Rich people are crazier than you and me

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was unconscious. His positions are a mix of right-wing fancies and remnants of his once-progressive self: Bitcoin worshipAnti-vaccination conspiracy theories claim Prozac causes mass shootings, protest US support for Ukraine, but talk about it well Single payer health insurance. If it wasn’t his last name, no one would notice him, and even with that last name, his chances of getting the Democratic presidential nomination are zero.

Yet now Ron DeSantis’ campaign (with the slogan „He, Immigrants, Aware, 'Wake'”) seems to be slipping away, and suddenly Kennedy has the support of some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names. Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, He supported him, other prominent tech figures have organized fundraising events in his name. Elon Musk, who is on a mission to destroy what Dorsey built, hosted an event on the Twitter space.

But what does all this tell us about the role of tech billionaires in modern American political life? I recently wrote about the series Technical BrothersLike the alpha men of technology TruthersPeople who believe they know the truth about recession and inflation, and insist that the news about an improving economy is false (I forgot to mention Declaration Since Dorsey in 2021, hyperinflation is „happening”, how is it happening?). The small Kennedy boom in Silicon Valley shows that it’s actually part of a bigger event.

What seems to attract some technologists to RFK Jr. is his irony, his irony: his disdain for conventional wisdom and expert opinion. So before I get into the technical details of this strange political moment, let me say a few things about going against it.

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A sad but true fact of life is that most of the time, conventional wisdom and expert opinion is correct; However, finding out where they go wrong can have great personal and social benefits. The trick to achieving this is to maintain a balance between excessive skepticism and excessive credulity.

It’s very easy to fall on a razor’s edge in any direction. When I was a young and ambitious academic, I laughed at the boring old economists: „It’s mundane, it’s wrong, I said in 1962.” These days, I sometimes worry that I’ve become that guy.

On the other hand, as the economist says Adam Ozimek, reflexive contrarianism is a „brain-disrupting drug.” Those who succumb to this addiction „lose the ability to judge others as opposed to them, they become incapable of distinguishing good evidence from bad, which causes a total detachment from faith, which leads them to cling to low-quality paradoxical civilizations.”

Technical men are especially susceptible to the brain rot of contradiction. Their financial success convinces them that they are exceptionally bright, capable of instantly mastering anything, without needing to consult those who have worked hard to understand problems. And in many cases, they have become rich by defying conventional wisdom, which predisposes them to believe that transgression by any measure is justified.

Great wealth makes it much easier to surround yourself with people who tell you what you want to hear and reinforce your belief in your own intelligence, a kind of intellectual version of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

And if the opposing techies talk, it’s among themselves. Tech entrepreneur and author Anil Dash „Many CEOs and venture capitalists of large tech companies are becoming radicalized by living in their own cultural and social bubble,” it tells us. He calls this phenomenon venture capitalism. Venture Capitalism In English, “VC QAnon”, I think helps explain many of the strange positions tech billionaires have taken of late.

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Let me add a personal speculation. It may seem strange to see men of immense wealth and influence buying into conspiracy theories about elites who run the world. No They are Elites? But I suspect the famous and wealthy are particularly frustrated by their inability to control events or prevent ridicule online. So, instead of accepting that the world is a complicated place that no one can control, they are susceptible to the idea that secret conspiracies are targeting them.

Here is a historical example. Looking at Elon Musk’s downfall, I know I’m not just thinking about Henry Ford, who in many ways is the ultimate example of a famous and influential entrepreneur turned fanatic and conspiracy theorist. Anti-Semitism. He also paid for the reprint The Ethics of the Elders of ZionThat is a fake Probably given a promotion by the Russian secret police (time is a flat circle).

Anyway, what we are seeing now is something unusual. The rabid faction in American politics right now isn’t red-capped workers in soup kitchens; They are tech billionaires who live in big mansions and fly private jets. In a way, it’s very funny. But unfortunately, these people have enough money to do a lot of damage.

Paul Krugman has been a columnist for Opinion since 2000 and is Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2008 for his work on international trade and economic geography. @Paul Krugman

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