Guest Post by Parris Khachi, friend of SF New Tech, Founder of Let’s Whoosh, and an all around tech geek with lots on his mind.
So, I only half support these OWS guys. I love that they are out there. I love that they are raising awareness about various injustices. I adore the fact that they are relentless. I just wish they were providing more solutions and demanding more tangible things. Sometimes the whole thing feels like a union strike without demands. I am all for revolution and such (being the data pirate that I am), but I still don’t know how I feel about all this.
One thing they have accomplished is a re-evaluation of standards. While I don’t necessarily think their pseudo class war of the 99% vs 1% is a very accurate picture; I do think it brings up one very fundamental point that hasn’t necessarily been discussed at great lengths. What do we do with all these entrepreneurs that actually make their way into the 1%? Perhaps the OWS movement isn’t really seeking to affect innovators but they are. Sometimes it feels like there is a double standard. In other words no one “hated on” Steve Jobs, a supplier of shiny toys that just happened to be filthy rich; although, they will hate on various bankers. Perhaps they deserve it though (just kidding, well not really, I don’t know).
In any case, consider that entrepreneurs, before any major successes, are generally part of this 99%. Most of us in this category can barely bootstrap our businesses (or can’t at all). There is generally no help for entrepreneurs looking to start something. Sure there are venture capitalists, SMB loans, government grants for certain projects and other forms of assistance; however, the risk of failure and the consequences still fall to the company founder, artist, or entrepreneur. This risk then propagates to future projects and a loss of credibility to some degree. Not to mention what the risk of failure means to all those working with you.
With that much on the line no wonder we expect the pay out to be amazing. Sure we all love what we do and we do it because we are passionate about our creations; however, there is no denying the pressure. Where is the government when people are trying to start their companies and change the world? Sure they provide some government grants, but I’m not really looking to make a missile guidance system right now, nor would I like to make airline security any more invasive. I’d say in this case the OWS is actually stifling innovation and technology rather than being redeemers of the 99%. Why should I, someone who has spent years on the side, doing something interesting, ambitious, great with my life need to pay more tax when I’ve been pouring my own money, time and even health into my company.
What is the solution then? Well, perhaps something like a review board that is part of the government that helps companies start would be useful. Turn the government into a monolithic unix kernel that has its hands in everything and assists everyone. Yes this sounds like Star Trek and I love it! The problem we have now is that both sides are right. People who start business did actually earn the right to be filthy rich and they did it on their own, and guess what most of you helped them in some way. So what are we to do? Well if we don’t want entrepreneurs to feel entitled then we, as a society, need to help them. Having them become starving artists is not a solution at all. If no one earns the right to be in the 1% then no one will be in it. One caveat though, this idea should be limited in scope. It should only seek to kill that 99% vs 1% mock class war. This should solve the tension that OWS has been addressing and it would help propagate our country’s technological fronts.
I am not saying this is the only possible solution. In fact, this is probably the solution that most benefits me (ha); however, I do think that the idea has some merit and we need more IDEAS like this not just complaints. So forum, let’s hear them, let that crazy inner voice come out!