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If you listen to some gloomy experts, you might think that pandemic paranoia will always be with us. Fear of the next outbreak will cause us to abandon our cities, give up the pleasure of dining out, and never again attend a concert or sporting event. Our circumstances will be permanently reduced.
But famed technologist and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen is saying something much different, which perhaps explains why his short essay, “It’s time to build,” is having a moment. Published last weekend, it’s become a must-read among Washington wonks and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. In the piece, Andreessen blames the world-crippling coronavirus outbreak on a lack of action as much as a lack of foresight. We’ve all simply failed to create a 21st-century society capable of building the future we want. Not only don’t we have a pandemic monitoring system in place, we also haven’t built affordable housing in our most productive cities or fleets of supersonic jets or thousands of zero-emission nuclear reactors. Hyperloops? Right now we’re having trouble manufacturing cloth medical masks and cotton swabs.
Andreessen’s call-to-arms conclusion: “Our nation and our civilization were built on production, on building. Our forefathers and foremothers built roads and trains, farms and factories, then the computer, the microchip, the smartphone, and uncounted thousands of other things that we now take for granted, that are all around us, that define our lives and provide for our well-being. There is only one way to honor their legacy and to create the future we want for our own children and grandchildren, and that’s to build.”