All-In with Chamath, Jason, Sacks & Friedberg - #AIS: Joe Lonsdale on the problem with higher education

Alright next up

Joe Lonsdale

We go Joe Lonsdale is gonna come up. He’s gonna tee it up for about five or ten minutes in a solo dolo

He told me he’s burning the house down

Well hello, Miami, it’s good to be here from Austin for a day, we’re

The second second best tech city here. It’s not too bad. How many people actually are in live in Miami?

I’m curious to the crowd we’ve been over that so everyone’s flown in town like me. That’s pretty cool

Well, you know, I’m generally an American optimist

But I want to talk about a lot of stuff that’s broken right now that we know how to fix

But we aren’t and you know talking to these guys, especially hearing from Elon everyone today

It’s just so exciting what our civilization is going towards what it could be doing

But if you talk to a lot of our smartest friends, you know, you look at guys like Dahlia or Bridgewater and others

You know, they see America in decline. They see decadence. They see decay and I think there’s a lot of important questions

I’m facing right now. Like why do these happen to a civilization?

What why when there’s so many exciting things going on that we know can make a really great future

You know for our kids and grandkids and for humanity. Why is this stuff breaking and I want to tell you a little story

Policy group in Austin and we have you know

We follow the homeless population there and we were going along with a middle-aged Mexican gentleman

Who had just lost his job and he went into the homeless center

I was just really struggling and he says, you know, I really want to try to find a job

I want some job training and though and the in the person working there. She says, you know, sir, you deserve a home

He said yeah, that’s great. But you know, what can I get some training?

She said you don’t need to worry about that

you need to worry about getting a home for people just like you what you deserve and

And I want to back up about the situation in Austin because we’re seeing this all over the country right now

You know in 2018 the mayor of Austin went to San Francisco in LA and and you know

He was asking him for advice. I want to do for homelessness. There wasn’t really homelessness downtown. It’s funny

This is funny to me, too

But there’s actually a reason he’s asked him for advice and it’s a special interest thing

where there’s actually hundreds of millions of funding that goes to these groups in SF and LA that work on this into all of their

friends and all the people with their politics and it’s a huge money spigot for

Politicians is they’re very powerful in those other cities and Austin they didn’t have that money spigot and he wanted it and you know

You know what? They told him I heard this from both sides

He said, you know, you have to show people that capitalism doesn’t work. You got put in their faces

And then you’ll get funding and he went back to Austin and he brought all the camps downtown

Homeless death spiked homeless trafficking spike sex trafficking spike drug spike, but the funding went way up for him and his friends

They got massive new funding, you know unaccountable sources of money for these people and and and then and then of course

They start deploying the answers, which is the housing first strategy. And by the way, this is not just like a right versus left thing

I think housing first was first deployed under W Bush. So this is this is a general strategy

You guys probably know in LA they spend $800,000 per new home trying to solve this problem

There’s 7,000 nonprofits right now, you know funded by HUD around our country with the same philosophy and the philosophy is no pay for performance

No transparency, no accountability just build the homes and you know when I first heard about this a decade ago

I thought wow that makes sense. There’s 5,000 homeless people. Let’s build 5,000 homes

It turns out that there’s still about a couple percent of our society that really don’t have a home

But they’re living kind of on the edge on people’s couches with other family with friends

So the actual demand for homes and it turns out maybe it’s about six million ten million. It’s effectively infinite

There’s infinite demand for homes in our society. And who do you think gets these homes when we build them?

So so this guy we’re following, you know

A few hundred people with my philanthropy group and our team goes back in with them

And he gets in line and he’s been living between a camp that they helped him set up in downtown and

In a relative’s house, but he’s you know

He’s saying he’s living outside in a camp and he goes back and he’s just missed getting a home and he’s frustrated

And they’re explaining the point system and he says wait a second

So you’re saying that if I was on drugs, I’d qualify for a home and they said well

We don’t like to say it that way, but that’s true. And he says you’re saying if I committed a crime

I qualify for a home and they’re like, well, yeah, but that’s that. Yeah

We don’t like to say it that way, but that’s true

That would have given you enough points to qualify for a home and and and and what happens here if you try to bait this system

There’s you know, 7,000 of these groups around around the country

You’re screamed at as a racist. You’re screamed at with ad hominem attacks. There’s three things one

There’s not the intellectual humility to see that there may be other answers and may be correct

two there’s no respect for the dignity of everyone in this conversations if you disagree, you are a bad person and

Three there’s no passion for the truth. These people are not trying to pursue the truth

These people already have the truth and they’re giving it to you as a dogma

And this is true of pretty much every of these broken areas in our society and there’s a lot of them

There’s a lot of them right now. There’s like we you know, we have 50 trading programs

That we spend a lot of money on the federal government. They’re not accountable. They don’t tend to work. They’re very broken

There’s no transparency. There’s no competition. There’s no debate

You’re for it or against it and you’re a bad person if you’re against it

there’s there’s there’s these vocational schools around the country, Texas vocational schools were really underperforming seven years ago and

You know what we did is we ended up actually changing them so that the schools were only going to be funded based on the

Salaries of the students coming out if you tie it to graduation rates doesn’t work because they can graduate everyone

We tied to the salaries coming out

We got the vote we got the salaries coming out to go up a hundred seventeen percent just by putting in that accountability

But but most of the country doesn’t do that. Most of the country there’s vocational schools people go very low graduation rates. They fail

We’re not going to go into the k-12 issues you guys know about but one fact most people don’t know is the education

Inequality in this country is far greater than the wealth inequality

Far greater so so there’s I mean, you know, and you guys probably see there’s an infant formula production thing

There’s a crisis right now

There’s a really basic policy mistakes around that the way we run our prisons our probation and parole

There’s all sorts of ways to run a much better. We’re not doing it though

You know, I’ll give you one other example because Elon was speaking today Austin infrastructure

I’m very excited about his boring company and you know

They on Austin we passed the six billion seven billion dollar plan to build really small amount of infrastructure

It’s already ballooning cost of 12 billion, you know for less than half the original money for three billion dollars

You could do over a hundred times as many

as many tunnels in terms of what they’re building right now and and you and you do it, you know with

100 more stations and so basically for a tiny fraction of the cost and again

I go and talk to the city and talk to the guys. There’s no intellectual humility

The you know, we don’t there’s no they don’t respect your dignity. Elon’s a bad guy

we don’t like Elon whatever because they’re there’s some kind of extreme version and

And they’re not interested in the truth and they’re really not they’re just interested in like what they’re gonna do it their way and

So can you kind of come back to this? Like what’s going on in our society?

Where is this coming from? And you know say what causes decadence decay and decline?

I think the more important question is what actually works like why is our society functional?

And yeah, I think this you have to take it back to the Enlightenment, right?

I mean this if you look at the exponential growth that’s happened that’s created the wealth and all of us enjoy

It really happened over the last few centuries

Kind of post-enlightenment and and you had a society that really cared about pursuit of the truth really cared about

Competition of ideas, right?

I mean and you need the virtues for this to work right the classical virtues that we talked about our civilization

Justice wisdom temperance courage. You need the courage to actually fight for the truth

And so what a long time ago you tended to have religious dogma

Which could be some form of virtue signaling some sort of some form of you know

Basically keeping out outsiders and then you had separately debate and substance and debate and substance generally lost

It’s religious dogma and what was unique about the Enlightenment was unique about our university system

Which we which we created was the liberal universities were a place to have debates where substance could actually win

Against you know dogma and against you know

People who people who disagree you actually had to disagree civilly and you actually had to pursue truth

You had the intellectual humility to know that you don’t have all the answers

You had to respect the dignity of people who are debating and you had to fight for a passion for the truth

And and what’s happened instead is that most of our universities have been conquered by dogma and by religion

That they no longer have these things. So once again, we have the idea of heretics and blasphemy

We don’t call that we don’t use those words

But that’s what we’re facing right now

If you disagree with people you’re a heretic and you’re committing blasphemy if you speak against all sorts of these things

You’re not supposed to speak against if you say that

DEI is actually causing problems. If you say that here’s what ESG is wrong. That’s like it’s blasphemous

You’re not this isn’t your stuff. You’re not allowed to attack these days. You’re in trouble

You’re told not speak against it again or else you’re fired

There’s been written about lots of corporations right now

This happens all sorts of people and this is happening first and foremost on our campus. What’s happened is this is zero-sum

Historically illiterate and tolerant virtue signaling religion has completely taken over and is silencing people and you know

Our founders our founders were we’re quite fond of heretics

I don’t know if people realize that but that was kind of the equivalent debate

300 years ago to this to this woke religion is that Benjamin Franklin?

He said I think all heretics I have known have been virtuous men

They have the virtue of courage or they wouldn’t venture their heresy

They cannot afford to be deficient in other virtues do the numerous

Enemies they provoke and so, you know, I think thinking what’s going on here

All of us first of all need to go back and think about like where where do we not have enough humility to try to learn

More where where we not respecting people who disagree and actually engaging them and debating them as opposed to calling them names running them off

And frankly, I think we should also remember. It’s actually really good to be offended

It’s the opposite of safe spaces. There’s this weird cultural thing with the millennial generation

I guess I’m barely part of it unfortunately where you’re basically supposed to protect people from being offended

You’re supposed to protect them from blasphemy. I think it has to be the opposite if our civilization is not going to decline

I think we actually have to go out of our way to learn that when we’re offended we have to be stronger

It doesn’t mean you’re you’re somehow like elevated as a victim if you’re offended

That’s your problem if you’re offended and you just stop and think about it and we need to use that to advance our civilization again

So that’s my that’s my save for today

G Jason wanted me to add a bunch more blasphemy, but I’m gonna hold off on that. I think you did enough

Let’s talk let’s chop it up get in here. Let’s talk about why people feel like they’re victims

What do you think in our country?

make certain people feel

That they’ve been victimized

What are the valid reasons people might feel that they have gotten a raw deal in America?

I mean, I think all of our ancestors have gone through this

I’m Jewish and Irish

There was when my ancestors came over there were signs saying no dogs are Irish allowed

my grandfather was only promoted to a certain level at Abbott because he was a Jew actually realized it hired a Jew and they

They laughed and said oops. That was a mistake. You can only get to this level

Yeah, and so I mean, I think I think there has been some pretty horrible things everywhere in the world

Frankly, I want you not just America. I think everywhere you look there’s there’s always been groups that have been treated pretty badly

I’m Irish as well

Irish need not apply. Yep

We had a pretty horrific famine and I’m like and then and it’s obviously a lot easier to be Irish than it is to be

Someone who’s black in America, I think or Jewish and the Holocaust. Yeah. Yeah

That’s true. Different people’s experiences are on a spectrum of the suffering, correct? 100% and


People who’ve suffered more deserve a little more empathy and perhaps a little bit more

Consideration they deserve more empathy, but doesn’t mean you should embrace

philosophies that are wrong or harmful, right so I mean if you look at the

Obviously like there’s a lot of truth and positive parts of the BLM movement the last couple years

But it’s actually led to thousands more deaths in the black community

Because of the things that it was pushing because of the bad ideas. We got another one of these things

How many more of these do we got to do

This is like way more work than I thought I was signing up for way more work someone get this man a drink

We should have had cocktails I never agreed to be in the conference business when we started doing this pod

Shake out. I respect you for what you’ve been able to do

But this is way too much work. You guys said you wanted to do a look at you know

All these fans are here that you’re doing the Q&A tomorrow. Okay, sounds good. I think you know Joe

Candidly I think that is where the argument breaks down a bit is

People have had different experiences, and I would

Disagree that people have to stop thinking like victims. I think sometimes

We have to think very deeply about the suffering people have had especially when it’s different than the suffering that you and I have had

But that that is so it’s and I’m not virtue signaling here. I’m just countering

I think that I think that’s fully true what I was really against is I gave ten examples of

Ways in which our society is broken and hurting poor people hurting working-class people

Like this wasting money on things in a dysfunctional ways and all of that is happening

Because we’re like going to this illiberal society where we’re not able to actually like debate things logically sure and respect

Respect other people on the other side of the argument. It’s all about demonizing people who disagree with us

Yeah, right, and I think that’s just really really scary right now. Do you?

There’s a website people have tweeted this I think it’s the website is called what the fuck happened in

1971 calm you know what I’m talking about where yeah, if you go to this website

I don’t know so in 19 say if you look back socio-economically

There’s a whole bunch of charts and graphs of everything from GDP to you know labor participation rates, etc

and there is a moment in

1971 where just trend lines break and

you know Dorsey tweeted this out a little while ago a

Bunch of people talk about it and everybody has tried to figure out what actually happened

I mean there’s a couple there’s a couple really good explanations

I think right so I think I think it’s you biggest ones

I think the two biggest ones by far is one is tech driven globalization

And the other one is going off the gold currency which over financialized the economy so I think the gold currency one was important

I think the one that people don’t talk about whether you agree with it or not

I’d love to get your perspective is you know the move to the Great Society had a whole bunch of

Things that I think were meant to do

Meaningful good and I broke down the family as well, which is a huge problem in America

Then this is yeah, so I mean you talk about things that make civilization

Prosper I think you get the classical virtues and you get a strong families

Which by the way for whatever reason I still can’t tell BLM was strongly against which I think is like just horrible

So I think it’s a problem in the white community as well by the way

It’s like almost half kids are born out of wedlock right now

And if you statistically look at that those kids just on average vastly underperformed

This doesn’t mean to say there’s aren’t one-off cases

And you should get divorced if it’s the right thing to do but but but it but it’s like it’s like it’s really bad for

Society as a whole statistically you can’t argue against that and exactly we’ve actually created the incentives towards divorce in the 1960s

Which it obviously wasn’t intentional, but this is a huge problem. You’re not supposed to talk about it. It’s like a conservative thing I guess

And talk about the the financialization and moving off the gold standard as well. How did that change socio-economic dynamics in America?

Well, basically it mean is so there’s like a lot more

Money around and so I think I think it over it put more returns into finance

So I got a benefit from this is do you for as an investor?

So but but making things yeah

I think I think I think it put more returns into finance and because there’s this explosion of

Credit and money relative to so I think finance outperformed

Labor in terms of it’s an advantage for finance, which is not what you necessarily want it

Really really helped accelerate tech term globalization

Which probably was good for India and China and Southeast Asia and even Africa?

But it basically forced workers in the u.s. To compete against all these people directly

And so you had people paid like 15 times as much in the u.s. These other people and and and then and it wasn’t sustainable

So over time these other people’s out competed that you fish over the last 50 years, which is really tough

You find it hard to find

Your tribe in Silicon Valley

Oh, yeah, intellectually has it become easier or harder the same, you know

I’ve just given up on like having even a tribe so much is like let’s work on this together

Let’s actually make prisons have lower recidivism and higher employment and here’s how we’re gonna do it

We’re gonna put these transparency and accountability

Incentives and it’s hard for anyone to really disagree with that unless you’re running the prisons union

And so like we got it. We’re getting all these laws passed from probation and parole and that we’re getting all these laws passed

Educational school work better. Yeah, and what’s annoys me Chamath is that I feel like as people who’ve

Succeeded we all sort of have a duty to go and fix these problems and almost no one else is working on that

That does annoy me

and then in terms of like for example

I want to talk specifically because you mentioned higher ed, but if you go a little bit before this

We have no real form of competition in the school system. Yes

you need some mechanism for good ideas to win and bad ideas to lose and and the

The existing framework has been charter schools

But that’s been attacked

under every, you know sort of way shape or form how

How does that problem get solved? How do we get kids?

You know

So the problem if you just give everybody choice right now and you give them say funding take the money where they want

It basically defunds the public schools, which then hurts the poor kids the most

And so I understand why people are against like total choice for everyone. It’s kind of just kind of more like policy detail

I think the way to get around that is you just give the poor kids choice

So if you just give the poor kids choice, and now it’s very clear

You’re just doing it to help them but even them being able to choose will put pressure and get rid of the hurt the bad

Schools and help the good schools. So you see some mechanism

Let’s do the mechanism through the poor kids that helps them most that that’s that’s my view. It seems actually like a reasonable

Argument is right. Yeah, because why shouldn’t the I mean my kids have choice where to go with my wife and I why shouldn’t poor

Kids have that choice

So there’s there’s things that she’s using gonna hate that but at least it’s a way to kind of kind of maybe build support

And is there a way for unions to to actually do the the part of the job, which is about protecting workers with?

but disentangle some of the financial incentives to

Aggregate, you know dues participate actively. You just gotta change the power structure right now. They’re totally in charge

They don’t want to give an inch I get it because every time they give an inch they’re gonna lose more power later on

If they see that they’re losing some battles, then they then they have to negotiate and they’re gonna be more reasonable

They say oh, yeah, you’re right. We’re gonna get rid of the bottom 20%

We’re gonna you know, you gotta get to a point where the power change is enough that they’re willing to then work with you

But I but I mean the bigger the bigger thing I think is

We actually need leaders

Who are courageous?

Who could speak up about problems and in the midst of everyone yelling and screaming and saying you’re not supposed to say things to say

Actually, I don’t care, but you’re not supposed to say this is my version of the truth

And this is what’s gonna be the best in society and what we’re teaching at universities right now is the opposite of that

What we’re teaching is Joe just don’t say that Joe. Why are you causing problems for yourself Joe?

You know, you’re not supposed to talk about these things and I’m so sick of it because like this is why all this stuff’s broken

It’s because no one’s speaking up you bought a college

My my friends Barry Weiss and Neil Ferguson and I along with a bunch of others are starting a new university in Austin

Yes, did you buy an existing university?

We’re just starting from a clean. We got five. We got 500 acres in the water. It’s really pretty

It’s about 15 minutes from the Tesla giant Tesla plant about 30 minutes from downtown

What we’re gonna build you teach what would the majors be and what will be the approach?

You know the the hypothesis, you know as entrepreneurs

Our job is to find these gaps in the world where something should exist

But doesn’t and it seems like for the first time in a few generations

You could actually build a university that competes with the other very top

universities and attracts the very

You know most talented kids one of my obnoxious views on this which I think the stage might

Might agree with just because it’s our direction is

That used to be the smartest people in the world a lot of them became professors and now you get a lot of very smart

People becoming innovators becoming builders like my smartest friends

I got to drop out of their PhDs from MIT and Stanford and Caltech

Actually found more intellectual expression and satisfaction, you know in the entrepreneurship world than they did there

And so therefore in order to compete, you know, you want not only the top professors

But you want to involve a lot of top innovators and you know

We want to teach you want to teach the history of thought and in the free civilizations

You want to actually see like like how the alignment come about?

What were the books or the debates that people were having when they’re found in the country and kind of kind of learn that core?

And then we also want to have centers where you keep it interdisciplinary. It was one of the key things universities

This is again somewhat technical but they’re broken because you get these departments to get conquered by a certain ideology

So you get certain people to only allow people who think like them to be in those departments

So you want to you want to spread it out keep it or just how much how much of this is because of tenure?

Tenant tenure is a big problem. You want to have some protection and potential tenure would originally was a great thing

Protected you to say what you want and practice now. It’s usually it’s usually the other way around and it’s pretty and yeah

It was not good. Yeah

But yeah, no, there’s there’s a huge gap there

I think we could fix it and my goal obviously is not to have everyone educated through one great university

It’s to put pressure on other universities to change and to help build multiple new ones

Which I think we need to do and the school that you start

Interdisciplinary by nature, which means that not necessarily known as for technical people for math

And they’ll be like a center of like political economy in history. There’ll be a center of

Data science and innovation and you know, etc. They’ll be at centers, you know, you know arts and writing and stuff

So I think you want difference there are different skills. I think everyone should get the kind of core

Is this for profit or so? You know, it’s nonprofit

It’s probably it’s part of me wishes

I made it for profit because I need to make money because it’s be easier to raise money for it

But we’ve raised about a hundred million dollars nonprofit for it. We have the land so it’s it’s gonna work

I put my name on it. So I’ll pay for raised a hundred million dollars for this. Yeah

When do you plan on opening it fall 2024 is our goal for the first class be about the size of Caltech at first is

the hope

It’s pretty ambitious project

Yeah, well a country our country needs some some more leaders right now who are courageous and not a thing how do you

How do you how do you how do you think you’ll recruit the first class?

How do you yeah, you want you want to do much more active recruiting than most of our top colleges right now

Especially because we won’t be as known at first, but I’ll tell you what

We have a seminar this summer of 80 kids and we have 44,000 inquiries from kids about it

We have you know

When we first the first two weeks after the story was out on Twitter in November that we’re doing this

We have four thousand four hundred professors apply because these professors are fleeing a lot of the professors by the way

A lot of them on the moderate left

They’re being attacked by the extremes for again talking and say about and saying things

You’re not supposed to talk about and say and so so a lot of them are trying to flee to other environments

There’s a huge demand for it right now. It’s super weird that

college kids yeah are

Against having debates and it’s gotten so much worse

I just find it so weird like that was like one of the best

I don’t have a car. I mean, I haven’t been in college in the last five years. You just gotten totally crazy like that

We had a woman of press a really smart woman, you know

Definitely on the left, but like she was applying from NYU law school asking us

Are we gonna do a new law school because you can’t stand that anymore and we say well what’s going on?

She said well, for example

We used to use the Socratic method in my law school and I would ask tough questions from both sides of the kids and now

in order not to trigger people I have to write them an email a week ahead of time to make sure I can ask the

Question and then I’m gonna ask in class next week. So if you were to ask lawyer, this is the train a lawyer

I mean, it’s just this is this is where we are at this point. So just like that’s NYU law. This is NYU

That’s the policy of NYU. I think we got a bigger cycle. I don’t know but like this is this

Our universities have just gone crazy the last five years. Like yeah, is that an isolated incident or no?

Yeah, y’all has more administrators and students

These administrators are on the whole more likely to be neo-marxist than to be than to be Republicans

I mean, it’s just like these things have gotten very extreme

What do you think sex?


You ever think you’ll get this bad when you know about the university and you know, I mean you lived at a time

I mean the time at Stanford was a pretty bold time when you were there in terms of freedom of speech in terms of

Debate vibrancy. Yeah, what basically happened is all those radicals are being inculcated and trained and brainwashed at Stanford that we were reacting to

What if 25 30 years ago they all graduated and then they went off into society and took over all these institutions

And that’s the problem we have today

Matt Taibbi and Glenn Greenwald were talking about earlier today where if you actually look at polling the biggest divide in America in terms

Of political and cultural beliefs is whether or not you have a college degree

So if you’re basically a college graduate your member of the professional class if you’re not a college graduate

You’re a member of the working class. That is the biggest divide and

You know the the members of the professional class by and large have very very far-left

Views on socio-cultural issues. That’s just a fact. I mean whether you agree with it or not

And that is creating a huge amount of tension in our society because two-thirds of the country is working class. One-third is

Professional class and in a democracy the side that has the larger number should win

so the working class has the votes, but the professional class runs all the institutions and

This is the source

I think of all our political strife in America is that the people who are in charge of our institutions from the New York Times

to the Washington Post to the fortune 500 Disney

Hollywood and you go down the list

They have views that are fundamentally in tension and in conflict

With the views of most of the country the working class of the country now if you’re a member of that class

You may think it’s a good thing. We’re gonna push our views

Onto the country whether they like it or not, and we’re gonna convert them. That’s what you call the elite class, right?

that’s the elite and

And that’s what basically now I like what I’m describing is not like a criticism

I think it’s just like I think this is a factual critique of what’s happening. Well, yeah, I don’t think it’s partisan either

I mean there there are people who are

Republicans or Democrats and both there are elites there are elites in both parties and there are certainly working-class people in both parties

but what I would say is that the parties are now in the process of

resorting around this sort of political and cultural divide and

Historically the Democrats were the party of the working class. They are now much more the party of the professional class

and they buy into the belief set of

Sort of the college educated the you know, those sort of you call it the woke

Sensibility and the Republicans are in the process of transforming into a working-class sort of populist party

Yeah, and and look there are in both parties are outliers who don’t quite fit in anymore

But but that’s the fundamental transformation that’s happening. Yeah, I mean you guys fit into that your people in the

Republican Party who don’t fit in it anymore

I mean

I wouldn’t even necessarily mind that dynamic you described so much if they weren’t breaking everything and if they weren’t not allowing

Conversations about how broken things are and the better ideas, right? It’s just a very strange illiberal

So I think and I just connect it with what we were talking about with Glenn, you know

Greenwald and Tybee is that look if if you’re part of the elite and you control all these institutions all the

Cultural high ground but the country is not with you and just in terms of the sheer numbers

You are gonna use the tactics that people in power always use to suppress the greater numbers

That’s where censorship comes from the people who are running these institutions. Don’t they want the debate to be over?

They want the power to end the debate

Because they’re not otherwise gonna win that debate

Well, we’re very interested in seeing where you take it and

We appreciate you taking the time to share your views



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