Patrick Byrne: What is your counsel?
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: I think we’re eating . . . Collectively, I think we’re eating the seed grain. We’re farmers who are so, you know . . . The image comes to mind when I read about the hedge fund community of Henry VIII, you know, in the movies where he’s got drumstick . . . turkey drumsticks and he’s just __________ slobbering. That to me might be how we’re remembered. I mean we are so short-sighted. We’re environmentally ruining the planet. To me, I think what’s happened is there was some pretty good safeguards that kept . . . Well I think what politics really was from . . . especially from the ‘30s and ‘40s, was once government got in the business of . . . of allocation, allocation, allocation, what happened was people realized it was very profitable to go and capture D.C. and get them to allocate wealth and resources to you. Well we all figured out that game by the 1980s or so, and different groups stopped being able to organize in order to expropriate largess from the public treasury. And so what happened was we all realized there’s one group that we can still stick it to, and that . . . because there’s one group that doesn’t vote, and that’s the future. And so basically our programs now are . . . are . . . Our lifestyle, our rap now is all about sticking it to the future and living better now. And that shows up whether you’re talking about Social Security, or education, or you know, fiscal discipline, anything. It’s basically politics . . . The normal push me, pull you of political life of much of the 20th century has disappeared because we really . . . we all realized, hey, that there’s one group that we can stick it . . . to stick them with the bill, and that’s the future.
Recorded on: 10/29/07
We are sticking it to future generations.
Is it acceptable to write a story from the perspective of someone who is completely unlike you?
- Man Booker Prize-winning writer Yann Martel, a Canadian man, has written from the perspectives of a man with AIDS, a body-switching woman, an Indian boy, and 20th-century Portuguese widowers.
- Is it acceptable to write from the perspective of someone who is completely unlike you? Martel believes these transgressions put empathetic imagination into practice, allowing your mind to go where your body cannot.
- In Martel's case, it's the recipe for great art—books that have been loved and read by millions. "[W]e are who we are in relation to others," says Martel. "But the key thing is the empathetic imagination, and the empathetic imagination is the great traveler. And travelers necessarily cross borders. And not only do they have to but it's a thrill to do so. It's a thrill encountering the other."
A review of the global "wall" that divides rich from poor.
- Trump's border wall is only one puzzle piece of a global picture.
- Similar anxieties are raising similar border defenses elsewhere.
- This map shows how, as a result, "the West" is in fact one large gated community.
The inventor Nikola Tesla's esoteric beliefs included unusual theories about the Egyptian pyramids.