March 18, 2016

"Is there anything these days that doesn't 'stir debate?' How banal. I really don't want to think that there are NYT reporters scouring Twitter..."

"... looking for something that 'stirs debate.' I mean, there are real things going on in the world. Ya know?"

"I don't see any debate on air pollution, just a bunch of snarky twitter posts. If this is what passes for news then no wonder people are ill-informed and nothing gets done."

The top-rated comments on a NYT article titled "With 'Smog Jog' Through Beijing, Zuckerberg Stirs Debate on Air Pollution."

I also liked: "At least he is not running for president."

Because: Why wouldn't he? Why aren't we just at the beginning of an era when self-made billionaires — one after another — present themselves for insertion into political power where they can try out all their brilliant, cool ideas on all of us?

29 comments:

rehajm said...

Why aren't we just at the beginning of an era when self-made billionaires — one after another — present themselves for insertion into political power where they can try out all their brilliant, cool ideas on all of us?

That era began in 2001 with Mayor Bloomberg and ended in 2014 with the rise of De Blasio and the socialists. It's funny to see Times readers biting the hand that feeds them until you consider this is a think piece about a greedy capitalist.

Bill Harshaw said...

In the good old days real rich people, like Averell Harriman and Nelson Rockefeller (and all the other Rockefellers) not to forget the minor nouveaux riche like George Romney and Chuck Percy, deigned to run and impart their wisdom to the masses. Just following the pattern set by most of our early Presidents

pm317 said...

Why not! Technocracy versus Idiocracy..

MikeR said...

"Why aren't we just at the beginning of an era when self-made billionaires — one after another — present themselves for insertion into political power where they can try out all their brilliant, cool ideas on all of us?" Billionaires have been involved in political power forever. The new idea is that they can be the public face of the power. I don't know if that would work for others besides Donald Trump, who has a lot of practice at being a game-show host.
Any young billionaire is going to realize after a while that just making money is not a good or satisfying use for the rest of his life. A few like Bill Gates have recently begun to realize that they should be using their talents not just for philanthropy, but for figuring out how to do it truly effectively. They want to wipe out malaria, or help mankind achieve true space-going capability.
It would also be an enormous service to mankind to reverse the slow-motion collapse of Western Civilization. But I really haven't seen much that would convince me that Donald Trump is the man for the job.

pm317 said...

On the other hand, aren't the idiots puppets of lobbyists who represent the billionaires?

Daniel Richwine said...

Remember when Forbes ran? He was probably richer than Trump and had a magazine at his command, and was a terrible candidate. Trump is successful not because of his wealth, but because of his mastery of media. Every fricking weekend there's another Trump dominated story. Every one.

PB said...

The air and water are cleaner than they've been in decades (except for certain problem cities) and these late-comer liberals are looking for a cause to sooth their conscience.

David Begley said...


NYT, "The color of the sky was the sort of gray hue that indicates a bad pollution day. The faint smell of something burning hung in the air. Many children on buses, or scooting to school with their parents or nannies, wore face masks. In homes and offices, air purifiers were cranked up to the highest setting."

When will the Greens and NYT move their focus to REAL air pollution in China rather than carbon dioxide in the US?

amielalune said...


So why not, Ann? Where does the Constitution say the country should be run by lawyers and professional politicians? We've seen what a good job they've done so far. Nothing about them makes them especially qualified to run the country. They are only specially qualified to make laws, and they make them by the truckload; 99.8% of which we don't need.

Bob Boyd said...

I don't want billionaires to "try out all their brilliant, cool ideas on all of us."

But I don't want community organizers doing that either. Nor economists, judges, public policy experts, social scientists, popes, fill-in-the-blank studies professors, not even ex-president's wives no matter how lovely and gracious she may be, thank you very much.

Michael K said...

"But I really haven't seen much that would convince me that Donald Trump is the man for the job."

I don't know. Unlike most billionaires, he seems to listen and see what the hoi polloi are talking about and thinking. That's rare.

There is a funny scene in Fred Siegel's book, The Revolt Against the Masses where a group of Silicon Valley Billionaires are organizing a political fund. They hire a woman from a big consulting company to be CEO and she finds they are very difficult to deal with. At a meeting, she tells a joke, "What is the difference between a billionaire and a terrorist ?" You can negotiate with a terrorist."

She was fired that week.

"Trump is successful not because of his wealth, but because of his mastery of media"

Yes, and if the Republicans can avoid completely alienating him, they could probably use that skill to accomplish something. A few like Sessions are figuring that out.

MadisonMan said...

I've not checked. But is Zuckerberg old enough to run? If he is, then I guess I'm just that much older because I thought he was in college starting up facebook yesterday.

Fred Drinkwater said...

"The sky over the port was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel. '
(I hope I remember that right.)

madAsHell said...

where they can try out all their brilliant, cool ideas on all of us?

Good government doesn't run on brilliant, cool ideas. Good government polices, defends, and picks up the garbage. Everything else is just an attempt to buy votes.

Chris N said...

Tech billionaires should amplify 'right' ideas, what's both popular and slightly ahead of the curve for Times readers, especially before a product launch. In return, the Times can (like the huge incorporated entity it is) try to consolidate and monopolize information spewed forth on the new tech platforms.

It's been truly humorous to watch this Dinosaur have its food bowl moved.

True innovation and the cutting edge will usually happen elsewhere, but the Times maintains brand recognition, NYC cultural influence, and relative political leverage. This Dinosaur will likely thrive, even and especially if it goes full nihilist navel-gazing SJW content-wise (much of this has spilled from higher Ed....and there seem to be other, stronger currents at work).

A lot of kvetching about 'the media' comes from those who want more influence, and who want media outlets, as well as the social and political institutions they cover, to reflect their principles.

Chris N said...

There are a lot of things which happen away from the markets, vital to our freedoms, about which there is much disagreement, but more open markets often conflict with those things.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I prefer my debate shaken, not stirred.

Rob said...

In the time it took MadisonMan to write, "I've not checked. But is Zuckerberg old enough to run," he could have checked and learned Zuckerberg will be only 32 on Inauguration Day and is not old enough to serve. With all the world's information so easily available on the Internet, why are people so stubbornly resistant to satisfying their curiosity and, in the process, avoiding the need for professing ignorance?

mikee said...

When it is a common, unquestioned idea that politics exists for the elected to try out their ideas on the citizenry, there is a real problem in not understanding the old, very useful idea of delegated powers derived from the consent of the governed.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

"Stirs debate" is another one! "Ignites controversy," "comes at a time when/of," "set off a heated online discussion," "provoked a response," "caused a viral sensation," and on and on.

"Comes at a time" is still my favorite, but "journalists" sure have a lot of ways to shoehorn in some point the want to make.

wildswan said...

Inside the IT tech-built universe the next great thing always looks cool. That's the sign that it is the next thing. But in the world? The next political thing is a problem that needs to be solved and problems rarely look cool, they are usually a mess, i.e., they are Problems. What would Zuckerberg say about Clinton's server - what is the cool solution?
And America as weakened by Obama - what's the cool thing to do in diplomacy in the Middle East? What's the cool speech to give to the soldiers you send into harm's way? into the same place they were before which Obama coolly ran away from and coolly lost? which now requires the soldiers to go there again? How cool is that?
What's the cool way to explain that blacks have a high unemployment rate because we have no borders? Welfare! the next great thing! Click here for an easy sign up. Like.

Is it cool to be an American right now?
"I was for my country when my country wasn't cool": Will an IT billionaire LIKE that? Or will he coolly tweet "I just Unfriended America" along with a cool picture of himself with the Dalai Lama?

Sebastian said...

"Trump is successful not because of his wealth, but because of his mastery of media" Ah, he has "mastered" them, has he. Right.

bwebster said...

"stirs debate" is right up there with "some say" (or "some have expressed concern") as phrases that seek to overinflate the actual significance of the issue that the journalist wants to warn everyone about.

Bricap said...

Zuckerberg is only 31 years old, to answer the "Why wouldn't he?" question.

Paddy O said...

"learned Zuckerberg will be only 32 on Inauguration Day"

He identifies as being 36, however, so there's really nothing stopping him. Unless you're a bigot.

Alex said...

Shouldn't cleaning the air be a 1970s thing? Why is the air still choking us?

Sammy Finkelman said...

Rob said...

With all the world's information so easily available on the Internet, why are people so stubbornly resistant to satisfying their curiosity and, in the process, avoiding the need for professing ignorance?

Slow Internet speed, and the difficulty of some people in opening separate windows.

Mark Zuckerberg was born on May 14, 1984. I was pretty sure he was't 35 years old, anyway.

JamesB.BKK said...

@wildswan - I might dicker that the high black unemployment rate in the US is due to a lack of foundation in employment, the erosion of which began before this aggressive no borders action by lefty welfare-warfare state and chamber of commerce politicians throughout the West, and their ilk. The lack of foundation is due to the minimum wage coupled with by necessity probably due to the deprivations caused by the minimum wage a sub-culture having a lack of shame - or even pride - in not doing honest work for oneself. There is a long list of starter jobs that no longer exist, and the customers are instead doing the associated labor. Pumping gas is just one example. The persons not doing these jobs that no longer exist do not get any early experience with the trials of doing a job, interacting with co-employees and bosses, interacting with customers, getting small paychecks that are eroded with tax deductions, and paying taxes if they make more than the freebie too-small AGI. Careers killed aborning. This applies also to many whites and persons of other hues. To welfare bureaucrats in the deep state, all of this is a feature, not a bug.

JamesB.BKK said...

Billionaires doing business in free exchange become billionaires due to providing something other people want or need in large amounts, while working within the constraints of the deep state's rules (this excludes the predatory ones such as Gore (if not a "b" now, later) and Arafat and other kleptocrats and state gatekeepers with "unusual wealth"). Billionaires obviously should stick to their areas of knowledge and keep providing the thing valued by others and thus satisfying others, instead of straying away. (Ahem, Word could use many, many, fixes.)

Billionaires have a mixed history as presidents and prime ministers. They are usually under relentless attack by the lefty cliques and factions even when they do reliably lefty things such as implementing or extending "free" healthcare services schemes. We'd have to see how a lefty billionaire with a penchant for word control and data about a goodly number of the citizens would do in the US.

Philanthropy of the "free" goods type usually dissipates the capital base built and harms the people that are on the receiving end of it by making them dependent and also driving out the local vendors. It is most often driven by vanity, as evidenced by the very public displays of many of the people who engage in it. Public acts of altruism are the height of vanity and thus not altruistic at all.

Billionaires wishing to do good: Please go build hospitals and schools and maybe museums quietly and without state intervention on your behalf, but do let others with the skills run them. Also, work to undo the mindless and harmful laws that keep some people living like its 40 years ago but with some electronic trappings. For a challenge, do that where education and good infrastructure are apparently reviled by the local culture or their "leaders," as revealed by the absence of these things in this day and age.