This led me to a Slate article by Jacob Weisberg, which - in addition to misreporting Theil's intent - tosses in a bit of racism that has apparently gone overlooked in the media, who, as twisted as they are, don't even see their hypocrisy.
Thiel's program is premised on the idea that America suffers from a deficiency of entrepreneurship. In fact, we may be on the verge of the opposite, a world in which too many weak ideas find funding and every kid dreams of being the next Mark Zuckerberg. This threatens to turn the risk-taking startup model into a white boy's version of the NBA, diverting a generation of young people from the love of knowledge for its own sake and respect for middle-class values.
Say WHAT? First of all, there is no "non-white boy's" version of the NBA. It's integrated, which for Weisberg's benefit means "anybody with ability can play." Nor is there any racial or gender-based component whatsoever in Thiel's proposal. Weisberg begins with the completely racist bias that presumes that when we're talking about good ideas for the marketplace, these will come from white males. Weisberg's assumption is despicable, as is his attitude and his inaccurate article.
This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Weisberg plays the race card at every possible opportunity. He played it in the 2008 elections (and was proven wrong); he plays it against the Tea Party; he plays it even here where it's completely inappropriate. He uses race as a weapon of first resort and has the nerve to whine like a baby when someone notices. If nothing else, his writing teaches us that if he points his finger hard enough at others it's OK for him to be a bigot on his own time.
Discounting his cheap ad hominem attacks, Weisberg takes Thiel to task for nothing more than having consistent values and putting his efforts behind them, unlike the typical Conservative Republican ("hands out of my pocketbook, but I'll legislate your lifestyle") or Liberal Democrat ("give me your wallet, and I'll pay lip-service to staying out of your private life so long as you live it the way I think you should.").
From Thiel's own lips, the request is to defer university for two years, something ignored by Weisberg. The offer is extended to 20 students who are 20 years old or younger. The reason for the offer is clear: Thiel does not confuse a degree with intelligence. If you have an idea and you have it now, this allows you to take that idea to market with a lowered barrier to entry. It doesn't matter who or where the idea is from.
Furthermore, Weisberg accuses Thiel of
"...the desire to clone oneself—perhaps literally in Thiel's case. Thus Thiel fellows will have the opportunity to emulate their sponsor by halting their intellectual development around the onset of adulthood, maintaining a narrow-minded focus on getting rich as young as possible, and thereby avoid the siren lure of helping others or contributing to the advances in basic science that have made the great tech fortunes possible."Pot, meet Kettle. Weisberg believes that it's OK for liberal educators to clone themselves ... that's contributing to "intellectual development" when done in a university setting by academicians... but it's not OK for anyone else to do that, because any learning or development obtained from anyone except people just like you is "halting their intellectual development." Also he clearly indicates that taking an advance to market and actually earning a tech fortune does not make "the great tech fortunes possible." Note also his opinion that starting a company and providing jobs, products, and services isn't "helping others."
Wow... racism, sexism, hypocrisy, and ignorance, all in one Weisberg article!
Unfortunately, Weisberg doesn't stop there. You have here the added assumption that you actually need a university education to develop intellectually, with the implication that you cannot make anything of yourself without it. Not doing as he does is a diversion from "middle-class values". This is the sort of sort of dumbshit Newspeak snow-job that has been perpetrated by the people whose job it is to sell these educations. Be clear: it is not the job of a university to educate... it is the job of a university to sell education. That is how they earn their salaries; it's how they buy groceries; it's how they pay the rent. It is in their vested interest to convince you that you should spend thirty thousand dollars for a French Literature degree so you can settle for a job at the video store (because God knows there's a burning need for French Lit majors) rather than continue your father's plumbing business and earn $60+ per hour. Meanwhile the French Lit major forks over half a day's wages when he needs his drain unclogged.
Entrepreneurial spirit and innovation isn't limited to Internet billionaires... they are firmly rooted "middle-class values" shared by the plumber, carpenter, electrician, hardware-store owner, grocer... etc. IOW, these values are shared by the actual middle-class, who own businesses and employ people and make it possible to live civilized lives; if not by Weisberg's imaginary middle-class populated entirely by academicians, journalists, and theoretical scientists. The point here is that these pseudo-intellectual Leftists have made a career of belittling people who have simply chosen to take their lives in a direction that the Leftists themselves would not have chosen. This is the basic lie behind the Leftist ideal of "personal freedom"... your freedom of choice is tolerated only so long as it is the "right" choice, as decided by your betters.
Here are a few news flashes, folks, in list form:
- You don't have to be a white male to have a good idea.
- You don't have to be a white male to start a company.
- A university education should undertaken if it gets you to your goal. It is not a necessary requirement for acceptance and self-worth. If obtaining the degree does nothing to further your goal, then you should waste neither the money nor the time. Instead, you should apply it toward starting your business or even paying your rent. You should not be made to feel guilty about that.
- Your "intellectual development" does not halt should you choose to do something other than buy a university education.
- Thiel's foundation is designed to shepherd 20 young entrepreneurs over a two year period. It is not an appeal for mass exodus from college campuses.
(Lest you think I'm lobbing this in from the far Right... think again. There's plenty of hypocritical nonsense on that side as well. But today I'm talking about Weisberg. And if you want to be a French Lit major... more power to you. I used it only as an example of people who attended college for no purpose other than obtaining a credential.)