with automation and the lack of perceived future jobs than wealth redistribution, but they’re linked.I guess its better than a complete systematic breakdown that results from greed and jealousy. Minimax theory, pay just enough in taxes to keep the machine running..this message brought to you by a hangry paleo dieter

        1. Jordan Thaeler

          I just love Democracy: wait until the majority can dictate the allocation of wealth earned by the minority and plug your ears like nothing bad will happen. We’ve got 20 years left, at most. By 2025 Tha Feds can’t even reshuffle IOUs without acknowledging insolvency. At that point they could tax the earners (which will be less than 50% of the population at that juncture) 100% and they still won’t cover interest payments at our rate of debt expansion.

          1. pointsnfigures

            Depends. If we grow the economy, they’ll have money.

      1. Darius V

        Valid point from one pov – also interesting when a group sits down and plans how to keep wages down to squeeze the most out of another group of people that have no power or recourse to do otherwise. In other groups’ pov this might be seen as stealing! The solution must include all sides.

        1. Mark Essel

          Agree, collusion to lock in pay is shitty as well.

      2. ShanaC

        Eat more complex carbs

        1. Pete Griffiths

          Eat less carbs – complex or otherwise.Gary Taubes “Why we get fat and what do to about it”

    3. Rob Underwood

      Too often capitalism has morphed into “crony capitalism” like the following, which we saw in Brooklyn, where a developer was able win a prized piece of land by bidding $50m **LESS** than the other bidder, and then get the government to use its power of eminent domain to seize the other land they needed and in turn people’s homes to give to a developer to build a private use arena and condos.

      1. ShanaC


    4. Jon

      I don’t think it is as much about envy of wealth as it is concern about outsized influence on public policy. In our current system, the amount of political influence one can achieve is proportional to the amount of wealth one has. If we don’t want Charles Koch and/or Bill Gates deciding the future of education policy or energy policy in the US, we should be concerned. A wealthy person minding their own business is one thing. A wealthy person trying to destroy the public education system or the EPA is another thing.

      1. andyswan

        well I’m supportive of the destruction of both of those things but I get your point. I’d like government to stick to what it should do (defend borders and individuals against violence) and stay out of the stuff where “capitalists” can get an ROI on their political dollar.

        1. Jon

          I would add some other things on the list of what government should do, but we are allowed to disagree on that! Regardless, with the current laws/rules/regulations we seem to be trending towards some form of pseudo-oligarchy. I think most people are more on board for campaign finance reform than wealth redistribution, so hopefully congress decides to get some of the money out of politics.

          1. Jordan Thaeler

            You can dump unlimited funds into politics and it won’t matter if the government adheres to the constitution and republic created to wield its power. The problem lies not with campaign finance but an overreaching state that has eroded our rights as free men.

        2. Russell

          i couldn’t disagree with you more about destroying the EPA. For a look at what to avoid – read about General Electric and the pollution of the Hudson river. The air we breathe and the water we drinks needs protection every day from the baser instincts of companies and people.

    5. LE

      Why would I be bothered by someone else’s high levels of wealth? Are we really going to base policy on envy?Because envy can be dangerous to the way of life for certain people. And they need to protect against that happening. And even if you are further down the food chain it can impact you as well.When I was growing up there wasn’t that much ostentatious [1] display of wealth. I knew about Howard Hughes of course there was the neighbor up the street who bought his kid a Firebird for his 16th birthday [2] . And the ‘rich’ neighborhood with big pre mc mansions where the old money lived. Nothing like there is today. It’s all over the place and in everyone’s face. That creates unhappiness for the have nots.So here’s the thing. The reason that rich people have to be worried and are worried (and you should be as well) is that if things get to a tipping point then we end up with another Iranian revolution situation, you know with the Shah being thrown out. So it’s important to keep the less fortunate at the point where they feel taken care of enough not to complain to much or take to the streets. [3] That’s it in a nutshell. This is (as I’ve pointed out before) is really no different than what the mythical mafia of the past did spreading around the cheer and handing out turkeys at Christmas time. They did more of course (not just turkeys) the point being keeping others from being to jealous by having them benefit from your good fortune (or crime).[1] Spell auto correct is great – my first try was ‘austentatious’ and pow![2] The donut guy, later went bankrupt after he lost the Acme market contract which was a large percentage of his business.[3] Your private security force is not going to keep you safe from crowd mobs.

      1. Greg White

        This. Also important to note the level of inherent instability represented by Trump. Somehow, he’s managed to convinced a good chunk of the less fortunate that he’ll hep them out. If, as it appears he could be, he’s really a fast-talking kleptocrat with a wife who, quite literally, lives in a golden tower at their expense…well. We won’t be talking about Capitalism at a Crossroad, but some variant of Pitchfork Sharpening 101 or Socialism: The New Black.

    6. Jason T

      Andy, you’re not wrong. But you’re not right either. People getting rich isn’t the problem. This is:

      1. Jordan Thaeler

        I don’t understand the issue? Richard is allowed to feel entitled and Paula can feel let down. But it was her parents, not Richard, that made this decision. Why is society then asking Richard to pay for Paula’s parents’ capricious decision to procreate without the resources to do so adequately? Further, the injection of juxtaposed educational scenarios is a commentary on the status quo, where the federal government has unconstitutionally inserted itself. Privatize education or allow states to create education how they deem fit (which, for the record, will never be as good as their private counterpart a la FedEx vs USPS) and then we can observe results.

    7. fredwilson

      You are looking in the wrong direction if you want to see what’s wrong. But we know that you don’t really care about them

      1. kidmercury

        upvoted for a fun burn! 🙂

      2. PhilipSugar

        I think the two biggest things it has done in America that hurt are directly replacing jobs, and allowing lower cost offshore resources to replace jobs. I don’t need charts to figure this out I need eyes and ears.Let me give examples from my life in 1990, there are hundreds of others.In 1990 to buy a plane ticket I called up a travel agency we worked on getting the ticket then a courier would bring me a hand printed ticket. I would check in at the ticket counter. If I needed a change I called a call center. All of those jobs: gone because of the app on my phone.In 1990 I worked for the largest trading company in the world: Mitsubishi Corporation we traded billions of goods from around the world: Our biggest resource? Our Telex Network that let us communicate and coordinate the goods. It was tough. There was a lot of friction which prevented it being too widespread. Today email and the web no friction.In my mind the one thing we could do is change the tax system.If we doubled corporate taxes and then provided a $10k credit for each person that the company employed with a living wage it would change things drastically.I don’t begrudge anybody making money, but what we have now is direct inducement to move jobs.That hedge fund manager can make $1B buying a company, stripping out costs by outsourcing.And the company that keeps thousands of jobs here in the U.S. where not only do those people pay taxes, but they aren’t on Government assistance, actually pays more in taxes.

        1. LE

          and then provided a $10k credit for each person that the company employed with a living wageI realize that you just threw a number out to illustrate a concept but I don’t think any particular tax credit (that is practical to do) is going to be able to compete with a) automation and b) low cost countries. Certainly not 10k or even 20k. Not when labor in other countries costs pennies on the dollar and is so much easier (with all the regulation that we have now that we didn’t use to have and equal rights the entire package..)I don’t begrudge anybody making money, but what we have now is direct inducement to move jobs.My oft repeated saying is ‘you can only be as honest as your competition’. So if your competitors are doing things offshore to save money you need to as well. Unless you have some niche or some other advantage that allows you to charge premium prices for what you do. Add to this the fact that replacement goods are so cheap and available for things we buy there is certainly less of a need to pay more for quality and things that will last. If it breaks get a replacement next day. What if you could do that with your roof?You know my latest ‘bad’ habit? It’s easier for me to order some little chotska that I need (say a computer cable or electronic device) from Amazon and have it delivered in a day then it is to find the one that I already have amidst the junk that I have compiled over the years in my back storage room. [1] Then there are the things I have at public storage that I pay $170 per month for some reason to keep around. (Also business records in that storage…).[1] Back in the day my father kept a full garage stocked with this and that parts and tools just so he would have the tool or part that he needed when he was repairing something as an example.

          1. PhilipSugar

            I did pull the number out of you know where, but it was for illustration.I disagree because if you were right states giving tax credits to keep companies would not work.I do agree you can only be as honest as your competition and for that we might need a bit of a tariff to make up for the fact that there is no pollution or worker safety laws: Go to Shanghai sometime I do.

          2. LE

            states giving tax credits to keep companies would not workWell part of that works because the companies were going to stay or it was advantageous to stay in the first place and they were just angling for a gimmie.And the politicians willingly go along.Company announces ‘we are leaving’ or ‘we want new stadium’. Whatever.Politician or economic benefit group gets involved and throws a bone and company stays. Then they look like they are doing their job and they are heroes.

          3. PhilipSugar

            Yes there is “shopping” between states. I would think the states would want a Federal rule saying you have to have one rate for everybody. Whatever the rate: fine.

          4. pointsnfigures

            The shopping also includes a lot of costs that aren’t apparent. Networks for example.

          5. PhilipSugar

            The shopping is just ugly, ugly. At the State and Federal level. I don’t know what you mean by networks, but I would call it connections. And those connections don’t come free or with no strings attached.I’m a simple man. Want a tax credit? Hire people here at a living wage.Want to push up minimum wage? Make it a no brainer if you are making money. Just scraping by? Ok, but it will motivate you to get better people.

          6. Pointsandfigures

            Connections=networks sometimes. Sometimes, networks are just there. For example, investment banking in NYC. Only two other cities rival it: London and Hong Kong.

          7. PhilipSugar

            NYC = The FedLondon = Old Europe Money, only free place in WWIIHong Kong = Only Free place in SE Asia for a long time

          8. ShanaC

            Healthy stable law abiding places make for great places to do finance

        2. ShanaC

          Ricardo of all people was concerned about this

      3. Twain Twain

        What’s wrong goes deeper than Trump or any one group (Wall Street / Silicon Valley / FCC / Snap millennials etc).The problems go to the very heart of democratic representativeness and whether one vote (Yay or Nay) is adequate for populations to decide whether a choice is morally good or bad and WHY it is.Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, Hayak, Schumpeter and Nash et al have never been able to mathematically define what is morally good / bad / fair.They haven’t been able to do this because maths has given us the WRONG TOOL to measure and weight for fairness: probability.A number of academic theories have been voiced about science vs ideology in economics, e.g.*…The facts are that we HAVE been using scientific methods (logic, mechanics, probability & statistics) for economics modeling, but they’re not the best and we need to innovate better tools in science before socio-economics can change directions and benefit.For example, in tech, quant (attention, absolute numbers of and rate of user acquisitions, popularity counts, click-throughs rate) has determined investment choices whilst qualia (e.g. ensuring civil discussion and engagement on Twitter, nuanced recommendations of products rather than blanket quantities of ads) has been ignored.As I commented on Albert’s blog: “So there’s a leap from monetary value (attainment) of something to time value (attention). Maybe we have to think about it (the next leap) because if value is just about attention then Trump’s won the entire game.”If the conversations and tools — whether in economic theory or in technology practice — continue to loop “in-the-box” thinking about GDP, unemployment caused by offshoring / H1B / AI automation, retraction of borders, attention etc, then we’re missing opportunities to really innovate, change the world and make it better for more people.

        1. pointsnfigures

          Yes, no one has been able to define exactly what’s fair. Except a market.

          1. Twain Twain

            There’s no question the market (wisdom of crowds capitalism) should define what’s fair rather than top-down command.Here’s the issue, though: mathematically, we’ve inherited the idea of market “fairness” as being about the probability distribution of event occurrences (of price, of interest rates, of income levels and other quantitative socio-economic data points) or some equilibrium point in a demand-supply / ISLM curve in a 2D or 3D plane, over time.What if fairness has nothing to do with probability, linear correlations between data points, standard errors of lines of best fit and likelihood of occurrence?For what purpose was probability invented in 1654? It was invented to measure and model the random (stochastic) behavior of “fair” and “unbiased” dice.It was not invented to measure and model human fairness or bias.During the Industrial Revolution, it was found to be helpful for doing risk modeling of Production Possibilities and parameterizing worker output efficiencies. https://uploads.disquscdn.chttps://uploads.disquscdn.c…However, neither probability nor its bell curve actually measure or model “fairness”.Means, averages, standard deviation from a mean, frequency distribution of data event frequencies — yes.Fairness … NO.So what I’m saying is that the problem is not with the idea of the market (capitalism) deciding things. The problem is with the scientific tools available for the market to measure, model and decide.

          2. Pointsandfigures

            By the way, I think I don’t mean to demean Fred’s topic of discussion. The future of labor markets is an important one to have academically, theoretically. You can invest in the future of labor markets as well. Except, when you invest, the overriding factor has to be return on investment.

          3. Twain Twain

            Totally, RoI is a priority. All my experiences have been in for-profit ventures.I’ve had friends tell me to release my AI for free.Hmm … well … I happen to be committed to any AI that I release to FOSTER and cultivate human employment and understanding rather than to negatively affect those things.And IF the Googles, Facebooks, IBM Watsons, Amazons et al stop charging for their systems, only then would I not think about RoI and generating value for my team, for my users, for strategic partners, for investors and for global society-at-large.

          4. ShanaC

            Is it fair to sell my kidney from an ethics point of view?( Don’t quote Becker -poster, even they know they get into sticky ground because of the host of ethical issues that already have appeared in the black market for organs. Making it legal won’t get rid of many of those issues at all)

          5. pointsnfigures

            Read Alvin Roth’s book on Who Gets What When. He organized the matching markets for organs, for school lotteries. Professor of Econ at Stanford. Yes, markets can allocate kidneys better than a bureaucracy

          6. ShanaC

            I didn’t ask if it allocates kidneys better. I asked if it is fair, especially the process, from an ethics point of view.

          7. pointsnfigures

            seemed really fair to me. read the book and decide

          8. ShanaC

            it doesn’t strike you that the question of allocating kidneys as a market question is pushing the boundaries of ethics, because it is talking about organs as a commodity as opposed to coming from a human being. I know slippery-slopism is bad, but organ sales really buts up against why not also be able to sell yourself into slavery. Like if one is ok, why not other, it definitely can be under the right circumstances a very efficient way of allocating labor – and if someone thinks they are not good at that, why not let them sell themselves to someone who is better at allocating their labor?*And that feels just ethically awful*Cause in order for a market to get really liquid, speculators need to exist. which means organ speculators.

          9. pointsnfigures

            Read the book.

    8. Pete Griffiths

      Capitalism has huge strengths.But if we turn a simplified model of capitalism into a fetish we run 2 risks:a) we are paying homage to a model rather than reality and the reality of capitalism is way more complex – in ALL societies across the globe – than the ‘let the markets free’ memeb) if we can’t get a handle on reality we won’t be able to devise policies to address the negative sides of unfettered markets – and they do exist. This is a hard problem for way to many reasons to address here, but hard or not, countless policies are already in place – good and bad – and countless more are proposed. It is non-trivial to ‘manage’ an advanced capitalist economy.There are two positions I am confident are dangerousa) capitalism is awesome, just free all markets and everything will be fineb) capitalism is terrible, we have to legislate the hell out of it There are times, Andy, when you seem to be uncomfortably close to a) above. Maybe it’s just the restrictions of this format? Maybe you actually have much more nuanced positions? Maybe you’re just having fun with the rhetoric of the extreme? But maybe not?

      1. Jordan Thaeler

        What laws would you propose? I’d contend there are a few libertarian dilemmas (e.g. pollution) but most are solved in Lockean fashion.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          I don’t know ‘what laws’ I would propose because I’m of the opinion that our system is complicated enough that for many issues they demand serious study. I haven’t taken on the vast majority of issues in enough depth to be confident in proposing policies. It isn’t a bad thing to be a ‘policy wonk.’ The system is very complex and shooting from the hip in complex circumstances all too frequently generates unanticipated and undesirable side effects.I find it fascinating that you can state with such confidence that “…there are a few libertarian dilemmas (e.g. pollution) but most are solved in Lockean fashion.” What makes you so confident that there are only ‘a few’ and again that ‘most’ are solved in ‘Lockean fashion’? You are advocating a position so broad and applying it so generally to such a complex system that To me this constitutes an article of faith. I am very suspicious of positions held in such a way forming the basis for policy. There are countless instances across time and geography from left and right of such faith based policy making hurting large numbers of real people.

          1. PhilipSugar

            We agree completely. The point I was trying to make poorly is that if we get people from both sides and arrive at a conclusion in the middle after much respectful discussion and debate, then that will be great. That is what democracy is supposed to be, not just executive orders or jam downs (and that is on both sides of the aisle)

          2. Pete Griffiths

            Agreed. Though for reasons to lengthy to elaborate on here I’m not optimistic. 🙂

          3. Jordan Thaeler

            At first blush it would appear that your preferred outcome is a room of academics debating policy while the brutish state confiscates property under the status quo. I might be misinterpreting, but I lean toward action. Fortunately, we have 2,000 years of written language, and even more recently very well-documented case studies of statism. This is enough body of work for me to draw conclusions on policy on the aggregate. Capitalism, while certainly not infallible, is much better in an unrestrained embodiment. What may be obfuscating the issue are statist “morals”, for lack of a better euphemism, that are contrary to anything related to a free market.

          4. Pete Griffiths

            That’s a strange interpretation of my comment. I can’t parse my observations that it is generally a good idea to think about complex questions as reading that I want a ‘room of academics.’ I don’t have anything against academics and their expertise it helpful on some vexing problems e.g. climate science. To ‘lean toward action’ is an excellent value. But not falling into analysis paralysis isn’t the same thing as impulsive action. You can of course draw whatever conclusions you want about ‘policy on the aggregate’ (not sure what that is) but even if you believe that unrestrained capitalism is the best option the question arises, ‘Which unrestrained capitalism?’ Because capitalism is only viable in a very complex mix of social norms, legal framework, state regulation etc and this generally varies in accordance with the culture of the host country. And even if you could come up with some meaningful empirically grounded general answer to that – which I doubt – you would still have the question of just how much inequality you’d be happy with. It’s all very well lauding the mantra of a rising tide raising all ships, but if things don’t work out that way major social pain and discord can result. There are no statist ‘morals’ that I know of and actually, no such thing as a real ‘free market’ either. These are abstractions that are helpful to gain a broad understanding of our society, but to turn them into a fetish is dangerous.

      2. PhilipSugar

        This is 100% correct and I worry that we have extremes on both sides. That would be ok if we got to the middle but right now nobody wants to do that.If you asked people is there a single idea that Trump has that is good? The answer would be NO!!!!!

        1. Pete Griffiths

          The problem i have with Trump isn’t that he doesn’t have ideas. It is that he doesn’t have considered policies. Ideas are fine for Twitter but not enough to administer complex systems.Let’s take a simple example. ‘Make American great again.’ If we just assume for the moment that there is a substantive problem to be addressed that isn’t captured particularly helpfully in this slogan, the idea is great. Who wouldn’t want to be great? But how? And now we start running into problems. ‘No more outsourcing’ ‘Bring jobs back to America.’ etc Awesome. But how? I have seen no considered attempt to address the realities of globalization and technologically fed job shredding automation. I suspect that many who have a problem with Trump share my suspicion that the Emperor has no clothes.None of the above, however, in any way proves that the ‘left’ has a handle on how to address the above issues. It is however rational to suppose that Obama’s attempt to address the problem with education is at least attempting to address the underlying problem. Such a policy may not work for the challenge is extremely difficult, but it is on point.These are difficult issues. Pretending they are not and fetishizing a simple minded model of the world doesn’t solve anything.

          1. PhilipSugar

            I didn’t want this to go political, I should not have used the T word. I should have just said both parties. See my proposal above. And I agree its not as simple as answering a multiple choice question. Very complex and nuanced.

          2. Pete Griffiths

            I respect your desire to not go ‘political.’ But I think there is a concerning point here. What Trump has revealed and amplified is a deep schism between two different populations in our country. Roughly half of the country holds post Enlightenment values and half doesn’t. It is impossible to reason with those who don’t respect Reason. Trump was in no small part enabled by the internet because in the ‘old days’ media was controlled by institutions that were overwhelmingly post Enlightenment. Journalists and editors of all political stripes believed in facts are coherent argument. We could disagree on both but we believed in their importance. But social media has awoken the slumbering giant of the pre-Enlightenment masses whose whole world view has been ignored for centuries. Now everyone has a megaphone and can find like spirits. Trump tweeted because the format doesn’t embrace argument. ‘Lock her up.’ This is the major change – not to a post factual society. Trump has revealed the fact that for a huge number of people they have always been pre factual. Nothing has changed in that regard but social media gave them a voice and Trump exploited their values.

          3. PhilipSugar

            Yes we disagree. I would point you to this excellent post on Mark Suster’s Blog: https://bothsidesofthetable…Please watch it. It is excellent.Just ballparking: Roughly 20% of the U.S. has benefited from Globalization. (put me in that camp), the rest have not. Notice Andy’s chart at the top is for Global not U.S.So you see it on opposite ends of the spectrum. Those that are angry and go “right” and those that are angry and go “left” Neither are “enlightened” one shares values with you and the other does not.

          4. Pete Griffiths

            I think I must have expressed myself poorly. There is a difference between a world view that embraces reason and one that does not. This is nothing to do with anger or going right or left.I’ll check out MS’s post.

          5. Pete Griffiths

            I read the article. Actually I was already aware of Beck’s evolution. But good though the piece is, and refreshing though it may be, I truly don’t see what this has to do with the point I was making above. Are you suggesting that dialogue is always possible?

          6. Twain Twain

            Globalization has benefited more than 20% of the US population and its GDP.Look at countries that don’t / can’t trade with other countries and where all goods+services production is done by local people and we get … NORTH KOREA.

          7. PhilipSugar

            Do not misunderstand me. Trade is great. I am sprinkling Sel Gris du Paludier salt on my food after a really long day working.I believe like Andy life is not a zero sum game.But I also believe that we cannot succumb to the lowest sum game.When you let unfettered capitalism with no rules, you really hurt people.This from a HUGE capitalist.

          8. Twain Twain

            Sometimes I wonder if Nash’s creation of Game Theory as a branch of Maths and economic theory didn’t get us into all sorts of quagmires about social relationships, including transactions and risk mgmt.It assumes games are devoid of emotions and only the optimization of objectives.

          9. ShanaC

            It does, and in experiments game theory answers don’t happen outside of WIERD. Do similar game theory experiments on real people who are aboriginal and you’ll get different results…

          10. Twain Twain

            Thanks for sharing, Shana.The article pinpoints some of the problems of the generalization of tools and frameworks from one discipline or specific, narrow, sample application of a use over to universal usage.Maths provides a symbolic representation of SOME things and truths about the Universe and us …BUT NOT ALL THE TRUTHS.The cultural diversity and variance component is one aspect that needs to be included in any “This is the unifying Holy Grail of all models in AI / data / economics / Quantum Conscious Physics!”Game theory is a LEARNED mathematical approach rather than a natural human experience.

          11. ShanaC

            I mean, yes this is true about math, but this problem actually goes deeper. Apparently some people can’t really see corners, because they didn’t grow up in buildings with corners in them.Also ironically, this is one of the best reasons why you should invest in diversity. we really don’t fully know how people react in a variety of situations, especially when you add in people from very different groups.

          12. Twain Twain

            Well, in AI, “intelligence” has been defined by a score or two of male academics (Charles Darwin, Alfred Binet, Alan Turing, Rensis Likert, a couple of neuroscientists and others).Are 20-40 people’s definitions a representative sampling population for 7+ billion people?As maths grad, I know it fails Prob+Stats 101. So, rest assured, my system’s designed for diversity and population representativeness.

          13. Twain Twain

            By the way, I do understand all three views (Andy’s, Fred’s and yours).I don’t see it as being about left vs right vs middle ground or some war/game between Capitalism vs Socialism vs some other label.It’s purely about scientific tools to me. The reason I say that is because every single economic paradigm shift has been preceded by the invention of scientific tools:* numbers => I give you 3 horses for 2 cows* scales => 1 horse is worth 10g of gold* time => give me your horse before sunrise* irrigation => farming* compass => maritime trading* steam engine => Industrial manufacturing and transportation, etc.Focusing on the pendulum swings between Capitalism vs Socialism means we can’t see the clock face, the time and the cogs that actually move the pendulum.And, hey well … the scientists amongst us could invent digital clocks. LOL.(I have a supply of salt the size of Alaska, at this point, haha.)

          14. JamesHRH

            This is easily demonstrated – look what happens when you set Wall Dt free to practise unfettered capitalism.Gov of MN has raised taxes on high earners, lowered unemployment and elinmanted debt.The system needs balance, that’s all.

          15. Twain Twain

            Let’s play Devil’s Advocate on the Enlightenment arguments …How is a fact or truth or reasoning defined?Is the definition of reason from a dozen guys (Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, Hume, Locke, Nietszche, Thomas Paine) the same and representative of the millions of people who voted for Trump? Is it the same and representative of the millions of people who voted for Hilary Clinton?How is “truth” defined? Well, according to Enlightenment Scientific Methods, it’s about observations (often repeatable) that can be mathematically modeled and validated (the doctrine of proof).What is a fact and who decides it’s a fact? If two million people retweet “crooked Hilary”, does that then become a fact because to those two million people it’s indisputable in their minds. If two million people retweet “asshole Trump” does that then become the fact?*…We have to think through whether the Enlightenment tools enabled us to qualify the facts, truth and the reasons (the WHYs).

          16. Pete Griffiths

            Lots of interesting questions that have indeed been explored in some depth in philosophy – epistemology, philosophy of science.But to cut to the chase, do you not feel that there was a significant change in worldview ushered in by the Enlightenment? Was it called one of the most important periods in history and the Age of Reason for no reason? 🙂

          17. Twain Twain

            Actually, some valuable things were taken apart in the wrong ways during the Enlightenment — principally, Descartes’ separation of mind, body and emotions as if absolute rationality and objectivity exists (when it does not).That’s why we’ve struggled to create integrated and coherent models of us, our language, our values, our models of “fairness” and economics since then. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…If these guys were here I would throw Da Vinci at them to stop them sending us down some blind paths, actually.Da Vinci’s model for us (Art*Science) is MUCH MORE ENLIGHTENED.

          18. Pete Griffiths

            But that’s kind of sidestepping the question? Is there such a thing as Reason? Did the Enlightenment represent a step forward in that regard? etc etc

          19. Twain Twain

            Here’s an example of the definition coherency problem.In English, reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, applying logic, establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information.In maths, it’s the process of using a rational, systematic series of steps based on sound mathematical procedures and given statements to arrive at a conclusion of validity of invalidity.In law, a reasonable person (historically reasonable man) is a composite of a relevant community’s judgment as to how a typical member of said community should behave in situations that might pose a threat of harm (through action or inaction) to the public. The term is used to explain the law to a jury.In marriage, men and women can get equally confused about how the other reasons and/or does unreasonable things.Did the C17th Enlightenment represent a step forward by formally frameworking reason? No because the I Ching of 800 BC frameworks a much better approach to reasoning, inter-relationships and coherency.

          20. Pete Griffiths

            I like the way you characterized Reason. But for me, even if I were to concede 100% that the I Ching is a major contribution, do you really think that the Enlightenment was insignificant, that it didn’t have a major impact on Europe and the world etc?

          21. Twain Twain

            LOL, Pete, we both know the Enlightenment was significant because it brought the world a lot of useful Maths+Science, economics as a discipline, the Industrial Revolution and refined the ideas of freedom, democracy and society from the days of Plato’s Republic.Now, to the points of Reason and whether Trump’s forms of reason are any more / less valid than someone else’s and how it’s all a matter of “WHO and WHY are they defining these things?” let me give you an example from AI.At AI conferences, we have Professors of AI presenting material like this: https://uploads.disquscdn.c…Now, on the surface, because Professors are Rational Scientists and are supposed to pass the Enlightenment’s tests for logical reasoning, the instinct would be to accept whatever their research or theory states as “the truth,” right?EXCEPT …(1.) Computers do not emulate the human brain.Do they simulate a narrow part of the mathematical functions of the neocortex — yes.Do they emulate the human brain — NO.(2.) Computers do not simulate human evolution.Our natural intelligence evolved from reptilian to limbic to neocortex.Computer intelligence starts from math functions of the neocortex and they’re autistic; emotions are now only being added as after-thoughts. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…Suffice to say that in front of 1,500 people that Professor of AI had to concede that I’m right and AI’s intelligence and its brain structure is different from human intelligence.@philipsugar:disqus @ShanaC:disqus @MsPseudolus:disqus @fredwilson:disqus — Let’s not all assume that AI is capable of reasoning and replacing human workers and our intelligence when the Professors of AI creating the AI can’t pass the simplest common sense reasoning and Science 101 tests about brain structures and the diversity of our human intelligence.Some Professors of AI are causing the wrong types of AI to be built that either don’t represent our human intelligence and values, are likely to lead to mass unemployment OR likely to create another global financial crisis that wipes out $30+ TRILLION in value from global households.It is extremely challenging to be a woman in tech — much less in AI and an inventor.But, frankly, if I don’t speak up and do the work I do, we’ll continue to have the wrong types of AI (biased, unrepresentative, risky to employment + financial systems) from the wrong-minded thinking by some Professors of AI.

          22. Pete Griffiths

            OKSo in this context, are you saying that although Trump (say) and many of his supporters (say) aren’t employing Reason, the characteristics of which we both seem to largely agree on, they may well nonetheless be employing some other characteristic of the human brain, some I Ching like wisdom, that those who focus overmuch on rationality are completely underestimating?

          23. Twain Twain

            EVERYONE is employing Reason — just not necessarily the definition of it handed down by a score or so of Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment thinkers.The problem with frameworks generally is that the inventors assume others will see, think of, feel about and experience the world exactly like them. They self-validate that their version of Reason fits and reflects everyone.It doesn’t.Now, clearly, the rationality of the data platforms and surveying tools failed to detect the perceptual, emotional and other factors that inform any person’s Reasoning.The data platforms are good at doing the maths but, well, it has been commented on how “Silicon Valley has an empathy vacuum” and the tech+data are “autistic”.https://www.businessinsider…Now, of course, better frameworks and tools than what the Enlightenment gave us can be invented.Humans are infinitely ingenious and our evolution so far has shown this.:*).

          24. Pete Griffiths

            If, in other words, someone is human, which we all are, they are graced with the kind of broad rationality you esteem?So pretty much everything is reason?

          25. Twain Twain

            Yup, everything is reason.Reason is whatever makes sense to a being based on their situation and context, at the time.A being could be a person, an animal, a bird, an insect, any metaphysical matter with a consciousness.

          26. Twain Twain

            Here’s how the tools from Enlightenment and the Age of Reason got Trump elected and made it impossible for Silicon Valley and the pollsters to measure the perceptions and other factors that were contributing to the way voters were arriving at their reasons.@fredwilson:disqus @philipsugar:disqus @MsPseudolus:disqus @ShanaC:disqus — This will make everyone think differently about data, representativeness, reasoning, truth, democracy and everything.And it will show why I say it’s about deeper issues than Trump and Silicon Valley and Wall Street and the last 20 years / next 20 years.For me, it’s about inventing better tools than what probability, the Enlightenment and Age of Reason brought us 350+ years ago. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…It is useful … https://uploads.disquscdn.c…BUT https://uploads.disquscdn.chttps://uploads.disquscdn.c…So disagreeing with Professors of AI is a minor thing compared with disagreeing with Descartes, Bayes and other Enlightenment folks.And fixing the limitations of their tools. LOL.

          27. Twain Twain

            Da Vinci …

          28. Jade S.

            “Societies in decline have no use for visionaries.” ― Anaïs Nin

          29. Pete Griffiths

            You see Trump as a visionary?It’s a nice line and credit to Ms Nin, but…Some leaders are visionaries – some are not.Not all visionaries have interesting visions, some have dangerous visions, some have evil visions and others are simply mad.Visions are not themselves policies.etc etc

        2. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Not so 🙂 I think lots of people from across the ideological spectrum agree that the ACA needs tweaking, for example.Trump, the man, is a wholly separate matter here. I’m sure Pablo Escobar had some good ideas, too 😉 (I know, I know. Extreme example. Time will tell!)Someone like John McCain could make the same suggestions to open ears.

          1. PhilipSugar

            I violated my own rule….. 🙁

          2. ShanaC

            Actually, I would repeal and replace if I could also loosen aspects of hipaa and change the rules drastically around paying, data sharing and research, ect. I think we’re better off with a single payer market, but I actually am open to anything radical that fixes many of the core tragedy of the Commons issues that go with long term healthGranted, I admit I am a bit of a radical, especially because I’ve seen pieces of how the heath care sausage gets made as a willing lab rat

    9. jason wright

      Neandertals died out long ago, although most modern human groups still carry a small percentage of their genes somewhere inside.I wonder where you think they are inside your genome?

      1. ShanaC

        I wonder what happened

    10. leigh

      I talk about responsible capitalism. I’m a CEO. I do just fine. But i also care about my staff and want to do what’s right. It’s a balance between profit and people.

    11. SubstrateUndertow

      It is not about envy it is about a sustainable cyclical dynamic of production/consumption.Extremes in the concentration of wealth are not so much immoral as they are mathematically unsustainable. Over concentrated wealth ultimately collapses any possible longterm economic network-effect homeostasis. That collapsing economic homeostasis effect is vastly accelerated under AI/automation/cyberspace technological conditions.Look around “DISTRIBUTED PURCHASING POWER” not “CAPITAL” is the new limiting scarcity. The new workable economic metaphor is “organic living system” forget the old “linear clockworks” metaphor, its done, stick a fork in it!Concentrated wealth cannot go-around in sufficient volume to come-around to support the next cycle of demand/profit. Over decades this cumulatively spirals down into our present economic stall.You can’t make plastics etc. using the organizing metaphor of “earth/wind/water/fire” but the “atomic table of building blocks” metaphor works the under lying realities very effectively.The key economic features of contemporary technological reality revolve around complex organic-living-system level interdependency dynamics. Without mastering the reusables of that metaphor we may as well just go back to the “earth/wind/water/fire” metaphor.If we cannot effectively/metaphorically map the emerging pivotal features/challenges of contemporary social/economic reality we will remain trapped here in our present “groundhog day” economic cut-de-sac.

    12. opoeian

      Wow, I can’t believe people today still advocate capitalism in its current form. After all the proof of rising income and wealth inequality. Yes wealth is growing, but at what cost? Our social interests are suffering with massive increases in regulation over the civil rights of our everyday lives.We’ve ‘freed’ up the market, but the over emphasis on capitalism via free market economics and limited government at the expense of our social interests, means our everyday lives are less free.

    13. ShanaC

      Read Ricardo more closely.The law of comparative advantage works if capital is functionally in illiquid form.Cashifying everything and the law breaks down, because you’ll always have a flight to higher short term returns.(This is Ricardo critique of his own law)We function in a society that is an extreme theoretical example of comparative advantage. Sure, you could do your own books, but you don’t, becuase you have better things to do with your time and your accountant does taxes better.We also function in a society that is an extreme case of liquid capital Eg: until you get massive, you don’t own the servers you run your business on. If for a strange reason tomorrow you went bankrupt, all that means is your contract with someone somewhere goes away. If tomorrow you discovered you could cut your server costs by 5 cents an hour on average over a year and it would only cost you $500 to switch, you’d switch.On the other hand, you also don’t own those servers as a tool, a form of locked up capital to trade for better tools or sell in bankruptcy.There is nothing, if you have the technical and finacial chops, to basically continually chasing returns in my example by switching servers as you cost savings (aka earn more) vs cost to switch ratio gets better. You could create a bubble of servers by chasing this rational, and forgetting to eventually vet the actual servers and doing the switch. Hopefully, the last real server you’re on won’t collapse as the numbers behind the ratio chase fall alway, because Ricardo critique of himself is correct.Most people forget capitalism needs the steady hand of rule of law,, steady government policy, and steady regulation to make work. We ignore them when they do work (or complain about the minor ignobilities that they create). We lose our guts in fear and our businesses along the way if these qualities in our lives go away. Which is why Ricardo is so powerful. He recognizes we’re all in it together. And we should meditate on the fact that a guy from the 1790s understands this better than we do now.

      1. Girish Mehta

        Re”..This is Ricardo critique of his own law…”Interesting. Any link/references to read more about this ? (Not Ricardo who I am familiar and quite fascinated by, or comparative advantage. But specifically the relationship to illiquidity and his self-critique).

        1. ShanaC

          weirdly, his wikipedia page points this out and cites himself.…(the cite is note 22, but I don’t have that edition)

  2. LIAD

    have been thinking a lot about the future of labor, specifically casualisation of the workforce and the automation tsunami.whilst the specifics are in debate no one argues against the trend. what’s most interesting is the bifurcation of conclusions – greatest thing to befall humanity vs tragedy of epic proportions.Buffett was asked about this recently, I like his thought experiment & response:”if a single person could push a button and replicate the entire output of the economy, that would be a wonderful thing. we could release hundreds of millions of people from labour. only question is how to distribute the resultant prosperity”…

    1. Mark Essel

      It’s hard not to like WB. Loved it.

  3. David C. Baker

    Wealth redistribution only occurs when tied to large, catastrophic events: famine, plague, war, societal shifts (agrarian to husbandry, e.g.). Wealth inequality is always tied to times of peace. I wouldn’t wish a redistribution of wealth on anyone, at the top or the bottom, because it comes with devastation. See “The Great Leveler” by Walter Scheidal.

    1. Pete Griffiths

      Pettigrew is another good reference for this thesis.

  4. Rob Underwood

    I wrote the following essay 5 years ago and still feel good out it.I still think a core issue with capitalism is that we, especially those of us of privilege, assume there is much more level playing field than there really us. Yes, life is unfair. Yes, we all know that everyone doesn’t start off with the same intellect, innate skills, access to education, familial wealth, etc. But I think these inequities, even in cities like NYC, are far greater than we realize.i believe in capitalism. But I also believe it absolutely flourishes most when society – in part through government – creates a framework through which everyone has a shot. I still believe that a good bit (maybe not all) of the Occupy angst was young people who simply want a shot to succeed.

  5. William Mougayar

    Nothing on blockchain, Bitcoin, cryptocurrency assets or crypto-economy on the agenda?But I’m sure that will get discussed. The future of work includes getting compensated in tokens that can be re-spent in new circular economies.

    1. @mikeriddell62

      William in my opinion you are 100% correct but really not convinced that blockchain etc is needed for that to happen. If the rules are right around how the tokens are issued (i.e. what work is considered worth compensating) then their issuance can be decentralised to licenced distributors i.e. trusted community groups who organise for the work to be done and validate its standards.

      1. William Mougayar

        In theory, you could develop anything with databases, yes. But implementing peer to peer trust in database applications without unnecessary intermediaries is a pain, and it defeats the creation of new business models.We need to take a leap of faith and promote/encourage these new models, and iterate til we get it right.

        1. @mikeriddell62

          Agreed. We’re beginning very simply, very gently, very small, with a members club – an Unincorporated Association that will handle the issuance and acceptance of the tokens you describe.

          1. William Mougayar

            If you are developing such an app, can you pls contact me- [email protected]?

          2. @mikeriddell62

            We won’t be developing any app or using any technology until the back-end of this year. We’re beginning our experiment with about 20 people using a paper-based stamps system to prototype the mechanics.

  6. @mikeriddell62

    The the thing to fix is the system.But how do you fund it without financial capital.That’s when you have to become resourceful.That’s when you need to become systematic.The fact that you just about now realise that capitalism is at a crossroads betrays the obvious fact that you are 7 or 8 years behind those that have been working on a fix since the crash (in 08).I don’t mean to knock you personally, but you guys in Silicon Valley have given rise to a lot of the inequality – or at least that’s our perception – and the fact you are just seeing it now looks like you’ve heard the tanks rolling in so you’ve decided to climb into the clothes of the prisoners you’ve jailed.Game’s up big-boy. (as in SV not FW, who writes pretty good blogs).In my opinion ha ha.

  7. Maurice

    I keep thinking about the “doomsday prep for the super rich” from the New Yorker a few weeks back, and how it relates so closely to these challenges you raise. I kept thinking about how defensive the doomsday prep track is, and how it’s rooted in economic (and environmental) instability.Eager to hear about who in Silicon Valley / Tech is engaged in civic-minded solutions. Feel like a civic approach that works towards fairness and de-polarization would be very interesting.

    1. ShanaC

      It also sound bizarre and like they don’t care about other people.

  8. Sierra Choi

    Streaming/ video would be great. This is a conference I would’ve like to have attended.

  9. Antonio Rocha-Ferreira

    It would be great to have later more content about The Future Of Labor 🙂

  10. Jan Zak

    Gustave Le Bon – The Crowd. The greatest changes that drive the world come from changes in ideas of “Crowds”. A good chunk of Tech has flourished because it gave courage to people who would have never before spoken their opinion in a public setting (people conversing on social media without going outside of their own home). In the end, hiding behind computer screens will not change the world. The world will dictate how we will change. AVC, invest in a company that will make the world change directly from the actions of the users.

  11. Sam

    Future of Labor is so important.Trump’s victory was a referendum on the Future of Labor and was a rejection of both Dems and Reps. Neither party to date has put forth a compelling vision for the future of labor.Both parties need to pull their heads out of their asses, stop playing defense to Trump, and start telling the American people what that future might look like.

    1. Pete Griffiths

      As this page has shown, many think it will be just fine and will take care of itself.

  12. Pete Griffiths

    ‘The Future of Labor’ sounds interesting.

  13. Anne McCrossan

    Thanks Fred, I will keep an eye on this with interest. I really hope the event will be recorded. In the last eight or nine years or so, what I’ve seen is a real resistance to change, the ardent desire to frame new possibilities around old assumptions.Where connectivity could be acting as a spur to innovation, enabling new kinds of business modelling, instead the capitalism of old has reared up and attempted to impose itself on a web-enabled generation. I do believe this isn’t a third. fourth or any kind of new version of an industrial age, I think it is something quite different, with interactivity creating new market dynamics. Capitalism has run its course and this is the perfect forum to discuss what’s next.

  14. LaVonne Reimer

    I look forward to watching a replay of the lively and thoughtful panel discussion in which you all take on the challenges of a capital model that further solidifies concentration of wealth and power. And I do mean hearing some specifics. How do we deal with LP expectations? What about payback outside the current IRR standards? Is it something like I long to hear that debate.

  15. Chad Wittman

    This sounds like an awesome conference, would love to watch recordings!

  16. baba12

    I want to say something but then I realize that much of what has been said or is going to be stated in such conferences/blog posts etc generally doesn’t lead to positive changes in general. Capitalism in its purest form is profit maximization at all costs. Friction in the form of rules/regulations etc generally impede the goal of Capitalism which is to maximize profits. “The premise behind this conference, put together by my friend and tech conference impresario supreme John Battelle, is that capitalism is at a crossroads brought on by changing political winds across the globe, technological advancements, and a growing consolidation of power and wealth at the very top.”Rarely do you come across (I haven’t seen any) any company selling a product/service with a mission statement that states they limit their profit to be not more than “x”%.So unless there is a desire to limit an individuals or a company’s profit there will always be a consolidation of power and wealth and it will get broken when there is a critical mass i.e. a revolution..Andy Swan states “Let capitalism roar…. we’re just getting started.” which is fine and dandy but without any checks/balances (taxes,rules/regulations) it is not a viable sustainable option. If there is a desire for free capitalism without any checks and balances I would like all those in favor of it to go and setup shop in places like Somalia/Sudan/Chad etc where there are no checks and balances and no taxes either. Lets see if they can survive and thrive in those environments. I doubt they can survive forget about thriving.

    1. Jordan Thaeler

      Respectfully this comment ignores the natural rights of man. “At all costs” seems to deduce that human life, liberty and property are a secondary consideration for profit motive. There are already laws that prevent the most atrocious of what you theorize, but there are, ironically, man-made laws that make the plight of man much, much worse.

        1. leigh

          ps. this is a very old quote 🙂

        2. Jordan Thaeler

          Luckily the country was never founded to be a democracy. Too bad we lost that in 1836 when enfranchisement expanded beyond land owners. I will be happy to share some reading material that shows how every democracy ends.

  17. Jason Yannos

    Would love to see a recorded link when that becomes available

  18. Dana Hoffer

    Fred… no question it is time for serious conversations about what works in society. VC plays an important role … how would you describe the impact of VC on the American economy circa 2017… how can VC amplify its impact for the good?

    1. pointsnfigures

      How are you defining “good”? Is an oil company “good”? Depends on your perspective doesn’t it? If I have to walk to work or use a horse to get to work because I can’t get gas-or I freeze at night because I can’t heat my home-an oil company might look pretty cool. This is where normative butts up against positive when it comes to economics and values. If we stay in the realm of positive economics we can have rational discussions. If we veer off into normative, it’s a jump ball.

      1. Dana Hoffer

        Hi Points… check out the movie Charlie Wilson’s War… I would say there is both in play… the end game… people eat, people have livelihoods, somehow society advances… positive economics leading the way… wouldn’t you say that positive economics paves the way for the normative? Let’s do what we can to support positive economics… I agree with you.

        1. Pointsandfigures

          Kinda hard to take a movie built for entertainment as a gospel on anything isn’t it? I think positive and normative econ are very different, and not compatible. Sometimes, positive leads to outcomes we want with normative, but not always

          1. Dana Hoffer

            I thought it was an entertaining portrayal of a true story and one that shows cause and effect, especially in human terms. We could pick the account of your choosing. The Marshall Plan comes to mind. The thinking is good action leads to positive economic outcomes. Two key words: 1) good and 2) action.

  19. Ryan Frew

    Interesting. Any panels about how AI factors into this topic or is that too granular?

  20. jason wright

    About time. Thanks.

  21. jason wright

    Do you think it’s helpful that under the US Constitution the corporation is granted the status of personhood?

  22. Richard

    Start with the low Hanging fruit, the 2 and 20 gang who have been stealing $ for decades and the high speed algorithmic skimmers.

  23. kidmercury

    hope someone brings up monetary policy at this event. the mother of all economic issues.

  24. Common Sense

    Free market capitalism is the worst economic system except for every other system ever tried.

    1. jason wright

      Not a winning endorsement, and a great reason to now try to build a new system.

      1. Common Sense

        It’s a big world out there with a lot of history to learn from. It seems like everyone who wants a new system has never lived under a different form. Maybe you have some ideas though that you’d like to share?

        1. jason wright

          ‘share’ is the basis of any new model deployed to fix things.

          1. Michael Elling

            But the problem with sharing is the unevenness of both supply and demand (marginal supply/demand). This is particularly apparent in digital networked ecosystems. We’ve done away with universal service because it became politicized, but it’s time to start thinking about algorithms that enable market-driven universal service. But as I’ve said elsewhere, they have to take into account basic laws and math around network effects; which few really understand.

  25. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:If we attend an investing or Commercial Real Estate conference we are networking and trying to connect with decision makers and thought influencers.The majority of conferences we previously attended appeared to be promotional book tours for speakers. Just boring.Enjoy mingling with problem solvers.What say you?

  26. pointsnfigures

    I don’t know who is on your Labor panel. If I was organizing a panel like that, my first two calls might be to Edward Lazear out of Stanford, or Michael Gibbs from Chicago Booth. They have done a massive amount of research on capitalism and organizations-along with M+A activity.Capitalism is the best way to raise standards of living, and wealth. Period.The problem comes when people try to impute their values into the process. What’s fair? What should the minimum wage be-or should there even be a minimum wage? Should we regulate hiring, firing, leave, or should we let companies decide?Tax and regulatory policy influence behavior tremendously. One of the dumbest things in Obamacare was the limit on employees. Go over 50, and you have one set of standards. Stay under 50, and you have a different set with better economic incentives for the business.

  27. Erin

    Very interesting! Please share what you learn!

  28. opoeian

    Rising income and wealth inequality proves capitalism and it’s one-sided bedfellow free market economics are deeply flawed,How on earth did we think it was possible to create a successful free market, if the society in which the market exists does not practice the same principles? Limited government only works if it is applied to both our economic interests and our social interests ‘at the same time’.Yet for forty years, due to an over emphasis on capitalism, we largely only applied limited government to our economic interests, not society as a whole.

  29. Vendita Auto

    Capitalism does not work in all industries least of all the health system. The NHS with all its creaks & groans is dearly loved and defended in the UK. The alternative “let them eat cake” is not acceptable :

  30. Jess Bachman

    A reflection of the job market since 1952. I bet the next 65 years will make for a different chart. Have you even seen Gattica?

  31. ShanaC

    Median for what jobs. What percentage of what people have said median jobs? What does the overall curve of potential salaries for different jobs in a given cohort group in a given area look like.A better chart would be male and female hairdressers vs computer programmer median income split by metro and cohort. And even that may not tell me that much, since cost of living vs job in a metro.Ect

  32. andyswan

    you might be right. things change. I just don’t want men with guns determining where the money goes.

  33. Twain Twain

    Any particular scene in Gattica, Jess?

  34. LE

    ungoverned Swan capitalismVery well written. I think you are mostly right. [1]If I can summarize it, I will as follows:’pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered’Will add the that evil falls mainly on the shoulders of people working at jobs in larger corporations where a decision can be made in concert with others and asses can be covered to prevent personal blowback. In a business where the owner suffers personally for any problem that is certainly less likely to happen. I don’t know if there is a solution to this either.[1] Because I don’t have time to think about all of it I will just give it an A.

  35. george

    Great and thoughtful post!

  36. pointsnfigures

    As long as competition is allowed to slaughter the pigs. What we have today isn’t capitalism. It’s crony capitalism. I would point to Fred’s telco piece yesterday as evidence. I’d also point out that Dodd-Frank didn’t encourage capitalism but consolidation and less competition.

  37. pointsnfigures

    Don’t sell conservatives short. The establishment Republicanscare just as bad with their cronies. My home state of Il it’s described as The Combine. But instead of grain it reaps taxpayers

  38. ShanaC

    Why?There are certain facts about life I accept. Example. I accept that the federal government can get a much larger group of scientist together, get them the money, and give it to them to study underlying causes of all cancer even if it doesn’t cause new drug development for 60 years. I know eventually it will pay off. I know no one else is going to put in that kind of long term resources, becuase without an active drug pipeline why would anyone else do it for profit, and I know it’s really difficult to get enough money from enough private citizens over a long enough period of time to do that kind of basic research, especially when it is still heart tugging than specific_cancer. the government just taxes people and comes up with a basic let’s make the US function for the better package, some of which will go to science, thereby solving the previous intractable problem.And weirdly, the people who discovered this was the March of dimes. Now babies die less at birth.So I want to know what the big deal is. What am I missing

  39. opoeian

    Yes, that’s right. But I argue the reason they can do this is because the system promotes that behaviour. The system we have sees ‘limited government’ applied to our economic interests, but not to our social interests. Regulation over the market is going down, while regulation over our daily lives is going up. Free market advocates say ‘limited government’ over the market will balance economics with morality. But how do they expect a person to behave morally at work (marketplace), when the principles of ‘limited government’ are not applied to the same person when they go home afterwards (in their everyday life)?