In a recent Time magazine article, Roger McNamee offers an agitated criticism of Facebook, adapted from his book Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe.  Facebook “has a huge impact on politics and social welfare,” he claims, and “has done things that are truly horrible.”  Facebook, he says, is “terrible for America.” McNamee suggests his “history with the company made me a credible voice.” From 2005 to 2015, McNamee was one of a half dozen managing directors of Elevation Partners, an $1.9 billion private equity firm that bought and sold  shares in eight companies, including such oldies as Forbes and Palm.  U2 singer Bono was a co-founder. Other partners included two former executives from Apple and one from Yahoo.  Another is married to the sister of Facebook’s COO. Such investors are not necessarily disinterested observers, much less policy experts. Between November 2009 and June 2010 Elevation Partners invested $210 million for 1% of Facebook.  That was early, but two years after Microsoft made a larger investment. Back...
Editor’s Note: Friends and members of The Atlas Society are among our greatest resources -- providing energy, ideas, and support that actively shape our work. Their individual stories are testaments to Ayn Rand’s ideals of reason, achievement, and ethical self-interest. Arno Vigen is the CFO of telecom company AireSpring and an inventor whose interests include exploring the boundaries of science, especially physics. The Atlas Society Contributing Editor, Marilyn Moore, Ph.D., interviewed Arno about his work and family, the role Ayn Rand played in shaping his outlook, and his advice for young people preparing for careers in science and technology.   MM: Can you tell me about your background? Where did you grow up? AV: I grew up in California in the 1960s and 1970s, then graduated from UCLA with a BA in Mathematics. Since my parents were divorced, I worked two or three jobs to put myself through university, and to graduate without the type of debt that the current system uses to enslave the current generation. I have four children, two children out in the world, employed with zero college debt, of course, and two more still at home. The first two are independent and fully self-sufficient. I hope I gave them that spirit to achieve their goals by the power of their mind. I couldn’t be prouder. I earned my CPA, working in a Beverly Hills tax firm, yet that was just a stepping stone to running companies. My goal is not observing others and finding loopholes, but...
Our head politician wants to use political leverage to fix higher education’s semi-censorship problem. Universities should be ashamed that it has come to this — those universities, at least, that do not have healthy free-speech cultures. Of course politicians already use their power — financial threats and regulatory compulsion — to make universities do what they want. That politicization of education is part of the ongoing struggle between two competing ideals: (a) universities as autonomous, self-regulating institutions, and (b) universities as a branch of the administrative state. So I say again what I said in 2017 when similar proposals were floated. Should Politicians Force Diversity at Universities? By diversity I mean the intellectual kind. Numerous surveys (e.g., here and here) show that university faculties lean left, often far left in humanities departments. A purely democratic argument says Yes, politicians should force diversity. Government-funded universities are paid for with tax monies, and...
It has taken more than two decades for Venezuela, once the wealthiest nation in Latin America, with a long tradition of independence and democracy, to travel the classic socialist road. From 1998, when the country elected declared Marxist socialist Hugo Chávez its president, until today, Venezuela has become an economic basket case and a political dictatorship. Venezuela’s economy has contracted about 15 percent a year for three years, according to the International Monetary Fund, meaning that since 2013 more than half of the economy has simply disappeared. Inflation has rendered its currency virtually worthless and in many towns all ATMs are empty; the majority of its people go hungry; its cities and towns are periodically and often daily blacked out by power outages; and its medical care system is collapsing with a malaria epidemic taking hold. A continuing terror is the rising crime, especially murder, rate. Declining continuously throughout the entire two-decade period, political freedom is now on the ropes. A presidential election late in 2018 may be the last, for now. The successor to the deceased Hugo Chávez, Marxist socialist Nicolás Maduro—a bus driver before entering politics––declared himself re-elected and took office. But, in January, the National Assembly ruled his re-election invalid and named the president of the Assembly, Juan Guaidó, to act as president of Venezuela. Maduro...
Following the State of the Union address, I found the state of the nation surreal. I kept skimming past articles about the Democratic Party’s proposed economic stimulus packages, collectively known as the Green New Deal. They propose to fund unsustainable sectors like solar panels—which are already heavily government-backed—by targeting more self-sufficient industries, like meat production. In order to earmark raiding the cookie jar of productive businesses to fund those that aren't paying for themselves, Democrats have to demonize the target in order to implement punitive measures such as meat taxes. I know the Green New Deal is based on non-truths and artfully doled misinformation, like the deforestation myth, but most people believe we are losing forest land in this country to the meat industry. That’s one of the lies told to them by our leaders in order to take advantage of the public support and vote. They need a mob to rob. A Bad New Deal How did we get to this choke point of punishing meat consumption, as one NJ radical animal rights activist senator proposes, in the form of a tax? I think I recognize a pendulum swinging back at me. Mom and Dad left everything they had to bring me and my younger brother to the United States. In this country, I am able to experience freedoms such as shopping for food, owning...

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