Elon Musk, the billionaire tech entrepreneur and clean energy advocate, has had many liberal fans – until recently.
Liberals have long admired his quest to bring clean energy to the masses and his companies’ lofty goals to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy (Tesla) and to make humans a multi-planetary species (SpaceX). But now, in an unexpected development, Mr Musk has changed sides, leaving liberals in a quandary: what should they do about Elon Musk?
Does Uber have anything to do with Tesla, SolarCity or SpaceX?
The people involved certainly say so. Former Obama strategist David Plouffe said that if you look at sort of what’s come out of Tesla, SolarCity, and SpaceX, it’s really been revolutionary. But there isn’t much substance to back up that claim. The only connection between Uber, a taxi app, and Tesla or SolarCity is that Elon Musk owns all three companies. You can find examples of people plugging one Tesla model into another (to make better batteries), but that has nothing to do with SpaceX—and vice versa. Or they want to apply an FAA rule put in place by Obama to commercial space flights which also has no relation to SpaceX.
So there are no connections at all between Elon Musk’s companies. That hasn’t stopped celebrities from getting in on it, though. Jeremy Piven from Entourage called him a badass. And Arianna Huffington tweeted that her book club would be reading his biography last year (he graciously thanked her for doing so). But really, what does he do besides constantly appearing in headlines because of one controversy or another? It might just be about how much some people dislike Donald Trump—or conservatives in general—that makes them like Elon Musk more than they should.
In 2013, SpaceX made history by doing something that no one else has done. They successfully re-launched a previously used rocket. It was a big deal because using disposable rockets cost a lot of money—that’s why it never happened before—and if SpaceX could reuse them, they would get more people involved in space exploration and cut down on costs. But Elon Musk started talking about reusable rockets back in 2011, years before they did it.
Should Elon Musk be charged with fraud over these tweets about funding going public?
Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, has found himself in trouble again. He tweeted that he had secured funding to take Tesla private at $420 a share. The problem was that no funding had been secured for such a deal, meaning his tweet may have been seen as an attempt to manipulate stock prices. After being sued by shareholders, who claim they lost money when their shares fell in value after his tweet, he now faces being charged with fraud. Should he be? Was it just a mistake by a rich guy who got carried away or should there be consequences? Elon Musk claims he was trying to be transparent while also having some fun by posting funding secured but clearly something went wrong somewhere…
If convicted of fraud, Elon Musk could face fines or jail time. But should he be charged at all? It’s hard to say. Musk may have simply been trying to manipulate share prices, as some believe, but as a rich guy who likes to have fun on Twitter, there’s a sense that he may have just got carried away. Either way, it will be interesting to see how things play out with regard to his future plans for Tesla.
Elon Musk and Liberals -: It’s hard to say whether Elon Musk should be charged with fraud over these tweets or not. His behaviour doesn’t help his case though, even if it may be just a rich guy having some fun on Twitter, which he has since apologised for. One thing is for sure though – none of us should have as much power as one man…Liberal policies that give so much power to one man can never work!
Can someone become rich by privatizing space travel and electric cars?
It’s certainly a step forward for humanity to have been able to put resources into space exploration, and Tesla seems poised to do much good with electric cars. It’s clear that Musk wants to improve life on Earth with his business endeavours; he isn’t doing it just for fun or even for-profit (though he has both). He wants to take humanity from here (pointing at the ground) to there (pointing at the sky). But does privatizing space exploration make it impossible for government funding and programs to get off the ground? And if so, what would liberals like Hillary Clinton say about stopping the privatization of public programs if those programs can be used in some way as tools for private business growth?
Many liberals would say that any company, especially one so large as Tesla, should be held accountable for its role in helping to privatize some of our public programs. In fact, many would likely be quick to point out how much Elon Musk has profited off of government subsidies when arguing against his right to do what he’s doing. The argument seems to go something like this… if SpaceX didn’t exist, someone else would have innovated in space travel without it being privately funded (including by governments). It isn’t fair for a company that only exists because of taxpayer money (or perhaps more controversially government funds earmarked for certain business ventures) to now making billions off of private funds from venture capitalists who expect returns on their investments.
In other words, they would argue that no private individual should profit off of a company started with taxpayer money. And on paper, it seems like a pretty solid argument. But after further consideration, it seems to be pretty flawed. The most obvious flaw is in saying it’s wrong for any person or company to profit off of a business venture that was originally created thanks to taxpayer dollars. If a government gave millions or billions of dollars to someone else who used those funds towards starting a business, then they shouldn’t also be allowed to profit from that business too? That just doesn’t seem fair at all.
Can you help save humanity if you are not a humanist but an atheist, an agnostic or a sceptic?
The challenges of climate change, resource depletion, famine, poverty and war are too big for us to address using anything less than our collective brainpower. Whether you believe in God or not, we need more people like Elon Musk working on these challenges. Any attempts to mock or discredit him are self-defeating and divisive. There’s a lot that divides liberals but if we look past our differences in science, religion and philosophy; there’s plenty we can agree on. Let’s focus on what unites us rather than what divides us. Our future depends on it.
As an entrepreneur, billionaire inventor, engineer, visionary, environmentalist and humanist; Elon Musk is a visionary unlike any other. He has done more than anyone to make solar power cost-effective for all consumers. His electric car company Tesla not only put electric cars on our roads but made them stylish, desirable and affordable to everyday people. His space exploration company SpaceX has not only revolutionised our vision of a life beyond Earth but also enabled us to lower the costs of launching rockets into space by over 90%.
How does an ideology limit our ability to promote science, reason, peace and democracy?
With so many factors influencing a decision as critical as to whether or not to support Elon Musk, it can be hard to pin down exactly what’s holding back liberal support for his ideas.
But if we look closely at how ideology works in our society, I think we can come up with a simple explanation that has two distinct aspects. On one hand, conservatives tend to view change as an inherently bad thing; they have a preference for things remaining exactly as they are. For those who subscribe to that philosophy, there’s nothing wrong with standing still. So conservatives don’t necessarily dislike change per se—they just dislike any change that threatens their lives or livelihoods, which explains why they might be more supportive of Elon Musk’s efforts than liberals are right now.
On the other hand, liberalism is all about progress. We believe that our world should improve over time, and technology plays a big role in making that happen. That makes us excited about new technology like autonomous cars because we see them as part of a larger trend toward less pollution and safer transportation overall. And because people on both sides see change as being good or bad depending on its implications for their own lives, it makes sense that conservatives would want to preserve fossil fuels while liberals would want to transition away from them—even though both groups ultimately want what’s best for humanity.
This means that liberals and conservatives actually want many of the same things, which might sound strange if you’re a liberal who thinks conservatives care only about money or a conservative who thinks liberals have an ideological blind spot for scientific progress. The problem, however, isn’t that our ideologies are incompatible; it’s that they limit our ability to appreciate certain points of view because they cause us to see everyone as either one of us or the enemy. This can even lead liberals and conservatives to hold back progress when both sides should be working together to achieve something better for everyone.
Although I don’t like to put myself in these who should liberals defend positions, there are few things more infuriating than seeing a rich white man viciously attacked by an angry mob of leftists while his actions have been wholly beneficial to humanity. Sure, you could argue that it wasn’t necessary for him to donate money to prop up failing companies, but if he hadn’t would those companies have shut down entirely? And if they did, what would that mean for their employees and communities (many of which were suffering from high unemployment rates before Elon swooped in)? As far as I can tell, everything he’s done has been an improvement on how our society was doing business previously. Are there other things he could be doing better?
As for his supposed anti-union behaviour, I don’t see how that’s relevant. Should we boycott every business because it chooses to be unionized or not? That wouldn’t make sense unless unions had some kind of monopoly on value or something. The fact that Elon chooses to run his business a certain way isn’t wrong or bad; it just makes him different from most other businesses out there. But as far as I can tell he hasn’t done anything to hurt anyone, so why should we criticize him at all (other than for reasons unrelated to his actions)? Sure, he could do more good with his money.
Although, if anything, he probably gives too much money to charities. You can hardly turn on a newscast or look at an op-ed without seeing someone urging him to donate more money to some cause or another. I’m sure his friends get sick of hearing about it, but what other people do with their money isn’t really any of Elon’s business, especially since they all agreed to give it away when they signed their wills. He could be a little more careful with how he spends his time in terms of public appearances, but who could blame him for wanting to address his critics once in a while?
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