Monday, October 3, 2011

The Totally Confused Peter Thiel: Live in DC

Peter Thiel is co-founder PayPal and an early investor in Facebook. He is ranked #365 on the Forbes 400 list (2010).

The Manhattan Institute and e21 hosted a conversation with Thiel at the National Press Club in Washington DC. Although considered by some to be a libertarian, his views often ranged far from Liberty Nation. At times, he sounded like Tyler Cowen with more facts.

He predicted a return of Malthusianism. He thinks, like Malthus, that we are running out of food and other resources. He said that energy started going wrong in the 1970s. And he said that food yields have barely kept pace with global population growth in the last 30 years. [Which means they have kept pace-RW]

Here's Murray Rothbard on Malthus and his equations:

...a third element explained his instant renown: the spurious air of the "scientific" that his alleged ratios gave to a doctrine in an age that was increasingly looking for models of human behavior and its study in mathematics and the "hard" physical sciences.

For spurious Malthus's ratios undoubtedly were. There was no proof whatever for either of these alleged ratios. The absurdly mechanistic view that people, unchecked, would breed like fruit flies cannot be demonstrated by simply spelling out the implications of the alleged "doubling itself every twenty-five years."...

In a few more centuries, at the same rate, the "ratio" of population to subsistence would begin to approach infinity. This is scarcely demonstrable in any sense, certainly not by referring to the actual history of human population that, in most of Europe, remained more or less constant for centuries before the Industrial Revolution.

Still less is there proof of Malthus's proclaimed "arithmetical ratio," where he simply assumes that the supply of food will increase by the same amount for decade after decade...

Then, by the 1960s and 1970s, antipopulation hysteria arose again, with ever more strident calls for voluntary or even compulsory zero population growth, and countries such as India and China experimented with compulsory sterilization or compulsory abortion. Characteristically, the height of the hysteria, in the early 1970s, came after the 1970 census in the United States noted a significant decrease in the birth rate and the beginnings of an approach toward a stationary state of population. It was also observed that various third-world countries were beginning to see a marked slowing of the birth rate, a few decades after the fall in death rate due to the infusion of Western advances in medicine and sanitation. It looked again as if people's habituation to higher living standards will lead them to lower the birth rate after a generation of enjoying the fruits of lower death rates. Population levels will, indeed, tend to adapt to maintain cherished standards of living.It looks as if Godwin was right that given freedom, individuals in society and the marketplace will tend to make the correct birth decisions..

Thiel went on to say that travel got faster every decade from the 1500s onward, but that stopped in the 70s [But he ignored the fact that more people fly at the fastest rates now than ever before]

He said that what's happening in the middle east is technological failure that has produced "desperate people more hungry than scared" [which means he completely ignores the role that totalitarian governments play in suffocating a country]

He said regulatory inertia has come to dominate because no one believes the future will be better. [I have no idea where he gets this, everyday there are more and more regulations. Has he heard of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau? Has he heard that bank fees are going up because of new regulations? Has he heard of Obamacare?)

Then he said of the woman who forcibly takes money from the German people and gives it to the Greeks so that they can give it to the banksters that she, Angela Merkel, is the leading conservative leader in the world today. [Pardon me while I puke.]

Paging Hayek! Thiel then actually said that scientists and engineers are extremely underrepresented in the political culture. Theil obviously doesn't get that it is not the planners, but the fact that society can not be planned, that is the problem with government planning. No one knows what some lone scientist is dreaming up that will change the world. No one knows what some entrepreneur has spotted that will be in demand across the globe, once he brings it to our attention. It is absolutely insane to think that a central planner, even a scientist or engineer, can know what the entire world is thinking, big and small, and thus plan out the entire world.

Then, incredibly, Thiel said, he would prefer small government, but if it's going to be big we should at least have a plan for what we're doing instead of chaos. [Chaos is the only thing that will save us from a big government, which by definition will be totalitarian]

Bottom line: Thiel, like Cowen, seems to have no problem taking one side of a position and then, minutes later, taking the opposite,e.g. although favorably bringing up Malthus at one point, at another point, he disses Malthus.

But even more seriously, he seems to fail to get the the big picture fact that central planning can not work, even if "scientists and engineers" are brought in, since as Hayek and Ludwig von Mises taught us, knowledge is dispersed through out the population and it is impossible for one planner to ever have all the information.

Thiel, thus, is another example of a billionaire, who doesn't understand how the economy works. For the same reason that we would never have Michael Jordan perform heart surgery on us, despite the fact that he was a great athlete, with great stamina, we should stop listening to billionaires about how to run the economy. Thiel proved today that making a billion is certainly a different skill than understanding how the economy that he made his billions in works.


  1. I've found business people have some of the dumber views on how to improve government, to be honest.

  2. "....we should at least have a plan for what we're doing instead of chaos"

    Who's "We"?

    Peter Thiel is just another collectivist runt wanting to own and control others.

  3. So, does he think that agriculture should constantly run a surplus, just to prove they can? Sometimes I really have to scratch my head when I hear (or read) some business people.

  4. Thiel attended Bildeberg this year. The root of his thinking is interventionist..this is something all of us are preconditiined into during early schooling and even as a libertarian, it is hard to get rid of.

  5. Thiel went to the Bilderberg conference this year. Sounds like he's been fully compromised. That's a shame.

  6. Thiel's a Bilderberger!

    We need to be watchful of his intentions..atleast he calls himself a libertarian.