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Commentary :: Environment
CEO calls Bush "worst free-trade president"
18 May 2004
"Bush has been one of the worst free-trade presidents we've had in a long time. He is a big spender who makes Bill Clinton look like a penny pincher."
-- Silicon Valley CEO, T.J. Rodgers
Chip off the block
CNET, May 18, 2004

Unlike your garden-variety Silicon Valley CEO, Cypress Semiconductor's T.J. Rodgers is not shy about speaking his mind as an equal-opportunity critic. Over the years, this plain-spoken entrepreneur has publicly skewered sundry political and industry figures he believes to be peddling humbug--and that includes lobbing verbal bombshells in the direction of both major political parties. Along the way, he's taken on the likes of Jesse Jackson, Bill Clinton and Larry Ellison.

For his day job, Rodgers is the founding CEO of Cypress, which manufactures more than 400 types of integrated circuits, with an emphasis on products useful in communications applications. Included in its product line: microprocessor clocks, embedded controllers, static RAM modules and USB chips. The company reported $254.4 million in revenue for the first quarter of 2004, with $26.5 million in profits.

CNET recently caught up with Rodgers to get his take on the controversies over the expensing of stock options, offshore outsourcing and the business climate in California for technology companies...

CNET: Are you planning to vote for President Bush in November?
Rodgers: I haven't heard what John Kerry's got to say. I've read a lot of ugly stuff about him. I don't follow campaigns. I don't give money to them, I don't listen to them--they're a waste of time. Ordinarily, it would be a knee-jerk reaction for me to vote for an incumbent Republican, but Bush has done a bad enough job that I'll look at all the candidates and make a decision.

CNET: Based on what?
Rodgers: The Republicans are supposed to be a party of free trade and economic freedom. Bush has been one of the worst free-trade presidents we've had in a long time. He is a big spender who makes Bill Clinton look like a penny pincher. I doubt that I'm going to find Kerry to be a viable alternative. This year, if the Libertarians put up a non-nut, I may end up voting for a Libertarian.

CNET: How widely do you think your views are shared by other Silicon Valley CEOs?
Rodgers: The practicality of voting shows that you have to be a Democrat or Republican, if you want your vote to matter. In my case, I'm a registered Republican, but I'm always trying to get rid of their "moral majority" crap. There are a lot of Republican CEOs like that, who believe in economic freedom, free markets, free trade and also don't really buy into the moral-majority part of the current Republican party.
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