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


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.