If you want to build the future, then we first have to rebuild our institutions.
Marc Andreessen is right: it’s time to build. The majority of us really want to live in a society with adequate housing, incredible medical technology, beautiful high rises and clean, fast, and reliable transit systems. So why don’t we have it? It’s not as simple as just not building, it’s that our institutions don’t allow us to build.
Ezra Klein sums it up well in Why We Can’t Build:
The institutions through which Americans build have become biased against action rather than toward it. They’ve become, in political scientist Francis Fukuyama’s term, “vetocracies,” in which too many actors have veto rights over what gets built. That’s true in the federal government. It’s true in state and local governments. It’s even true in the private sector.
While we in the tech industry have been focused on building internet technology, launching new industries, and building a society capable of responding to the coronavirus lockdown with remote work, NIMBYs and other rent-seekers have made a bright future illegal. They’ve captured our cities and live off the rent. Their philosophy is to reject growth at every opportunity for the sake of their suburban aesthetic and their million-dollar Eichlers. To complain, when a scrappy neighbor starts a company in their garage, about the impact it could have on local street parking. To use the full power of the state to stop a new apartment complex or a new factory or to kill a startup.read more