Patrick M. Byrne is the CEO of the Internet retailer Overstock.com. Byrne received his B.A. from Dartmouth, studied at Cambridge University as a Marshall Scholar, and earned a PhD in Philosophy from Stanford University. He co-founded Overstock.com in 1997 and became CEO in 1999. In 2005, Byrne initiated a controversial campaign against "naked short selling" in which he accused a "Sith Lord" and various financial firms of sabotaging Overstock's share price. Byrne also serves as head of First Class Education, an education lobbying group that seeks to require that 65% of all educational spending be spent "in the classroom." A strong proponent of school vouchers, Byrne spent almost four million dollars in advertising for a bill that would have given Utah residents who enroll their children in private schools taxpayer-supported subsidies. The bill lost, 62-38%.
Patrick Byrne: First of all U.S. education. Education, we’re . . . we’re spending about four . . . or no. We’re spending about eight or nine percent of GDP and education, but I would give it to where . . . some of it towards educating disadvantaged people. We’re creating . . . We have created a class of undereducated people that it’s . . . We’ve given them a death sentence. I would probably put $40 billion into a Manhattan project of alternative energy. Don’t know if it’s fusion. Don’t . . . not . . . don’t know if it’s, you know, sun. I have . . . I have . . . ..., geothermal. Not sure wind is ever gonna get us where we think it’s gonna get us, but alternative energy. And then in the developing world, although there’s a lot of evidence that you can’t get rid of poverty by giving money away, lots of it ... pretty overwhelming evidence, you can get . . . there’s . . . There were some studies done where you . . . They would go into an Indian village, and you take the output variable to be the weight of children and a family. That’s a very good way to measure the well-being of a family – specifically increases in children’s weight. Well if you give money to men, you don’t get any increase in the weight of children. You get increase in their consumption of alcohol, tobacco and (01:02:14) hookers. You give money to women, you immediately see this dramatic increase in the weight of children. So I think that there’s . . . I’m really cynical about large . . . To be honest I’m cynical about Jeffery Sachs and Bono and that whole . . . that whole approach. I mean to me they’re just trying stuff that was tried 40 years ago. It didn’t work then. It’s not gonna work now. Recorded on: 10/29/07