Baltimore and The Permanent Underclass Problem

It was good to see conservatives and liberals agreeing on Morning Joe  and elsewhere that decades of systemic economic failure are creating a permanent underclass in Baltimore and throughout America.  At the same time there’s a need to recognize that people have been not only saying this for some time, but also acting to prevent the present crisis. One participant in CNN’s Black In America Part 4 Silicon Valley documentary in  2011 noted:

As I said in the documentary, not fixing this problem ultimately leads to a permanent underclass. And if you think Occupy Wall Street is a troubling signal regarding dissatisfaction around wealth distribution, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I fear the growing wealth disparity, particularly along racial and ethnic lines, will be catalyst for significant civil unrest.
 Hank Williams

Commenting in 1982 on the 1965 Watts riots, the late community pioneer and founder of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee Ted Watkins said:

If we continue in the direction that we are heading in cutting out all of the support a community like this is getting. Not only Watts but New York, Washington D.C. and Detroit MI, possibly, people will be at war.

A Practical Man

Perhaps what’s needed most is a sense of urgency and the will to move beyond relying primarily on protests and government programs. We don’t have all of the science, technology, engineering and math resources we need but we have enough to start making an impact right now today. We can’t “buy black” if there’s no  black company making the product, but we can choose how we spend our money so that we can invest in ourselves, our past and present knowledge of how to make products.


Bold Entrepreneurship and Social Consciousness


As technology advances, it becomes cheaper and more powerful. Companies such as Google and Facebook become worth billions by reaching billions. That is the key point that Bold makes: “the best way to become a billionaire is to solve a billion person problem.”

Entrepreneurs can, I am certain, make all of these advances happen and profoundly affect billions. We just need an exponential advance in humanity’s social consciousness so that technologies find roles in bettering humankind, not just in creating wealth for their founders and owners in the way that some Silicon Valley technologies do.

Washington Post review of Bold(emphasis mine)



Takeaways From YCombinator’s Free Startup Class

Videos posted 4pm every Tues & Thurs here

…  selective loosely transcribed points with my notes emphasized

  1. first time on the record
  2. 720 companies funded
  3. every speaker has been involved in creating a $1B+ company – not theory
  4. ALL advice geared toward businesses seeking hypergrowth and building a large company
  5. startups different from
  6. 4 key areas you need to excel
  7. luck is a random number between 1 and 10000
  8. even playing field – young and old alike
  9. weaknesses can be strength
  10. why – easier ways to get rich
  11. compelled by a problem – passion first, startup second
  12. great ideas matter – too much emphasis on pivoting today
  13. altman is a recent convert
  14. if it works it will be a 10 year effort LONG TERM PLANNING MATTERS
  15. plans are worthless – the exercise of planning is valuable
  16. someday you need to build a business that’s difficult to replicate – this is an important part of a good idea
    1. important for hypergrowth but is that what your village needs
  17. you have to believe in the mission
  18. it’s easier to start a hard startup than to start an easy one
  19. be mission driven
  20. best ideas often look terrible at the beginning
  21. you want an idea that turns into a monopoly but you can’t get a monopoly in a big market right away – need to get a monopoly in a small market and expand
  22. fine line between right and crazy – early on most people will think it’s a bad idea
  23. seeming like a bad idea shields from theft
  24. have to think about the growth rate of the market not just the company
  25. why now
  26. don’t clone existing ideas
  27. quoting 50 Cent
  28. student oriented
  29. product s/b the focus
  30. build something a small number of people love – having lots of people like it won’t get you far and if a lot of people love it now Google or another big entity else will do it … hmmm maybe not, maybe they have blinders or conflicts with existing revenue streams
  31. early growth by word of mouth is really important
  32. most startups don’t fail from competition
  33. start with a small subset of the problem – even if you see a bigger set of problems to solve
  34. don’t needs lots of early users, but ones that provide regular feedback
  35. Dustin Moskovitz on why
  36. realize it will be stressful – very stressful
  37. financial rewards for employee #100 slide
  38. if you really, really have a very big idea and are really, really prepared you shouldn’t be in this class – just go do it!
  39. don’t need to start a company to have a big impact on the world
  40. passion vs aptitude