Touchy Subjects

I got some feedback from some in the AVC community that the comments on Wednesday’s post were “ugly.”

As many readers know, we have a comment policy at the top of the comment thread and I’ve worked to make sure people know that we try to keep our discussions civil.

Whenever there is a touchy subject, like we had on Wednesday, the comment section lights up and things can, and do, go south.

I took a run through Wednesday’s comment thread just now and while there were some folks, likely newcomers stopping by to do their thing, I feel that by and large we kept it civil. Which makes me very happy.

I did leave a few replies for the newcomers asking them to temper down their language and we will see if that works.

I think it is important that we talk about the issues our country faces

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Finding My Tribe — The Upside of the Downcast Year

It’s been a tough year globally. Many feel the division in our families and societies. It has been heart-breaking to see progress reversed and social & racial tensions exacerbated unnecessarily.

Much of the focus on the public discourse has been how social media and the polarization of information sources has worsened the problem. We seem to be stuck on the narrative that our angst is tied to the arguments we’re having on Facebook, Twitter or the Thanksgiving dinner table.

I feel the weight of these differences, too. There was a period of time where we were encouraged to open up our horizons and make sure we were listening to the viewpoints of others. I did much reflecting and listening and reading.

I wanted to better understand the African American journey and anxiety better so I read “Between the World and Me” which was important to me even if its conclusions were sometimes hard to read. I watched 13th and cried.

I was touched by the messages of J.D. Vance and his poignant comment that white liberals go so far to try and remove any racial & religious prejudices from their minds & hearts yet still condescend and show prejudice against poor, white, working class populations of what we call “fly over states” or areas like Appalachia. It was hard for me to disagree with this view when I heard it so I read his biography “Hillbilly Elegy” and recommend it highly. The first step of understanding is reading an informed narrative of lives lived differently than yours.

I read books like where a professor in moral philosophy — Jonathan Haidt — discusses how humans make decisions in daily life and how they rationalize the choices they make. His book “The Righteous Mind — Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion” literally changed my views about how human decision-making and gave me a framework for understanding why some people may be wired to view the world differently than I do. He made me realize that people in industrial areas weren’t necessarily irrational people stupidly voting against their own economic interests but rather were making choices that supported different moral foundations than those that I thought were important to them. He made me think hard and realize that of course I personally vote against my own economic interest by supporting higher taxes and spending on programs to create equality and fairness so it might be understandable that others vote against their perceived economic interests on the other side, too.

I continue to go on a path of self discovery. But in the past year I’ve also realized something very important that I think gets missed in our anger about the blatant racism and anti-semitism and muslim

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Chicago And Food

I go back and think about the first meeting we ever had of Hyde Park Angels, the angel group I spearheaded, in April of 2007.  It wasn’t a pitch meeting, but a “meet us” meeting at the Gleacher Center in Chicago.  We introduced ourselves and had some hors d’ouvres and cocktails.

The audience that was there were people who were interested in doing things with startups in Chicago.  Setting up an ecosystem had been tried a few times and always failed.  It failed for a number of reasons.

  • People had their hands out rather than lending entrepreneurs a hand up.
  • They tried to remake Silicon Valley in Chicago.
  • They charged entrepreneurs and they charged funders to participate.

When I was at the podium speaking, I was asked “Are you going to be like Silicon Valley?”

I was adamant.  “No.  We are going to be building companies that stand Continue reading "Chicago And Food"

Net Neutrality Day Of Action

Today, July 12th, is the Net Neutrality Day Of Action. More than 70,000 websites, online services, and Internet users are participating including Twitter, Amazon, Netflix, Kickstarter, Etsy, Reddit, OK Cupid, Airbnb, Facebook, Google, Spotify, Soundcloud, Mozilla and AVC. The grassroots power of the Internet is how we won the strong net neutrality rules that are now in place and are threatened by the new leadership at the FCC. The big telcos have their people in power now. But we can keep fighting with our grassroots efforts. They have worked in the past and I hope they will continue to work to keep the Internet an open and level playing field for everyone. If you want to participate with your website, blog, or social media profile, go here and join this online protest.


Albert Wenger — July 10, 2017
Assessment of Trump Presidency?

Something to Remember on the 4th

The 4th of July is an auspicious day in human history.  For the first time, a society was organized around the principle that the rights of humans came before the rights of the government, monarchy or ruler that administered them. President John Adams always said the day should be remembered with the proper pomp and circumstance.  Fireworks are perfect.  The explosion of human freedom that happened because of what the Founding Fathers did is simply amazing. When I read the story of Paul Revere, I was surprised at the level of fervor for individual liberty that was ingrained in every single American.  Property rights were paramount.  Markets organized society, not governments.  Revere and his peers would not be happy with the way America is today. Across the country, many of our governments have forgotten it’s not about them.  It’s about the citizens.  Both Democratic and Republican legislators have forgotten.  The Continue reading "Something to Remember on the 4th"

Health Insurance and the R Word (Redistribution)

There are a lot of outright lies (at worst) / profound misunderstandings (at best) on all sides circulating around health insurance at the moment. Today’s post is about the most fundamental one: the relationship between health insurance and redistribution and what it means for social consensus. Redistribution is a toxic word in US political discourse, but one I want to reclaim. So let’s be up front: Much of what we do as a society is about redistribution. For instance, public roads and public schools both involve a degree of redistribution (from those who don’t drive to those who do, from those without children to those with). We have public roads and public schools because we believe that society as a whole is better off with them. Now redistribution is also at the heart of insurance. Start with the simplest of cases which doesn’t involve the government or even an insurance Continue reading "Health Insurance and the R Word (Redistribution)"