In response to Marc Andreessen's essay It's Time to Build, Lincoln Network hosted A Time to Build? Institutional Failure and Reform After COVID-19. Marshall Kosloff, Lincoln's director of outreach and media moderated the webinar panel with Eli Dourado, Mark Lutter, and Marci Harris.
We believe that Andreessen's call to build and reform our institutions has the potential to define the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the rest of the 2020s, the same way that his Software Is Eating the World essay defined the 2010s.
Still, anyone seeking to rebuild and reform our institutions in the names of innovation and progress will be left with several questions. What are the next steps? What new institutions need to be created? How do we reform 20th century legacy institutions? How does one balance technocratic measures with the need to movement build?
To begin answering these questions, we've curated some of the best responses to It's Time to Build:
Ben Thompson: How Tech Can Build
"The changes that are necessary in America must go beyond one venture capitalist, or even the entire tech industry. The idea that too much regulation has made tech the only place where innovation is possible is one that must be grappled with, and fixed
Ezra Klein: 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.
Isaac Wilks: It's Time to Build for Good
To regain the will to build for real, we must first recognize where we chose to give it up in the first place. At the end of the Cold War, still armed to the teeth with ideological weapons to fight the Soviets, we looked out blinkingly over our sprawling empire (also known as 'the liberal international order' or 'the global economy' and fell on our sword."
Jason Crawford: A Builder Manifesto
Unwind the regulatory state. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, acknowledge that the creeping bureaucracy has crept too far, and that it's time to start untangling the thicket of regulations. We can maintain a reasonable and even continually increasing standard of safety, while at the same time valuing speed, efficiency, and cost, and most fundamentally, allowing for individual judgment."
Jerry Brito: We Don't Want to Build? Maybe We Should Build Anyway
"Our collective will, expressed through our democratic institutions, has decidely been to slow or prevent innovation and building in all areas Andreessen singles out: housing, education, transportation, medicine, finance, energy."
Mark Lutter: Build Institutions, Not Apps
"Building a better world requires a movement. That movement is finally coalescing, though it doesn't yet have a name. 'Progress studies' and 'State Capacity Libertarianism' have both been discussed, though neither has caught on. For now I will use the term builders. A builder is someone who wants to create a better world via the development and deployment of new technology."
Martin Gurri: The Great Reset
"The alternative to reform is decadence. It's hard to picture a middle ground: the damage runs too deep already for a return to normality. If we pretend otherwise, we will resemble those Roman aristocrats of the 5th century who behaved as if past glory would somehow keep them safe."
"Leadership doesn't have to come from the top. Most great movements were started by normal people who were fed up with the way things were and determined to convince others to join them in building something new."
Steven Buss: It's Time to Legalize Building
"If you want to build a better future, then we all have to do the boring work of making that future legal again. This means reforming laws, yes, but it also means building political power and winning elections."