Posted Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, at 10:58 AM
My new piece takes you inside (deep inside!) a libertarian college convention as it is addressed by the futurist billionaire Peter Thiel. Of all the tycoons who're backing presidential candidates, Thiel -- who has sunk seven figures into a pro-Ron Paul Super PAC, Endorse Liberty -- loves to expound at length about his political and economic theories. Over an hour, and in a very short interview, Thiel explained that he was investing in the classic sense, hoping to advance the greater cause of libertarianism, not betting on Paul to become president.
“What I think is true of the way we negotiate with terrorists is also true of the way companies negotiate with governments,” says Thiel.
“Yeah: You never compromise, except in every specific instance. So, when you look at PayPal or Amazon, or VISA, or all these people, the question you have is: Were they doing this because it was a deeply felt ideological thing, that they had to do this? Or was it because the government had its screws on them? There’s sort of this liberal/libertarian argument: Companies are bad, and not to be trusted. I tend to think we need to put it against the background of insane regulation.” How insane? “The average American commits three felonies a day.”
I left plenty of material on the cutting room floor, because Thiel has talked about these ideas so frequently and publicly. Still, read on.