Trump, Putin, Rogan, Musk, Fried and the problem with too much freedom

7 minutes, 2 seconds

Freedom is the most important thing to any living creature on the planet. Even animals value their freedom. But like anything in life, it's best in moderation. Only it's hard to moderate freedom. When we try and pass laws that do, people become angry. Unless they don't care about it, then they enjoy taking away other people's freedoms.

This past year, or any year, has been mainly about men with too much freedom and no restraint or basic decency. But more importantly, people who don’t understand or care about the consequences of their actions.

The things I could write about Donald Trump are so long it's not possible. Not to mention the people in his inner circle keep being indicted. There are too many of those to mention too. But his latest charge of the numerous new ones might be the one that most likely sinks him. And it's probably the dumbest, which is saying something. He took hundreds of documents with him when he left office, something no president ever does. He returned about a dozen boxes initially but still had several more. After the Justice Department asked nicely for them, he still would not return them. After several months they had the FBI raid Mar-a-Lago. His defense is he wants them, and therefore that's settled. It's the same way he says he declassified them just by thinking it, and so they are. Except there's a process for that. But rules don't apply to him because he's somehow special. But I don't think you can declassify other countries' nuclear secrets. Additionally, the sheer volume of top secret documents he had just scattered about is troubling on multiple levels. The empty folders indicate he probably sold them. A judge that he appointed conveniently oversees his case. Isn't that a conflict of interest? He requested a special master, which isn't working out the way he hoped. It's just blatant abuse of power, yet he's somehow always the victim. If he doesn't go to jail, the system doesn't work. He was also charged with numerous years of fraud in New York, making you wonder why it took so long. Sadly, his followers still believe he's innocent. I don't even know how you can conclude that at this point. He's literally stealing from them, too, with all his phony donation funds or his clearly a grift digital trading cards. I won't even mention the Georgia case, which seems like a slam dunk. He's finally being indicted on everything, and it's about time.

Vladimir Putin started one of the most unjust and pointless wars simply because he wanted Ukraine. A country that doesn't want him. He doesn't care because his desire to reunite the Soviet Union is more important than what 44 million people want. But karma has a way of dealing with people. His overconfidence led him to march straight for Kyiv instead of starting at the border and slowly moving inward. Even the Taliban did that when they regained control in Afghanistan despite knowing it would probably be easy since they had already made deals. But they still did it correctly. After Putin failed to take the capital, he retreated to the border and started trying to take over the more pro-Russian Ukraine regions. He succeeded until Ukraine recovered from the earlier invasion and received better weapons from its allies. A year later, Putin has only made minor gains in regions where they were already fighting Ukraine before he arrived. Although he did make a land bridge to Crimea, the place he illegally annexed years ago. If Ukraine ever gets all the needed equipment from its allies, it'll probably take back everything, including Crimea. If Putin had done nothing, he wouldn't have wasted time, money, and, more importantly, human life, and he'd still have Crimea. As far as historical blunders go, this has got to be one of the worst. It's made sweeter when his soldiers call him a fool and label this war the stupidest decision our government ever made. Most soldiers lack proper training, food, or gear. Some even fight in flip-flops. They're even rolling out tanks from 1940. It’s like they made no preparations for the war he had been planning for years. Not only is it the stupidest war, it’s the less prepared. Here's hoping they overthrow him.

Joe Rogan is the least powerful of the people here, yet in many cases, he's the most influential because he has millions of listeners. So when he comments about not needing vaccines or encouraging them to take ivermectin, that's a problem. The whole ivermectin thing is something I do not understand. You don't think a proven vaccine works, but something primarily used as an animal dewormer will? It's nonsensical. The problem with freedom of speech is that you can say whatever you want, no matter how stupid or harmful. Assuredly not every listener believes it, but when you have that many, enough will.

Unlike the others, Elon Musk has contributed things to society. But the more you get to know him, you wonder if that's even true. Most of his successes came from others. He doesn't think any rules apply to him, either. He thought Tesla should be allowed to operate during COVID when other companies couldn't. He won't allow his workers to unionize, and their work environments are rampant with sexism and racism. When your company is that toxic, it says a lot about the person running it. He tries to skirt environmental laws whenever he wants to build something. Most of the time, he succeeds. He wanted to build a Tesla factory in Germany where a forest was. He thought planting trees elsewhere would balance it out. It won't. You'd think someone as intelligent as him would know that. He drills with his boring company without getting approval. Most of what he promised with that company hasn't been completed years later. He launches hundreds of satellites into space without any care about the light pollution at night or whether it will become space junk. He claimed they would never contribute to light pollution but he was wrong. I mean, he launched a car into space because it was cool. Worst of all, he paid 44 billion to purchase Twitter. It started out as a joke. Then he tried to weasel out of it when he was called on it. He ended up buying it, firing everyone, and ruining the company. I don't know why anyone would pay that much for an unprofitable social media company. Did we learn nothing from Fox buying MySpace? That was a disaster at half a billion. Just wait until we look back at this. He just rebranded the site as X, whatever that means. I have zero interest in using Twitter again. I'm not calling it X.

Sam Bankman-Fried is the epitome of all freedom, no rules. The guy that liquidated Enron said, "Never seen such a complete failure of corporate controls." Bankman-Fried transferred 4 to 10 billion dollars from FTX to Alameda Research without disclosing it. It's mindbogglingly anyone would do that or that anyone in the company wouldn't notice and say, "Hey Sam, what are you doing?" Bankman-Fried bought 120 million worth of property in the Bahamas, while FTX also bought 300 million. He also tried to bribe the Chinese government with 40 million to unfreeze Alameda Research accounts. He was charged with wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy, and money laundering. He seems like a terribly unlikable person too. I'm glad he's been arrested, and he'll probably go to jail for life as he should. Over a million people had invested in FTX, and eight billion is still missing.

All these men have classic narcissistic personalities. But they can be so bad for so long because they have money, power, or both. Our society constantly enables this behavior when you have that stature. Even if we wanted to, putting Putin in his place would be hard. Controlling an army makes that problematic. Of course, the military is weak currently, so now would be the time for the people to revolt. But that's easier said than done. The situation in Myanmar attests to that. Even Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin tried and failed. The sad part is these people will never go away. There will always be another one.

Stockton Rush's another name to add to this list, but we're saving him for a separate article.