Every Western institution was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic, despite many prior warnings. This monumental failure of institutional effectiveness will reverberate for the rest of the decade, but it's not too early to ask why, and what we need to do about it... Our nation and our civilization were built on production, on building. We built roads and trains, farms and factories, then the computer, the microchip, the smartphone, and uncounted thousands of other things that we now take for granted, that are all around us, that define our lives and provide for our well-being. There is only one way to create the future we want for our own children and grandchildren, and that's to build.
RT @SpartanBlack_1: We invented some pretty cool stuff in the 1920s (post WWI and the Spanish Flu) including the automobile, airplane, TV, washing machine, radio, refrigerator etc. I am excited about the things we are going to invent/build in the 2020s. https://t.co/M8IvlpfBqu
Re @pmarca thoughtpiece
1) COVID-19 supplies problem was mostly solvable w/ existing infrastructure that mostly went unused
2) re "Do we build enough?" -- here is a picture of NYC *90 years ago* that looks, broadly, like it does today https://t.co/usvpLvOXKH
RT @SamoBurja: Demanding something be built, doesn't cause it to be built.
The American Dream isn't ready to be picked up all over again. If enthusiasm could sustain it, it wouldn't have died.
We have to find a new socio-economic formula that can sustain production. https://t.co/tV4Uk1jbIi
Most governments can’t turn on a dime. They can open/close, do laws, debate, vote, waste money & manage existing programs. They can’t build new programs fast because their IT isn’t that nimble.
Every new thing requires technology.
Thx @pmarca https://t.co/qjPnjqXdox
"It’s time for full-throated, unapologetic, uncompromised political support from the right for aggressive investment in new products, in new industries, in new factories, in new science, in big leaps forward." ~@pmarcahttps://t.co/DxCfOBOaLy
Remember those days when we used to dream about the vast scale of the things we could do? Then we suddenly realized that we could also do really bad things at scale too.
Can we now move past the realization that we can be very terrible and move onto how we're going to be awesome instead?
Moonbase? For each country? Automation x1000 so we don't have to work as hard? Getting along and not being dicks to one another?
Shall we be awesome this time instead of super mean all the time?
Translation - Let's build helpful things that help all of us instead of making a few of us super-rich and wrecking our planet.
Also, did you know that being super-rich in a poor world is a lot less fun than it sounds? You can't even buy a space station or a cure for ageing because the world is collectively too poor to build things like that.
We could have had this 50 years sooner. But we chose a second house, screwing the other guy, and lower taxes instead.
I feel ya. This essay might have it's flaws, but it touches upon things I've felt for a long time.
We're no longer truly limited by the tech available to us when it comes to improving the physical works around us. But so much time has been wasted because so much investment, engineering, and resources has gone into the internet. Everyone wants to be the next billion dollar Facebook or Twitter.
It's much easier to make a new SAAS or some other digital product then to innovate in other fields like construction or transportation or factory automation, which require so much more initial investment than digital enterprises. Silicon Valley has robbed the physical world to develop the digital world.
But the younger generations are going to pay for the lack of Investment in public infrastructure and quality of life. (Keep in mind that I'm from the USA and this may not apply worldwide.) Where is the innovative, affordable housing? And so forth. I'm not going to start parroting the essay.
The internet had improved so many aspects of life, but I think it had distracted us from the picture.
Sorry for rambling, not sure what I said makes any sense.
I'm not totally against the investments made in the internet. We just need to translate those investments in some way that benefits the physical world.
Online shopping is a good example of how the internet can benefit the physical world. No need for physical stores and everything can be delivered. Now, all we need is carbon neutral and sustainable delivery methods.
Also, the internet has allowed us to connect minds across the globe far more effectively and efficiently. Collectively we are far more intelligent than we are as individuals.
And this world is now far too complex for individual minds to suffice. We need collective think tanks in order to address problems that single human minds cannot comprehend alone.
In many ways, the internet is a critical part of progress. In the same way, the telephone was and still is a critical part of progress.
But does Facebook and Twitter help us all that much? I think so, yes. Even with the dopamine hits and the addictive tendencies, social media is helping people think digitally.
What does thinking digitally mean? It means extending your identity to a digital space. It means storing memories outside of your head. It means connecting with many more people than you would do in the physical world.
Really, social media is training for the future to come. I don't see us gradually moving away from the internet, hell no. I see us leaning into this digital trend. It won't be too long before we're inviting the internet into our heads via Brain-Machine Interfaces.
Going forward I can see us developing a nearly infinite digital space. But I also see us dramatically expanding the physical world; adding structures that complement nature.
The solution to our woes has always been scale. We just have to build things at a large enough scale that our tiny human needs and desires are made to be nothing. And that means private/public partnerships and it means public investments in things far more expensive and risky than was going to the moon.
For example, why can't we make a HUGE public project like [ITER](https://www.iter.org/) which aims to mass-produce essential commercial products, like medical supplies? How about we start doing that today? And do it with commercial partners that actually know what they're doing?
We (the public) have the funds, and they (the commercial sector) have the expertise. Why are we relying on the profit motive when we know of directions that will benefit us greatly?
We've gotta take risk and have faith in ourselves again. We really are quite a lot more amazing than we think we are.
Well said. I totally agree with what you said about the internet being necessary. I tried to address that in my original comment, but it didn't really come through.
The internet, and by extension, modern computers, have had such a profound effect on so many lives that you can hardly measure the breadth of the impact.
My main point was basically we need to stop investing in the next Snapchat or Squarespace, and start invest in the next Tesla or SpaceX.
You mad a ton of good points.
Okay, since you and I are on the same page, why don't you help me address a confusion I've had for a long time?
Modern banking and economics. I know, bad start. Yes, I mean who really understand those things, right?
But hear me out. How come the USA and other western countries with established currencies can't just simply print money, and use that money to purchase supply chains and automated mass-manufacturing? And do that while controlling inflation?
For example, if a factory manages to automate to the level that it requires 100 people to run it, instead of 100,000, at that point, couldn't we (the people) offer to buy the factory (no forced nationalization) and then contract the original owner to run it? Keep in mind that factor is producing real, tangible value and we're buying it with freshly printed money.
This hasn't really been possible for most of our history as currency didn't have the kind of intangible value that it has today.
Basically what I'm asking is can't we just "create" things "out of thin air" these days? I mean, that's obviously not what's going on. People still need to make the products/services and they need to be compensated. But when we're compensating them with money fresh off the printing press, isn't that the same as "creating" things "out of thin air"?
Ultimately inflation and the supply of money would seem to keep this mechanic in check so you're never really creating stuff out of nothing. But deep down, it's us humans who are creating something from nothing. We take raw materials and turn those raw materials into finish products. And what we need to do that is motivation.
And what I'm saying is, can't we just create that motivation "out of thin air" to build and buy automated manufacturing which literally create things "out of thin air" except for the energy cost?
I suppose what I'm trying to ask is, aren't we really close to having a post-scarcity civilization?
We really are on the same wavelength lol.
I'm not an economist by any means but I hope I understand enough to avoid making bullshit assumptions.
I am inclined to believe that a post-scarcity society is theoretically possible today. I also believe that humans are inherently flawed. Ultimately it requires effort and intention for someone to do something selfless or otherwise 'good'. But absent any such effort people tend to be selfish and bad, making sacrifices 'for the greater good' only when it also benefits their own survival.
A post-scarcity society would require that those with money and power would need to sacrifice some of it to ensure that everyone has everything basic that they need. I'm intentionally simplifying the concept of 'post-scarcity' because it's not necessary to go into those complex details to make this point.
George Washington believed that all people are governed by 'interest'. Most are governed by self-interest. They will do what's best for themselves at the cost of what's good for others. A lot of people, especially those in positions of power, are also governed by the interests of those whom they serve in some capacity. That's a whole 'nother can of worms.
But the point is, we need to govern people and corporations with the assumption that everyone will act only in their own interest. Acting in an altruistic or selfless manner is the exception rather than the rule.
Unless enough of the "1% of the 1%" are overcome by altruistic desires, we will never achieve a true post-scarcity global economy.
Although a post-scarcity civilization is technically well within our means in this age, the people who are in control are highly unlikely to bring about such a shift because it would hurt their own wealth, power, and control. To get the many powerful people and corporations 'in charge' to bring about such change is nearly impossible.
Submission Statement: In this article, Marc Andreessen takes a look at the issues we've faced in this pandemic and proposes a solution: it's time to build. Not just highways and buildings but in manufacturing, education, technological innovation, and health care as well.
What I personally like about his article is the call on both sides of the political divide to meet this challenge. He takes a broad approach at both the right and the left and discusses how each can help build and what challenges they will need to face.
Quick reminder that Marc Andreessen is a noted conservative libertarian and his positioning is very similar to a lot of other libertarians from the Silicon Valley world that talk about improving capitalism. This is the fundamental reason that a lot of progressives dislike Yang - he "smells" like he's the same as them including his support of nuclear and focus upon entrepreneurship. Many I've spoken to (not online) have extensively gone through Yang's 160+ policies and hated nearly all of them.
The differences we can focus upon to help win them over and distinguish Yang as a social entrepreneur v. hardcore capitalist at least is to show how not rich Yang is comparatively, how he has consistently donated his own money, and his track record of treating his employees very similar to how Dan Price has acted and that he is also a Yang supporter / associate at least.
We will never win over the hardcore socialists by definition that they believe in a much stronger central government unilaterally, but softening his image for our capitalism-hating left is critical for us in 2024.
Usually means educated or an online pundit IME. If Americans cared about their politics like their sports teams and we had analysts doing cross team match-ups analyzed similarly instead of the highly qualitative BS of politics, we’d have a very different society. I’ve asked a lot of my more normal friends how different their lives would be if the their time spent on sports, drinking, and partying was on working out, advancing career goals, and fighting for policies that will help their family and communities... and the reaction is pretty much shame. It’s always been about priorities really.
Hey I've been saying this for years! It is unfortunate that so many have tried to undermine Trumps trade war with China but hopefully the recent health issue highlights just how stupid it was to move our manufacturing to China. Manufacturing is the life blood of any economy.
Very true re: manufacturing but...
Consumers are most responsible for the move to China with our persistent pursuit of more goods at cheaper prices. Every time someone buys the cheaper item stamped with made in China it further pushes manufacturing in that direction.
It is very difficult for a government alone to offset this behavior. IMO Tariffs don’t work well because they don’t deliver those dollars into the consumer’s pocket to spend the higher price on domestic goods.
Also Tariffs majorly impact US manufacturers who source subcomponents from China. Instead they shift the problem for dependence on China to some other LCC like Vietnam or Philippines.
Before Covid-19, you know the majority of hospitals in the US were buying the 50cent ppe from China instead of the 1.50 ppe from a domestic source. As a result, we (as consumers, buyers, etc) are the main factor driving the shift.
De-regulation could help lower our manufacturing costs but there needs to be a fully closed loop: collect tariffs use this cash funds to fund good behavior domestically.
Again, distribution of opportunity is especially important, maybe government funds should work like the NFL draft. Highest GDP states get to enjoy being on the top but worst states get first pick on future prospects. Everyone still works hard to be the best but it levels the playing field for the next round.
Actually “Made 1.3 Billion in software”. Its funny too because A16Z mostly only invests in companies within a very small radius of Silicon Valley. Hardly any impact positive economic impact to the rest of the country or world.
In fact in many cases the type of investments A16Z made has led to reduction in wealth across the country and removal of employment benefits for workers such as Lyft drivers.
Partially I think his selfish interest is just in putting pressure on the horrible housing problem in SF. He sits on the board of Facebook, he should apply this influence toward Facebook and build an office in all 50 states to distribute their employees amongst instead of packing more and more of them into the valley.
The article has good points but he should first try to truly sell this to the man in the mirror. Or you know, just build a center for tethics in Palo Alto.
Honestly, I think in America, it's a cultural thing.
Everything in America is about the next cycle. In politics, only the next election matters. Rebuilding a whole city would take lots of cash lots of taxes but wouldn't see results until the thing was finished. In the case of masks, it's the same sort of short sighted thing. The next election would almost certainly happen long before the next virus, so why spend now to have it for the next guy? Fix our entire education system? That's decades of pain, and you won't be around to take credit. Even on the business end, it's all about showing growth quarter after quarter. Amazon and Facebook had to basically cheat to get around the need to show profits they weren't public company they could plow everything back into building the company. If you're forced to show profit all the time, it's hard to build for the future.
VERY tongue in cheek here, but I felt a bit of a disconnect about the fact that we should build things in the US when there are economic incentives to move to high margin things like software. It's because that's where the money is, right?
I agree that there should be domestic capacity for critical items, but having done hardware long enough, I know that there are very odd systems that result from US mandated production (ie. the military industrial complex and medical devices have out of control costs)
Mostly me whining here with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek, but I think it could provide a good discussion on the show. There is an obvious political bent to the linked article, which is fine, but this transcends left and right and instead focuses on the GREEN (money, not the political party...)
i can't quite explain or illustrate how things have changed locally in the last 10 years, but the ranking on this list is going to be about the same on the 202x Census.
the very odd systems are.. odd and concentrated. it's worth considering (and/or discussing) the reality of software company locales, the adjacent physical/financial/societal upgrades, changes in politics, and the demand for.. nice things. knowing that last one helps when solving for why we can't have them.
imho, areas and cities which are unwilling or disabled will not be making their own decisions. they may become lucky enough to delegate toward a futural preparedness (the guts of that article) for themselves, but they won't be funding it and could barely invest in it.
my perspective (possibly apparent) is skewed by an aunt's building of a regional hospital and her husband's building of two Google data centers. she's an EE and he's not-an-EE; retirements are more quickly approaching based on events, and eh, their tales of woe are priceless.
tl;dr 'edge cities' work, biasing the perception of value
i may have unwittingly spent a half hour answering a rhetorical.
Really, it's always been this way. A ruling class takes all the wealth, and a peasant class works and generates wealth and it goes to the ruling class. When the new world was discovered, the Native American ways of life did not focus on wealth generation at all. It was about making things according to need, and dispersing as such. When whites in power saw this, the fear that the peasant class would prefer such a way of life took hold, and genocide was instituted rather than risk people turning away from lifestyles of servitude to the caste system in place.
When the rich of America didn't want to pay English taxes, they broke away, used propoganda to get the backing of the peasant class, but maintained the system of the wealth generation and floatinvto the top. They called it something different, but again, it's still doing the same thing.
As the years have gone on, they have altered the system over and over via laws and proceedural changes to ensure that the poor stay poor, while more and more wealth is siphoned to the top.
So nothing has changed, except the names.
Now, the news would have you believe that this is all a plot by Putin to sew Chaos, but again, I believe that to be propoganda. It's an either or logical fallacy- order or chaos- when really, what he's doing is siphoning off wealth, because America has had most of it for so long. After the fall of the USSR, Russia collapsed into poverty, so now it's America's turn. Trump is the puppet, American schools have been dumbed down to really allow it, the economy is based in service industry so the work is considered "essential" but paid shit, everyone still wants to buy stuff, unions are toothless these days, except for the Long arm of the law, ...
So what we really need is a wholesale change in way of thinking, which isn't happening.
This isn't about him though is it? It's about a system and it's failings. Think about it, he's one of the best if not the best at this game and he's putting his capital elsewhere. That's the problem. How do we create a system that makes people like him put their money where it matters.
Being unprepared for new events is normal. Western governments weren’t prepared for fascist aggression in the 1930s and failed badly in early rounds, but eventually prevailed. Hardly anyone predicted the fall of the Soviet Union. Many immediate reactions to 9/11 were panicky and counterproductive.
We know, or should know, that it’s impossible to predict the future or expect what you’ve never dreamed of. We can certainly try to do a bit better, but it will always be hard. The bigger question is, when the unexpected happens, can you adapt quickly? There are huge differences in how well different institutions did — “institutions” aren’t a monolith, and their individual performance apparently varies over time and depends greatly on the leaders, organization, and culture at that moment.
Any idea that it could be otherwise is superstition: if the institutions do the rituals right, then the rains will always come on time and ever flood; the great savior Obama/Trump will fix everything; and so on.
Any economist worth two shits has been talking about these problems for decades. The reason western countries are so underprepared and failed so badly is because they never invest money into supporting regular people.
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How come they dont do the same shit as a tax return. Also, why the fuck do we need to pay a tax prep guy to calculate the tax amount we owe, that the government already knows, but we have to calculate a guess to pay our taxes? Like literally the govt knows how much tax we need to pay, but listens to our guesses until its close enough and then bills us for it. GTFO with that shit
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That would be true, except that we had enough people return to NZ with it that it made no difference that we were an island.
And also it doesn’t negate that our govt has always had a clear and decisive plan from the start.
Inspiring read but when you look at the portfolio of a16z, it doesn’t include anything he’s talking about when there’s dozens of companies currently tackling areas of focus he touched on. Countless robotic manufacturing startups, a couple supersonic jet companies, construction tech out the wazoo, without a16z anywhere on the cap tables.
Good little war cry but a lot of “do as I say, not as I do”, especially when they have $500M+ for fucking crypto.
Those spaces already have alot of advanced solutions that are being deployed the issue is that most of those sectors have an established value delivery model that centers on cost minus, not value add.
You literally need a billionaire tech focused leader to drive these expensive initatives and solutions downward into the organizations DNA.
The issue isnt lack of tech, or solutions. Its that the money and power is concentrated with people who dont know how, or dont want to rock the boat.