Politics

TJ Rodgers on John McCain, Reason, Libertarians…and Love

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Brass-balled Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers is no stranger to reason: The mag interviewed him way back when and he wrote a 1995 column urging Congress to avoid "technology traps" by subsidizing corporations. More recently, he wrangled over the social responsibility of corporations with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and Nobel laureate Milton Friedman.

Here's a new interview with him, conducted by News.com's Declan McCullagh (also a reason contributor). As always with Rodgers, his words are well worth reading. Some snippets:

Why the antipathy toward McCain?

There's an article in Reason magazine about McCain. He's anti-free speech. He's a war guy. Those are about as bad as you can get from a libertarian perspective.

I got turned off by him in a personal meeting. I made a presentation to him that the government is wasting hundreds of millions of dollars in (technology-related) pork barrel spending. I showed that the pork barrel spending is not only fundamentally bad, but also harmful to the people getting the money, the semiconductor industry. When I got done with the presentation, he labeled the pork barrel spending "peanuts." He poked his finger in my chest and said that he's "going to get rid of your big fat stock options."

He's in favor of stifling free speech. He's in favor of the war. He doesn't truly care about lean government. You'd have difficulty picking between him and George W. Bush….

Why aren't there more libertarians, or at least out-of-the-closet libertarians, in Silicon Valley?

First of all, I think Silicon Valley people, if you gave them the world's smallest quiz, my belief is you'd find that people in Silicon Valley are highly libertarian but they don't even know what that phrase means. It's not part of their vernacular. Silicon Valley people are highly apolitical. They're worried about their businesses, they're worried about growth, they're worried about technology. Sometimes they get involved in politics. They get involved on both sides of the fence…

If you would look at the people in Silicon Valley who identify themselves as Republicans, you'll find that they're free-market Republicans. What I think you'd find is that Silicon Valley Democrats have an economic free market base to them, and therefore look a lot like libertarians. Silicon Valley Republicans… aren't restrictive on social issues. You're not going to find any anti-gay, redneck Republicans in Silicon Valley.

Because they don't care that much about politics, they don't get beyond the nuances. But if you took the next layer of detail, you'll find that regardless of how they identified themselves, both sides are libertarian-ish in their leanings….

Why get married now, after you and your bride have lived together for 22 years?

If you're not married when you die, half of your property goes to the state. That's not going to happen to me. The way we've lived together hasn't changed. She's been with me since 1985.

Whole thing here.

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  1. you left out my favorite line from this interview…

    In terms of president, Ron Paul is a non-nut and I voted for him.

  2. When I got done with the presentation, he labeled the pork barrel spending “peanuts.” He poked his finger in my chest and said that he’s “going to get rid of your big fat stock options.”

    Poor John, still can’t get the Marxist reading material he was stuck with for five years out of his head.

  3. When I got done with the presentation, he labeled the pork barrel spending “peanuts.” He poked his finger in my chest and said that he’s “going to get rid of your big fat stock options.”

    If anyone where to do that to me, they’d find themselves with a first-class ticket onto the ass-kick express.

  4. When I got done with the presentation, he labeled the pork barrel spending “peanuts.” He poked his finger in my chest and said that he’s “going to get rid of your big fat stock options.”

    Oh yeah, John? How about you just slide those peanuts over to me then?

    Does your wife have stock options, John?

  5. “If you’re not married when you die, half of your property goes to the state.”

    Uh – if you’re a dolt who doesn’t sign even the simplest of holographic wills, that’s the case. I get his point about the benefits of marriage in terms of intestate succession. But apparently his comment about SV people not knowing a lot about politics extends to their knowledge of the law, as well.

  6. McCain is the worst sort of bully, a lack of conscience buttressed by a self-righteous vindicative attitude.

  7. Uh – if you’re a dolt who doesn’t sign even the simplest of holographic wills, that’s the case. I get his point about the benefits of marriage in terms of intestate succession. But apparently his comment about SV people not knowing a lot about politics extends to their knowledge of the law, as well.

    Every long-long-term “we’re never going to get married” couple I know who eventually get married always gives flimsiest excuses for why they got married; “tax reasons”, “so we could have insurance” etc.

  8. speaking of “love”… (here comes big-time threadjacking)…
    The conflict between Colombia, Venezuela and Equador has come to a peaceful resolution (for now), as the respective leaders avert war by sharing a hug.
    So now you know “make love not war” or “hugs not war”
    (why can’t all conflicts be resolved like this?)

  9. But…John McCain is a mainstream libertarian. Not anything the extremists here would understand, of course.

  10. rana,
    If they made love, not war, would that mean that they got into a pile and had sex with each other?

  11. The reason people who don’t want to get married usually end up married is because of all the pressure government interference in marriage causes.

    Once you’re married, there’s a lot of shit that just gets way, way simpler.

    As for “so we could have insurance”, not only do I support domestic partner rights for homos on principle, it also benefits me as I got on my girlfriend’s insurance which is way better than my company’s 🙂

  12. “rana,
    If they made love, not war, would that mean that they got into a pile and had sex with each other?”
    Economist, that truly is a disgusting image. Chavez, Uribe, Correa (and I’m sure Morales wouldn’t want to miss out on all the fun), all hot and sweaty… nope, I can’t go on any further (I will leave that up to those with a quicker wit than mine).

  13. Half of it goes to the state?

    What frigging country is that guy from, North Korea? Write a will man, write a will.

  14. rana, who is the caboose on that train?

    TOOT TOOT

  15. Learn the truth about John McCain. Far from being the war hero he is portrayed as, in truth no one has worked harder to betray Vietnam Vets, POWs, and their families than Senator John McCain. Instead of helping Veterans and their families, John McCain sided with career government officials and bureaucrats for the sake of his political career. Don’t be fooled.

  16. there’s a difference between an excuse and an explanation

  17. Writing a will does not excuse you from estate tax. Being married only delays it until both spouses are dead.

  18. rana,
    I’m very sorry for the image I put in your head.

  19. Estate planning excuses you from the estate tax. Also that only applies if you have an estate worth a couple million. If you have that kind of dough, hire an attorney. He’ll sock it away in trusts.

  20. The impression I got was that Rogers was saying that McCain blew him off with an attempted joke. “Hey everybody, Rogers wants to take away your stock options”. So patronizing and tedious, but not Marxist or ass-kick express material.

    As for the ass-kick express, I would be really careful about asking “Why did you marry your wife?”.

  21. Yesterday, McCain lost it and yelled at a reporter who asked him something about being Kerry’s running-mate. His temperament gets brought up once in a while, but not enough. Having a real bully in the White House is not a good idea.

  22. You can only put 10K a year into trusts, for a guy with his money, that is too slow.

  23. My friend, Waki Paki, pokes me in the chest, but I understand it’s a cultural thing. When McCain pokes people in the chest, it’s an asshole thing.

  24. When Ace Ventura got poked in the chest by that mascot, he slugged him. Should work for McCain too.

  25. If a senator pokes you in the chest and you then break his arm, who goes to jail?

    Yeah, thats what I thought.

  26. He must hang out with a different crowd. Most Silicon Valley folks I know are all pretty liberal. The few Republicans I know (that will admit it) would be categorized flaming liberals anywhere else. And I use flaming in all its implied connotations.

  27. Having a will won’t exempt your survivors from probate or probate taxes. Joint property (mariage not required) is exempt from probate, but does take a certain level of trust. Estate tax is a related but different issue. Laws vary from state-to-state, so consult an expert.

  28. After reading TFA, I think what Rodgers is getting at is not that Silicon Valley geeks aren’t interested in politics, but that Silicon Valley high-tech management doesn’t use political deals to advance the fortunes of their companies.

    That’s true. The business culture is very free market oriented. It’s not so much any deep ethos as gamesmanship. When you’re showing off the obscene fortune you made, you want it all to be attributable to your high-tech brilliance, not some government favor.

  29. If a senator pokes you in the chest and you then break his arm, who goes to jail?

    Nobody. You, however, go to the morgue.

  30. I just wrote a brief editorial why libertarians should now vote for John McCain.

    Instead of cutting and pasting the whole thing, I thought I would provide a link.

    Why Ron Paul Supporters Should Vote For McCain

  31. “anti-gay, redneck Republicans”….. (Rogers)

    Is there another kind?

  32. Mackey reminds me of that character in Atlas Shrugged: the banker who was proud of never making a profit, while his bank went belly-up.

    Whole Foods has a pretty decent butcher and fish department, but the rest of their store is pretty worthless. Any grocery store that doesn’t even carry coca cola is wasting retail space that a smarter vendor could put to better use.

    -jcr

  33. Hmm.. If I had TJ’s money and McCain had poked me in the chest and threatened to rob me, I’d be highly tempted to hire a Vietnamese gang to beat the crap out of him.

    -jcr

  34. Perhaps y’all are taking Rodgers’ words a bit too literally.

  35. As always with Rodgers, his words are well worth reading.

    No, they’re not, at least judging by the excerpts you yourself culled from the interview. If you really believe that then you’re shallower than I thought.

  36. Instead of cutting and pasting the whole thing, I thought I would provide a link.

    Thank you, because you have a very broad definition of “brief”.

  37. Mackey reminds me of that character in Atlas Shrugged: the banker who was proud of never making a profit, while his bank went belly-up.

    Actually, as I recall from the article with Mackey and Rodgers, Mackey pointed out that his company is more profitable than Rodgers’ company.

    Say what you will about Whole Foods, but they do know how to make a profit.

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