Thiel's response

Peter Thiel has a succinctly argued response to Patri's lead essay at Cato Unbound. The part about the race between politics and technology caught my eye right away:

A better metaphor is that we are in a deadly race between politics and technology. The future will be much better or much worse, but the question of the future remains very open indeed. We do not know exactly how close this race is, but I suspect that it may be very close, even down to the wire. Unlike the world of politics, in the world of technology the choices of individuals may still be paramount. The fate of our world may depend on the effort of a single person who builds or propagates the machinery of freedom that makes the world safe for capitalism.

I can't help but think that some neurons in Thiel's brain were subconsciously reminiscing Heinlein's words when he wrote that:

I suspect that our race's tragedy has been played endless times. It may be that an intelligent race has to expand right up to its disaster point to achieve what is needed to break out of its planet and reach for the stars. It may always -- or almost always -- be a photo finish, with the outcome uncertain to the last moment. Just as it is with us. It may take endless wars and unbearable population pressure to force-feed a technology to the point where it can cope with space. In the universe, space travel may be the birth pangs of an otherwise dying race. A test. Some races pass, some fail . . .

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I think you mean "lead

I think you mean "lead essay", not "lead easy". I could be wrong.



Thiel: "I stand against


"I stand against confiscatory taxes..."

Whenever someone qualifies the word "taxes" with the word "confiscatory" I infer he probably thinks some taxes aren't.

I remember a conservative posting something like "A 10% tax on such and such doesn't strike the eye as confiscatory..."

I don't know about eyes, but I think any tax should strike the mind as confiscatory when one considers the actual confiscation involved.

I don't know, is Thiel an anarchist? If not then I think it's safe to assume that he actually favors confiscatory taxes.

Technologoical change

Technological change is constantly changing social dynamics, leading to greater or lesser social cohesion.

If the knowledge and ability to make brass, steel, chariots, gunpowder or nuclear bombs is confined to a small group, that group may tend to dominate its neighbors; everyone will become part of that group’s hegemony – or perhaps of the rival group that gains this knowledge. Once the knowledge becomes more widely available, however, people will be able to resist the larger groups’ hegemony.

If it takes a lot of capital to start a business, businesses will tend to be limited to those with capital, and people who cannot start businesses will feel compelled to work for them. If all it takes to start a business is a website, businesses will tend to become more diffuse, and the power of large employers will be reduced.

If there is a “frontier” – that is, an environment in which no one has the ability and incentive to recognize the cost that individual actions impose on others, and the means to restrain the practice – the power of central authority is reduced relative to the power of the individual. When a frontier closes – that is, when some central authority recognizes that the cost of individual actions are imposing costs on others, and when the central authority has a mechanism to do something about it – the power of the central authority grows relative to the individual.