Fools And Their Money

Amazon.com billionaire Jeff Bezos is financing the construction of a 10,000-year clock in West Texas. Why? Beats me:

Created by Danny Hillis for the Long Now Foundation, the Clock is a mechanical timepiece that is intended to run for 10,000 years, and has been designed so that it can be serviced and maintained over that period even if civilization collapses and knowledge of its origin and purpose are lost. The first Clock will be built inside a mountain in west Texas.

Yeah I saw that movie. I think it starred Mel Gibson. In the version I saw, the post-apocalyptic population, now living in Stone Age conditions, worshipped the clock as a God.

Seriously, I don’t get the point of this but I suppose there is one. Someone please enlighten me.

Here’s another billionaire wet dream:

Pay Pal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel has given $1.25 million to an initiative to create floating libertarian countries in international waters, according to a profile of the billionaire in Details magazine.

Thiel has been a big backer of the Seasteading Institute, which seeks to build sovereign nations on oil rig-like platforms to occupy waters beyond the reach of law-of-the-sea treaties. The idea is for these countries to start from scratch–free from the laws, regulations, and moral codes of any existing place. Details says the experiment would be “a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.”

Oooh floating islands built with looser building codes! There’s a selling point! I think “floating petri dish” is perhaps more descriptive than the author realized. Well, if Thiel is a billionaire and only invested $1.25 million in this idea, I’d say his commitment is a little tepid. Then again, maybe he talked to Tom Monaghan and checked on the progress at his conservative Catholic paradise, Ave Maria (if you go to the link, please tell me if you spot any black people in the slide show. I’ve been watching for 10 minutes and so far, no luck.)

I guess starting a charitable foundation to stop diseases and world hunger is so last century. Seriously, billionaires: I love your crazy dreams. Stay adorable.

11 Comments

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11 responses to “Fools And Their Money

  1. Jim

    “I guess starting a charitable foundation to stop diseases and world hunger is so last century.”

    SB – that sounds like a great idea if you wish to pursue it. Feel free to contribute as much of your money as you wish to such a project. As to the billionaires noted above, why do you care what they do with their money?

    • As to the billionaires noted above, why do you care what they do with their money?

      What do you care what I write about on MY OWN BLOG? This is MY house. You don’t like it, go somewhere else.

      Right wingers are so funny about this stuff. I’ll never forget the howls of protest when I did a blog post on some $50,000 toy Mercedes (or was it a BMW?) available to the Richie Rich set for their little gumdrops at Christmas time. I think it was in the Neiman Marcus catalogue or some such. They’re all like, “how DARE you criticize these fighter pilots of capitalism!” I mean shit.

      Jesus. Right wingers love to criticize the “welfare queens” and their “cadillacs” (or today’s version: camera phones, microwaves and color TVs). How dare they! The nerve!

      Criticism is a two-way street. If the Heritage Foundation can justify slamming the poor for not being sufficiently shabby, by God I can criticize billionaires for how they spend their money, too.

      • ThresherK

        “Fighter pilots of capitalism” is something so dead-on perfect I’m surprised it hasn’t been used before, either as you do or seriously (from those stricken with a chronic case of peasant mentality)..

        It goes hand in hand with “101st Chairborne”.

      • Oh, it’s not mine. It’s from that famous post-crash Wall Street whine fest New York Magazine published back in 2009. It was classic. I’m shocked you hadn’t read it. Here’s the part with the quote:

        Now, a lot of people in New York have BlackBerrys, and few of them expect to be paid $2 million to check their e-mail in the middle of the night. But embedded in her comment is the belief shared on Wall Street but which few have dared to articulate until now: Those who select careers in finance play an exceptional role in our society. They distribute capital to where it’s most effective, and by some Ayn Rand–ian logic, the virtue of efficient markets distributing capital to where it is most needed justifies extreme salaries—these are the wages of the meritocracy. They see themselves as the fighter pilots of capitalism.

        “Fighter pilots of capitalism” became a meme.

  2. ThresherK

    All I can envision is some flotsam where the libertarian labor market lives, resembling a cross between a craft in Waterworld and a shipwreck.

    The best part is that it’ll be outside the borders of the paradise. So Libertania will still be, y’know, paradise.

  3. Proud Socialist

    “few restrictions on weapons”

    Translation: I get one, you don’t. Classic libertarian horseshit.

  4. Jim:
    It’s really okay with me if YOU think that those rapaciousmoney grubbing assholes deserve to put themselves beyond the reach of the law. I just don’t understand where you and people who think like you get the notion that when the likes of Mr. Bozos and Mr. Thief (and the rest of the kleptocracy) take OUR money and skedaddle that the world will be a better place. Or did you think that you were going to be moving out there with them? nagunnahapin.

    Them thar “petri dishes” better be seriously armed and armored–I can hear it now; “Aaaaaaaargh, Jim Lad, go fetch me that Exocet a’fore I spit’s yore gizzard on this here cutlass!”. I’m sure they’re planning for any contigency–except that which will take them down.

  5. ThresherK

    I’m shocked I haven’t read it either; apparently I’ve been ruining the neighborhood for a few years.

    A meme I didn’t hear of? But I pride myself on being aware of all internet traditions!

    And it goes without saying that, apres “The Right Stuff” (the book moreseo) and “Top Gun”, that “fighter pilot” was glommed onto for this task which, if you think of it, is actually just dreary cargo piloting. But that won’t get them laid in their fantasies.

  6. James Pope

    On the other hand, I guess a ridiculous clock takes people to make it… so at least it’s making more work than sitting on your cash like Scrooge McDuck counting your gold.

    Honestly, if all the billionaires decided to get together and build useless shit they’d still having a better contribution to society than the Tea Party members in Congress that just want to slash government and put people out of work so they can pursue their “bootstrappiness” in the unemployment lines.

  7. “Tea Party members in Congress that just want to slash government and put people out of work so they can pursue their “bootstrappiness” in the unemployment lines”

    And no more financial assistance for you lazy louts!

  8. Yashko

    Too late on your libertarian paradise, dudes. I have been working on one (with great success) for a few years now: no welfare, no building codes, no restrictions on weapons, no minimum wage. It’s not quite “floating” but it is on the seacoast, and many of my residents have their own boats, which they use for recreational purposes, often visiting nearby cruise ships and tankers.

    I don’t call mine “Libertania;” I call it “Somalia.”

    Please come visit, anytime.