One of our commenters, DeriKuk, left a link to a clip of Peter Thiel’s speech to the National Press Club. To say the applause was lukewarm is putting it politely. Those inside-the-bubble people in Washington didn’t like, still don’t like, his firm support of Trump. Given his credentials as a gay Silicon Valley billionaire, coming out for Trump was a much bigger deal than his public outing as a gay man. Thus on several levels, Mr. Thiel is the ultimate outlier when it comes to Trump supporters.
The speech was given a week or so before the election. Listening to him speak in this clip, you’d think Trump had already been elected. Remember back then when all the ‘smart’ money was on Hillary?
Obviously, not all of the smart money was put on Hillary. Among other surprises, this endorsement by Mr Thiel was/is a biggie. He’s now a Trump advisor, which is extremely fortunate since Trump makes no bones about his techno-illiteracy. It’s a skill he needs in his staff, though. The ethos of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs is rarefied. While Trump is obviously quite smart, he’s a bricks-and-mortar kind of guy. Too bad; Trump possesses a rapid learning curve for things that draw his attention. Being less a technophobe would widen his horizons.
Meanwhile Thiel has moved from being a cool gay Silicon Valley billionaire to being a demonized billionaire in the Trump camp. He probably doesn’t lose any sleep over the ignorance of those who impugn his motives and intelligence for coming out in favor of Trump. Some of the weirder parts of the West Coast bubble have suggested that Thiel’s “gay tag” be removed since he’s a traitor. The rigid herd mentality on the left is something to behold.
Thiel, like Trump, is fairly agnostic when it comes to politics. He appears to be mostly a politically conservative libertarian; they can be difficult to pigeonhole. The left/right, red/blue alignments have been overturned with this American election.
If you’d like to watch the complete NPC program, including the obligatory after-talk interview with submitted audience questions – including the by-now-expected queries into his post-litigation thinking regarding that infamous Gawker lawsuit – it can be found here.
His wiki is here. Be sure to check out his ideas on philanthropy.
It’s always informative to read what the super-rich do with their money; what they pay attention to is an important indicator of their character. The supreme example remains Andrew Carnegie’s phenomenal libraries across the country and around the world:
A Carnegie library is a library built with money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. A total of 2,509 Carnegie libraries were built between 1883 and 1929, including some belonging to public and university library systems. 1,689 were built in the United States, 660 in the United Kingdom and Ireland, 125 in Canada, and others in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Serbia, Belgium, France, the Caribbean, Mauritius, Malaysia and Fiji.
Carnegie ended up giving away most of his wealth during this on-going endeavor.
Have we outgrown the town library concept? I don’t think so. Carnegie himself would have been in the vanguard of re-purposing his magnificent buildings. They were and remain a brilliant part of our heritage.
President-elect Trump is half-Scots via his Scotland-born mother. Carnegie was fully Scot, moving to America with his parents. They both share the impulse of philanthropy, and no doubt Trump would agree with the majority of “Carnegie’s Dictum”:
Man does not live by bread alone. I have known millionaires starving for lack of the nutriment which alone can sustain all that is human in man, and I know workmen, and many so-called poor men, who revel in luxuries beyond the power of those millionaires to reach. It is the mind that makes the body rich. There is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else. Money can only be the useful drudge of things immeasurably higher than itself. Exalted beyond this, as it sometimes is, it remains Caliban still and still plays the beast. My aspirations take a higher flight. Mine be it to have contributed to the enlightenment and the joys of the mind, to the things of the spirit, to all that tends to bring into the lives of the toilers of Pittsburgh sweetness and light. I hold this the noblest possible use of wealth.
From Carnegie to Trump to Thiel, America has a rich history of philanthropy. I don’t know about Thiel (he was born in Germany), but for the self-made Carnegie and Trump, there is a strong streak of Scotland’s Covenanters in their public speech and actions.
Scots moved to America in appreciable numbers early on and fought in our Revolutionary War. Without them, the victory might have gone to the British.
After the birth of the United States, these Covenanters would move in great numbers to America’s first “highland”. Smaller than the further west Rockies, the Appalachian Mountains is where their descendants remain today: suspicious of flatlanders, their cultural virtues sadly fragmented by the dole.
When The Turmoil comes, it is the Highlanders who will welcome it as an opportunity to regain their true character.