Monday, December 5, 2011

I Want to be a Billionaire: The NEA's open letter to Peter Thiel

Professor Bill Lyne's well-crafted retort to Peter Thiel's scholarship offering students  $100K to "drop out of College" and start a business. I actually like Peter's plan and wish there were more like that out there. I think Lyne's piece does not address it head-on other than a lot of disjointed and ad hominem attacks. That said, I found Lyne most persuasive, when talking about the potentially constructive role of government. Here are some excerpts:

"The Grand Coulee Dam, built with federal money from Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Public Works Administration, provided the electricity that powered the aluminum smelters in Vancouver and Longview that fed the Boeing factories in Seattle and Vancouver that churned out B-17 and B-29 bombers during World War II and B-47s and B-52s in the 1950s...
The Internet, without which Microsoft’s tremendous success and phenomenal profits would never have been possible, grew in part from research done by Leonard Kleinrock, a professor at the publicly funded University of California at Los Angeles who was educated at the publicly funded Bronx High School of Science and the publicly funded City College of New York. The early infrastructure for the Internet was created by the publicly funded National Science Foundation and the publicly funded United States Military...
In order to continue to grow, capitalism must do one of two things: innovate or exploit...
And a capitalist world tilted toward exploitation is not just bad for the exploited, it will also be bad in the long run for the exploiters.   The world that you and your friends are building—a world where public universities can become private in a generation, a world where unions as the counterbalance to rapacious capital are disappearing, a world that blames public employees for bankers’ sins, a world where the best and the brightest are developing software to make those sins easier to commit, a world where the richest one percent have more than the bottom 90—is a meaner world, a world where the fuse is always lit for upheaval, riots, and rebellion.  You’ll find yourself constantly creating ever more elaborate schemes to blame victims, building more gated communities, and hiring more private cops.  And that’s just no way to live, no matter how much money you have..."


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