Secession Is a Cop-Out. Back to Work, Everyone.


Hakan Dahlstrom | Flickr

Don’t like how the election turned out? Let’s secede! American history has a long tradition of threats like that, but people almost never act on them. That’s a good thing — since the one time it happened, we got four years of war, misery, death, and wounds that still haven’t healed a century and a half later.

Still, secession cries are ringing out again, and not from Dixie. Shervin Pishevar, the investor and Hyperloop One founder, has called for California to leave the Union, and he’s picked up some support in Silicon Valley (Fusion).

Pishevar is serious, and we get his frustration. But honestly? The talk, like the move-to-Canada meme, is a wrongheaded waste of time.The United States still belongs to all of us. Donald Trump won the election, but a majority of Americans voted for Hillary Clinton.

The changes rolling through the global economy and reshaping the workplace remain bigger than any reactionary backlash (Backchannel). The future is still going to be shaped by inventors of new ideas, thinkers of new thoughts, and creators of new companies.

Sometimes it’s easier to walk away from tough problems than to solve them, and the tech world often prefers to leave old platforms behind and start from scratch. But American democracy is not a legacy system to be replaced. It needs to be patched and upgraded, not abandoned. Making the electoral college more reflective of the actual U.S. population would be a good start.

Give Up on Inclusion and Diversity? No Way

Much of the NewCo universe remains in a state of shock from Tuesday night’s results. The president-elect’s positions on trade and immigration could stop a lot of entrepreneurial activity in its tracks (The Los Angeles Times). Closer to home, companies big and small are trying to reassure dismayed employees that they’re still committed to diversity.

Ebay CEO Devin Wenig told his employees (Recode) that the company was founded by an immigrant and will continue to embrace “inclusion and trade.” Paul Ford, the writer/developer who leads a New York web shop called Postlight, told his team that his co-founder was an immigrant and the company would keep diversity as a priority. “Come in and do your work and we’ll go get more work for you to do, and we’ll stick to our mission and our values,” Ford wrote. That sounds like a plan.

Repatriating Factory Jobs Is a Fantasy

Trump promised his supporters to bring back manufacturing jobs that had been “shipped overseas.” There’s only one problem, writes Vivek Wadhwa (Chicago Tribune): Those jobs either don’t exist any more or are rapidly vanishing.

Automation is eliminating factory work, and renegotiating every trade pact under the sun won’t change that. If Trump tries to keep his promise, the U.S. is about to waste a lot of money, energy, and time on a futile effort to rebuild an old-fashioned manufacturing base in a world that won’t support it. If Trump bows to reality, there are smarter measures he could explore to help workers transition to a newer world.

We should start right now to flesh out proposals for making healthcare and other benefits portable, investing in education and retraining, and experimenting with a universal basic income. Maybe Trump the improviser will pull one off these plans off the shelf. Or maybe he will go down in flames trying to resurrect the 1950s. In that case, let’s get things ready for his successor.

Big Banks Welcome Their New Overlord

Donald Trump made anti-bank rhetoric part of his populist pitch and complained that his opponent was in Wall Street’s pockets. But the banking giants are thrilled at his upset victory (The Washington Post). The Dodd-Frank banking reforms that went at least part of the way toward trying to prevent another 2008-style meltdown are in the crosshairs of the new Republican administration. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren’s brainchild, is also likely to be gutted.

Bank stocks are up in anticipation of these reversals. There’s only one problem: The farther we go down this road, the more likely we are to face another banking collapse. We’re barely digging out from the last one, and any hope we have of reversing the tide of inequality depends on avoiding a repeat.

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