Firings Watch ’17: Renaissance Technologies

Maybe calling your boss a white supremacist isn't the best way to keep a job.
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Someone's decision just got a lot easier...

Someone's decision just got a lot easier...

As I write, Renaissance Technologies is considering the continued employment of one David Magerman, a 20-year veteran computer scientist at the firm. You may recall that Magerman had a somewhat tense conversation with his boss’ boss, RenTech co-CEO Robert Mercer, in which Mercer asked if Magerman had called him a white supremacist. Magerman responded that he didn’t exactly say so in so many words, but that Mercer’s backing of President Donald Trump was “harming the country” and that he had “to stop.” And then Magerman went ahead and told The Wall Street Journal about it, and RenTech went and suspended him without pay while it mulled over his transgression.

Magerman told the Journal that he hoped his outspokenness wouldn’t cost him his job, but he’s acting like he kinda sorta wants to get fired, having followed up his chat with that newspaper with an op-ed in his local rag, the Philadelphia Inquirer, with the not-at-all provocative title of, “The Oligarchy of the 0.001% Percenters.”

Magerman opens by calling his boss’s boss’s political views “abhorrent.” But that’s not really the problem, he explains. People like Mercer—people willing to put their money where their mouths are—are what “make America a great democracy.” The problem, Magerman says, is that Mercer isn’t putting his money where his mouth is, since his mouth was Ted Cruz. No, his boss’s boss is doing something a bit more sinister—more sinister even than stockpiling urine—and Magerman intends to use the waning seconds of his 15 minutes to lay out just how sinister.

Robert Mercer hasn’t invested in Donald Trump because he believes in Trump’s campaign platform.…

So, what did Mercer’s investment in Trump amount to? He was effectively buying shares in the candidate, and Robert Mercer now owns a sizeable share of the United States Presidency.…

Mercer also has insisted that Trump use his company Cambridge Analytica, which uses its statistical models of voter psychology to get unpopular initiatives (like electing Donald Trump) through the electorate.

Mercer has surrounded our President with his people, and his people have an outsized influence over the running of our country, simply because Robert Mercer paid for their seats.

Now, David Magerman understands this. He used to try to do it himself. And even though (because?) he wasn’t even fractionally as good at “modern entrepreneurial philanthropy” as Mercer, he now recognizes it was wrong.

These investments all failed for one key reason: communal institutions are not for sale, and you should not be able to buy stock in them. They require donations in order to operate, but they should serve their community, not their donors.

When communal organizations, or governments, allow their donors to subvert their missions, they inevitably betray their missions, as our government is betraying us now.

I have learned this lesson, and it is time for Robert Mercer and the rest of the 0.001 percenters to learn it too….

When the government is overrun by 0.001 percenters, and the checks and balances of the government break down, the America will cease to be a democracy for 300 million people, and instead will be an oligarchy for 3,000.

Magerman can probably be expecting another call from East Setauket—his last—any minute now.

When a hedge fund billionaire ‘buys’ democracy: Magerman on Mercer [Philadelphia Inquirer]

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