Monopoly Echoes | Zero to One

Peter Thiel, the noted Silicon Valley investor, recently wrote the now bestselling Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.

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Thiel is an advocate for monopolies. “Competition is for losers,” he says. “People always say that capitalism and competition are synonyms. But I think they’re really antonyms.” Peter Thiel argues that monopolies rise as they uniquely solve a problem. There’s truth to that, but to a larger extent monopolies remain because capitalism encourages efficiency, usually entailing scale, raising barriers to entry and making competition unattainable.

What’s funny is that it’s Peter Thiel, libertarian and Rand Paul supporter, who’s advocating for the concentration of power in monopolies. If Paul Krugman made the same argument would libertarians and the business press be equally laudatory?

The difference of course comes to rights and ownership. Paul Krugman wants single-payer health care, a partial monopoly owned by everyone, for everyone, just like our public roadways. Peter Thiel would have monopolies owned and controlled by individuals. He believes that the freedoms of the capitalist are more important than the beliefs and desires of the many citizens. To put it another way, as said by Thiel in 2009, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.

This is an echo years past, of the history of railroads. After the Civil War, we as a nation gave new powers to privately held monopolies. These privately owned corporations used their position to enrich a few and exploit the common citizenry. It was disastrous. The railroads used their freedoms to maim their workers by the thousand and not even pay restitution. Thus, we democratically agreed upon unprecedented federal regulations to reign in corporations. It is these regulations that libertarians find so offensive. They want more freedom to exploit.

Some freedoms are mutually exclusive. I can’t own property and be free from an authority that determines who owns what (even if it’s a public ledger — ie bitcoin). Without agreement on the rules of the road, I wouldn’t be free to drive 80mph. I can’t be free from fear without public prohibitions of food poising, slavery, careless building, murder, negligent manufacturing or any other form of coercion including price gouging. I like being free from fear. I support freedom from want. These are the freedoms of the many. Peter Thiel wants more freedom for the privileged rich. Me, I believe in freedom AND democracy.

right-of-way-private-monopoly-special

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John Henry

the anti-TED Talk, because inspiration isn't enough.

The Legend of John Henry [HQ]

John Henry was a mighty man. He was inspired, he worked so hard, and it killed him.

Where is the modern John Henry? Where is the song about the guy who did most things right, attended 2 years college on debt, but finds himself a diabetic Walmart Associate? Does it ends on his suicide, the second leading cause of death for Americans 25-341?

Why is a Disney re-creation of a 19th century folktale more true than so much of what we call non-fiction?
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what you say?

Does ideology define experience?

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.

Oprah

All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.

1887, Mark Twain

And I’m thankful for that, Rose. I’m thankful. You must do me this honor. Promise me you’ll survive. That you won’t give up, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. Promise me now, Rose, and never let go of that promise.

1997, Titanic

Just keep swimming.

2003, Finding Nemo

Let us speak no more of faith in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of cryptography.

2013, Edward Snowden, from No Place to Hide

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That is the true genius of America — a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles.

Barack Obama,
President of the United States, 2004

Insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics … They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal.

Alexander Stephens,
Confederate Vice-President, 1861

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That is the true genius of America — a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles.

Barack Obama,
President of the United States, 2004

Insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics … They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal.

Alexander Stephens,
Confederate Vice-President, 1861

God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam

When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.

1994, The Lion King

All in the game yo, all in the game.

2002, The Wire

The idea that a congressman would be tainted by accepting money from private industry or private sources is essentially a socialist argument.

1989, Newt Gringrich

The police protected you and there were courts of law. So you didn’t need a friend like me. Now you come and say “Don Corleone, give me justice.” But you don’t ask with respect. You don’t offer friendship. You don’t even think to call me “Godfather.” You come into my house on the day my daughter is to be married and you ask me to do murder – for money.

1972, The Godfather

There is a bear in the woods. For some people, the bear is easy to see. Others don’t see it at all. Some people say the bear is tame. Others say it’s vicious and dangerous. Since no one can really be sure who’s right, isn’t it smart to be as strong as the bear? If there is a bear.

1984, Ronald Reagan Campaign ad

You think you’ve got deep feelings? Read Napoleon’s love letters to Josephine. It’ll make you think that love is a form of insanity. Or read Virginia Woolf’s last letter to her husband before she loaded her coat up with stones and drowned herself in a river. I don’t really do any light reading, just deep, deep stuff. I’m not a light kind of guy.

2013, Mike Tyson

The burden of poverty isn’t just that you don’t always have the things you need, it’s the feeling of being embarrassed every day of your life, and you’d do anything to lift that burden.

2010, Jay Z, Decoded

It may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve.

1854, Thoreau, Walden

No nation rose so white and fair, None fell so pure of crime.

1878, Confederate Monument, Augusta, Georgia