No. 266 – The Welfare of the City

I’ve been struggling to write this month, particularly this week. Figured I’d share my scripture reflection from this morning.

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Jeremiah 29:7

It’s hard to sing the Lord’s song in this country. Yet, God gave instruction to the Israelites in exile to do everything to ensure Babylon did well.

That seek and pray in the verse is key. Action and prayer. I worry that we’ve put government on the pedestal as this out of reach “principalities and powers.” As a result, we’ve given up our responsibility to be involved in the components that go into making a city, a country do well.

The couple verses before verse seven talk about building resources to take care of ourselves and growing our families. What else goes into seeking a city’s welfare? A country’s welfare?

-Vote
-Be involved in shaping policy
-Run for elected office from the lowest to the highest level
-Support folks around you who you think could good officials
-Hold officials accountable
-Hold yourself accountable if you’re one of those officials
-Build businesses either as employees or founders
-Invent things that make life easier for folks

AND

-Pray

There’s a lot to do. We’ve got an uphill battle working through the bullshit in how this country works. But, we have a responsibility to slog through it and reshape it into something better.

We can’t throw up our hands under the guise that there is some spiritual force operating in high places, so we’re only going to pray. That’s not doing our job.

Yes, we have in our hopes that heaven is at the end of our time here on earth. While we’re here, let’s focus and tend to this place well.

It’s hard, I know. I’m feeling quite tired. But, I can’t let my daughter’s children live in a world that hasn’t felt my presence.

No. 237 – Saturday Audio

Source: Twitter

One of the points of discussion following the passage of the $2 trillion stimulus passage has been whether the government should take an equity stake in the corporations that take bailout money. David Calhoun, the CEO of Boeing, balked at the idea of the government taking a stake in the company.

A couple years ago, economist Mariana Mazzucato argued in an interview with EconTalk host Russ Roberts that the federal government has been investing in innovation for quite some time, but hasn’t structured those investments in order to ensure the taxpayer gets a return.

The conversation has come to mind a few times as the government tries to work out how it’s going to structure granting money to corporations that need the help. Figure it’s worth revisiting her argument.

No. 93: 7 Tuesday PM Reads

1. Bree Newsome penned good words on the moral duty of disruption when oppression is the status quo. 

2. Deray McKesson wrote a good reflection on the significance of social media in pursuing justice.

3. Tolu Ogunlesi discusses the impact social media has had on governance in Nigeria. Similar to what Deray wrote, social media mitigates the censuring of voices in Nigeria.

Let me pause here for a bit. I am frustrated to see things heating up again in Ferguson. I’m still wrestling with the words Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote to his son. The racist system we live in is not a mirage. Note in Bree Newsome’s excerpt from Dr. King’s letter that he mentions the white power structure. We still have that today and I don’t want that to be the case when Anna Olivia is my age.

What Deray and Bree are doing is critical to this not being my daughter’s reality.We need folks disrupting from the outside and the inside. Being part of the power structure and holding the power structure accountable.

Regarding being part of the power structure, I would just love to see more black people running platforms like Twitter and Instagram in the US like 2go does in Nigeria. The impact of black people on platforms like Twitter and Instagram is tangible, so when an Instagram account like that of the Dream Defenders is deleted for a short period, I feel anxious. A feeling of being “allowed” exists, and that feels like a cap on the struggle we see going on in America.

The work of folks like Mellody Hobson and John Thompson is critical in getting to those and shaping decisions that impact millions.

Alright.

4. Google, Inc is now a subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc. I closed the post before I realized that this was huge. I look forward to hearing what Clayton Christensen has to say about what this means for disruptive innovation.

5. I’m nervous about governments and developers pumping hundreds of millions of dollars in developing Silicon Savannahs. Some are already being called potential white elephants. Two things come to mind. One. This is a long game. Silicon Valley came together over decades, the foundation of which arguably traces back nearly a century. The developments need to have a long term outlook. 100-years long. Which leads me to the second point. What crazy projects are African governments working on that don’t make sense today but could be commonplace fifty years from now? Silicon. Wi-Fi. GPS. Etc. If not at the governmental level, who’s doing this kind of work at the private sector level? That is a huge part of the foundation for a thriving future for the tech industry on the continent. 

6. This is a good piece on the danger of the big-man syndrome in the tech space and how there needs to be greater acknowledgement of the role government has played in technology. 

7. My face dropped when I saw the news or Berkshire Hathaway buying Precision Castparts for $37.2 billion. One of my uncles owns a company that makes parts for the federal government. We need to see about getting Buffett on the team!

No. 80: Can Tech and Government Work Together?

What does it look like for tech startups and governments to work together well? Andreessen Horowitz posted a new podcast with Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser today to discuss this, alongside former DC mayor Adrian Fenty. Pretty good conversation.

Some of the topics covered in the conversation, included:

1. Catching up to the technology startup sector with the proper regulatory environment;
2. The progress DC government has made in incorporating technology in its service provision; and
3. Pain points that startups could be helpful in addressing – affordable housing and wellness are examples.

What was Mayor Bowser doing out on the West Coast talking to the Andreessen Horowitz folks when Steve Case is in town, you ask? Apparently, the US Conference of Mayors met in San Francisco a few weeks ago. Further, the DC connection to Andreessen Horowitz is not a particularly new one. Former DC mayor Adrian Fenty, who was also on the podcast, is a special advisor at the firm.

The intersection between governments and the startup community will only increase, particularly as Andreessen Horowitz’s theory that software is eating the world continues to prove true. It’s cool to see conversations like these taking place.

No. 75: Why Akinwumi Adesina Won the African Development Bank Presidency

Bobby Pittman, head of Kupanda Capital, did a nice interview with the Center for Global Development where he serves as a board member alongside the likes of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Lawrence Summers. He highlights the reasons Dr. Adesina won the AfDB presidency, and some things on which he will have to focus. Three points that stood out are:

  1. The AfDB picked a lot of low-hanging fruit in developing the private sector on the continent. Now that the private sector has advanced significantly, a lot of thought has to go into how to most effectively catalyze the private sector. Dr. Adesina has the track record and skill set to take the development of the private sector to the next level. 
  2. The AfDB’s focus on areas like the private sector, infrastructure, and regional development, in comparison with other development banks has contributed to its success. Maintaining that focus will continue to position the AfDB for success. 
  3. There are a lot of voices that could be part of the AfDB’s conversation, but are not currently. Work has to be done to incorporate their viewpoints into the AfDB’s work. 

I am excited about Dr. Adesina taking the reins at the AfDB and look forward to seeing the bank continue to do good work on the continent.