I’ve just left this comment on Fred Wilson’s blog, duplicated below:
The US is at an inflection point. (We) Americans have a choice between innovation, prosperity, democracy and rent-seeking, extortion, oligarchy. The system is sclerotic, with neither party responding to the preferences of voters, and one of the parties is on the verge imploding (see Gilens and Page: Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens and Larry Lessig: Republic Lost).
This is reflected in diminishing affiliations and in the populism of both Trump and Sanders. Having spent two years in Argentina and studied that country’s history, I often wonder whether we aren’t in for (or already in) a long period of swings, between redistribution and diminishing civil rights, not to mention lots of nastiness. True, our institutions are stronger, and thankfully our military respects civilian command. But in the long run? Here’s some food for thought, from NYU professor and former Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Jorge Castañeda.
As for Fred’s group, I’d like to think it’s benign, and I won’t deny it most likely represents my interests. Moreover, to the extent that VC’s profit from disruption, they are on the side of the plebs; and I believe FW works hard to keep the common touch, both out of humility and self-interest (because that is how you don’t miss the AirB&B’s).
But said group is one of many such groups. And the net effect on the system, I think, is less than benign. Mancur Olson wrote about this — “Stable societies with unchanged boundaries tend to accumulate more collusions and organizations over time. … As the benefits secured by groups accumulate, the economy rigidifies.” — as did the British journalist Edward Luce, who quotes him here.
*Note that I am no libertarian. I live in NYC. Our subway system alone, with its absurd duplication and gaps (eg, LaGuardia), is living testament to the fact that for some things, central planning and coordination are better. For that matter, Hamilton himself was perfectly happy to send spies to the UK to capture trade secrets, to say nothing of his industrial policy.