Uncle Sam, Stop Preventing Progress

The entrepreneurship bug has taken hold in America… I LOVE IT! It’s tough talking to anyone these days without startups being mentioned; whether they just discovered a new one, they’re thinking about joining one, or they have an idea for one. Startups are in vogue, or as one recent blog post I saw on HN put it, Startup is the new Hipster. Yet all is not roses and butterflies in this new landscape dominated by “rock stars” and “ninjas”.

Recently Uber, the amazing town car and taxi service, has been in the news because of legislative threats in the cities they operate. Their service threatens the business of longtime taxi operators, who haven’t taken kindly to the recent competition. As a result, they’re using their friends in government to try to strong-arm Uber into shutting down. Luckily those attempts have failed so far, but it got me thinking about the future of super-disruptive startups in America, and how their biggest obstacle might very well be the government.

Recent attacks on Uber as well as legislature such as SOPA, ACTA and PIPA demonstrate that the American Government is more concerned with keeping the status quo and protecting their special interest groups, then fostering innovation and advancement. Of course there are outliers in government who are trying to facilitate change, but they’re in the minority. It is a sad commentary given that our country was itself a radical shift from what was considered the norm, a startup of sorts, less than 350 years ago. You could write a thesis on how our government has become so stale, and I’m sure someone has and I’d love to read it, but the more important question now is; how can we right the ship?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer and this isn’t a political blog so I don’t want to write a long-winded post on this subject. I only wrote this post because it’s something that I have been increasingly concerned about. When I recently read about the progress Google has made with their automated cars, my first thought should have been, “OMG cars that drive themselves – how awesome!!!” but instead I thought, “I hope the government doesn’t fuck this up.” I’m afraid that unless things change, we will begin to get left behind by other countries, and people will talk about America as the country that used to lead the way in innovation and progress, not the one that still does.

What do you think – are American politics getting in the way of progress or are my fears unfounded? Let me know in the comments.

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