Technology

In Wired President Obama Praises Progress: But Does Not Know How It Happens

The president is right that it is the greatest time to be alive, but fails to understand how progress occurs.

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ObamaWired
Wired

The folks over at Wired invited President Barack Obama to guest edit the November issue of the magazine. The theme is Frontiers. I finally got around to reading the president's introduction to the issue, "Now Is the Greatest Time to Be Alive." I entirely agree with the president. In his essay, the president writes:

Let's start with the big picture. By almost every measure, this country is better, and the world is better, than it was 50 years ago, 30 years ago, or even eight years ago. Leave aside the sepia tones of the 1950s, a time when women, minorities, and ­people with disabilities were shut out of huge parts of American life. Just since 1983, when I finished college, things like crime rates, teen pregnancy rates, and poverty rates are all down. Life expectancy is up. The share of Americans with a college education is up too. Tens of mil­lions of Americans recently gained the security of health insurance. Blacks and Latinos have risen up the ranks to lead our businesses and communities. Women are a larger part of our workforce and are earning more money. Once-quiet factories are alive again, with assembly lines churning out the components of a clean-energy age.

And just as America has gotten better, so has the world. More countries know democracy. More kids are going to school. A smaller share of humans know chronic hunger or live in extreme poverty. In nearly two dozen countries—including our own—­people now have the freedom to marry whomever they love. And last year the nations of the world joined together to forge the most comprehen­sive agreement to battle climate change in human history.

I reported on all of those positive trends and more in my book, The End of Doom. As a politician, President Obama will naturally hype policies like climate change regulation as part of his legacy. But setting that aside, all of his other claims about improvements in the human prospects are true. But where the president disappoints is when he tries to explain how all of this truly marvelous progress occurred. Consider:

This kind of progress hasn't happened on its own. It happened because people organized and voted for better prospects; because leaders enacted smart, forward-­looking policies; because people's perspectives opened up, and with them, societies did too. But this progress also happened because we scienced the heck out of our challenges. Science is how we were able to combat acid rain and the AIDS epidemic. Technology is what allowed us to communicate across oceans and empathize with one another when a wall came down in Berlin or a TV personality came out. Without Norman Borlaug's wheat, we could not feed the world's hungry. Without Grace Hopper's code, we might still be analyzing data with pencil and paper….

Because the truth is, while we've made great progress, there's no shortage of challenges ahead: Climate change. Economic inequality. Cybersecurity. Terrorism and gun violence. Cancer, Alzheimer's, and ­antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Just as in the past, to clear these hurdles we're going to need everyone—policy makers and commu­nity leaders, teachers and workers and grassroots activists, presidents and soon-to-be-former presidents. And to accelerate that change, we need science. We need researchers and academics and engineers; programmers, surgeons, and botanists. And most important, we need not only the folks at MIT or Stanford or the NIH but also the mom in West Virginia tinkering with a 3-D printer, the girl on the South Side of Chicago learning to code, the dreamer in San Antonio seeking investors for his new app, the dad in North Dakota learning new skills so he can help lead the green revolution.

That's how we will overcome the challenges we face: by unleashing the power of all of us for all of us. Not just for those of us who are fortunate, but for everybody.

All of these sentiments are surely worthy, but the President has entirely missed the main motive forces behind rising global prosperity and health. They are the advance and expansion of the institutions of free markets, property rights, and the rule of law. Without the globe spanning networks of cooperation enabled by markets, almost none of the progress cited by the president would have occurred.

The only time he comes close to alluding to any economic actors at all is when he mentions a dreamer in San Antonio seeking "investors" for his new app. He offers no acknowledgement or understanding of the vital role played by entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and inventors using markets to create and supply new products and services. Finally, look at the list of sorts of people whose help the president says is needed to clear hurdles. They nearly all work for government or nonprofits. Surely they will contribute to future progress. But the absolutely essential role of private business and industry is wholly overlooked.

I agree totally with President Obama that today is the greatest time ever to be alive. I just wish he had a deeper understanding of why that is the case and what is needed to insure that human progress will continue.

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  1. or even eight years ago.

    Nice little legacy building here… well played Mr. President, well played.

    1. I’ve heard that Ron Jeremy has this same, unique talent.

    2. “Just since 1983, when I finished college, things like crime rates, teen pregnancy rates, and poverty rates are all down.”

      Heh. Each time I read him I always look for how he tries to take credit for something.

      1. This clown does not know how anything commerce happens.

        i’m sure he just sits around stewing wondering how all of the innovators that have improved lives worldwide are actually stealing milk from babies.

        He has the intellectual maturity of the douche bags currently protesting at Berkley.

        Would love to be a fly on the wall when he is discussing the economy.

        I’ll bet the meat of the conversation alludes to monopoly the board game 90% of the time.

        1. This clown does not know how anything commerce happens.

          I’m sure he knows exactly how the commerce clause works, in much the same way a burglar understands how bump keys work.

      2. He stopped impregnating teens when he finished college?

        Thanks Reagan.

        1. He is a fascinating mix of Carter, Castro, Chavez, Al Sharpton, Mr. Drummond, Che, Sinead O’Connor, Kermit t. Frog, and Don King.

          A remarkable ascension from zero to hero and soon back to zero.

          A moron forever destined to whore himself for a few bucks at BET and black college campus events. Going to be very funny.

          What he will not realize until he is old, bitter, and spat out of the machine is that he is the most pathetic puppet in human history.
          A complete imbecile who is great in front of a crowd. That is it.

          1. What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?

    3. Obama is still going down as one of the worst President ever.

      Obama and LBJ are the only presidents with wars going on during their entire terms.

  2. Ron, this showed up as trending in one of my feeds:

    Two-thirds of the world’s wildlife is on track to get wiped out by 2020

    I look forward to your article on it.

    1. 58% from 1970-2012 so another 9% over eight years (2013-2020) to hit 2/3rds.

      Elephants, gorillas, salamanders, and vultures. If they want to survive in our world, then they should taste better.

      1. Vultures? Yeah right. Long as there’s lots of dead stuff, turkey buzzards ain’t going anywhere. Leastaways not where I live.

        1. The vulture decline is from accidental/incidental poisoning, and it’s localized to certain areas outside the US.

      2. Some of those species already put on suits and went into politics, thereby assuring a genetic legacy.

        1. I didn’t know jackals were endangered.

    2. Ron Bailey: “Alarmist Article Increase Continues With No End In Sight”.

      Seriously, the article was published today and its link to the study it is referencing appears to go to a blank page.

      I looked up the report. It is put out by the World Wildlife Fund, which is hardly an unbiased scientific source. It reads like a manifesto rather than a research paper, even though it was “compiled from scientific data” and everything, with cute pictures of foxes and other cuddly creatures.

      I just can’t get all worked up by web articles anymore. Most of them, when you look up the reference material, bear only a tangential relationship to any real research or verifiable fact.

    3. I’ve mentioned several times that I listen to various international broadcasters. Unsurprisingly, the ones that aren’t specifically targeted at foreigners interested in a particular country all had this report.

      It’s amazing how certain organizations, such as the WWF, Greenpeace, Amnesty, and so on, all end up in the news outlets’ rolodexes.

  3. This kind of progress hasn’t happened on its own. It happened because people organized and voted for better prospects; because leaders enacted smart, forward-?looking policies; because people’s perspectives opened up, and with them, societies did too.

    Ah, so we can pass a law.

    1. You didn’t build that.

    2. Yeah, I’m really confused about the Dem talking points right now. On the one hand, Barry hasn’t been able to GET THINGS DONE because of Republican obstructionism, but on the other hand, Barry has been terrific and everything is awesome so we should vote for Hilldog to keep that up…

      1. It’s an obtuse logic puzzle that nobody cares to solve. The ones where you have three natives or witnesses making three statements, all of whom are lying, and the only way to know the truth is to play the lies off of each other. Except it’s every faction of the Democratic Party and every mouthpiece they can buy off.

        It’s the same thing with the election. It’s the 11th hour and Hillary’s already got the election in the bag and is making headway with women, millennials, and even traditionally Republican strongholds. Because nothing says ‘in the bag’ like making headway in the 11th hour.

        1. Making headway in a contest against an opponent who has imploded more than once that is.

        2. Personal most recent example;

          Pete Souza One Photographer’s ‘Remarkable’ Chance To Cover The President

          Souza says “it’s quite clear I’ll be there for everything … I’m in the room.” He adds that the administration does not vet the photos he takes.

          In previous administrations, some of these photographs you wouldn’t see for 20, 30, 40 years. This administration decided, we want people to see these pictures now. For better or worse.

          In the audio portion of the actual interview (at the 1:10 mark) but not in the article itself:
          Host: “If they hadn’t caught him [Osama Bin Laden] would we still be seeing that image?”
          Souza: “You’d have to ask the Communications Department of the White House. I think eventually, yes. I’d like to think that we would’ve because even if it had gone badly it’s still a part of history.”

          Cock-gobblingly transparent.

      2. This. Also, if he really believes this is the greatest time ever in history to be alive, why is he so fucking angry, bitter, and hateful most of the time?

        This actually sounds like it was a halfway decent speech, but it feels like the first mostly positive speech he has given since his first campaign. Most of the last eight years have been full of nothing but polarization, attacks, and demonization of anyone he disagrees with or doesn’t like for whatever reason.

      3. Its easy. If thing/event/outcome is “good” then “Obama”. If thing/event/outcome/bad then “not Obama”. It really isn’t that hard.

        1. That was how the ssgt that ran our shop in Okinawa decided who was responsible for what gear. We’d power up and any gear that worked was his. Any that had issues was assigned to one of us peons.

          It was a good system. Easy to understand.

          1. There’s one on every team. Really good for unit cohesion though. Makes it easier for everyone to just hate one guy instead of each other.

            1. Actually it was a good thing to give all of us nonrates something to do. Watching air traffic control gear spin gets pretty boring and that always led directly to us fucking around and getting in trouble.

              Being able to spend the day working on gear was actually pretty good. And it was nice to have someone just be totally up front about using their rank to avoid any rank. Way better than the gunney who always tried to pretend he was working just as hard as you, but in a different way.

        2. What a glorious time to be alive it was going to be by now!

          I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.

          (Exit, laughing bitterly)

  4. I… am…. so…. looking forward to this narcissist fading into the sunset.

    Pretty soon he’ll be off in some non profit charging people to talk to him, and guys like me who don’t pay won’t have to be subject to his word salads.

    1. I… am…. so…. looking forward to this narcissist fading into the sunset.

      Won’t happen, his ego is too big and he’s too young. If Trump wins, he’ll be running his mouth at every opportunity and the media will eat it up. Next time there’s a Dem in the White House, Hillary or otherwise, well…get used to either “Justice Obama” or “U.N. Secretary General Obama.”

      1. That and people are already excited about Michelle running for office. I think Obama made some statement about how happy he was that Trump happened because it made Michelle get more political.

      2. I doubt even an institution as stacked with imbeciles as the UN is would be stupid enough to elect Obama as Secretary General.

        On the other hand, I could see Obama just showing up with some podium that had a seal with “Secretary General Elect” on it and acting like he had been chosen.

  5. “I just wish he had a deeper understanding”

    What are you talking about? Look at that pensive look on the cover. Meh. His narrative won’t permit him to dig deeper.

    “And last year the nations of the world joined together to forge the most comprehen?sive agreement to battle climate change in human history. ”

    Fight the wind while shadow boxing.

    1. “And last year the nations of the world joined together to forge the most comprehen?sive agreement to battle climate change in human history. “

      And just to show how serious they were, they all flew private jets with huge security details in tow to get there, rather than conducting the meeting electronically.

    2. He knows. But he’s a leftist politician so he has to lie about it.

      Film at 11.

  6. Progress happens because the President says it will, everybody knows that.

  7. But this progress also happened because we scienced the heck out of our challenges.

    YEEHAW! I fucking love science too!

    1. Still better than the Nature article.

  8. “All of these sentiments are surely worthy, but the President has entirely missed the main motive forces behind rising global prosperity and health. They are the advance and expansion of the institutions of free markets, property rights, and the rule of law.”

    All those ideas stem from white privilege ergo can’t be used.

  9. All of these sentiments are surely worthy,

    How long will it take the jock gang to jump on Ron for being a useless SJW asshole?

    1. I’ve already stolen his lunch money and given him a swirlie.

  10. oh, and Wired sucks. Bunch of power-worshipping, Top Man fellaters that they are.

  11. That’s how we will overcome the challenges we face: by unleashing the power of all of us for all of us. Not just for those of us who are fortunate, but for everybody

    So we’re going to slash regulations and licensing requirements that act as a brake on innovation?

    1. LOL don’t go getting crazy ideas now.

  12. So his article is just a rehash of his “you didn’t build that” speech.

  13. Just since 1983, when I finished college, things like crime rates, teen pregnancy rates, and poverty rates are all down. Life expectancy is up. The share of Americans with a college education is up too. Tens of mil?lions of Americans recently gained the security of health insurance. Blacks and Latinos have risen up the ranks to lead our businesses and communities. Women are a larger part of our workforce and are earning more money. Once-quiet factories are alive again, with assembly lines churning out the components of a clean-energy age.

    It’s a Brave New World all right.

  14. It’s the most awesomest time to be alive ever ever because we get to have Barry as president, amirite?

    1. +1 leg thrill

      1. That’s just the diabetes

        1. What the hell, i ain’t have the beetus! My doctor even said so!

  15. He doesn’t have to know how progress happens, he just needs to help spread the benefits around.

    Division of labor!

  16. For more Wired gag-inducing blather, take a look at the issue contents.

    1. If we are using immigrants to fuel innovation, we probably shouldn’t waste their potential energy.

    2. Obama’s workout playlist.
      Obama’s essential reads.
      Obama’s essential sci-fi tv and films.

      Just… wow.

  17. This guy. This is not my kind of guy.

  18. Just as in the past, to clear these hurdles we’re going to need everyone?policy makers and commu?nity leaders, teachers and workers and grassroots activists, presidents and soon-to-be-former presidents.

    How can one man be so wrong?

    1. He seems incapable of mentioning a certain group.

      1. To be fair, he makes a good point. When he says we need these Top. Men. he means we need them to get out of the way and “let” the rest of us do the real work.

    2. I notice how he separates teachers, presidents, soon to be former presidents, policy makers, and community leaders from “workers”. I can’t say I’ve agreed with many things he’s said, but he’s spot on here.

  19. Want to Survive Climate Change? You’ll Need a Good Community

    How to Build a Civil Rights Movement for the Digital Age

    With 9B Mouths to Feed by 2050, We Have to Get Busy Now

    Get Ready to Carve Out 89 Hours for President Obama’s Essential Reads

    Hey Silicon Valley: President Obama Has a To-Do List for You

    So, President Obama’s Got a Workout Playlist. Let’s Rank Its Songs

    How to Watch President Obama’s Essential Sci-Fi TV and Films

    1. With 9B Mouths to Feed by 2050, We Have to Get Busy Now

      By 2050, it’ll just be me and the wife i have to feed, Barry. Unless your preferred policies get enacted, in which case my kid’ll probably still be living with us too.

      1. Did you rank his workout songs?

        1. It’s just the audiobook of The Audacity of Hope.

          1. It’s likely the collected works of Bette Midler. Only a fucking pansy like him.

            1. Wind Beneath My Wings on continuous loop

              1. He is nothing more than a petty bitch.

                His legacy will be relegated to the B-team ranks of G. Ford and Franco.
                Just another piece of shit politician with his name on some stuff.

    2. Get Ready to Carve Out 89 Hours for President Obama’s Essential Reads

      “What the shit? The Audacity of Hope is on here like 12 times.”

      1. 80 of those hours are trying to find Waldo.

        1. He’s in a compound in a Pakistani suburb.

    3. “Hey Silicon Valley: President Obama Has a To-Do List for You”

      Call the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee for more details

    4. Want to Survive Climate Change? You’ll Need a Good Community

      Replace “Climate Change” with “Widespread Civil Unrest,” and I think you’d actually have a thought-provoking, relevant article that taught you something useful.

      1. Wow. With drawings too! Now I’m REALLY impressed.

  20. Comrade Obama is always right! (That’s what we’re supposed to say now, isn’t it?)

  21. “Let’s start with the big picture.”

    Sure, by all means.

    “By almost every measure, this country is better, and the world is better, than it was 50 years ago”

    I guess you’re right

    “30 years ago”

    OK

    “or even eight years ago.”

    [record-scratch sound effect] Whaaaat?

    1. You would think his minions in silicon valley would get a little tired of him taking credit for their work.

  22. In case you forgot that Matt Drudge is the greatest headline writer of all time; he’s juxtaposing Angelina Jolie’s divorce case inspired FBI investigation with Hillary’s email server issues:

    FBI Questions Angelina Jolie For 4 Hours…

    Only questioned Hillary for three-and-half…

    That’s some high-quality headline writing. Or trolling. Or political commentary. Whatever, it is genius use of a toss-off article about some stupid celebrity.

    1. Well, which one would you rather be stuck in a room with?

    2. You seem to have “genius” confused with “retarded.” HTH

      1. You don’t have to agree with the politics to see the genius behind his ability to hang a headline on a story that generates interest. Who else would have connected those dots and put it in a headline?

    3. “Hey, Angie, I’ve got a joke so funny it’ll make your tits fall off…oh, I see you already heard it.”

    4. The FBI really has nothing better to do than investigate Brad Pitt getting “verbally abusive” with his kid? I’ve got some vacuuming to do today – can I get them on it?

  23. when he first got elected, the cubs weren’t in the world series.

    eight years later, just look….

    leadership!

  24. That cover photo is begging for a caption contest. I’ll start:

    “Either these seats are heated, or someone needs to bring me some paper towels.”

    1. “Don’t look at her ass, don’t look at her ass, Michelle’s watching me…”

    2. How about the always-hilarious “I’m not wearing any pants”?

    3. “This is how I smell my farts”
      “See?”

    4. “Let’s see…
      Will Smith, no no.
      Jay Z? no.
      Clarence Thomas? Yeah!

      Clarence Thomas, eat your heart out.”

      I’m assuming his memory isn’t long enough to recall anyone ever wanting to cut his balls off.

  25. I mean, take a good look at that Wired cover pictured here, and juxtapose it with the message he’s trying to send.

    Does that look to you like a generally happy, positive, and optimistic man? The person on that cover looks to me like a guy who wants nothing more than to strangle someone to death.

    1. Yes. He wants to strangle his perceived enemies because he is so very confused about how his crap did not work.

      Even though he has convinced himself, like a true sociopath, that his crap has changed the world for the better, he cannot figure out why his white bosses at Citi and Goldman have not made black people’s lives better.

      I’ll bet the only person he hates most is himself because he knows he is a complete fraud.

      Or bullsh*t, he thinks he is a god and does not care about any consequences.

      That picture is; “you can take a picture of me in any pose, I am the f*cking man.”

      1. I don’t think there’s much doubt that his truest and most sincerely held belief is that any failures he may have had are entirely the fault of irredeemable white racists. The basket of deplorables, the bitter clingers, etc. etc.

        1. You got that straight. An angry, confused baby. But he partied his ass off for 8 years while he did shit

  26. I am sure that Wired took the opportunity to question Obama about NSA surveillance, prosecution of whistleblowers, subpoenas demanding that Apple break its iPhone encryption, Edward Snowden, etc. I look forward to reading it.

    1. I have no doubt Wired got out its presidential knee pads to get the president to guest-edit. You think they’re going to fuck that up baring their teeth with hard questions?

      1. Actually, I’m wondering how “voluntary” is “invitation” really was. I strongly suspect that the publisher received a phone call strongly suggesting that an invitation be extended.

  27. Hey everybody!

    One of the founders of the Black Panthers is on my local NPR station, saying the system is rigged and that we don’t have a real democracy!

    1. hopefully he will fix that with an iron pipe outside a polling station like all of the other civilized dissidents, or youths, or protesters, or whatever we have to call thuggish brutes.

    2. I’ve just had it with all these Trumpkins crawling out of the woodworks this election!

    3. As long as Hillary is in the lead, what does it matter?

  28. I entirely agree with the president.

    That’s funny – i actually read what he said and I agree with almost none of it. None of the things he cites are necessarily the principal indicators of social progress, and even then none of them tend to have anything to do with the causes he attributes. I could go through them point by point, but why bother? he’s so full of shit its easier to try and find something he says which *isn’t* either misleading, misconstrued or a bald lie.

    Sure, the world is still better… despite his litany of interest-group-pandering nonsense.

    1. In 1966, none of us lived in an electronic cage.

      In 1983, the electronic cage was being assembled, and to a much lesser degree, some of us live in an electronic cage.

      Since 1966, the Federal Register had how many pages? How many in 1983? There are hundreds of thousands of more regulations that have been imposed by the feds alone since then.

      How much wealth was confiscated in 1966 by the US and all of its political subdivisions? How about 1983? Today?

      The federal debt was what, a few billion, in 1966? Today, its TWENTY TRILLION.

      The total US prison population, including local jails, county detention centers, county jails, county houses of correction, state prisons, federal camps, federal prisons, and all parolees and probationers, is how many times more today than in 1966?

      How about the right to travel? Is it easier to travel without papers today or 50 years ago?

      Please spare me all the SJW progressive pablum that things are better cuz blacks and gays and trannies have more handouts and special privileges.

  29. “scienced the heck out of our challenges”

    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Great Orator

    1. He’s speaking to the Youth through Wired… he gets a pass.

      1. I guess if you’re gonna connect with the hep cats, you gotta speak their jive, nome-sayin’

        1. Wired is a totally boss publication that comes up with some groovy, bitchin’ angles on what’s in the now.

  30. Whomever researched and wrote that for Barry is getting paid peanuts compared to what Barry will make in the next thirty years appearing at podiums the world over and reading someone else’s work. But I guess the actors always make more than the script writers, don’t they?

    1. Nobody wants one of the worst presidents ever to speak. He won’t talk about all the brave military people he sent to their deaths.

      Okay buh bye.

  31. He would be a better man today is someone in the choom gang had kicked his candy ass for taking extra tokes with his “interceptions”.

  32. Now is a great time to be alive … that mendacious cocksucker will be out come January 20 …

  33. “And most important, we need not only the folks at MIT or Stanford or the NIH but also the mom in West Virginia tinkering with a 3-D printer, the girl on the South Side of Chicago learning to code”

    As if Mr. Obama has a clue about how a 3D printer works or what a line of code looks like. Has the man ever made anything in his life?

  34. but also the mom in West Virginia tinkering with a 3-D printer

    Unless, of course, she’s printing out gun parts.

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