Rich People Complaining About Debt

I recently read an article on the struggles of being a start-up entrepreneur, and was surprised to find that these alleged struggles for entrepreneurs almost hitting economic “ruin”.

He had cashed in his 401(k) and maxed out a $60,000 line of credit. He had sold the Rolex he bought with his first-ever paycheck during an earlier career as a stockbroker. And he had humbled himself before his father–the man who raised him on maxims such as “money doesn’t grow on trees” and “never do business with family”–by asking for $10,000, which he received at 5 percent interest after signing a promissory note.

Smith projected optimism to his co-founders and 10 employees, but his nerves were shot. “My wife and I would share a bottle of $5 wine for dinner and just kind of look at each other,” Smith says. “We knew we were close to the edge.”

The horror: “I had to beg my rich dad for money and could only afford the CHEAP wine!” This kind of reminds me of the “struggles” Mitt Romney went through growing up:

They were not easy years. […] We were happy, studying hard. Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time.

For reference, Mitt and Ann Romeny were living off of today’s equivalent of $377,000 in assets (not to mention Mitt’s father was the CEO of a major company).

The fact is, if you’re upper class, with college educated parents, then you’re never really “on the brink.” During the Victorian Era, most of the debt actually came from the upper class, and often ended up in debt forgiveness or easy to manage deals to avoid ruin. Given that we’re living in the equivalent of a new Gilded Age, this is not too far off the mark the “struggling” rich.

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Apparently Silicon Valley Fascism Is A Thing

Yes you read the title correctly, as a Baffler article details, there is a concerted political movement from Silicon Valley techies to implement “a national CEO [or] what’s called a dictator.” Oh wait and it gets better, that’s the progressive (or as one member says “politically correct”) version of the movement, the less progressive sects of the so-called “Dark Enlightenment” are pro-eugenics, and see slavery as “a natural human relationship.”

Clearly they’ll get nowhere if they keep fighting, the neo-reactionaries need to meet somewhere in the middle, between a progressive Orwellian dystopia and a horrifying Dickean slave state.

The scariest part of this movement is that it is not just a fringe phenomenon, but has echoes in people like Peter Thiel, aka the billionaire investor behind PayPal and Facebook. Here is part of a Stanford lecture he gave in 2012:

A startup is basically structured as a monarchy. We don’t call it that, of course. That would seem weirdly outdated, and anything that’s not democracy makes people uncomfortable. We are biased toward the democratic-republican side of the spectrum. That’s what we’re used to from civics classes. But the truth is that startups and founders lean toward the dictatorial side because that structure works better for startups.

In a sense he’s right, and confirms what Corey Robin said about the supposedly “libertarian” notion of right-wing freedom:

When these libertarians look out at society, they don’t always see isolated or autonomous individuals; they’re just as likely to see private hierarchies like the family or the workplace, where a father governs his family and an owner his employees.  And that, I suspect…is what they think of and like about society: that it’s an archipelago of private governments.

And perhaps that’s the worst part of the movement: the changing American culture itself. Appealing to 1984 and abolitionists from the past becomes useless when the new societal ideal is to make it big by being your own private dictator. That’s not to say most digital “peasants” will vote away their freedom, but when an irrational movement grows large enough, it has a better chance of taking power.