PopZette

Beware of Elon Musk, Who ‘Didn’t Build That’

SpaceX launch and all, public shouldn't be so quick to admire

Elon Musk’s SpaceX was delayed yet again to Jan. 14, this time because of expected poor weather at Vandenburg Air Force Base. The rocket did end up launching successfully — which was a good thing for Musk, who had a lot riding on the whole deal. He needs to constantly buff his image as the 21st century’s genius of transportation disruption. Because that’s all it is — an image.

Don’t be fooled by the “success” of the launch. For a long con to be successful, it does not mean every single element has to fail.

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If you peel back the layers of Elon Musk’s adventures and the embrace by the culture for his “forward-thinking” projects, what you find is someone filling his personal coffers with the help of government rent-seeking and crony capitalism.

One wants to admire Musk for his idealism and tenacity, which is part of the reason the culture mistakenly embraces him. The Left is quick to point out how battery-operated vehicles are “proof” that “clean energy” can be profitable. Except that not only is Musk’s Tesla not profitable, and certainly not worth the $30 billion the market says it is worth, but it isn’t clean as far as energy goes, either.

It takes an enormous amount of fossil fuel-driven energy to mine the components necessary to manufacture the batteries that go into Tesla vehicles.

Tesla Motors reported losses of $74 million in 2013, $294 million in 2014, and $889 million in 2015 — and it is on track to lose close to $1 billion for 2016.

Yet Musk is the one person Elizabeth Warren can truthfully point to and say, “You didn’t build that.” Musk enjoyed a loan of $464 million from the Department of Energy several years back, and Tesla has received $2.4 billion in total government subsidies.

Musk is the one person Elizabeth Warren can truthfully point to and say, “You didn’t build that.”

It isn’t a coincidence that one of Musk’s backers is also Steve Westley. Who is he? Why, he’s an Obama fundraiser.

So isn’t it interesting that Tesla paid back that same loan a full nine years early? What start-up retires debt early? No start-ups ever do that. The only companies that can afford to do that are those that are awash in cash flow. Yet Tesla didn’t have any.

The truth is that Musk went rent-seeking with the government by way of his network, got a loan to demonstrate that Tesla was an operational company with real possibilities, and used that fact to go to Wall Street to raise capital. It is a lot easier to raise capital when you have the federal government demonstrating it believes in you.

But hey, it’s not like Musk and Obama are buddies. Then again, they did have dinner in February 2015, Musk donating almost $36,000 to the 2012 Obama Victory Fund, and another 30 grand to the Democratic National Committee.

This back-scratching feels like it extends to SpaceX.  On Sept. 1, its Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launch pad during a test run. It took less than four months for the FAA to approve SpaceX’s explanation for the explosion and to schedule a new flight.

Four months?

Remember how NASA flipped out after any mishap involving the space shuttle, and would ban flights for years until they figured out what was wrong? As of now, SpaceX is privately funded. Yet the obvious capital injection by the government seems inevitable. After all, the government can outsource any of its orbital needs to SpaceX, which would naturally mean offering it a massive loan in order to hasten that process. With this week’s successful launch, get ready for more government money for Musk.

Related: Blasting Off to Mars

The final straw is a company called SolarCity. Musk had a position in the company. Yet SolarCity has also been losing money hand over fist. So SpaceX placed $165 million into a SolarCity financial product called solar bonds, backed by SolarCity’s panel systems that it installs. SpaceX bought those bonds — but, apparently, nobody else did.

SolarCity is yet another rent-seeking crony capitalist operation, having received more than $2.5 billion from the government. And wouldn’t you know it, with SolarCity a money-losing operation, who should swoop in and buy the company out in full but Musk?

There’s nothing going on here any more complicated than a guy leveraging political connections to get government handouts for businesses that are not only failing, but have fooled consumers and taxpayers into believing they are the next great leaps forward. Meanwhile, Musk is laughing all the way to the bank.

This is also emblematic of the Left’s bankrupt cultural influence. It isn’t enough to foist their values onto us. They have to elevate false prophets into heroes of individual accomplishment, when they are really just empty suits with their hands in our pockets.

Let’s idolize the people who really do build things themselves.