Things I Learned From This Election…and We’re Still Here

I am glad the election is over, but not happy Donald Trump is the President.

I am excited to keep being Howard Lindzon. I have the luxury of a Canadian passport but I do NOT joke about moving back home. I have lost a few bitcoins on this election. Luckily I have forgotten my Coinbase password and that the price of bitcoin keeps rising. All sides of the bet are winning.

I am excited that my daughter Rachel voted.

I learned a lot from this election process and had to relearn a bunch of things and I have decided to wrote them down below.

1. Polls are like the Futures markets. I don’t trade futures (too volatile, too much leverage) so I should have never trusted any ‘poll’. This year Nate Silver became the political pundit version of Elaine Garzarelli. Nate became a celebrity for nailing the last election and so he went and founded his own media startup. Like everyone else in mainstream media, he got the election wrong. Good luck Nate. Get that Wikipedia page tight!

2. I enjoyed my free New York Times and Washington post during the election. Silly me. Now I am thrilled that New York Times has their paywall back. I won’t be tempted to read it. Mainstream media is exhausting and wrong too much of the time…from Fox to CNN, to the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. In the words of Steve Martin in ‘The Jerk’ …’I break with thee, I break with thee, I break with thee’. I am back to small data (my eyes and ears) and smart groups (tight and constant curation).

3. The lying at high levels will only get worse. The trend is firmly in place. The lying will now stretch even further into finance from politics. Case in point…Carl Icahn came on CNBC (I don’t watch but it was impossible not to hear about it) and said he put $1 billion to work when Trump won. That is a huge fat lie. CNBC is running with the lie because fact checking got throw out the window with this election.

Look at the bank and brokerage stocks particularly since Trump won (up 10-20 percent). The bankers got to throw down against Trump knowing they could not lose. A Trump win means higher rates and less regulation for them no matter how little they donated to Trump. A Clinton win was more expensive but also would have been more cozy. The next financial boom/bubble is in full gear.

4. Economic indicators are useless in a digital era. I travel. I have been to many Dairy Queen’s across the United States. I saw the anti Hillary voters up close this year as I ordered the same vanilla dip cones. Sure the stock market and bond market move off these old indicators, but these moves are twitchier than ever. It’s impossible to measure wealth anymore with the old tools. I like this post from Andy Kessler called ‘“>Congrats You Are a Billionaire‘. Read this part:

Until the late ’90s, if you wanted to go online with more than a 56K modem—that’s 56,000 bits per second—you had to buy what was known as a T-1 line from AT&T and others. A T-1 line was 1.5 megabits per second and would run $12,000 a month or $150,000 a year. Let’s call it 10 cents per bit per second. Today, if you’re lucky enough to live in 50 cities that have gigabit fiber to the home, you’re a billionaire, almost!

In April 2003, the Human Genome Project finished sequencing human DNA. It took 15 years and cost $2.7 billion. Today the California company 23andMe will sequence your genes and in weeks you’ll “receive 65 online reports on your ancestry, traits and health” all for $199. Congrats. You’re a billionaire.

The ability to use these same tools to sequence the DNA of tumors and provide precision medicine to eradicate cancers is priceless, something billionaires didn’t have just five years ago. Think about that. You don’t have to compare yourself to living in the smoggy ’70s that no one really remembers (or was that the ’60s, I don’t remember) but you’re a billionaire compared with folks living just a few years into the 21st century.

Or less. The Amazon Echo was introduced only two years ago. The ability to use your voice to get scores of Cubs games or the weather in Sheboygan or emulate Rick’s Café—“some of the old songs, Sam/Alexa”—would require at least 30,000 people employed around the world with real-time connections. A billion dollars at least.

And today, we all have this magic remote control in our pockets and if you push the right buttons prepared food shows up in 15 minutes, a shiny car in three, and it will show you a Pokémon hanging around on a street corner that you can capture. What would it take to create this even a few short years ago? Well, you know.

This is progress on steroids and is coming faster and faster. Government statistics can’t keep up. We should be doing everything we can to keep the race for this broadly distributed innovation going. And by broadly, I mean there are billions of humans who are billionaires compared with 10, 20 or 30 years ago. To do this requires capital, lots of it, and really smart people.

Taxing “fat cats” and those creating all these wonders means less investment in the next wave. You can’t redistribute your way to progress. And the minutiae of studying mobility and income quartiles down to the percentage point and how much the 0.1% earns is pointless, especially when we are all billionaires compared with the very recent past. And the same pundits will pooh-pooh education reform when that’s exactly what’s needed to help churn out surgeon-class coders and the creative class to create this new world. Stamping out opportunity inequality, through better schools that teach skills for this century, not the 20th, will keep the productive side of the economy humming.

I’m sure my sons will pull the same trick on their kids. “I didn’t have a self-driving Buick/holodeck/visit to Westworld when I was your age.” Then, they’ll probably all be trillionaires compared with today.

I like reading Andy and I like going to Dairy Queen’s across the USA. As long as I can keep doing both I remain an optimistic American.

5. Small data are small groups (smart pelotons) are more useful than ever.

Three friends, partners, advisors that I spend a lot of time talking too all had Trump winning the election. One of these friends, Tom Brammar, called Trump before he became the Republican nominee (also Brexit and both are on his Twitter timeline) and would send me links to Betfair whenever the data/odds skewed heavily for Hillary. I should have made the bets he showed me. While in Tel Aviv a few weeks ago, the entrepreneurs were very pro Trump. Yoni Assia, a friend that founded Etoro and also told me to buy Bitcoin when it was under $1, warned me that the ‘Dark Web’ was predicting a Trump victory. I dismissed it for my own dark web of my Twitter stream (now I am cleaning up my Twitter stream again).

My own eyes and ears could see and feel it as I travelled this year. As I shared negative Trump stories with snarky tweets the vitriol would pour in. That data turned out to be good data despite being small data.

Finally, I watched this clip from Bill Maher today in my Uber with the driver (an immigrant from Africa who was a Trump supporter) and we both laughed:

We’re Still Here is the right attitude.


Also published on Medium.