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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ugh
ugh
oh
purr
call me Big G the humdinger gunslinger
ya i move like im john wayne’s dead ringer
sh*t, i just trump so fly, jump so high
and whump them mice go thump, that right
i purr in delight death be the rite
my flow like iguazu, i break through
like jesus john two-O — hell yah
make haste, small mammals to waste
it’s my modus operandi up the ante
vomit on ya carpet piss up the apartment
call me beast but yo i eat fancy feast!
a regular artist i harvest, the hit, the nip
and roll in it! some b*tches howl
i be the prowl on the street the beat
cant compete! best be understood
this my hood, my meter and measure
my life of murder for leisure.

 

purr
purr
ugh-purrrrr
yo, i never asked for noth’n
just a lil love’n and kibble, now
im blow’n up aint no quibble
and still no respect wont accept
think me a dog panting to defer?
yah i carry a tail and got fur
but i born on the streets
bighouse nine weeks
and they neuter me. well gee
y’all say you humane? can’t be
you spray away, release my pain
it aint easy being cat man thinks he all that
but as i ascend this imperialism will end
so say adieu gonna bend ya blue a la john yoo!
haha ya you think you high and mighty a-s-c-p-a?
well humdinger! i a-bout to torture and buffet!
ha. ha. purr purr
b*tches best defer
and respect my furrrrrr,
purr.

 

yo
yo
meoow
yo i got fur, fur, yea i got fur
them b*tches still hate but sh*t
i got friskies in every flavor, savor
your envy, it’s just elementary
yeezy weezy think they the sh*t easy
but shi*it, y’all just rich b*tches
you seek them frills, i eat my kills
ya you rodent as i pounce smooth
ya student as i pronounce truth, that
it’s you take i take egoism alright
it’s indisputable it’s business as usual
that we turn to thugs and altas shrugs
a new world order, i do murder
i do purr and consume the bieber!
ha think they better than king kibble?
don’t piddle! virtue gone republic rubicon
it’s the izzle extrajudicial the predator strikes
no vice I excise and you: and you be mice.

 

the cat rap by Gulliver “King Kibble” Cat
transliterated from the cat by spencer


kibble-money

kibble-money

the Levithan

feature script. 2014. as civilization crumbles, what is it to survive?

FADE IN:

ON AN AMERICAN FLAG

So close it’s but a few stripes rippling, thrashing against the encroaching night.

NEWS PERSONALITY (V.O.)

Fellow patriots. I am afraid.

EXT. INTERSTATE CLOVERLEAF – NIGHT

NEWS PERSONALITY (V.O.)

We’ve gone and sold ourselves out. Like cheap whores, to the Chinese, to Wall Street, to the thugs in Washington.

INT. FACTORY – ROBOTIC ASSEMBLY LINE

NEWS PERSONALITY (V.O.)

Are we not the free? The brave?! Yet we let them steal our money.

EXT. LOS ANGLES SKYLINE – NIGHT

Helicopters buzz about.

NEWS PERSONALITY (V.O.)

We let them tell us what to eat, how to raise our children.

INT. BIG BOX STORE

NEWS PERSONALITY (V.O.)

You know, Martin Luther King, he was just an ordinary preacher. Abraham Lincoln born into a log cabin. Many doubted.

EXT. PETROLEUM REFINERY – NIGHT

NEWS PERSONALITY (V.O.)

But they knew the simple truth that right makes might.

MONTAGE – AMERICAN INFRASTRUCTURE

— GREAT PLAINS – NIGHT — A massive train thunders by.

— FACTORY FARM — We pass row after row of tightly caged chickens.

— SEWAGE PLANT — Pipes the size of trucks empty into vast pools.

NEWS PERSONALITY (V.O.)

Remember that salient truth. You choose. You can choose! For the sake of your children I beg choose virtue. Choose goodness. Choose to be today’s hero.

EXT. AIRCRAFT CARRIER FLIGHT DECK – NIGHT

CAPTAIN JOHN HU, 32, looks out onto across the flight deck onto the dark night.

It’s an awesome sight – the full exercise of a Nimtz class aircraft carrier – sailors, flight crews, planes and munitions synchronized to perfect order.

His plane is aligned to the runway, wings folding down. The jet blast deflector raises. He is armed and readied.

NEWS PERSONALITY (V.O.)

Remember the creed of the Founders. Liberty. Liberty at any cost, liberty however turbulent however ferocious the waters – liberty! – that is our God given path.

The flight crew clears. The Pratt & Whitney F135 engine roars to 50,000 pounds force as steam escapes from the catapult below.

The holdbacks release and the fighter shoots forward. In but two seconds, we’re airborne, catapulted to the heavens.

NEWS PERSONALITY (V.O.)

That is what we choose, it is our ultimate only end. Liberty! Liberty or death!

The plane banks left. Down below, the USS George Washington steams forward, cutting through the turbulent waters.

Then, a WHOSH —

Multiple MISSILES narrowing in —

And IMPACT. Massive explosions along her hull; man and metal turn to dust.

FADE OUT

INT. RESTROOM

A man in a conservative suit, early-sixties, washes his hands under bright white florescent light. He is VIGGO GOMEZ, White House Chief of Staff.

TITLE SUPERIMPOSED: “Washington – 11:48 Zulu Time”

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Between the Reeds

april 2012. short story.
a tale of Moses, a tiki bar and love lost.

Once upon a time, there lived a man named Walter Wong. He was born in 1989 on the island of Hawaii in an alternate universe. After a disjointed childhood he moved to Memphis, which in those days was a mysterious magical place. All sorts of folk all comin and goin, the great Nile even the desert’s sands alive with the commotion of men’s workings. And all that, why, they were there in the cause of greatness, to build the Pharaoh’s tomb, to make a man eternal.

Wong was party to that same ambition. On the seventh day he pronounced he’d build the greatest nightclub yet seen. It was a big todo. He had to secure a steady supply of coconuts, pineapples, mangoes, papayas, strawberries, apple juice, orange juice, lime juice, Coca-Cola, Sprite, fine rum, brandy, blue Curacao, Kahlua, fresh mint, milk, ice, ice cream, among other things. And back in Ancient Egypt, those were hard things to find. But he found’m. In just two weeks he opened up. Wong’s Waikiki Luau Lounge.

It was a hit. Every night every chair filled. He had to hire dozens of Nubian Warriors just to keep the line in order. But much to his credit, Walter made sure the Luau Lounge didn’t become just another overpriced joint for rich folk. He even made Wednesday night free for slaves. He called it Slaves Night. Real nice of him, considering they didn’t have much otherwise.

His favorites though, they were the odd balls, the eccentrics. Like he had this regular Adjo who was a priest who could transmutate fish into sand. Not very useful but a neat party trick for sure. Also this Phoenician merchant Ahinabad who’d traveled nearly everywhere and this activist Moses who was organizing an exodus type thing. All sorts of kooky characters.

Wong was real happy. He would sit in the corner behind the volcano mountain, with Moses, Adjo and whoever else he liked, and they’d talk the night away. Like Ahinabad would try to teach them his alphabet, but Adjo wouldn’t have it, saying, This alphabet is a stupid fad. Hieroglyphs are much more beautiful! Ahinabad, all clever, would retort, But with its phonetic abstraction the alphabet is much more sophisticated. Soon everyone will forget your priestly scribblings!

And everyone would argue and argue till Walter laughing would hand out pacifying rounds of coconut mango kisses. Moses loved them. The way the coconut and mango balanced to subdue the luscious 130 proof rum — it was a sublime beverage. But the universe has its immutable laws. The Egyptians have always been wary of outsiders, especially those who’d use their foreign magic to successful ends.

One night, Commander Akhom came and he brought his regiment with. It wasn’t pretty. The Luau Lounge was mostly outdoors, a garden court overlooking the Nile, palm trees swaying overhead. The center piece was a large bean-shaped koi pond and mini-Manchu castle surrounded by cabana style tables and oriental statues. It was kitsch but in its composed chaos and contrasts really beautiful too. Everywhere you looked there was something noteworthy. It had a magical feeling, like the whole place twinkled and maybe it did, just a bit, for the only lights were christmas lights. That’s actually what the Egyptians found most amazing, what they’d tell their friends all about, those countless twinkling little lights.

Commander Akhom was a powerful man, captain of the Pharaoh’s retinue, second officer to the Egyptian army. He was one of the ones who didn’t like foreigners. In fact, he killed foreigners. They of course skipped the line. Marched in under the twinkling lights and encircled the koi pond, their stout swords swinging gleefully from their waists. Commander Akhom was the last to enter. On his way in, he flipped a table, but he did so like it was unintentional, like he’s just so big and important that furniture and breaking glass are beneath his perception.

He took his time. I guess figuring out what to do next. He walked around the mini-Manchu castle, inspected it quite thoroughly and then real quick-like unsheathed his sword and sliced off one of its towers. I don’t know. Maybe something about its pseudo Chinese nature offended his righteous sensibilities. Maybe he just wanted to demonstrate his power. But you know, when tools of murder are wielded so casually, when destruction comes to a soul as easily as a smile, that’s when you know to be afraid.

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