It’s 2020: Our Systems are Failing Us

It’s time to rethink the way we run our society, our government, and our planet

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Friends, tomorrow Americans will roll a big 5-sided die that has Biden on 4 sides and Trump on one side. Though it’s more likely to come up Biden, since we only roll it once, it could also come up Trump. No matter what happens …

1. The person who voted for the candidate you didn’t is not less of a person, or less caring, or more stupid. Both candidates have weaknesses, and the system is poorly designed. The entire concept of representative government will probably be replaced by something else. In an imperfect system, you get imperfect candidates. In a broken system, you get broken results.

2. No matter who wins, we have big problems. The United States is tragically divided, science is disregarded by both parties, most systems (finance, economy, health care, education, energy, etc) are completely ill-equipped for the needs of this century, shared delusions rule, the vast majority of public effort is either offsetting or focuses on pet projects. We are nowhere near capable of governing at first-order effectiveness. The big stuff always gets pushed down the road while they sweat the small stuff and do what it takes to get re-elected.

3. At a time like this, I am much more worried about the system than I am about the candidates. Life is about to accelerate far faster than ever, and we are carrying the 20th century with us to such a degree that we are overburdened, unable to adapt to a world that is about to be very different. In my view, what loses tomorrow in any event is the big picture. What loses is the ability to find good solutions based on science and cost/benefit analysis rather than politics. What loses is understanding complexity and uncertainty. What wins is simple messages, petty skirmishes, swinging the swing voters, public relations, and social-media-driven, real-time nonsense. The fact that we are here at this point in history is a bad reflection on us as a country.

If you haven’t seen The Century of the Self, I highly recommend finding it and watching. We should all be more open-minded, for we are wrong more than we realize.

If you have not seen The Social Dilemma, you should. The systems we are building now are tailor-made for exploitation and further divisiveness.

We have lost our perspective. I’m not sure we ever really had it, but it is time to improve the one we have. I invite you to read a short essay I wrote called The Machine Economy.

It’s time to rethink pretty much everything. The system we created has failed us. We have a lot of work to do.

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David Siegel is a serial entrepreneur in Washington, DC. He is the founder of the Pillar Project. He is the author of The Token Handbook, The Digital Money Book, Open Stanford, The Culture Deck, Climate Curious, and The Nine Act Structure. He gives speeches to audiences around the world and online. His full body of work is at

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