Posts by Nick Hanauer

Moving Forward Together to Address Seattle’s Homelessness Crisis

I’ve been asked recently, by reporters, stakeholders and individuals why I’m participating in the call for a measure on homelessness to address the issue in Seattle. Let me be super clear – people are dying on the streets of Seattle. Our homeless crisis is dangerous and not improving fast enough. That’s why I’ve joined Mayor Ed Murray and many other political and civic leaders in working to craft a bold proposal for the August ballot to urgently address our city’s homelessness emergency.

Mayor Murray’s administration and my team have come together in pursuit of this shared goal. I am proud of this partnership, and honored to be appointed by the Mayor to co-chair his advisory committee.

Seattleites agree—this is a time for bold action, a time to save lives and protect public health and safety. Mayor Murray has been taking action to address the crisis and talking publicly for months about the potential need to go to the ballot to get the resources we need to fill the gaps in our fragmented homelessness services system, and we here at Civic Ventures saw this as a perfect opportunity to apply our unique ability to work outside the normal “Seattle Process” to help catalyze change.

But of course when you try to shake up established systems, some defenders of the status quo will get offended. The Seattle Times this week published a story that questioned my motives and obfuscated what has been, to date, a streamlined and drama-free process. The story ignored Mayor Murray’s calls for action and implied that I had forced him into committing to an August ballot measure on homelessness. That is plainly and simply not the case.

But let’s focus on what actually matters:  The need to quickly and effectively move people off the streets and into permanent housing is too urgent to be distracted by politics as usual.

I cannot tell you how honored and excited I am to be standing with Mayor Murray in leading this critical effort, and I invite anyone who shares our passion and focus to join our campaign—we will need volunteers and grassroots donors and door knockers and phone callers to make this campaign a success.  But to make progress on this issue we need to recognize that it is larger than any of us, and humbly set to work.

That’s my commitment, and I know our allies—good people in City Hall, the stakeholder advisory committee assembling this package, and service providers who address the humanitarian crisis on our streets every day— feel the same way.  Let’s not lose focus on what matters.  For the sake of the homeless people on our streets, let’s make sure we continue to put people before politics.

Reflections On the End of the GOP

All hat, no cattle.

All hat, no cattle.

The Republican Party is coming apart, and if this disintegration wasn’t endangering our country and the world, it would be amusing. Much has already been said and written about this, so I am aware that this rant may add nothing to the conversation. But I think this political event was more predictable and is easier to understand than most people realize. And I think that Donald Trump himself has far less to do with the fall of the GOP than the GOP itself.

The end of the modern GOP should come as no surprise to anyone who was paying attention. Because from the point of view of the typical GOP voter — their 99% — the modern Republican Party has been one of the most epic failures of all time.

The modern GOP as a political construct has principally been an alliance between two interest groups: urban economic elites and rural social conservatives. The reason the party is disintegrating is that it has over-delivered to the former, and completely failed the latter.

If there is one thing the Republican Party stands for and has effectively delivered on, it is trickle down economics. Trickle down economics has three major elements — tax cuts for the rich, deregulation of the powerful, and wage suppression for everyone else — all in the name of “growth.” And the Republican Party (with unfortunate cooperation from some Democrats), has been extraordinarily effective in the promulgation of these ideas. Over the last 35 years, middle-class voters from both parties bought this scam hook, line, and sinker.

Meantime, the Republican Party has theoretically represented the interests of social conservatives, fundamentalist religious types, and racists. And for this coalition, despite the rhetoric, the party has completely and utterly failed. Across any social issue, the country has lurched towards inclusion and liberalism, from LGBT rights to drug legalization, women’s rights, minority rights, and worst of all, the election of a black president named Barack Hussein Obama. From the perspective of these Republican voters, it is the end of days.

But to the GOP’s one percent — the secular, more socially centrist, urban economic elites who have controlled the party — the last 35 years have been a bonanza. They have been the recipients of an immense concentration of wealth and power, without the inconvenience of having to deliver on the backwards and often bigoted social demands of what the GOP elite dismiss as their hillbilly, bible-thumping brethren.

Which brings us to the unresolvable challenge facing the modern GOP.

From the point of view of their 99%, the median Republican voter, the last 35 years have been a disaster, and their party has caused it. Because if you are a working- or middle-class white Republican-leaning man, your party has completely and totally screwed you.

They screwed you by holding down the minimum wage.

They screwed you by almost completely eliminating overtime pay.

They screwed the union that used to defend your interests.

The screwed you out of the pension on which the middle-class once retired.

They screwed you a thousand ways on trade, and exported your job.

They screwed you on tax policy by lowering taxes on the rich.

They screwed you on infrastructure and education investment.

They screwed you by deregulating the banks.

They screwed you out of your home during the housing bubble and subsequent collapse.

They screwed you on health care costs.

They screwed you on the cost of college and on student debt.

They screwed you (and sent your kids to die) in the Iraq war.

And then they also screwed you on abortion, and gay marriage, and the “War on Drugs,” and women’s rights, and minority rights, and Obamacare repeal, and all the other things you culturally care about, by delivering absolutely nothing.

Since 1980, 95 percent of the benefits of growth have accrued to the top one percent of earners.  The share of income for the top one percent has tripled, from about eight percent of national income to about 22 percent over this time. The minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or $2.13 plus tips, is at historically low levels; if it had tracked the wages of the top 1 percent, the minimum wage would be over $28 per hour today. Overtime pay, which used to apply to about 70 percent of salaried workers, now applies to only 9 percent. Union membership, and the middle-class wages and benefits that comes with it, has fallen from a third of American workers in 1964 to only 10 percent today — and just 7 percent in the private sector. Consequently, wages as a percent of GDP have fallen about a trillion dollars, while corporate profits have increased by the same amount. Add in the ridiculous increases in compensation and other income for the very rich and you are talking about close to a two trillion dollar-per-year scam perpetuated on the American middle and working class. Over thirty years, that shit adds up.

If you are a rural social conservative, your Republican party has enacted economic policies that destroyed your communities and sucked the life out of your small towns. And then to add insult to injury, they could not stop people like me from winning on all of the social and cultural issues that you care so much about.

So it should come as no surprise that a candidate like Donald Trump, who appeals to the nativist, racist, and nationalist tendencies of some right-leaning voters, despite his flaws, could take the GOP by storm. Who couldn’t? Seriously. Daffy Duck with a nationalist message would be winning today. I do not agree with a lot of the policies preferred by rural right-wing voters. I think they are wrong and misguided. But I do emphatically agree with their anger. They should be angry. They deserve to be angry. And the focus of their anger should be on the GOP elites like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio and the rest of the trickle-down clown car.  These people have screwed, and want to continue to screw, the median Republican voter. And typical Republicans are finally beginning to notice.

I wish the answer to all of this was simply that more people should become Democrats. And indeed in this election cycle, given what is at stake, that would be my preference. But long-term, that isn’t what our country needs. Instead, America needs a Republican party that isn’t simply a vehicle for the already very rich to increase their wealth and power. Our country needs a Republican Party that vigorously and honestly competes with the Democratic Party to actually increase the welfare of the typical American family. Not with a scam like trickle down economics that simply makes the rich richer, but with actual ideas that might improve the life of the typical family.

Thus, the Republican Party’s greatest challenge is how to ditch the economic program of their donor elite. Because embracing a new economic narrative that actually delivers the goods to regular folks is what it will take to compete in a meaningful way again. Paul Ryan is against raising the minimum wage because he is paid to oppose increases in the minimum wage. So, too, are Marco Rubio and the rest of these clowns. Claiming that “raising wages kills jobs” is really just saying the Koch brothers prefer wages low and profits high. It’s the GOP elite declaring that “we matter, and you don’t.”

I do not believe a Republican Party that works to ensure a more inclusive capitalism will eliminate the racism in the party. Prosperity does not end racism—but it is one hell of a distraction. When most citizens feel like they are winning, it’s not so important to them that others lose. Shared prosperity creates the conditions whereby few reasonable people are angry enough to take a clown like Trump seriously.

Let’s all hope that the current crisis in the Republican Party will bring the fundamental change necessary to allow it to reconstitute itself in a new and more constructive way—one that we may not all agree with, but at least that we won’t be embarrassed or appalled by. America needs a Republican Party that actually represents the true interests of regular Republicans, and not the exclusive interests of the Republican elite.

Our economy needs more people like Ahmed


Ahmed arrested for being inventive while Muslim

By now you’ve probably read the story of Ahmed Mohamed, the Muslim teen who was arrested in the town of Irving, Texas for bringing a homemade clock to his school. That’s right: he had the curiosity, skill, creativity, and ambition to build something and he was rewarded by being marched out of school in handcuffs. Ahmed Mohamed represents everything that is right with America; his arrest represents everything that is wrong.

Here’s the 21st century reality: inclusion strengthens our country, our institutions, and our economy. In our modern technological economy, growth and prosperity are created through a virtuous cycle between innovation and demand. Innovation is the process by which we solve all human problems, and thus raise living standards. Consumer demand is the mechanism through which markets distribute and incentivize innovation. And it is economic inclusion—the full, robust participation of as many people as possible—that drives both innovation and demand.

Innovation is an evolutionary process and, just like in the biological world, diversity is the key to evolution. The more cognitive diversity we have—the more people simultaneously approaching the same problem from as many different backgrounds and perspectives as possible—the greater the rate of innovation. It’s not how hard you try; it’s how many different ways you try to solve a problem that leads to success. Innovation is driven by differences, not sameness.

The evidence is clear: diversity does not hinder growth—it supercharges it. That has always been America’s competitive advantage: we have the most diverse workforce in the world, and for all our problems, we do a better job of integrating diversity than anyone else. Diversity is America’s most valuable resource; it is what makes us the most innovative nation on Earth.

The trouble is that there are places in America that continue to fight to exclude people rather than include them. Put another way: there are places in America that arrest Ahmed for being a curious amateur engineer, rather than applaud him. And towns like Irving that exclude citizens on the basis of race and religion and fear are putting us is in danger of falling into an economic death spiral. Make it clear that people like Ahmed aren’t welcome, and they will flee, taking with them people and companies that value diversity. Left behind will be an increasingly homogenized, narrow, and less competitive population, electing the same kind of leaders who support the same kind of laws that chase even more smart people away, creating a “brain-drain” death spiral that degrades the ability of that place to compete, innovate, and solve problems. If you punish curious people for creating things, they’re not going to stop creating things; they’re going to go create things someplace else: a place that welcomes, rewards, and celebrates the qualities that make them unique.

The good news: America is a big place. There are lots of cities and states here that are fighting to include people rather than exclude them, and those places are kicking the daylights out of exclusionary places. Maybe after Ahmed finishes up his visits to the White House and the Facebook campus, he’ll consider moving to Seattle or San Francisco or New York City or any of the countless places in America that reward inventors and innovators. Our economy needs more people like Ahmed.


Thank You, Paul Allen, for Standing Up to the NRA on Behalf of Endangered Species

Yes on I-1401For decades, the National Rifle Association has relied on its deep pockets to frighten lawmakers into surrendering to its legislative agenda. But like most bullies, once you call the NRA’s bluff, there’s not much left to back up all the bluster. As Joel Connelly reports on

After going after entrepreneur Nick Hanauer during the Initiative 594 battle last year, [NRA Olympia lobbyist Brian] Judy has now drawn a bead on Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen, who has championed Initiative 1401.  The initiative would prohibit the purchase, sale or distribution of products from much-poached land and sea creatures, including elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, sea turtles and sharks.

At an NRA-sponsored event in Federal Way, Judy boasted that I-1401 is only on the ballot “because we were successful defeating Legislation in Olympia,” before going on to attack Allen as a “huge billionaire.” The NRA had also killed universal gun background checks in the legislature before voters overwhelmingly approved I-594 at the ballot. Judy was forced to disappear for the final months of that campaign after being caught on tape ridiculing me as a “billionaire plutocrat” who supported “the same policy that got his family run out of Germany by the Nazis.”

That’s just offensive. But I understand Judy’s frustration. The NRA had grown accustomed to getting its own way by virtue of dramatically outspending its opponents. But they can’t possibly outspend a hugely passionate billionaire advocate like Paul Allen backing a hugely popular measure like I-1401.

So my prediction is that, apart from a few brash words, the NRA will back down—just like it did against I-594. And when Allen has finished trouncing the NRA by a wide margin and throughout the state, he may want to add one more endangered species to I-1401’s list: the paper tiger.

Overtime Pay Is the Minimum Wage for the Middle Class


The Department of Labor just proposed raising the overtime threshold from $23,600 a year to $50,440, and from the fearful squawks coming from the business lobby you’d think the sky was falling. But all this trickle-down scare-talk about job-killing regulations and unintended economic consequences is just that — trickle-down scare talk — without an ounce of empirical data to back it up.

We call it: Chicken Little Economics.

In fact, far from the end of the world, middle-class Americans never did better than when the overtime threshold — the annual salary below which workers are automatically entitled to time-and-a-half overtime pay — was at its peak. A half-century ago, more than 60 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime pay. But after 40 years in which the threshold has been allowed to steadily erode, only about 8 percent do. If you feel like you’re working longer hours for less money than your parents did, it’s probably because you are.

Today, if you’re salaried and earn more than $23,600 dollars a year, you don’t automatically qualify for overtime: that means every extra hour you work, you work for free. But at the Obama administration’s proposed new threshold, everyone earning a salary of $50,440 a year or less would be eligible to collect time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours a week. That would add nearly 5 million more workers to the numbers eligible, substantially increasing both middle-class incomes and employment. It’s not as high as the $69,000 threshold it would take to return to 1975 levels, but it’s a courageous step in the right direction. It’s like a minimum wage hike for the middle class.

Everybody knows Americans are overworked. A recent Gallup poll found that salaried Americans now report working an average of 47 hours a week — not the supposedly standard 40 — while 18 percent of Americans report working more than 60 hours a week. Indeed, overtime pay has become such a rarity that many Americans don’t even realize that the majority of salaried workers were once eligible. We just keep working longer and harder. And ironically, the longer and harder we work, the more we weaken the labor market, weakening our own bargaining power in the process. That helps explain why over the last 30 years, corporate profits have doubled from about 6% of GDP to about 12%, while wages have fallen by almost exactly the same amount. The erosion of overtime and other labor protections is one of the main factors leading to this worsening inequality. But a higher threshold would help reverse this trend.

Under the new salary threshold, employers would have a choice: They could either pay you time-and-half for your extra hours worked, or they could hire more workers at the standard rate to fill your previously unpaid hours. The former would put more money into your pockets. The latter would put more leisure time at your disposal while directly adding more jobs. And either would be great for workers and great for boosting economic growth.

Lower- and middle-income workers don’t stash their earnings in offshore accounts the way CEOs do — the more they’re paid the more they spend on goods and services. When workers have more money, businesses have more customers; and when businesses have more customers, they hire more workers. Whether through an increase in consumer demand or through a reduction in unpaid hours, a higher overtime threshold would increase total employment, tightening the labor market and driving up real wages for the first time since the late 1990s.

Of course, conservative pundits and politicians will attempt to preserve the status quo by warning that a return to more reasonable overtime standards would somehow cripple our economy, hurting the exact same workers we intend to help. But that’s what they always warn about every regulation — from the minimum wage, to Obamacare, to child labor laws. Yet it never turns out to be true. And trickle-down economics looks more like Chicken Little Economics with every passing day.

Economic Theory: Science or Scam?

Noah Smith, a smart financial writer with a very good blog, wrote an article on the $15 minimum wage at Bloomberg earlier this week. The piece celebrated the fact that, finally, we’ll have some data on how the $15 minimum wage would affect jobs. Smith said he considered it a test because in theory “a higher minimum wage should cause increased unemployment.”

The more I thought about it, the less sense this premise made. Noah’s article underscored two big things for me: first, the degree to which people see the evidence they want to see, and also how silly the idea of “economic theory” can be. Smith claims that we don’t know what the result of a $15 minimum wage will be. Will it kill jobs or not?  But the truth is, there’s abundant and overwhelming evidence that this theory is wrong, and that higher minimum wages don’t hurt employment. The evidence is there; you just have to choose to see it.

Let’s just look in my own back yard for an example of that evidence. Washington State has had the highest minimum wage in the nation for several years—at $9.47, it’s a full 30 percent more than the federal minimum of $7.25. Washington’s unemployment rate of 5.5 percent isn’t the best in the country, but it’s not the worst, either. In fact, it perfectly matches the national rate. But Seattle was until recently the fastest growing big city in the country. And speaking of evidence, the first part of the $15 minimum wage rollout was successfully implemented in April, and unemployment in our county promptly plummeted to 3.3 percent.

An even more dramatic example of the goofiness of this so-called “economic theory” is the impact of the wages of tipped workers on the restaurant industry. In Washington, these workers earn at least $9.47 plus tips, a whopping 440 percent more than the federal tipped minimum of $2.13 plus tips. Despite the predictions of “economic theory,” and despite the warnings from the National Restaurant Association that eliminating the tip credit would cause food armageddon, Seattle has one of the most robust restaurant scenes in the USA. Why? Because when restaurants pay restaurant workers enough so that even they can afford to eat in restaurants, it’s really good for the restaurant business. If economic “theory” were correct, if paying workers more resulted in higher unemployment, we would have no restaurants in Seattle.

Everywhere you care to look, you can find examples of high-wage places with low unemployment, and low-wage places with high unemployment. Seattle and San Francisco, cities with the highest minimum wage in the country, have low unemployment and among the fastest rate of small business job growth in the nation. Mississippi, where the minimum wage remains at the federally mandated $7.25 an hour, has a high unemployment rate of 7 percent, far above the national rate. In the overwhelming majority of circumstances, the high-wage states and cities enjoy low unemployment while the unemployment rate in low-wage states continues to climb.

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While the Media Keeps Messing Up the $15 Story, One Pseudonymous Blogger Keeps Getting It Right

Seattle certainly isn’t suffering from a shortage of uninformed chatterers with opinions about the $15 minimum wage. But the problem with opinions is that they’re not facts. Q13 Fox can quote a pizza restaurant owner’s charges that the increased minimum wage ran her out of business, but if they don’t investigate the facts behind the situation their report is less than useless, as Paul Constant pointed out this morning. Here’s the thing: really good data analysis is very hard to come by. People get confused, they read the data wrong, they’re not smart enough to determine the actual patterns behind everyday life. A very good data analyst is rarer than a four-leaf clover.

That’s why I was so thrilled to learn about Invictus this morning. Barry Ritholtz explains on his Big Picture blog that Invictus has to keep his identity hidden behind a pseudonym because he “works at a shop that does not allow its staff to publish economic and data analysis outside of their formal imprimatur.” Even though his identity is obscured, Invictus is obsessed with getting to the truth about Seattle’s minimum wage. On Twitter and in posts on the Big Picture, Invictus has been hammering at conservative fear mongering on Seattle’s minimum wage.

Invictus’s biggest fight is against the Washington Policy Center, which has been spreading misleading stories about restaurant closures in Seattle using what he characterizes as “poor, misinformed, and data-free sources” to support their scurrilous charges. The Washington Policy Center says that restaurants in Seattle are closing. Invictus responded with a chart sourced from public information readily available at the King County Office of Economic and Financial analysis:

City of Seattle Food Business Count

That’s some beautiful data right there. It conclusively disproves the claim that Seattle is losing restaurants at a rapid clip, or that restaurant growth is slowing down in anticipation of the increased minimum wage.

Still, the data on that chart doesn’t include April 1st, when Seattle took the first step in our minimum-wage increase, so conservative blogs have been perpetuating the idea that Seattle’s restaurant growth would flatline or even decline as soon as the minimum wage goes up. The Z Pizza story gave them another opportunity to spread that fear around. This morning, Invictus responded with his own fresh chart demonstrating “the NAICS codes for the food service industry in Seattle via up to date licensed business counts” through yesterday. Guess what? The minimum wage doesn’t seem to be hurting food service licenses at all. In fact, they’re way higher than they have been in over a year: 

Seattle NAICS

Look at that chart! I think I’ve got a man-crush on Invictus right now.

Almost a decade ago, Nate Silver’s groundbreaking presidential coverage proved that America was desperately in need of deep, data-driven journalism. The panicked media frenzy over $15 minimum wages demonstrates that we need much more of this kind of factual analysis. Invictus’s research and reportage on this subject is invaluable, and it’s not even his day job!

If you want to know the truth about Seattle’s economy, you’ll stop following @Q13FOX on social media and start following @TBPInvictus. That’s where all the real news is happening.

The Economic Case for Marriage Equality: Why Exclusion is Bad for Business

The Supreme Court this week heard arguments on marriage for same-sex couples. Those arguments represent a fault line in American life: on one side are those who believe our country is made better through exclusion and policies that divide us and on the other side are those who believe our country is improved through inclusion and policies that allow more people to participate.

As you might expect, the arguments the lawyers made revolved around questions of fairness, justice and the role of the state in regulating our relationships. But here’s the thing: out here in the real world, the market (both of ideas and commerce) has already decided this question. The verdict? Inclusion wins.

Don’t get us wrong: it is fair and just to make sure that everyone in America is free to marry the person they love and free from discrimination. But it is also good for business. The states that are fighting for exclusionary laws like marriage bans (we’re looking at you Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee) or “religious freedom” laws (would Louisiana, Indiana, Arkansas and others please stand up?) are endangering their economic future. Americans have rightly realized that bigotry isn’t just morally wrong; it is economically stupid.

Here’s the 21st century reality: inclusion strengthens our country, our institutions, and our economy. And politicians in the twenty-one states fighting to keep their discriminatory marriage practices appear to be totally clueless about how modern technological economies work, and how extreme the competition for talented workers that drive innovation has become.

In the technological economy of the 21st century, growth and prosperity are created through a virtuous cycle between innovation and demand. Innovation is the process by which we solve all human problems, and thus raise living standards. Consumer demand is the mechanism through which markets distribute and incentivize innovation. And it is economic inclusion—the full, robust participation of as many people as possible—that drives both innovation and demand.

Innovation is an evolutionary process and, just like in the biological world, diversity is the key to evolution. The more cognitive diversity we have—the more people simultaneously approaching the same problem from as many different backgrounds and perspectives as possible—the greater the rate of innovation. It’s not how hard you try; it’s how many different ways you try to solve a problem that leads to success. Innovation is driven by differences, not sameness.

The evidence is clear: diversity does not hinder growth—it supercharges it. That has always been America’s competitive advantage: we have the most diverse workforce in the world, and for all our problems, we do a better job of integrating diversity than anyone else. Diversity is America’s most valuable resource; it is what makes us the most innovative nation on Earth.

Corporate America understands this. It’s why hundreds of the country’s most prominent businesses signed on to an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. And it is why 69 percent of large corporations responding to a 2011 Forbes Insight survey reported that they have internal offices overseeing diversity and inclusion strategies, most of them reporting directly to the CEO, board of directors, or other top executives.

It also explains why Wal-Mart pressured Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to refuse to sign that state’s self-destructive religious freedom law. And who can forget the instant uproar from firms national and local about Indiana’s religious freedom law? These aren’t just public relations disasters, they are bad for business, making it harder to attract the diverse and inclusive workforce that is absolutely critical to continued innovation and long-term success in an insanely competitive global market.

Including more people is simply good for business and good for growth. That is why inclusive cities like San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and Boston are kicking the daylights out of exclusionary places like Michigan, Tennessee and Indiana. It’s not that LGBT citizens are more innovative, it’s that they add to our diversity and we are collectively more innovative as a result. And the best and the brightest – gay, straight or otherwise – want to work for companies and live in states that foster this dynamic.

Here in Washington State we know something about creating an inclusive environment – we passed comprehensive anti-discrimination laws and were one of the first states in the county to pass marriage for same-sex couples by a popular vote. In fact, some of the most recognizable corporations in the world – Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft and others – were at the forefront of passing marriage equality in Washington State because they understand that diversity attracts diversity. It is a positive feedback loop that has boosted our state’s economy and helped make Seattle the fastest growing big city in America. And as our city grows, it is growing more diverse.

The great danger for exclusionary places is that feedback loops can be positive or negative — they can be virtuous cycles or death spirals. Make it clear that LGBT people or immigrants or other minorities aren’t welcome, and they will flee and so will their allies. Leading businesses that depend on the diversity that drives innovation will look elsewhere to find inclusive communities with a workforce that is the key to success. The best and the brightest will go to where the best jobs are. Left behind will be an increasingly homogenized, narrow, and less competitive population, electing the same kind of leaders who will enact the same kind of laws that chase even more smart people away, creating a “brain-drain” death spiral that both degrades the ability of that place to compete, while simultaneously strengthening competing geographies.

We are unlikely to be able to change the moral reasoning of political leaders who are fighting for discrimination and against marriage equality. But we can surely take advantage of their economic shortsightedness. So, to all of you creative, innovative, different people living in places that have chosen to fight to exclude people rather than include them: The world faces tremendous challenges. They will only be solved by people like you. Come to places like Seattle that will embrace you, and leverage your talents.

We need you. The world needs you. Their loss will be our gain.

Nick Hanauer is a founder of Second Avenue Partners, a venture capital company in Seattle specializing in early-stage startups and emerging technology. He has founded or financed dozens of companies, including aQuantive Inc. and, and is the co-author of two books, “The True Patriot” and “The Gardens of Democracy.”

Zach Silk ran Washington United for Marriage, the successful campaign to pass marriage equality in Washington state in 2012. He is a veteran campaign professional and serial entrepreneur. He is the Chief Troublemaker here at Civic Ventures.