Letter 7
3 min read

Letter 7

Personal Update

On our family #van-trip we spent the week in Boston visiting friends, the cape and Tufts University. Now in Brooklyn for a couple days before we book it to Atlanta on election day.

Culdesac

It’s always a good sign when other people are buying what you’d like to build. Culdesac describes itself as a post-car real estate developer building car free neighborhoods from scratch. This week the NYT did a story describing the $170 investment they are making to build a car-free neighborhood outside Tempe Arizona.

While I cheer for their success, I think that investing in and living in US cities over the next couple decades will be a slog. The technology workers now have a taste of remote work and it’s unlikely they’ll return to the city. Even before COVID, most cities already had struggling finances because of mismanagement and compounding maintenance requirements. Now, the closing businesses, high earners leaving and increasing climate stresses will be enough to bankrupt many cities.

I love cities and we should rebuild them but the time is not right. We need a blank canvas without the existing dogmas to make a 10x improvement on cities. Then we can come back with a template we know works.

28th Amendment

The Brooklyn Public Library released a proposed 28th Amendment to the US constitution. Section 1 of the amendment abolishes the electoral college and makes the president selected by popular vote. Senate membership is changed to be representative of the population instead of two per state. Section 2 gives Congress the obligation to secure the rights defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “including the right to education, healthcare, housing, employment, food, security, and a clean healthy environment.”

Improving the constitution is a noble goal. There is no way the founders got it perfect the first time. However, they did explicitly guard against making everything a popular vote and intentionally gave more voting power to citizens in less populous states. Giving more power to cities will further divide the country between rural and urban.  

And more rights? The US is already broke. This idea of making everything under the sun a right only works in dreams. Providing anything, including a “right”, requires resources and if those resources aren't available then we can't have it. By tacking on additional rights that we all know we can’t fund undercuts the importance of the more essential rights already in the constitution. This idealistic mindset, despite its good intentions, is going to weaken the country.

Try again Brooklyn Public Library, and include rank choice voting next time.

Censorship only drives ideas underground.

When an idea is censored from public communication channels, it doesn’t go away. The idea is pushed to less obvious communities where it festers in its own echo chamber. The best way to prevent bad ideas from spreading is to address them and engage the people willing to listen. Censorship of specific ideas amplifies them in ways only seen later.

This became apparent last week when Twitter prevented an article about Hunter Biden's laptop from being shared. Predictably, the most talked about story became how twitter censored this story and it got huge circulation. People also created “twitter backup” channels on Telegram to discuss things that Twitter censors.

These ideas being chased into the dark corners of private messaging apps will come back stronger. The best disinfectant is sunlight. Let's let it shine.

Debt and Wealth build differently.

This thread really got me thinking.

When you have wealth, you’re building your vision for your future. When you have debt, you are building to get the fastest payback. I want to live in a place built by someone who wants his future generations to live there as well.

Prediction

There will be an earth quake on the San Andres fault greater than 7.0 before 2030. Some guy (who plays a lot of Magic) in Brooklyn told me “the big one is coming” so I thought I’d warn everyone else.

Record of my predictions here.

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