Deep Thoughts with Marc Andreessen: The Poor Have It Pretty Good!

There's a reason why Marc Andreessen is an esteemed venture capitalist, and you're not. Consider the savvy of his investments, the impossible sheen of his dome, the wisdom of his tweets—and, despite apparently having never read a book, just this morning he summarized human progress in just 17 parts.

The Andreessen Horowitz frontman's History 101 for Sub-Dummies could've been summarized in the space of just one tweet: tech makes even the lives of poor people pretty great, so just trust tech-people with the world. Still, he went on and on:

And, my favorite:

Remember, before tech, when poor people had never heard music, and then, tech? It's going to keep on happening:

In conclusion, the fact that we aren't all living in mud huts or clinging to the side of crevasses, babies bundled in animal pelts, is a feat of Silicon Valley. The affordability of a smartphone or a television has everything to do with uncritical, unwavering faith in "tech innovation" and some childish, abstract notion of industrial progress. It has absolutely nothing to do with, say, the legion of Chinese laborers working under deplorable conditions. Ignore the fact that that owning a dishwasher doesn't mean your position relative to the rest of society is anything resembling good or fair—just be glad your standard of living has increased since the 17th century

This argument was better made by people like Adam Smith, over two hundred years ago, rather than Marc Andreessen, a guy inside a bubble with a bachelor's degree in computer science:

Compared, indeed, with the more extravagant luxury of the great, his accommodation must no doubt appear extremely simple and easy; and yet it may be true, perhaps, that the accommodation of an European prince does not always so much exceed that of an industrious and frugal peasant, as the accommodation of the latter exceeds that of many an African king, the absolute master of the lives and liberties of ten thousand naked savages.

Rich have always been able to pay servants to read aloud to them; now most US households can Google "wealth of nations summary" at their leisure. It doesn't matter, though: Andreessen's industry peers are so desperate to get some insight via Twitter osmosis, they'll ignore that his whitewashed analysis and vague trickle-down gesturing would probably land you a C in high school. Marc Andreessen, so far as Valleywag is aware, is not a high school student, but the head of one of the most powerful venture capital firms in history.

The scariest thing here isn't that Andreessen has such a poor grasp on the history and economics, or his flatly counterfactual statements:

or his strawman of people who "oppose innovation." It's that so many people are out there slurping it up. It's that a tweet asking us to marvel at refrigerators in 2014 is met with applause. It's that this industry, you can be more wrong than ever, and more influential than ever.

Photo: Getty