Jimmy Wales [ SXSW ] Cenk Uygur: Here we are at SXSW, doing more TYT interviews, with Jimmy Wales founder of Wikipedia, no big deal / kind of a big deal.

Jimmy great to have you here.

JW: It’s good to be here. Thanks for having me.

CU: I want to get into all of it. I want to figure out how you started Wikipedia, why you have made a billion dollars off of it . . .ok so we’re getting all that. First, what brings you to SXSW?

JW: I was just here on stage did an interview on stage with Guy Kawasaki . .

CU: I love his motorcycle

JW: Yeah

CU: What’d you guys talk about?

JW: The gamut of things, really you know some stuff about the history of Wikipedia, what’s going on now, what I see for the future – those kinds of things.

CU: Let me back up all the way to the beginning and then we’ll fast forward, we’ll get to the future. But in order to know what’s going to happen in the future, you’ve got to know what happened in the past.


What were you doing before Wikipedia?

Before Wikipedia, long before, I was a PhD student in Finance. Then later I was in Futures, an Options Trader in Chicago.

Then I started a little internet company and we had a portal. We tried a lot of different things. It was early days Internet. There were a lot of exciting things, things that didn’t work, so we had an early blogging platform that didn’t really go anywhere etc etc .

Then Wikipedia.

But before Wikipedia there was a Newpedia. The predecessor project did fail.

CU:  I want to break all that down one by one — and by the way Jimmy’s politics are super interesting — there’s a lot that we agree on and I want to see if there’s even anything we don’t see. . . you’re libertarian so I imagine there’s going to be things that we disagree on, but we both supported Larry Lessig‘s campaign for president so obviously it’s one we agree on.

We’ll get to that as well

First: Options trading. so would you did you make good bank there I was a good job there’s a good job

JW: I didn’t become super wealthy or anything but it was good . It was very intellectually challenging because it was very mathematical. Arbitrage trading.

CU: That’s interesting. What was the PhD in?

JW: I was working on a PhD in Finance but I left because I was fed up with academia. I went to Chicago.

CU: I got you. And did you have enough of a nest egg there, from those years trading, to be able to afford to try a couple things like the blogging platform etc?

JW: Yes. The other thing is, I’m a big fan of a book — which I haven’t read [in years] I need to reread it again — but there’s a book called Your Money or Your Life — a fantastic book about what you really need to live and how are you using your money.

The idea is that you can get in that Rat Race where in order to sort of keep up with the Joneses, as the old expression goes, you think you need a lot more money than you actually do to live.

I highly recommend it. It’s a fantastic book.  The way to get to financial independence is to realize there’s a lot of stuff you just don’t need

It had a big impact on my life

CU: I couldn’t agree more


JW: Money’s a fascinating thing and I think the people who minimize it are all so wrong.

CU: Right it’s a tool but you need that tool too, for example pay your rent. A lot of people who thought money doesn’t matter, people who’ve already made hundreds of millions at all these are right like when you gotta pay the rent and make sure your kid to go to school money matters right at the same time you can’t let your money on you right you got on your money and so

It’s even in pop culture — in American Beauty there’s that great scene about the couch, I don’t know if you remember, they were going to have sex on the couch but they didn’t want to ruin the couch.

I think Kevin Spacey said something to the effective of “we used to own this couch but now the couch owns us”.

It’s so true. People forget. It’s not an end, it’s a means. And it’s a powerful means. But if you think it’s the end it’ll ruin your life.

You used it for a good end, which is to start all these different platforms, I’m dating all work but welcome to the internet and welcome to life.

So what was the difference between Newpedia and Wikipedia, that made all the difference? What’s was Newpedia? Was it the same vision? Free encyclopedia written by volunteers

JW: but we didn’t know about the wiki editing concept so wiki just means a website anybody can edit. It’s a very open platform. We organized it first with a very complex seven stage review process to get anything published.

It was a very heavy system and it was really intimidating and difficult for volunteers to get involved in.

Whereas, with the wiki, we just said, “all right, let’s just try something. Let’s just see if people can [collaborate].

There was a point when you could have been the first person to write, A”ustin is a city in Texas”.

It’s not much, but hey it’s true — and there you go, you’re off to the races.

That ease of entry and that ease of just getting started and letting people collaborate just made all the difference in the world.

CU: I read that you were an encyclopedia dork.

JW: I was yeah and they use like a comb through it you you don’t an encyclopedia didn’t you drive all them out of business um yeah but nobody has a kid as a kid we we had the world book encyclopedia you know big yeah you know in the US this is a big for kids yeah very popular encyclopedia and actually when you own the world book every year that would send out the annual update that you would with a set of sticker so I you know my mom bought it when I was I don’t know when I was a little baby basically so after that they landed on the moon heezen they sent out a new article about the moon you know and you had to go and put a sticker in the in the encyclopedia saying oh going go see the update so that was maybe the first editing events Wow when you’re doing stickers and became encyclopedias yeah you’re into it how old were you back then Oh probably by the time we were doing that I was seven or eight nine ten wow that’s terrific terrific we had encyclopedia to and and and people like we’re all right I mean no offense but we are I’m 45 right well you’re young and so um I used to do research a thing called the library right and I do do do a decimal system the whole thing yeah and when I had to do a book report or whatever I had my encyclopedia and that’s where I would go check is there’s no internet right there is no we could be there’s no nothing so you had actually go find a book that had the information in it which when I try to explaining to my nephew’s are like 20 to 24 the like books and they’re the only things that had information I’m like yeah that’s why people valued book so much because that’s where all the information was yeah right so I and my dad are you serve uh-uh Rana office space in in the middle of New Jersey and and I remember this like guy who was a encyclopedia salesman he always had the corny jokes and you know and he was that guy from back in the day yeah and and whenever I use Wikipedia I I shed a little tear for him yeah so do you feel conflicted about that at all I think not really in the in thing about the guy really knew the door to door encyclopedia salesman like that actually like Britannica was really massively impacted by technology long before Wikipedia so Microsoft did there in Carta and they invested a lot of money in it is actually you know for its time it was a real it was a serious competitor Britannica they really went for quality I mean it wasn’t may be quite to Britannica level but it’s pretty good and and britannica really struggled with that shift because they did have a sales model that was very antiquated but they couldn’t shift easily to a new model without just shutting down the old one which is really hard to do so they really struggle with that transition and that’s a long before we came on the scene do you think the same thing is happening a TV right now yeah i mean i do i mean i think TV obviously there’s so many different things transitioning a lot of it i think for the better certainly I in some ways I think we’re living in a golden era of television I mean there’s some amazing you know massive fan of the wire for example yeah and over for a few years but that’s an example of you know television that would not have happened on the network’s advertising logo you know not even remotely and so there’s a lot of good stuff going on but obviously there’s a struggle I mean I worry more because television although there’s a lot of disruption and transformation about you know how people I mean I it and it’s been going on for a long time so my my daughter is now 15 I remember I got a tivo when she was a baby which was like first digital video recorders you know so we could you know because babies cry in the middle of your show and you know you just kind of want to have be able to pause live television it’s all like for kids today that’s like I couldn’t pause live TV no couldn’t pause lie to you know I did I one of our friends they were on vacation and she’s like daddy daddy the TV’s broken I can’t pause it yeah exactly so I said to her when she was about five or six I said because I was just curious I said do you know what Nickelodeon is and she I know what Nickelodeon is it’s an advert that comes on during one of my shows because the idea of a channel that you tuned to write as her experience of television was more like email like sometimes you’ve run out right new ones come in overnight you know and you watch them and then there’s something on there this is Nickelodeon da da duh she doesn’t know it’s a channel because the whole concept of a TV station didn’t really have much meaning for her so those kind of disruptions but I don’t worry so much about it for television because the new models are working and there’s like plenty of money for great new sort of long-form series drama that sort of thing I do worry about it for newspapers and they aren’t going through the transition very well and it is a huge struggle for them because the old business models gone and the new ones not clear yet and I do worry about the state of journalism if you know but I’m optimistic but still it’s it’s a big thing going yeah let me say good things about that one they got hit in a couple of different ways that part of it was the new disruption but part of it was just got unlucky did the classifieds a huge part of their revenue stream and craigslist hanging that away among others right yeah killed him in a way that really had nothing to do with the way that they were delivering the news what’s interesting about that is nobody thought about that as a technology issue but the idea like a big stack of papers coming out to your house every day and that you bundled together the classified ads and the news just made sense from a technological point of view now we can sort of see it that way go actually once everything’s online there’s there’s no reason for those things to have anything no logical axis oh yeah they separated natural so yeah I don’t blame Craig just fact the change yeah I’m interview Craig and says hey Amy yeah exactly well you’re more proud of taking now the encyclopedia that he is of what he’s on the newspapers yeah uh and of course be fair to him in everybody else’s said confluence of events and some of it is that the reporting became really stayed and old and in is that and and pro-establishment to which is not what people are thirsting for and not really in the tradition of old newspapers in the old days the newspapers were voracious for interesting news and challenging and and more populist and they eventually because I live in London and the papers they’re far more than us papers are openly partisan and you know sort of you know which papers are the left-wing papers with right-wing papers etc which is good at bad i have to say there are some downsides to that as well but but you know you case fascinating because you’ve got these papers that are super aggressive and then you turn on your television or however you consume a video news in the UK and it’s boring boring boring boring boring right no it’s interesting it is in some ways it’s the opposite of here right here here you’ve got you know Fox News openly partisan so the television news takes on that role and the newspapers are typically i boring i wouldn’t use but you know you can you can identify say the top ten newspapers and you might say this one leans left or right generally but it’s not like even like the wall street journal is not a rapidly right-wing newspaper certainly not on the front pages business oriented wall street journal but they’re not outwardly partisan no not in the same way and honestly not aggressive so that you know so that that’s a frame of mind as well so in but a lot of people think about the old papers to the establish ones and I attacked them all the time like I think the Washington Post is uh totally conservative now okay and so they is nothing more they love than attacking Bernie Sanders and so and and he goes on on it’s a whole thesis yeah but what people forget is the local papers used to keep local authorities accountable right right and now that they’ve lost their revenue base they just don’t have enough manpower and so that once the the cops are off to be you know what happens so there is now a world of corruption going on behind the scenes of the local level so what the way I talk about this is when you if you if you watch President Obama and a press conference and there’s 200 journals there if that number falls to 100 it’s not going to affect the world very much it’s still you got a hundred people in the room they’re all reporting the same things you know it’s not like the president is not going to be watched but if you go to a small town where there are two journalists and you go down to one so you’ve cut in half the same degree well guess what the mayor’s brother-in-law is going to get pretty rich on some contracts and things like this right kind of corruption happens out of the side of the media and that’s what I really worried about I’m not I’m not so worried about you know the the major national and world news media covering major big events there’s plenty of that that will continue I might not like how its treated as entertainment more than whatever money but it’s that those local levels I think we really got to be yeah and the National guys will take care of anyway we’re disrupting the hell out of them now and we’ll come in the UK will disrupt them as well and shake them out of their establishment ways but at the local level we don’t have the resources to do that and so you’re right the difference between two and one is monumental on so many different levels one you’ve cut it by 50% to one is far easier to control and to my right and and then there’s no competition right so all those things put together is is is the perfect storm for lack of accountability which then inevitably leads to corruption yeah and I but I what’s interesting is that this is going on against a broader backdrop that we just haven’t fully figured out yet of the sort of distributed access to information distributed access to the ability to publish means that in theory we can have more eyeballs looking at things more people but we haven’t yet crossed that threshold where you know a lot of times you may have a few local local bloggers things like that but they don’t necessarily platform I think these things will begin to coalesce into some new forms but but it is awfully hard to make money in Chattanooga as a blogger and specifically as a local blogger Chattanooga shots right you might live in Chattanooga and blog about something that becomes globally popular but it won’t be Chattanooga that’s your council news yeah so that is that’s a tough riddled with me ask one last thing about that about the newspaper model why I always thought that the thing for them to do is charge a cent couple cents a nickel for every article right and I don’t know why that’s proven so difficult I would have thought that they would have been on to that five years ago at least yeah I mean I think there’s a few reasons so one is just that payment systems don’t handle those kind of tiny payments very well mm-hmm but to we see this in a lot of places and I can’t say for sure about newsmen a lot of places consumers don’t like pay-as-you-go models they they find that like every time you’re paying you’re like going did I get my nickels worth and they lighten on all-you-can-eat model so for example most people don’t most people prefer to have unlimited bandwidth when they buy data even though you can meet her it down to the bite because it stresses you out you know netflix i want to pay a flat monthly rate to netflix and i just watch what i want to watch not her thing obviously itunes sell things / thing so that both models can work but i just suspect that people really what they want is more sort of less concern about what they’re paying for things i actually think one of the things that i’ve just recently joined the board of the guardian news makers and lovely lady very great newspaper in the UK and they’re they’re facing all these issues another issue we haven’t mentioned is the shift from from desktop to mobile ad revenues are much lower on mobile so that’s that’s starting to put a dent in it is there it is for a print it’s better for video okay great right i make sense i guess so yeah oh and i think one of the things that we’re going to see though is for some for pay like the guardian I i I’m a big advocate of patronage just say to people hey did you like our series that we did about Snowden and all the stuff that we did their cost a lot of money why don’t you chip in and people do chip in at Wikipedia I think they could do it in other areas yeah so that’s that’s part of how we survive oh and we have membership for ten dollars they get something for it to get the whole show no ads you get an extra exclusive content suspect most of them it’s not so much I mean I I suspect one of the one of the concerns if you tick people over into a mercantile state of mind where they’re making oh how much is it worth to me to get rid of the ads right they might say I really mind yeah so much but if they’re in the mode of thinking ah this is something I love in the world that they can exist right and i wanna i want to support it my best guess is eighty percent of our members signed up for that for that right because they didn’t like this and it should exist and they view us as a voice in the wilderness a like-minded and you know disruptors of the establishment and they want to support that sign up hahahaha qrt network.com slash doing ok now it’s that leads to the interesting model you guys are doing at wikipedia yeah so you you put up the banner up top and saying contribute you know how has that worked it’s worked well i mean it’s it’s always we have to be serious about the fundraising and but we’ve managed over the years to have an ever-increasing track record of raising money we are less annoying that we used to be we don’t have to ask us often because we’ve sort of optimized how we do it and things like that and it works and we don’t anticipate changing and i mean it is quieted down i would say five years ago I’d get you know ask the question and and every interviewer would say yeah but really come on like when you’re gonna have to put ads on like of course this isn’t going to work mm-hmm and now after 15 years people are kind of like oh okay I guess it works you know I hope it does work for us how many people work at Wikipedia about 250 that’s a lot right it’s a lot but for the number 5 website it’s tiny yeah well that’s a good point so what are they mainly doing those 250 so I’d say the largest chunk of people is in some way involved with technology so engineering design ops you know various tech roles we’ve you know accounting and finance legal communications we’ve got people doing interesting programs outreach programs working with the community in various ways but the bulk of its still the engineering yeah and the website doesn’t run itself exactly yeah yeah and you guys get sued a lot yeah no not too much I mean we I mean we have a legal department there’s always something going on but very little I mean part of the reason is the kinds of things that people might want to sue us about the community is very very vigilant about so we you know things like libel the community hates libel and they they’re always looking for reliable sources and you know they Wikipedia is not the place to come and post your random opinions you know it should be well sourced encyclopedic content and then other things like copyright violations we don’t support that at all so we you know if there’s a copyright complaint the community takes it very seriously so most of the things that you would think that a lot of websites like I feel very sympathetic to the problems faced by for example a blogging company or Twitter where the whole point of the platform is to let people express their opinions mm-hmm which means that you don’t want to you know if somebody’s you know if I’m on twitter and I’m just sort of criticizing you right well they don’t want to stop me from doing that if I cross the line and de lisle that’s a very blurry line and how are they supposed to figure that out it’s hard for them whereas in our case like if I want to go on Wikipedia to criticize you it’s just the wrong thing like we’re supposed to be documenting verifiable facts and you know we were not an opinion platform yeah that makes our job a little bit easier which means that the legal aspect of things miss bit less but we I mean the kinds of things that we do have we had I mean we have one hilarious thing that was just brought to my mind recently they the FBI sent us a nasty demand letter because we had their logo on the website mm-hmm and I mean we just basically told him to fuck off so that was why respect anyone who does FBI to fuck off sort of a classic Mike goblin who is our lawyer at the time where this classic piece of editorial about it was good reading if you want looking up yeah and I say that as someone who thought about applying for the FBI when I was coming out of college etc and I worked at the Justice Department for about two and a half seconds yeah but sometimes they overreached us at least yeah would you take on an Apple versus FBI I’m really happy with Apple very pleased one of the things I’ve been trying to sort of get people to think about is because a lot of people are kind of they’re on the fence about this they really think yeah but you know we need security and I said look here’s something that you should be happy about that at the very least when I you know the FBI is demanding something for a company that they should fight in court and you might have an opinion about how you hope the court decides one way or the other I don’t think any of us would be better off if Apple didn’t even fight it so even if you get the FBI should win you should also think that these kinds of fundamental protections against unreasonable search and seizure are worth going to court for so often we have corporations working yes our interests to have one and a giant one at that working as an advocate for our privacy is a wonderful for any interesting too is that it’s been a bit of a surprise because Apple traditionally hasn’t been viewed as particularly interested in politics right they’ve kind of just stay out of this kind of stuff from google with the less surprised they do kind of they make it a big part of their identity and people have been cynical about Apple and say oh they’re just doing because it makes consumers happy and I’m like hey great you know I mean if businesses realize that consumers care about their rights and will actually reward or punish a company if they don’t look out for them and if Apple one of the most sort of profit-hungry companies in the world realizes this then maybe all the other companies should stop and say wow like apples not doing this because they’re like crazy libertarians or something they’re doing it matters to consumers we better do it too that’s kind of your libertarian dream coming true doesn’t always work that way no it doesn’t matter so we’ll get to that in one second let me finish up on Wikipedia then so you’ve got the 250 employees you know I don’t know if it’s public information but I’m gonna ask as I ask how much money takes to run that so we are yeah it’s all public because we’re a charity so in the US for a 501c3 so form 990 you know all of our financials are published we try to go beyond that with as much financial reporting as we can and we raised about our budgets about 60 million dollars yeah mm-hmm so again for the fifth largest website is tiny because on a per reader basis it’s about one penny per reader per month to provide Wikipedia mm pretty efficient so and you raise the whole 60 million from the audience every year pretty much yeah that we do get some grants from philanthropic foundations you know and we get we have some major donors sort of larger donors but the bulk of the money over ninety percent is from the small donations and usually like it that way is it public what the employees are the executives make or no some yes the higher levels or higher levels it’s whatever the law requires because I mean reporting people’s salaries publicly as a bit awkward yeah it is yeah but for the you know what the law requires for the top I forget the rules right so if you had made it private you know top five website in the world you would have been unbelievably insanely well that right so any regrets there no no not at all I by the way my salary is zero I don’t I don’t work at Wikipedia so I’m the volunteer um no no I mean my life is super interesting and this is the thing about money that is your money or your life that is talking about earlier it’s sort of like like the number of bankers who make more money than I do that nobody’s ever heard of right is huge mm-hmm and they could fucking keep it like it’s not interesting like their jobs would be so boring their lives would be so boring compared to mine I travel over the world I mean all kinds of people anybody I want to meet I can meet and I do that’s pretty mean you know it’s pretty good you know to be able to just say right I’m you know going to such and such a place and there’s this interesting business person want to meet or the Prime Minister I want to meet I just go hey it doesn’t work that way to do they have your assistant or whoever calls it is it’s it’s Jimmy fucking Wales you’re gonna be there right but usually we don’t put it that way but yes it’s great because people you know they’re they’re happy to see me and and that’s incredibly enriching in life you know so that’s part of why we do these interviews because we’re not making bank on these interviews right but i love the conversation i love learning things and meeting people I to the point where this absurd a dream that you’re as rich as Clooney or a player whatever I’d like to knock on people’s doors me like hey can I can I take you guys dinner or pop in for dinner here because I I care about like and you if you’re if you’re not that famous of like no and I’m gonna call the cops within five seconds get outta here but in America you’ll get shot but but it’s a metaphor more than anything else and and your and in essence getting do that was all the most interesting people in the world yeah yeah and and also it’s it’s the you know I I sometimes stay haven’t done a little while cuz i’ve been traveling less or i’ve been traveling as much but going home as quickly as possible i used to do more of i would stay with wikipedians at home you know just go and visit mm-hmm sort of go out with so these are like all kinds of people geeks you know and yeah people doing amazing project so i mean it’s it’s the diversity of it’s fascinating how many wikipedians in the world depends on how you count it but i would say people who edit at least five times a months like seventy to eighty thousand but then there’s a much narrower group of the really active volunteers so that’s maybe three to five thousand we usually have about a thousand every year at our wiki mania annual conference how many about a thousand about a thousand okay but that sometimes it’s like you get a lot more people from whatever we do it in a different city around them every year you get a lot more local people so it’s but there’s sort of a core group there a few hundred to come every how many people have ever editor Wikipedia I don’t even know I but that’s gotta be female a member like a million yeah I don’t know right question did you come up with wiki the word wiki or did that already exists yes no the wiki software so the idea of a wiki I was invented by a guy named Ward Cunningham great programmer back in 1995 and it was only six years later that I started Wikipedia and the word wiki comes from hawaiian word wiki wiki which means quick so if you go to Maui and you the airport bus is called the wiki wiki bus I thought they named it out for you guys yeah we’re just there last night yeah i took a picture when i was there we give me buzz that’s awesome ok now let’s do politics so use for the larry lasting so i assume that means you want to get money out of politics yes yeah and what’s interesting about that is there’s probably loads of things that larry and i don’t agree on those things we do agree on but the one thing that is fairly clear to me is that we’ve got a situation now in the US where the you know you’ll see things like they you know the approval rating of Congress has its come up a little bit recently but it’s gotten as low as like twelve percent sort of his store no no it hits seven percent seven yeah and it hasn’t come up it’s at nine percent right nine percent only fantastic it’s up from seven it’s from from seven beds orphanage basis doing well they have like thirty percent the truth is you’ve got that kind of approval rating of congress and yet the reelection rates are still staggering and the reason for that is fairly straightforward it’s all about the gerrymandered districts it’s all about and it goes deeper so it’s not just Congress itself but then when you talk about gerrymandered districts your kind of all state legislature some favorite examples you know if you look at florida and california so florida famously quite a 50-50 state at the national level presidential elections hanging chads and all that right yep it’s a it’s a very close state california is more left than right but it’s still like 54 or 46 right it’s not massively both state legislators are well over two thirds for one party or the other mm-hmm and the reason is clearly the way they draw the district lines and the parties are in collusion on this so in in Florida if you’re a Democrat and you’re in office in the state legislature you’ve got a seat for life because they put ninety-nine percent of your district as hardcore Democrats you’re never going to lose that seat but that means they’re not contesting in the Republican seats and they’ve got more seasoned it’s all about it goes its layer upon layer and it all does eventually come back to the money and I think it’s really important that we start to address this issue and it’s a really hard issue to address so yeah quick side note for the audience them I don’t want to get too deep into the weeds but this is partly how the Democratic Party screws over progressives because they would rather be in a ninety-nine percent Democratic districts so that they know they’re set for life then compete in sixty percent districts where then there would be more democratic districts so they know they’re consigning themselves to a permanent minority just to cover their own ass in a lot of those thin a lot of those states yeah and it’s problematic and I mean you’ll see it I mean both parties are guilty this and you know if you’re if you’re about to that you know if you’re about to screw over the voters by drawing the boundary line so you know your party will win throw a bottle the other side you know again sort of the top leaders you make sure they’re they’re taken care of and it’s massively problematic and I I think will require some constitutional change it’s really tricky I’m not sure what the right answer is but i’m really i’m here for that ok ok we publicly financed every single election in the country and and we end corporate constitutional rights yeah so that’s my suggestion Larry agrees with at least half of that ok but everybody’s got public financing yeah yes so some people think that taking away corporate constitutional rights is a bridge too far I would probably say that’s a bridge too far yeah that’s but I mean but I think it needs to be looked at again not to get off into the weeds too much there’s a lot of variants on that sort of a lot of about what does that look like what kind of approval from shareholders is necessary mm-hmm you know if you if you just want to say you know bandit all completely out right that’s probably problematic from the First Amendment basis and so on and so forth but if you want to say you want to make sure that the shareholders approve like this isn’t because there are in corporate governance in corporate statues there are cases where the board can just do something in their cases where you actually have to have a resolution voted on by all the shareholders I mean we can make it harder to move in that direction and make sure that the people whose money it ultimately is agree with it so there are things that can be done it all gets kind of tedious and boring but it’s so important that I know it’s super important and there’s different layers of it exactly right so in a lot of cases the executives have kind of kidnapped a company remember the shareholders own the company but in a lot of cases they really don’t have an effective vote and so the executives think well it’s not my company I’m just going to direct all the money to myself as much as I possibly can right there’s loads of problems with corporate governance and the big pet peeve is when we have seen sort of bankers run their companies into the ground and then get a bailout and pay themselves bonuses yeah it’s completely appalling and then a tourism exactly you wherever you come down on the bigger philosophical issues that’s not capitalism that’s just robbing the public like it’s completely you know so you don’t have to be some kind of I mean you can you know if you get a thoughtful sort of fiscal conservative right and your most left-wing whoever they’ll both agree like this is not right this is corporate welfare is absolutely abominable but again why would that happen why would our democratically elected representatives let this happen because you guys paid by the kitty got a make up a brother is an amazing we legalized bribery that’s that’s the one thing we should all agree on look I think corporations uh our legal fictions I don’t think that’s a fact right yet and so we give them all the rights that we want but they don’t have any natural rights any Constitution rights in my opinion yeah so you didn’t have a right to have guns ready so no they have as many races were willing to give them and so I believe they should have legal rights but not constitutional rights but so but you know there’s different answers to these questions but the one thing that’s clear is why are we allowing private individuals and corporations to simply buy our politicians it’s insane it’s insane where we are yeah that’s exactly where we are to do so now what makes you a libertarian because that’s the important thing to understand is people call me that mm-hmm i don’t call myself that oh okay all right that’s very important yeah so I mean certainly if I’m going to accept the label at all it’s definitely as they say a small L libertarian not capital L so the Libertarian Party mm-hmm I’ve got a lot of beef with them and but you know in general I I think that individual rights are incredibly important and that individual liberty is incredibly important and I disagree let’s take it away but I know you have it for a lot of things I mean there’s there so in in the law and I’m no legal expert but I I’m a I’m a geek and I love reading a Supreme Court decision and that sort of thing you know we’ve got certain concepts such as strict scrutiny say look if you’re going to do this it’s not to say you can’t have any restriction whatsoever on the freedom of speech but it’s gotta come under strict scrutiny you going to have very like real compelling interests etc set of tests and I just think that’s the way we should think about a lot of things like if we’re gonna actually make people do something it’s got to be pretty compelling and we shouldn’t do it willy-nilly and unfortunately all too often we do a lot of things a bit willy-nilly and so that’s yeah now we’re both atheists and tell me if that label is wrong but so I I know certainly to me and and see if you agree on the social issues for Republicans in this country to say that they’re libertarians and then to say but I’m I’m pro-life and so you should be able do anything you want except with your body I’d like to have a government so large it’s in your womb this seems seems a little at alan’s with libertarian philosophy doesn’t it yeah I mean it’s an interesting one because that is one issue where I can have some sympathy around complex questions about how late you can go and things like that i think there’s legitimate questions I don’t have the answers there but the ones who would say you know that the the morning after pill you know things like from conception you’re talking about two cells you know yeah it’s clearly nonsense and you know well but there we are but I mean you know the thing is I try to be for politicians a little bit forgiving of an umbrella approach or you know you know one of the things I that I don’t mind is if if a politician needs to sort of say something throw a bone to the religious right there’s nothing particularly wrong with that it’s the culture we live in it’s fine they need to get elected etc etc they need to be inclusive where it gets to be a problem is when they really really pander to a very small minority of extremists and that’s where you start to get really worried yeah I don’t mind Obama and Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton well I don’t know what Hillary’s real views are but Obama and Sanders pretending that they care about God and all that stuff god bless have at it ok but when Ted Cruz says I don’t really care about the Constitution we’re gonna run this thing from the Bible I care a lot about that right that we’re not gonna have yeah so what is your take on Bernie Sanders uh you know I don’t have a strong view on Bernie Sanders I mean in in other situations than what we’re in right now I don’t think that he would have come this far and therefore I wouldn’t have to form a strong view but I’m gonna look into it okay all right that’s where I you know I mean I’ve been I live in London now so yeah I I watched from a distance some of this stuff and I’ve been much more focused on the Republican side of things which is enough to make anybody really worried mm-hmm and you know when I look at at Trump Cruz and Rubio I think you know Rubio he seems like your standard-issue Republican he’s you know he’d be similar to many whatever you know mainstream candidate Cruz there’s a lot they’re very ideological a lot of ideology I don’t agree with it set receta and then there’s Trump and that makes me fear for the future of humanity so like people say lately people when people say I mean wow how do you know how is it living in London what do you think I want to say only real problem i have a living in london is that can’t threaten to leave the country as I would because you already have checked I already have right I have preemptively little yet so yeah I would argue that Cruz’s as dangerous if not more so now Trump’s out of control and he’s more out of control but Cruz is a scary in control I know where I want to drive this ship yeah and and and it isn’t pretty yeah I mean certainly you know there are those who say that the the Republican establishment is more afraid of cruise for that very reason that he will take the party in a particular direction um I would say the Republican establishment probably cares only about their machine and getting elected and power and all that and they fear that Cruz is going to take the party somewhere very unelectable under the long run and they may be right about that whereas Trump I don’t think he gives a shit about anything so other than him being president so he’s not going to bother party machinery has no ideological direction he wants to take things other than a bunch of scary stuff that he believes and so on yes so I don’t even think that he wants to be President he does like it’s not like he’s doing it as a fake thing it’s totally real now he just cares about anything that will get him more Fame yes right he’s like some sort of mythical legendary fame monster like gobbling up all the attention like if you wrote it as a character in a book it’d be over the top right now gobbling up every piece of morsel of attention you could possibly grab that is is you know prime directive if you will yeah so you know Kevin Spacey’s as plays in house Underwood Frank under Underwood yeah and I was with him and somebody asked him I was ok i was very excited by the way to be with him i happen to meet him and at this event and so on and somebody said well if if Trump and Underwood had a debate who would win and he said well listen the thing you’ve got to understand is that one of these men is a fictional character and the other one is a fictional character yeah and if he does win the nomination it’ll be fascinating to see how he crowd surfs in the general election because he’s it that’s Mark Cuban Tony’s a crowd surfer that’s a great description right and so he’s getting the energy from the audience he’s saying all these guys are hateful races is okay great i’m gonna give that back to me observe the crowd so in a general election when he’s had slightly different audience yeah it’s going to be a different kind of crowd surfing and it’ll be like interesting theater to watch yeah as we all hold on because it is actually real he right and hope that he doesn’t actually pull it off yeah well I mean you know I when I think about this and I just think about that the Republican Party has a grand coalition you can say you know generally speaking you think of the Republican Party as being the the religious left I mean the religious right and also then you’ve got the the more Chamber of Commerce Business slightly libertarian often and that umbrella center right neither of those really love Trump like it’s fairly not religious right material at all nope certainly those more centrist people they’ll find a lot of his hateful racist rhetoric very disturbing these are like sort of normal upstanding sort of people’s moms and dads who’ve made some you know got a good job and they just think of themselves as not left-wing it’s all they’re going to find Trump pretty scary and I just think come election time he’s just going to get destroyed I mean I think they’re just gonna absolutely lose it however I can’t believe you got as far as he has so that’s right you know he’s really confounded most people’s he said he’s upset the bow it’s like you you understand things through a certain lens of oh yeah there’s Hilary she’s here Bernie’s a little to the left you know he’s not any of those things he’s a populist he’s a demagogue and he’s drawing support from I don’t know who but he’s getting some support and you just don’t know where where do you go with that particularly in a time where there is this big sort of globally we see it in Europe a reaction against the establishment and people really you know they’re very concerned there’s a great comedian who Russell Brand and he’s really funny comedian he’s got political opinions which are fairly juvenile on my opinion writes like Angry thirteen-year-old kind of enjoyable very talented guy though and in the last election cycle in the UK there was one fantastic line he said he said it doesn’t matter what party they belong to in the day they all go to the same parties at night well that is a great line you only see that I mean living in London you definitely see that there is a Westminster in Washington and definitely say Washington you know where you start to say the general public is looking at the political classes and going you know fuck you all like your yes not doing a great job here and then there they’re open to somebody like Trump even if they think he’s a bit crazy they think well at least you might change something you know and so I think it’s really interesting to think about what where does that take us because it’s a bit it’s a bit loose at that moment and I think you can go you know we see it in places in Europe you see the re-emergence of some hard right parties things like this I’m not sure it’s reemerged of the hardware parties because people believe in their sort of fundamental ideology it’s just that they’re fed up with the establishment and they feel like well they’re all in bed together at least these guys or something new that’s a hundred percent true so when I was a host on MSNBC my agent doing that what he should do took me to this power breakfast in New York and it’s not a official gathering of anything it’s just where people go to eat breakfast in the club if you were right and so what was amazing about the club and I’m told audience this is there was Democrats who fight every day right and businessmen and people in the media and who all seem to oppose each other and boy they are enormously friendly to one another right they don’t actually oppose each other at all it’s a lot of theater uh-huh right and it’s the MIT was the most right-wing guys the most left-wing guy I know what’s weird about it though this is the weird and strange thing about it is at the same time as that’s going on which you could in a different era you might say this is a bipartisan like people are being civilized and they’re working together for the better of the country they have some disagreements on political issues but they compromise is not even that no there’s so it’s socially they’re all they’re all fine with each other politically they won’t work together productively at all unless is to give more tax cuts you know certain issues yes and when the political donors that’s exactly how you’d be shocked at how well they were neither I partisan when the donors in right okay and so so there’s there’s a lot of that and and so on Trump right now this Trump would get killed in a general election but remember he’s gonna morph so we don’t know if Trump two point O the general election candidate well I would get to I mean literally you know one of the things people have been saying that I think is really interesting is like the people around Trump advising him are not traditional political strategist at all and when you what’s healthy in that yeah when you first started hearing that it was kind of pooh-poohed like up he’s got all these kind of TV people it’s like you know what they know how to run a reality show that’s exactly right and they know you know you you’ve seen it in many in Survivor big brother you know going back to the beginning of that kind of thing I’ve never seen the apprentice I assume the same thing they script you through this one’s the villain yep and then script you over the story arc by the end you’re rooting for that villain because it turns out heart of gold so guising you’re exactly right everybody listen this is going to be if Trump gets the nomination and that’s an if because right now just got killed in Wyoming blown out by Ted Cruz so you never know in every night couldn’t earn but if he gets the nomination wait for the heart of gold turn election because that is exactly how you would script it and these guys are massive entertainers that’s what they do for a living they will make that turn and in a way I mean it’s it’s interesting because it is what we’re seeing now is the working out of some trends that have been with us for a long time so the the move from you know Walter Cronkite serious news to news as entertainment the next thing you know politics goes politics is entertainment right and it’s actually in this path is quite sick yeah and it’s actually not that crazy because you remember in the 1980s was the biggest for man to his movies and what do we do we elect an actor you know right and so is wrong Reagan that much different than Donald Trump a lot of facade certainly classier but healthier right but at the time we were that’s what the country wanted now we’re a reality show nation so electing and reality show star as opposed to a movie star is it that much crazier oh right so buckle up everybody little Kardashian that’ll come soon okay one last thing because I always wanted to ask you about this everybody says that religion is gonna be around forever because it’s been around forever I are you know you know the Gutenberg press did a good amount of damage and so that’s only five hundred years right and for 1,500 years people have no idea what was in the Bible the Koran or anything right and it was in Arabic which most Muslims don’t speak Arabic it was in Latin most Christians don’t speak Latin and now we have the internet and so I believe the internet will erode religion far far faster than people expect I’m curious what your views are um it’s a good question and I don’t have a strong view in terms of forecasting so the things are saying I agree with they sound by good at the same time I worry that we’re not seeing it happen early signs maybe not so much it’s really hard to tell and you know want one of the things that I think we will see is the rise of new religions which will of course have an impact on old ones I think we’ll see I mean oftentimes what what can happen i do think what will happen is that as people become more educated they may not abandon their religion but it knocks the rough edges off and so you go from being you know sort of burning witches at the stake or whatever you know the Spanish Inquisition that sort of thing too happy baby jesus on a Sunday morning social club sort of and so people haven’t given up their religion necessarily whether they believe it with the same fervor and intensity or whether they nominally believe and they pick and choose you know honor thy mother and father sort of that sounds like a decent thing to do to would be nice to your mom you know people pull those kinds of things without really being super religious I think Wilton happen and I’m very hopeful particularly in some of the more dangerously religious fundamentalist places in the world that like America yeah but I mean America’s is dangerously religiously fundamentalist because it’s so powerful exactly you know right bob is what i was referred to in particular places like Saudi Arabia of career we’re beginning to see rumblings of liberalization as you know young people there you know fifty years ago everything coming down top down from from your elders no contact with the outside world to speak of now all you know every 20 year old in Saudi Arabia is is on facebook and is watching The Young Turks and they’re watching The Young Turks and they’re you know they are there literally top ten country for us oh yeah so they’re they’re getting exposed to ideas which then they may not sort of go out and become sort of militant atheists but they definitely will take things with a bit of a grain of salt I I hope you’re right that it at the very least that the religion becomes more Jeffersonian you know Jefferson expression right and so uh and and I think there are good signs Europe is far less religious than it used to be and even in America when you uh we’re now I think and non-believers are it’s I don’t even think it’s it’s non-religious not non-believers are fourteen percent and growing now larger than after Americans minority in America large Latino minority in America so that’s a substantial group of people and among the young it is far greater than that and so for example now when Republicans come and say uh on social issues Oh against gay marriage for people under the age of 30 they find that view to be comical and my nose will be from there eighteen hundreds of 1200 sore or whatever and I think that that for those groups they’re already at least Jeffersonian right so and I think we I believe in the culture wars so I I disagree with some of the new atheists on some of the attacks on muslims as as what I’ve you to be as people right yeah yeah but in a lot of ways I am a new atheist and that I believe that uh that we need to have the culture wars and we need to win the culture wars and I think we’re winning but but it where I come down is you know like so even the label atheist right for me while technically true i have in the past I I complained I I complained about it being being in that category in Wikipedia but that was more about a Wikipedia editing thing which is I felt like our category atheists should really be reserved for people who self-identify and that’s sort of there it’s one of their big issues right so you’re known as part of the Atheist move I am not part of the Atheist movement it’s just not my thing I’m too busy got other things to do mm-hmm but I don’t know where I was going with this yeah yes in terms of the cultural wars and and so right yes for example i’m agnostic but I’ve been browbeaten into saying yes I’m an atheist who happens to be agnostic yeah yeah but I think that when Bill O’Reilly I know what I was going to go yes is to say like what I’m more interested what’s more important for me is that it whatever someone chooses as there belief system that they do so with great thought and with an educational background that allows them to think clearly about the issues part of the reason is I think if you do all that you’ll come down more or less where I am right that’s the that’s what we do yeah but if you’re not right if you are a thoughtful you know like if somebody is a theologian right and they’re very thoughtful about and they come to a set of beliefs around that that’s better for me than if someone is just blindly you have following things because they were sort of brainwashed as children yeah and it’s I think that it’s hard to take people’s faith away and I wouldn’t want to and I think that’s part of our DNA in a lot of ways but you but religion is not the same as faith religion is a dogma it is a set of words written in an ancient text an ancient rules so that I think we can take away and finally I should hook you up with Jim Gilliam who’s the prophet of the Internet I said I don’t know if you met him at all he’s says the internet is my religion and he’s got a famous speech at a love it yeah because he talks about how we’re all interconnected which the Taoist the sufis the transcendentalist all believe and what connects all of us now the internet internet right so what you’ve done to encyclopedias you get we might all do together to the ancient texts right all right Jimmy Wales thank you so much for joining us on The Young Turks.


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One thought on “Phishing with Wales

  • 13/06/2017 at 12:14

    Saudi Arabia is on the Top Ten list of Young Turk’s viewing audiences? That’s interesting.


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