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Why Startups Condense in America

Hemos posted more than 8 years ago | from the finding-the-why dept.

565

bariswheel writes "The controversial genius developer/writer/entertainer Paul Graham writes an insightful piece on Why Startups Condense in America. Here's the skinny: "The US allows immigration, it is a rich country, it is not (yet) a police state, the universities are better, you can fire people, work is less identified with employment, it is not too fussy, it has a large domestic market, it has venture funding, and it has dynamic typing for careers. Inquire for details within."

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Because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516198)

nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public!

Better Universities? (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516199)

Another good article by an intelligent man.

But I don't agree with all of it:
4. American Universities Are Better.
That's odd, all the studies and anecdotal evidence presented to me suggest otherwise. I don't think the universities themselves are better, you're just more likely to make better contacts here than abroad. And the only reason for that is because Americans have money and a lot of them use it to invest (as Paul pointed out).

I've been through undergrad and grad schools in the US and I have to say that there were more than a few courses where I didn't learn anything.

Why is he asking about Universities in Europe? What about Eastern Europe or the Ukraine or Russia? What about the results to the programming challenge that everyone made a big fuss about? What about China's Universities?!

I'm not as confident about the US as Mr. Graham is. In fact, I'm kind of afraid when someone like him writes an article like this because it feels like we're creating a false sense of security as an industry leader.

Re:Better Universities? (1)

ostiguy (63618) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516221)

He would probably argue that the Eastern Europeans are winning programming contests because they are not working at startups.

In general, I would not expect American students to win such contests - if you are an American student, the tuition meter is probably running, whereas it seems student is a semi-permanent occupation in Europe (how long was Linus Torvalds a perma-student?).

Re:Better Universities? (2, Informative)

moranar (632206) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516400)

Public universities here in Italy cost money too. I'm paying 1200 a year, for example, for a Software Eng. course.

Re:Better Universities? (2, Interesting)

swv3752 (187722) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516223)

If you filter out the remedial courses that US Uni's offer to get US students up to speed, they are better than most foreign Uni's. In Japan, College is the time to party, while in the US, High School is the time to party.

Re:Better Universities? (2, Funny)

Antifuse (651387) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516343)

Bahahahaha! Yes, American college students, they never party! They are all studiously sitting at their desks every Saturday night, because they got all that partying out of the way in high school. It's not like they're living away from home for the first time, and are able to party even MORE frequently/ferociously. /sarcasm

Re:Better Universities? (5, Interesting)

lbrandy (923907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516227)

Why is he asking about Universities in Europe? What about Eastern Europe or the Ukraine or Russia? What about the results to the programming challenge that everyone made a big fuss about? What about China's Universities?!

It's about quantity. If Chinese Universities were able to handle the demand of top Chinese students, they wouldn't flood to American universities by the thousands. There are top universities around the world, but if you write down all the "tier 1" universities in a particular discipline, more than half of them will be in America.

Re:Better Universities? (5, Interesting)

jc42 (318812) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516396)

There are top universities around the world, but if you write down all the "tier 1" universities in a particular discipline, more than half of them will be in America.

Good point, which gets lost in most discussions like this.

For some reason, most people will read a sentence like "America has many of the world's top universities" and think it said "No country but America has a top university."

This is mostly a sign of the abject level of the teaching of basic logic at schools around the world. In America, too, because most Americans will misread things in the same way.

What I've always found especially curious is the mismatch of the American higher-education system with the open and blatant anti-education attitude of much of the American public. It's not just George Bush; signs of education and intelligence are carefully hidden by most American politicians, because they understand that this would be a major flaw to a huge fraction of the voters.

Meanwhile, people make jokes about how education is now America's major export industry. Funny how a country can make and export something that they don't like to use at home.

Re:Better Universities? (5, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516237)

American Exceptionalism (or any other Exceptionalism through history, British Exceptionalism in particular) has never needed, or wanted, hard evidence. Like Manifest Destiny, it simply relies on an assertion of superiority, backed up by the evidence of being the most powerful country in the World, (like Britain was in the 19th Century, or France in the 18th).

The only trouble with this is, it blinds us to what makes those empires really succesful -- natural resources, opportunism and good old blind luck, in the form of historical happenstance.

Re:Better Universities? (1)

rakkasan (444517) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516355)

No mention of India or Malaysia?? Perhaps the author should read Friedman's "The World is Flat." updated and expanded. There's a 1/2 billion Indians who want to work and have the technical no how. American companies can't seem to give them capital fast enough.

Re:Better Universities? (0)

axiome (782782) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516407)

This is a great comment and I absolutely agree with it. Being on top, one can come up with a hundred reasons why you're there. Trouble is are those reasons the cause or rewards of being there?

Re:Better Universities? (2, Interesting)

Ubergrendle (531719) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516457)

17th Century: Sweden/Ottoman Empire/Spain (in their respective spheres)
18th Century: France
19th Century: Britain
20th Century: USA
21st Century: China?

I can't necessarily see China succeeding on the level of the previous empires, though, due to their foreign dependencies for resources, oil, and markets. Still, its got the size and if distribution of wealth improves they might create their own market...

Besides, they had their empire from about 1500 BC to 500 AD. ;)

Re:Better Universities? (0)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516257)

Eh, foreign universities tend to be very narrow focused, and really not all that great. For undergrad, I guess they are okay, but a ton of foreigners still come here for grad school, and rightfully so. There just aren't many good universities outside of the U.S. I can count them on one hand. There are plenty of colleges in the U.S. that aren't great, but that is just because we have thousands upon thousands of them. If you do have the desire for a good education and to push yourself, you'll still probably find the best way to do that is at an American university. You won't be able to just pick any random university here, but it is likely you'll find one that exists and will push be able to challenge you.
Regards,
Steve

Re:Better Universities? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516347)

There just aren't many good universities outside of the U.S. I can count them on one hand.

Even using binary hand notation (digit up = 1, digit down = 0), I'd have to say your guess is way off. Just becuase you've never heard of the university doesn't mean that they aren't any good. There's probably at least 2 hands (10) worth of schools in Canada alone which would rank among the top american universities.

Re:Better Universities? (1)

Erwos (553607) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516409)

"There's probably at least 2 hands (10) worth of schools in Canada alone which would rank among the top american universities."

I'll bite. Name them, and try to give some sort of metric as to why they're as good as MIT, CalTech, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and so forth. For bonus points, compare them to the best European schools with those same metrics.

There are a lot of great schools outside the US, but it's my own experience that non-Americans on Slashdot tend to underestimate:
1. Just how amazing the top schools in the US are.
2. The quality of many state schools in specific areas. It's not at all uncommon to find state schools which are ranked in the top 10 in the world in certain programs. Writing off hundreds of state schools as "terrible" is a gross misrepresentation that some /.'ers seem fond of.

There's also the question of quantity and quality - the education you get at a community college may or may not be all that good, but the fact is, it's still an education. The United States has a college/university system which can support _vast_ numbers of students. Leaving that out of the equation is missing the point, to a certain extent, especially when we're talking about start-ups. From what I understand, the community college system in Europe is not nearly as large as in the US (but I'd be happy to be corrected if I'm wrong).

-Erwos

Re:Better Universities? (4, Informative)

morie (227571) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516261)

I used to work for a european university. We had quite an impressive standing in europe, but were nowhere near the top of the list woldwide, which is dominated by US universities. This was a non-US list based on the opinion of academic peers. The list of most funded universities is almost exclusively US and UK universities.

So, as much as I hate chaufinism (either US or otherwise), this is not it but just a basic truth.

Re:Better Universities? (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516286)

So, as much as I hate chaufinism...

I can't stand it either. Learn to drive your own damn car!

Re:Better Universities? (3, Funny)

value_added (719364) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516374)

So, as much as I hate chaufinism (either US or otherwise), this is not it but just a basic truth.

I don't know whether it can characterised as "chaufinism," but in the US people do seem to prefer driving themselves around, even when going to school, and insist that the the right hand side of the road is, well, the right side of the road on which to be driving.

Or did you mean "chauvinism?" ;-)

Re:Better Universities? (2, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516277)

I usually like reading Paul Graham's essays but I agree with you on the "4. American Universities Are Better" part. Europe has a long and prestigious history with universities.

Does he have extensive and long experience with foreign universities to ascertain this? Or is it simple chest-thumping of an American, just like the screaming about America having the "justice system in the world" during the OJ trial - I forget who started that, but it was repeated by some talking head on the news/talkshows almost everyday during that period. That is one scary thought! When I think of american (civil) justice, I know the winner, the man with deeper pockets.

Personally, I would say the system really depends where you go to. Overall, I would just rate them lower because of the cost as compared to other universities I could go to in Europe without bankrupting myself for years to come.

Re:Better Universities? (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516367)

Does he have extensive and long experience with foreign universities to ascertain this? Or is it simple chest-thumping of an AmericanOh, he's plenty of hard, conclusive evidence. Let me quote from the article:
You need a great university to seed a silicon valley, and so far there are few outside the US. I asked a handful of American computer science professors which universities in Europe were most admired, and they all basically said "Cambridge" followed by a long pause while they tried to think of others. There don't seem to be many universities elsewhere that compare with the best in America, at least in technology.
How can you possibly argue with a comprehensive survey like that?

Re:Better Universities? (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516378)

Let me try that reply again:
Does he have extensive and long experience with foreign universities to ascertain this? Or is it simple chest-thumping of an American


Oh, he's plenty of hard, conclusive evidence and is talking from experience, rather than just making this stuff up... Let me quote from the article:

You need a great university to seed a silicon valley, and so far there are few outside the US. I asked a handful of American computer science professors which universities in Europe were most admired, and they all basically said "Cambridge" followed by a long pause while they tried to think of others. There don't seem to be many universities elsewhere that compare with the best in America, at least in technology.


How can you possibly argue with a comprehensive survey like that?

Re:Better Universities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516278)

It's called momentum. Dethroning a leader takes time. People flock to more powerful people, making them even more powerful. The leader has to become much worse than the competition before he can't compensate with loyalty anymore.

Re:Better Universities? (2, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516280)

The thing is, there are some really good schools in the US. Harvard, Yale, MIT. There are also some really bad schools. The elite ones are really good, I think the state run universities are the ones that give the entire country a bad reputation. On average, the schools aren't that good. But companies don't pay attention to those schools. They pay attention to the top schools.

Re:Better Universities? (1, Interesting)

dhall (1252) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516283)

And you rate the US universities by the fact that a few of your classes had little value? Do you think his statement is inclusive of all universities? State Universities or private colleges? Ivy League calibur or run of the mill JuCo, or even State University? And were the classes required or did you choose them for your own curriculum? There's a reason why several countries state sponsor their best and brightest to attend our colleges, and those who do attend maximize their experience. You don't see foreign students signing up for advanced pottery or basket weaving.

The US is still the best environment conducive for education and innovation. We create, while they emulate. Chinese? Let me know when they can create their own chip without grabbing our ideas first. They're about where the Japanese were 30 years ago. We still have the best broad based educational infrastructure. We're still treated as the capital of the finance and business world. Our medical and engineering programs still gain recognition.

So some Russians are about to figure out how to write a recursive sieve in the least amount of time via rote and repetition, and are able to regurgitate that information on demand for competition. I'll be impressed when I see a Russian "Web 2.0" app that isn't spam or spyware.

al Zarqawi lived long enough to see US troops... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516298)

coming to collect his ragged, blown-up, worthless body. Coincidence? I think not. His last vision before he caught the express elevator to hell was of US troops - hopefully pissing in his gaping mouth.

Re:Better Universities? (1)

TrappedByMyself (861094) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516299)

I've been through undergrad and grad schools in the US and I have to say that there were more than a few courses where I didn't learn anything.

Maybe that was your problem. At the college level, the learning is up to you.
I don't want to souns cliche, but you get out of it what you put into it. Really.
American universities attract people and ideas from all over the world. If you can't learn in an environment like that, maybe you should stick to playing video games.

Re:Better Universities? (1)

bazmail (764941) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516325)

Absolutely correct. If we had better Universities we wouldn't need immigration would we?

I agree with the entire article, BUT (2, Insightful)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516356)

That's odd, all the studies and anecdotal evidence presented to me suggest otherwise. I don't think the universities themselves are better, you're just more likely to make better contacts here than abroad. And the only reason for that is because Americans have money and a lot of them use it to invest (as Paul pointed out).

Differing from your opinion, I agree with the entire article 100% (including the assertion that our universities are better), BUT .. I do not like the way the article was written. I wish he had used more statistics and numerics than just, for example "half the people in silicon valley have accents". How about showing us the stats of how productive they are etc. The numbers can't be that hard to find. Just because you have references at the end of an article doesnt really boost the usefulness much. Reason i am saying this is that without facts and numerics people who sort of disagree haven't really anything tanglible to be convinced by. And those who already agree, well they don't have reinforcing data they can use in convincing others.

That said it's a good article in that it puts things to forefront that maybe people (especially those in other countries) will research or utilize.

Re:Better Universities? (2, Insightful)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516382)

US and Canadian Universities are better because most are run like corporations. They are able to attract top academic and research talent from around the globe with higher salaries, which of course draws tops students from around the globe (ie brain drain).

Re:Better Universities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516462)

US and Canadian Universities are better because most are run like corporations. They are able to attract top academic and research talent from around the globe with higher salaries, which of course draws tops students from around the globe (ie brain drain).
So, what you're saying is "American Universities are the best because they're largely comprised of non-Americans."

Fair enough.

Agreed. Article has it backwards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516447)

The article says that German and Dutch universities are not especially good (because good professors are spread out around the country). This is completely wrong. I'm from the US. I did my undergraduate work in the US and went to graduate school in the Netherlands.

First, the quality of professors. It's true that there are a lot of good professors in America. But many of them are not american. Instead, they're Europeans or Asians who've decided to come to the US because of the better pay, etc. However, the one great thing about american professors (from America), if you're lucky enough to get one, is that they're very didactic. I don't know why, but Americans seem to make great orators and writers. But they're not necessarily the top researchers. They also don't seem to challenge the students like my Dutch professors did. Lastly, remember that Holland only has about 15-20 million people, versus about a bit under 300 million in the US. At least in my area, the Dutch easily produce more research per capita than the US and I would say this work easily gets cited more often in general than what comes out of the US.

Now as to the quality of students, which the article does not really consider. Let me point out that, before I left, I was one of the best students in my class in the US. I learned that, to my horror, the Dutch students were much better thinkers than I was. They had been challenged to think for themselves by their professors in Holland. In the US, I had been taught to solve certain problems quickly (things our professors had told us would appear on exams). I was horrified to find on some exams that I took in Holland that we would have to solve problems which weren't directly covered in the course material, but could be derived given what we knew. The strangest thing, though, was the general student atmosphere. There was a high level of competition in the US, almost animosity between students where I went to school. That didn't translate into studying hard, though, just sort of jealously guarding what you knew from others. In Holland, this was completely backwards: the Dutch students studied much more than their American counterparts, and were genial towards one another in general (both in undergraduate and graduate work) - e.g. if you needed some class notes, etc. they would happily oblige. Probably more comraderie between the students because the professors were so hard on them.

So, I would argue that, at least in the case of the Netherlands, this author's got it completely wrong. The US could learn a thing or two from the Dutch system of challenging students to think for themselves.

Re:Better Universities? (2, Informative)

Pink Tinkletini (978889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516465)

I question the validity of lists like these, but Shanghai Jiao Tong University's annual Academic Ranking of World Universities [sjtu.edu.cn] --originally compiled in order to help improve China's own system of higher education--is very well-regarded and frequently cited among international liberal arts and sciences academics.

Glancing casually through the list, it looks like the majority of the "best" are from the US, including Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, etc. Methodology and other goodies here [sjtu.edu.cn] .

Oil and dollars (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516205)

Plus it's the only country which gets away with amassing a huge debt because its currency is used as oil trading and reserve currency world wide. Besides, it allows immigration? Aren't you discussing a wall along your southern border right now?

Re:Oil and dollars (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516213)

derrrr... thats to stop illegal immigration. tawd.

Re:Oil and dollars (2, Insightful)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516274)

Illegal immigration is a whole other story, we still allow millions of legit immigrants every year.
Regards,
Steve

Re:Oil and dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516304)

Actually immigrating is becoming harder every year. You can get time limited visa with all sorts of strings attached, but green card fraud isn't the widespread topic for nothing.

Re:Oil and dollars (1)

Chicken04GTO (957041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516313)

uncontrolled illegal immigration is not the same as controlled legal immigration.
I thought you would have learned that in one of your vaunted non-US universities?

Re:Oil and dollars (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516359)

Plus it's the only country which gets away with amassing a huge debt

Actually, the U.S. is not at all extraordinary when it comes to national debt as a percentage of GDP. There are plenty of countries with far worse debt problems than the U.S.

It's the Coke (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516207)

Duh! It's because American companies can negotiate better deals with the Coca-Cola Co. (or PepsiCo if they prefer it), which enables them to have those free drink machines. Free drinks draws in the geeks, which results in heavily caffeinated smart people. Wrangle a few MBAs together to lord over them and you have a successful startup.

Re:It's the Coke (4, Funny)

Velox_SwiftFox (57902) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516323)

The condensation of the startups is triggured by concentrations of what is called "Dark Money". Should synergistic fusion occur they may eventually explode in a brilliant IPO display.

tag: theydont (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516210)

They do not, PG is just beeing ignorant here.

Re:tag: theydont (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516231)

yup, tagged as theydont and fud

Fool - money - parted (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516212)

There are plenty of stupid, greedy people in America who will throw money at you on the off chance you can make more. That is why there are so many startups.

the Western nation that least protects its workers (0, Troll)

cryophan (787735) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516218)

America is the western nation that LEAST protects its workers. The overclass here has managed to use a variety of propaganda techniques to allow the ruination of legal protections for American workers. That makes us easier to exploit than the workers in other nations. So, startups want to be here--honest, educated, hardworking and exploitable.

Get back to work, you good little american sheeple!

Re:the Western nation that least protects its work (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516233)

I myself just finished a hard 16 hour day sewing shoes for chicken feed.

I apologize, but I enjoyed the fact that "least" was in all caps.

Re:the Western nation that least protects its work (2, Insightful)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516328)

With an attitude like that, I can understand why you'd favor more protection.

summary: (-1, Flamebait)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516225)

USA is better.
We ar so F*cking great.
Other countries cannot change btw, US is better anyway.
Work & startups are holy.

PS. the article uses america Not USA...

Re:summary: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516346)

The Team America Theme Song:


America...
America...
America, FUCK YEAH!
Coming again, to save the mother fucking day yeah,
America, FUCK YEAH!
Freedom is the only way yeah,
Terrorist your game is through cause now you have to answer too,
America, FUCK YEAH!
So lick my butt, and suck on my balls,
America, FUCK YEAH!
What you going to do when we come for you now,
it's the dream that we all share; it's the hope for tomorrow

FUCK YEAH!

McDonalds, FUCK YEAH!
Wal-Mart, FUCK YEAH!
The Gap, FUCK YEAH!
Baseball, FUCK YEAH!
NFL, FUCK, YEAH!
Rock and roll, FUCK YEAH!
The Internet, FUCK YEAH!
Slavery, FUCK YEAH!

FUCK YEAH!

Starbucks, FUCK YEAH!
Disney world, FUCK YEAH!
Porno, FUCK YEAH!
Valium, FUCK YEAH!
Reeboks, FUCK YEAH!
Fake Tits, FUCK YEAH!
Sushi, FUCK YEAH!
Taco Bell, FUCK YEAH!
Rodeos, FUCK YEAH!
Bed bath and beyond (Fuck yeah, Fuck yeah)

Liberty, FUCK YEAH!
White Slips, FUCK YEAH!
The Alamo, FUCK YEAH!
Band-aids, FUCK YEAH!
Las Vegas, FUCK YEAH!
Christmas, FUCK YEAH!
Immigrants, FUCK YEAH!
Popeye, FUCK YEAH!
Demarcates, FUCK YEAH!
Republicans (republicans)
(fuck yeah, fuck yeah)
Sportsmanship
Books

Re:summary: (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516415)

PS. the article uses america Not USA...

Yeah; I noticed that. I had to keep reminding myself that he could have been referring to any of those other countries with "America" in their names.

He should have just written "United States" (or "US"). That way there wouldn't have been any such confusion.

startups (5, Insightful)

56ker (566853) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516226)

As a European I find the article rather America-centric. Here for example in the UK about 10% of people are self-employed. Yes, technically those are pretty much all "startups". Here however most people don't have the desire to chase VC funding, float on the stock market or found an international company (as a number of US startups have).

Of course part of the problem (both in the US and over here) is that a lot of businesses tend to have a blinkered restricted view of just selling/dealing with their domestic market (which of course in the US is larger) rather than doing business globally (which in a lot of businesses is the best way to grow).

Re:startups (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516326)

As a European I find the article rather America-centric.

Actually I find it a rather good description of America and a resonable comparison, if. . .

we're talking about the nineteenth century.

KFG

startups-Bite off then chew. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516348)

A global business may be better to grow but it has a higher entry of cost that may swamp someone just starting out.

I learned it from YOU, dad. (1, Insightful)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516384)

As a European I find the article rather America-centric.

Yes, We USAans are self-centered, self-absorbed, and generally think very highly of ourselves. Just like those in the European countries many of us came from.

In the realm of international relations, how many countries are riding the coat tails of long dead empires? Why should any outside of France have any care for what goes on inside of France? And what about the English? They're guilty more than anyone. Okay, at one time the UK was a big deal, but that time is over. Is Britain really a significant economic, political, or military power anymore? Certainly not to the extent you think of yourselves.

For a European to raise the charge of 'America-centric' seems the height of 'it takes one to know one.' I don't deny the charge, but when you point one finger at me, you have three pointing back at yourself.

Re:I learned it from YOU, dad. (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516432)

Is Britain really a significant economic, political, or military power anymore?

It may not be an economic or military power any more, but it certainly is a political one. British politicians have an amazing influence over world affairs relative to the size of the country. And when he chooses to Tony Blair can have more influence over the American public than Bush...

Let me get this straight... (5, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516229)

The guys evidence that there aren't any good Universities in Europe, is that American professors can't name any aside from Cambridge?

Does this say more about higher education in Europe or the US?

Re:Let me get this straight... (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516399)

Not necessarily.

From my point of view as an American, there are a few exceptional schools in Europe (Oxford and Cambridge coming to mind the most quickly), while the rest of the schools are equally excellent thanks to a unified education system.

As a whole Europe's education system is remarkably good, but very few schools stand out as being on top of all the others. In mind, this is a good thing, as America's perceptions of what the 'good' schools are is becoming increasingly distorted in my mind --- the Ivies accept far too many people based off of money and legacies, whilst the public education system produces graudates that every much as talented and experienced. Likewise, it creates a sort of social class system that is unhealthy for the country (think of the choices we had in the 2004 presidential election...)

Largely true but a flipside too (4, Insightful)

sien (35268) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516232)

There are national characteristics - the fact that the World Cup is repeatedly won by a small group of nations that manage to maintain a style over years also shows this.

But the US style has it's problems. US companies wind up as slaves to the markets and often damage their engineering skills. The problems in the US car industry show this. While the German car industry has come up with fuel injection, ABS braking and constant four wheel drive over the past 20 years the US industry has invented the cupholder and the SUV.

Likewise, somehow the Japanese are great craftsmen. This skill is reflected in the quality of Toyota's manufacturing and the remarkable qualities in Japanese portable electronics. Apple may have invented the ipod, but the walkman and the transistor radio all came out Japan.

It's good that the world is like this. Countries specialise. But presuming that one companies system is superior for everything to all the others is silly. The best is what is created when the systems work together - as in the computer industry where the parts are made in Asia and the software comes from all over the world, and in particular from the US.

Weak stereotyping (1, Redundant)

amightywind (691887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516354)

There are national characteristics - the fact that the World Cup is repeatedly won by a small group of nations that manage to maintain a style over years also shows this.

Horse dung. The World Cup only highlights that America's best atheletes play American football, baseball, and basketball. If they played soccer (your football) their size and speed would transform the game.

But the US style has it's problems. US companies wind up as slaves to the markets and often damage their engineering skills. The problems in the US car industry show this.

It is called global competition. Car industry is down, aerospace, computer technology, industrial equipment are way up. By in large we compete very well.

While the German car industry has come up with fuel injection, ABS braking and constant four wheel drive over the past 20 years the US industry has invented the cupholder and the SUV.

Don't forget satellite radio and Onstar!.

Likewise, somehow the Japanese are great craftsmen. This skill is reflected in the quality of Toyota's manufacturing and the remarkable qualities in Japanese portable electronics. Apple may have invented the ipod, but the walkman and the transistor radio all came out Japan.

You criticize the American car industry but you fail to recognise that Japanese electronics are in dramatic decline. Be fair.

It's good that the world is like this. Countries specialise. But presuming that one companies system is superior for everything to all the others is silly. The best is what is created when the systems work together - as in the computer industry where the parts are made in Asia and the software comes from all over the world, and in particular from the US.

If it made sense to specialize you wouldn't have an EU. The whole idea is to have a widely diverse economy that is immune from downturns in any single industry. Your ideas are totally antiquated and discredited.

Re:Weak stereotyping (4, Insightful)

Skater (41976) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516442)

Also many of those Japanese cars with such great quality are built...in the US. Toyota and Honda both have several plants in the US.

Re:Largely true but a flipside too (1)

OK PC (857190) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516376)

Im amazed you managed to get the World Cup into that. Should be a Slashdot competition, who can fit the World Cup into any article with the most relevance!

Re:Largely true but a flipside too (4, Insightful)

SparkyTWP (556246) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516387)

The transistor radio was invented in America. Japan was just the first to make them affordable to the point that everyone could buy one. If I remember correctly, part of this is because the profit margin on transistors in other areas was much higher than what you could get from selling radios, so the manufacturers here didn't pay a lot of attention to it.

Re:Largely true but a flipside too (1)

jgold03 (811521) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516427)

Graham is arguing that America's legal system and capitalistic spirit is yet to be matched by any other country, and as a result we will always continue to dominate. The health of an economy is directly correlated with the type of environment it lives in: does it breed growth and competition or does it promote stagnation (i.e. socialist countries). Yes, we do have our share of issues to resolve, but we also do many things quite well: maintaining a fluid labor market, entrepreneurial spirit, protecting property rights, making it easy to transfer capital, protection of civil liberties, etc.
 
Everyone always talks about the growing threat of China. Yes, they are on the horizon, but as long as they continue socialist/totalitarian policies, they will never really be able to compete with the vitality and individualism of the US.

Slashdot: The Journal of Paul Graham (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516234)

Paul Graham farted again today. Stay tuned to Slashdot for all the details!

Fewer bureaucratic barriers (2, Interesting)

alexmin (938677) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516240)

One more reason could be that US has fewer bureaucratic barriers comparing to that in Ukraine or Russia for example.

Re:Fewer bureaucratic barriers (4, Informative)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516305)

US has fewer bureaucratic barriers

Actually, here in the Netherlands, I have spoken to a few businessmen which deal or have dealt with the US. They all find dealing with the Americans an enormously bureaucratic process. Also note that lots of rules come from overseas from our point of view, Sarbanes-Oxley comes to mind.

To start a company in the Netherlands, you do two things:

  • visit the local Chamber of Commerce and spend 10 minutes to tell your new business its name
  • Fill in one (1) form and send it to the (equivalent of the) IRS for a VAT-number
That's it. How unbureaucrative can you get?

Re:Fewer bureaucratic barriers (2, Interesting)

erktrek (473476) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516377)

Dealing with any foreign country involves a higher order bureaucratic process than doing business domestically don't you think?

It was trivially easy to set up my company in the U.S. as well - sending 2 letters: one to apply for a Tax ID number and one to go on file with my local state government. I guess the gist of the idea is what happens next - how much restrictions you have, what kind of taxes and fees you have to pay, what kind of funding is available that kind of thing.

Re:Fewer bureaucratic barriers (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516426)

Paperwork is the same here in the states and our taxes are a lot lower. And small businesses = huge tax breaks.

The "bureaucratic processes" you are talking about will not matter dependant on location, crossing national lines will always invoke said processes.

(and besides ... we pay a lot less taxes, and when you take into account that small business gets large tax breaks in america... it's a win!)

WHAT THE HELL??????? (1)

bazmail (764941) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516253)

Not yet a police state???
Better Universities????

Take it from someone eho has actually travelled abroad that this is wishful thinking.

If we had better universities we wouldn'e need immigration.
But our police state is putting off immigrants from coming here.

So leave down the crack pipe man and research the facts.

Easier to find investors (5, Interesting)

maxme (946026) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516265)

It's much easier to find investors in USA than in Europe (i'm speaking as a french entrepreneur who tested the both side of Atlantic to run it's own business).

Obvious reason (1)

l-ascorbic (200822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516266)

You know, it could also be something to do with the fact that the US is the world's largest economy.

Correction: Europe is bigger (0)

lusotech (979700) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516439)

The European Union (EU) is the biggest market in the world!

Innovation comes from freedom of expression (5, Insightful)

bariswheel (854806) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516271)

lots of bitter, negative opinions on this one. To add to the discussion instead of criticizing (which is fine - in small doses), I believe government (or lack thereof) is key for innovation. If you have an oppressive regime luring over you, there will be minimal startups; people will have little incentive to innovate, or fear to innovate. What he's trying to do in this article is to find commonalities within the 'American persona' to find out whether Silicon Valley is clonable. I believe That's the root of his thesis. He addresses personality traits such as Americans being free spirited risk takers, and it's a point well taken. "Startups are the kind of thing people don't plan, so you're more likely to get them in a society where it's ok to make career decisions on the fly." - P. Graham

I'm a consumer whore. And how! (5, Funny)

Draracle (977916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516275)

In America you can put a rock in a box, give it a name, and make millions. Why would you not want to start a company in a nation with that level of purchase discretion? "Now with more sodium -- Sweet Jesus!!!"

Re:I'm a consumer whore. And how! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516455)

I think if you tried to copyright that comment, your claim of ownership would be Rejected [bitterfilms.com] .

Distortion by size (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516289)

I'm not bashing the USA, but I do think that Americans get a very distorted view of the world because:

a) The USA is very big. If you take into consideration population size then things can look quite different.

b) For some reason, Americans tend to compare themselves with developing countries rather than other first world countries.

Last time I checked... (1)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516463)

I was under the impression that the US creates more new companies each year than Europe.

Are you saying that's not correct?

Actually, I would suspect that the developing countries create more new companies each year than "other first world countries" do.

Immigration in US vs Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516306)

The author writes
> Of course, it's not saying much that America is more open to immigration
> than Japan. Immigration policy is one area where a competitor could do better.

Laughably incorrect. The difficulties of immigrating to Japan are 20 times worse than the US.
If you're a foreigner in Japan, your sponsoring employer owns you, something like H1-Bs here. But in practice there is no green card system, and you can live there for decades without getting more than year-to-year status. There is a foreign resident designation long-time residents sometimes receive, but I've seen it denied more often than granted. There are plenty of racists in the US, but we will never have the phantasm of ethnic purity the Japanese do. Unless you're an Iranian construction worker, or a Korean pachinko parlor operator, in which case they don't care.

OK, a competitor could do better than the US does, some countries do. In practical and cultural terms, it's hard to imagine a country doing worse than Japan.

American Chauvinism (4, Insightful)

gvc (167165) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516308)

You need a great university to seed a silicon valley, and so far there are few outside the US. I asked a handful of American computer science professors which universities in Europe were most admired, and they all basically said "Cambridge" followed by a long pause while they tried to think of others. There don't seem to be many universities elsewhere that compare with the best in America, at least in technology.


And this survey demonstrates what, other than the parochialism of the American computer science professors with whom Graham happens to be acquainted?

Lame, stupid article. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516309)

It got stupid before the first two paragraphs were done.

There are a lot of them in Silicon Valley and Boston, and few in Chicago or Miami...

I've claimed that the recipe is a great university near a town smart people like.


Chicago has U of I and its supercomputing centers, no public smoking (just like CA), museums, shows, all the uppity bullshit that Boston and SanFran have, only more of them. Moma museum, anyone? Has TFA's writer ever visited any of these cities?

Miami was a good example, St. Louis might be (despite UMSL), but Chicago has everything TFA says is needed... except startups.

1. The US Allows Immigration.

So do most countries. Japan doesn't, so what? Pick the ONE country that illustrates your point and ignore all of Europe!

2. The US Is a Rich Country.

See #1. Again, about any European country fills the bill.

3. The US Is Not (Yet) a Police State.

But it is closer than Europe. Why aren't there more startups in Amsterdam or Canada? Both fill the bill, having good universities, etc.

4. American Universities Are Better.

Then why in the hell can't these poor fools spell "lose" without adding an extraneous "o"? Why hasn't Rush Limbaugh been tarred and feathered? Why did Bush get (re)elected?

Cambrige and Oxford aren't good schools? Huh?

5. You Can Fire People in America.

In Britian they aren't fired, they're "made redundant." BZZT! France isn't Europe.

6. In America Work Is Less Identified with Employment.

This is the dumbest sentence I've heard uttered this year, and I spend time in bars (and slashdot)!

Oh wait, an even dumber statement in the same section: "Even in the US most kids graduating from college still think they're supposed to get jobs"

7. America Is Not Too Fussy.

Text read "A friend of mine started a company in Germany in the early 90s, and was shocked to discover, among many other regulations, that you needed $20,000 in capital to incorporate."

I tried to start a company in the US and was shocked to find that nothing is free here, either. A fucking bar can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and 3 out of 4 businesses close down within 2 years.

Starting a business is a gamble anywhere. If you have little money, you're not starting a business anywhere.

8. America Has a Large Domestic Market.

See #1. See China. See Canada. See the article writer's limited IQ.

9. America Has Venture Funding.

They don't have gamblers in other countries?

10. America Has Dynamic Typing for Careers.

He's a poor writer, too. Reading on tells you that he means
Compared to other industrialized countries the US is disorganized about routing people into careers. For example, in America people often don't decide to go to medical school till they've finished college. In Europe they generally decide in high school.

Key word here, I think, is "generally." It's not a law, is it?

Bullshit, I'm going to The Onion. Much better written, more factual articles (and even more rooted in reality).

-mcgrew ("Probity?")

Laws are it. (4, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516312)

To start a corporation in America all you have to do is file out a simple form and mail in a cheap fee. I started mine for a whole $100 in costs to the gov't. While it is more than I want to pay, it isn't bad. I pay less in taxes than foreign counterparts, so I have more to actually invest into my company to grow it, another great reason why it is easier to start a small business in America. Employment laws as well. In France it takes 2 years to fire someone. If someone is destroying my small business, they can be out the door that day (well, depends on the state really). THere are tons of other reasons, but ease of doing business, ability to put your own capital into your business is def up there. Look how many businesses are started by those w/o college educations, it isn't the schools.

Re:Laws are it. (-1, Flamebait)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516351)

If someone is destroying my small business,

Labor creates all wealth, not the other way around, asshole.

Re:Laws are it. (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516385)

That's pretty much all I had to do to start my company in the UK. I bought an "off the shelf" company for £100.00 (OK, slightly more, but only took a few mouse-clicks) and filled in a couple of free forms supplied with the package to register transfer of ownership. The headline does however miss the point. Starting up a company is the easy bit, any fool can do that (I know, firsthand :-) A more telling question would be to ask how many of these start-ups are still running 2 years later.

Re:Laws are it. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516446)

Its like this in most other countries in europe. Sweden for example, here I have started 3 small companies with just filling out a form on the internet and paying the registration fee. No hassles, no bureaucracy. The swedish IRS and agency of companies are working towards makeing it as easy as possible for anyone to start a company. There are even money you can get from the government to start a company instead of beeing on unemployment compensation, this usually funds your salary for a year or so. (this requires that they agree to your business plan). (called "starta eget bidrag")

Also, here in Sweden we have a high "job security" with tough laws regarding employment. But that does not mean that a company can not fire someone that misbehaves. If you dont do your job you are fired, why would there ever be a law against that anywhere? I have seen people beeing fired here for not doing their job. I do also believe that this is the case in france despite the rumours of impossiblity to fire people that are not doing their job.

One key to the many successful startups in USA I believe, is that many young people in USA dream about getting super rich, or doing something big, makeing a difference. It is important in the american culture to "become something". Here in europe people seem to have a different attitude towards life and what you should do with it. Many are very happy if they have a normal job to go to every day, kids, somewhere to live and money to spend on entertainment/food and the ocational vacation, etc.

Critical mass (1)

thetoa (854795) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516314)

Surely it's more a question of critical mass than of individual components? Because so many other companies are located there, new ones will gravitate there as well. After all, they have the infrastructure, not to mention the reputation. People seeking employment will follow demand, and startups need employees so they follow supply.

I'd rather not put a startup in the US (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516316)

Yes, it's easier to get slave workers (well, not really slaves, you have to shelter and feed slaves while with "normal" workers you can pay them less than shelter&food would cost you), it's easier to get investors, it's less bureaucratic hassle and so on. It's easier to get the biz rolling.

But with the patent laws and the legal system around it, opening a biz in the US is risky. As soon as you're actually starting to make money, some corporation will cover you with suits 'til you hand it over for a nickle or a dime because some harebrained patent they got offers them a foot into that door.

In other words, startups are the risk-free way of "innovation" for corps. If it doesn't fly, it doesn't cost them money. If it does, hand it over!

Yes, but startups alone don't help the economy. (3, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516327)

Decades ago, companies stayed where they were started. They certainly stayed in the country where they started and they often kept their headquarters or a major plant where they started.

Movie producers run out to California, mostly to escape legal process servers because a patent cartel wanted to price-gouge them for the unlicensed cameras they were using, stayed, and founded Hollywood.

A guy named Chesney starts up a business in Pittfield, MA and GE ends up headquartered there, and employing tens of thousands of people prior to Neutron Jack Welch.

Digital Equipment Corporation starts up in Maynard because the guys who founded it were connected with MIT, and there was cheap space in an old mill there... and grow in that location to a multi-billion-dollar company.

But I can easily see an unstable state in which the United States continues to be a good place for startups, for the reasons mentioned, but all of the really economically important activity gets moved overseas just as the company begins to take hold. Over time, of course, that will undermine all the things that make the U. S. a great place for startups, but not immediately... just as U. S. researchers continue to win Nobel prizes for work performed under conditions that existed in the U. S. decades ago.

Tangentially, New England is a great place for startups because of the existence hundreds of small, independent machine shops that can do prototype work. I believe those shops are a long-lived legacy of a century or two ago when New England and its mills were the most sophisticated industries in the U. S. I wonder whether anyone in the state government is paying attention to the care and feeding of those small businesses?

Gullibile idiots (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516335)

Gullible idiots...

"There's too many self-Indulgent wieners in this city with too much bloody money!" -- Gone in 60 seconds.

American Universities Are Better (2, Interesting)

owslystnly (873793) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516336)

I am not sure american universities are better, but they certainly are different. I have had the opportunity to take a few classes at KUL in Belgium (the "best" and largest university in the country). I would say students here LEARN the same things we do at universities in America, but they don't DO anything. In the US, courses consisted of a lot of work....exercises/homeworks, multiple tests/exams/quizzes in a quarter/semester, and labs + lab reports (often as frequent as one per week). In Belgium, you attended classes, perhaps there were optional exercises (in class, not at home, nor graded), and the only grade you get is the final exam, which is often about 15 minutes long and oral. Coming from US universities, you get a wealth of knowledge combined with hands-on experience that many places in Europe don't seem to be offering. Additionally, students here are not allowed to work during university (only allowed to work 2-3weeks per year), and their internships are usually severely limited (you think an intern job in the US is crap....here it can consist of just pushing a button). This has a huge effect on the job market and the prospects of what you will be doing in a job after you graduate. IMO, US students leave university much more prepared than their counterparts in Europe (well, maybe only Belgium?)

We are in danger of losing it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516341)

The things that made America great can mostly be summed up as 'Freedom'. Richard Florida in "The Rise of the Creative Class" points out that cities with booming economies are the ones in which creative people feel the most freedom. Being an economist, he has the statistics to prove it. Creative people move to cities where they can thrive and then go looking for a job. They won't move to a city where they feel stifled just because there's a job for them there. Most of what he says totally supports tfa.

Florida's next book is "The Flight of the Creative Class". In it he points out, as does tfa, that a rising wave of intolerance will drive away or prevent the immigration that America needs to stay on top of the game. All this paranoia about terrorism is going to ruin the country and we're all going to feel it in our wallets.

Immigration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516349)

US allows immigration... uhmm
so this is why they need this heavy control at the mexican border?
and what was this plan about tagging new immigrant with rfid chips?

the thing I don't understand is why people would -want- immigrate to the US.

disclaimer: yes I live in .nl and yes out immigration policy sucks.

Re:Immigration? (1)

sedman (210394) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516438)

Just because something is working does not mean the government won't try to fix it.

Faulty logic (2, Insightful)

deanj (519759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516357)

The faulty logic in this article is a good reason just to pass it up

From the article:

"it is not (yet) a police state"

Why is it there are people in this country are screaming and yelling about their imagined "police state", yet want to leave the other countries in the world to people who want to turn the whole world into a police state?

Re:Faulty logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15516458)

"Why is it there are people in this country are screaming and yelling about their imagined "police state", yet want to leave the other countries in the world to people who want to turn the whole world into a police state?"
Why (obJ) / is (v) / it (sub) [that]
  Clause: there (sub) / are (v) / people (obj) | phrase: "in this country"
    are screaming and yelling (v attached to?)
Parse error near "yelling". This does not compute.
Try taking a deep breath and wiping the spittle off your chin.

Mr Graham needs to travel more... (5, Insightful)

costas (38724) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516388)

I think TFA has a very narrow view of the rest of the world. Yes, the US has succeeded brilliantly in creating and fostering a start-up culture (where everyone else has failed) but his reasons, are well, mis-informed and a bit narrow-minded. Let me put in my $.02 and €0,02 as well:
  • Immigration: The US has a great immigration policy, but it's not really that much different from a lot of advanced Western countries, esp. when it comes to skilled workers (researchers, college graduates, etc). E.g., the UK has a much larger talent pool it can draw from for immigrants (esp. Commonwealth citizens) yet there have been very few successful UK startups. Same could be said for Germany, the Nordic countries, and most of Southern Europe.
  • The US is a rich country: so is most of Western Europe, Australia, NZ, Southeast Asia, Japan, etc. Arguably the latter regions have even better infrastructure than the US.
  • The US is not a police state: again, neither is any EU member or the rest of Western Europe. Still, the only big European startup as of late has been Skype, and even that was US-funded.
  • American Universities are better: absolutely, but not for the reasons stated. American universities are just more free to make money from their R&D, unlike most say European ones. Since they can run research for profit they can also hire the best professors and researchers they can find and that creates a virtuous cycle. In Europe for example, most research schools are state institutions and thus professor salaries are set to a nationwide scale. Plus it's much harder to profit from R&D.
  • You can fire people in America: labor mobility is not a US invention. If you are faced with stifling labor laws, you can work around them. You can use contractors, bankruptcy law, subsidies, the list goes on. Plus, Anglo-Saxon countries with liberal labor laws (UK, Australia), still haven't fostered startups that well.
The rest of the list is even more wooly than these bits. Here's my take as to why the US does startups better:
  • Failure is an option: there is less if any stigma associated with failure, making the option of going to work for a startup a much less negative one.
  • The market does not favor incumbents: unless you are trying to create a new market, it's much harder to compete with incumbent competitors outside the US, as they are usually politically protected (for fear of loss of jobs, political gains, what-have-you). If you think AT&T has a strong lobby in DC, consider what would happen if say the Ministry of Communications was the one running AT&T. That still is (directly or indirectly, through equity stakes) the case in most of Europe.
  • There's no history of startups: nothing attracts people like success and when you don't have your local Netscape or Yahoo or Google to draw inspiration from and try to immitate their success, you are that much less likely to try to start up a company.

Don't forget (2)

TheRecklessWanderer (929556) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516390)

Don't forget about unions. They are all about letting the cream rise to the top... Wait a second, no they aren't. Oh well.

Career Change... (2, Funny)

Avogadros Letter (867221) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516410)

... and it has dynamic typing for careers...

Excellent! I've been looking for a new career! I dynamically type 65-180 WPM.

One important factor... (5, Insightful)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516421)

And one factor that should not be underestimated is that the U.S. Government has been willing -- and able -- to bankroll a lot of scientific projects for the past 50+ years. Think about it:

  1. The Manhattan Project: start of nuclear energy. Immediate military applications, of course.
  2. The ENIAC, first electronic computer: first model bought by the U.S. Census Bureau, second model bought by the N.S.A.
  3. The Apollo program: biggest space-race project of all times, with benefits too numerous to list here, from electronics to materials to aerospace engineering (including military applications, of course).
  4. The Internet: bankrolled by DARPA, then by the NSF, both US Governement agencies.
  5. Nano-technology, the Genome Project, etc... etc...


Don't forget that, for many years, the USA have been at the forefront of technology and science because the US Governement -- meaning you, Happy American Tax-Payers! -- has been very happy to sign big, fat juicy checks to US corporations, US Universities, US Think Tanks, etc. Also, the US Governement was able to do this because, right after the end of WWII, the USA were one of the very rare country in the world with industries left intact and a lot of natural resources.

Now that the US Governement is pretty much anti-science, and that the US debt is soaring to ever more dangerous summits, I am not so sure the USA can maintain their advance on the rest of the world. But we'll see.

American dream is a (partial) scam (3, Insightful)

MarkWatson (189759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516453)

Two childhood friends both struck it big (20+M and 300+M) starting software companies, so the American dream does happen.

However, the statistics are against you if your goal is to become very rich - but it is the possibilty that motivates people.

Here in the USA, we have an interesting cultural/political phenomenon: many lower middle class people strongly support the republican party whose policies are very biased towrads helping the very rich. I think that part of this phenomenon occurs because people dream of having a great idea and striking it rich.

I think that having one's own business is a good idea (http://mark-watson.blogspot.com/2006/04/owning-yo ur-own-business.html) but only if you do it for the right reasons.

It's also our history (1)

SparkyTWP (556246) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516468)

I think it's also our history as a capitalist country. Countries that aren't used to it will hesitate to invest in something, especially if they've been burned. For example, the MMM [wikipedia.org] company in Russia was just a large pyramid scheme, but most people weren't aware of the warning signs that it was a scam. Not surprisingly, the whole thing collapsed and many people lost their money. Afterwards, few people wanted to invest in a start-up again. In America, a decade later, is this starting to change. Over here, after something like that happens, people just avoid that company and find a new one. After the dotcom bubble, most people just avoided those companies and reinvested in more "safe" companies, rather than pulling out completely.

A fool and his money are easily parted (0, Troll)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516473)

I'm an American, and I have to say it's for two reasons:

1) On average, Americans have a lot of money.

2) On average, Americans are fools when it comes to money.

For many Americans, it's not just easy to part them from the money they have now, it's easy to part them from the money they'll be earning for the next 15-30 years (through high interest credit cards). I don't think this will last much longer, though. Another poster mentioned that the exploitation of workers is going up (which I agree with). Pretty soon #1 won't be true anymore, and a lot of businesses in America will dry up.
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