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Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?


Charles Schwab CEO Dave Pottruck has only recently seen the light and become a Democrat. And he’s making more sense than most business people do when they get in the game.
Pottruck, opening up an all-day San Francisco meeting of the New Democratic Network made a pretty interesting observation about the nexus of politics and business. There’s plenty of criticism of the way the political parties play up to corporations and it should change, he said, because what looks like economic incentives to one group is corporate welfare to another. But, says Pottruck, everyone likes small business. Maybe that’s how the Democrats can find a way into the hearts and minds of people who make money.
This is one of the blindingly obvious ideas that slipped right past the room of policy and wannabe policy wonks. It shouldn’t have. Pottruck has a good point. Small businesses are treated, by Washington, as if they were large established corporations. That one reason it’s been so hard for Silicon Valley to get Congress to see things its way on stock options. It’s all greedy pigs at the trough. But most tech companies begin life as small businesses. The term entrepreneur, like all French words in English, is for people who have been successful and want to chi-chi up their roots. In what’s looking more and more like a nation of freelancers (okay, so I’m projecting — you would, too, if you saw my insurance and tax bills), a little tax reform for the self-employed (who are also small businesses) is long overdue.
The NDN is fertile ground for this sort of thinking; if anyone’s going to embrace the way business people think and move that perspective into politics it’s some of the people who help fund this thing. Guys like Pottruck and venture capitalist Brook Byers, state Controller Steve Westly, Garrett Greuner, the venture capitalist who ran for governor, and political force-in-the-making Craigslist Craig Newmark.
NDN, has moved a bit to the left since praising Joe Lieberman as the guy who could solve Democrats problems. These days it’s all Howard Dean, blogging, and the Internet – you can’t say these guys don’t know a trend when they see it roll by on the highway. But the ideas this very small and very earnest crowd is noodling aren’t without merit. They’re Progressive Libertarian and they may well be a way to solve the Democrat’s problems with business and the problems tech people – who are the nation’s new rich – have with Republicans.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 1:26 PM | Permalink

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