Jacob Weisberg, Yale graduate, and defender of the Center-Left Establishment (e.g., In Defense of Robert Rubin), has a long piece out in Slate attacking Peter Thiel. Thiel’s heresy is to encourage young university-aged students to work outside of traditional educational institutions by offering monetary inducements. Weisberg concludes:
Where to start with this nasty idea? A basic feature of the venture capitalist’s worldview is its narcissism, and with that comes 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. 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.
Knowledge for “its own sake”? What planet does Jacob Weisberg live on where American university students are seeking knowledge for “its own sake”? The American university racket is by and large one of credentialing and signalling. Most college graduates are unabashed philistines. Their primary goal in life is to seem intelligent, not be intelligent.