Goldberg: Why is Peter Thiel, a GOP megadonor, buying a Maltese passport?
By Scott Goldberg
Posted: 01/10/2013 06:16:30 PM PST
Updated: 01/12/2013 04:17:18 AM PST
Click photo to enlarge
This file photo shows Peter Thiel’s $1 million check to the University of Malta’s College of Business and Economics at the opening ceremony for the College’s Founders Day 2013.
In the last few weeks, the public debate about Silicon Valley’s role in shaping President Obama’s second term has focused on some of the most controversial questions about Silicon Valley companies and their impact on the American economy.
Is the Bay Area economy just a sideshow to a broader transformation in the American middle class and America’s political dominance? Should Silicon Valley’s high-tech leaders be held accountable to their “demanding” goals of creating “wealth for everyone,” as Peter Thiel, a GOP megadonor and former venture capitalist, just purchased a $1 million Maltese passport? Do those goals even make economic sense? Should Silicon Valley’s high-tech entrepreneurs be held accountable to their “demanding” goals of creating “wealth for everyone”? Should Silicon Valley’s high-tech entrepreneurs be held accountable to their “demanding” goals of creating “wealth for everyone”?
Most of these questions are fair questions, but one that’s getting far less attention in public debate is the bigger, more important question: What role should Silicon Valley play in shaping the next generation of the American economy?
It’s not just that Thiel’s trip to Malta is getting far less attention than other trips by tech moguls to Italy to attend an annual conference about entrepreneurship (Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt both attended last year) or to visit South African President Jacob Zuma at the end of February to meet with African leaders and talk about the importance of technology and entrepreneurship to the development of “open societies.”
It’s much larger than a question about whether American Internet companies should invest in the country or its people. It’s about whether the most consequential venture capitalist in Silicon Valley is doing more than just trying to make money, and the real long-term impact of his money in shaping the United States and the global economy. The larger question is about who the GOP can’t afford to alienate with their attacks on Silicon Valley and entrepreneurs. That’s the real question about who