So many of us have dreamt of going into space. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Paul Allen are all in the private space race game as it is no longer exclusively the domain of government entities. Yesterday, Musk’s SpaceX suffered a big setback with the massive explosion of one of its rockets yesterday in Florida. Worse yet, it had a Facebook Internet satellite payload on it, which perished atop the rocket.
Since rockets are just massive explosions that we attempt to harness and direct, why are we still using them as propulsion into space? Why aren’t these billionaire pioneers moving away from that 20th century technology? Especially since it is obviously and inherently dangerous. Why not work on developing the 21st century space elevator using cutting-edge materials like the breakthrough futuristic material graphene?
Tune in to The Ethan Bearman Show Monday through Friday, noon to 2pm Pacific time on KGO 810 – www.kgoradio.com
Poor People of Color Subsidize Rich White People – Musk’s Business Plan
Do amazing cars and the promise of cleaner energy justify lower socio-economic classes, particularly of color, subsidizing a white billionaire’s business plan?
Really. I’ve driven the Tesla Model S and there is no question I’d love to drive one daily. My day to day car is more of an electric car for the people, a 2015 Ford Focus Electric. Not my favorite four wheeled vehicle I’ve ever owned, but it does well in stop and go city traffic, plus I have the personal experience for discussion in media. But the whole electric car and solar subsidy business bothers me and it should bother you too.
Recently Elon Musk masterminded Tesla Motors acquiring sister company Solar City and rolling them into one, Tesla. I discussed Elon Musk’s Master Plan Part Deux here.
But an article in the Los Angeles Times, “Solar System: Can Tesla go from sexy car company to clean energy empire?” rubbed me in all the wrong ways. I don’t like this setup for three key reasons: there is no longer a car for the masses, wealthy and upper-middle class (mostly white people) receive the subsidies, and photovoltaic solar isn’t the way to save the world.
No affordable family car
First, Elon Musk’s main goal in his original master plan was to build expensive, high-end cars to fund his empire so he could build “affordably priced family cars.” In Part Deux, he now wants the masses to ride his bus instead of driving a car, since few consider $40,000 (The Model 3) affordable for the average American family when the average annual family income is $53,700. Wealthy people still get to drive a car, but lower income people are required to take mass transit like today, just in one made by Tesla. So his original promise of a car for the people, a volkswagen if you will, is no longer in the works. Is this part of the plan? Shouldn’t lower income people have the choice of taking time consuming mass or the faster individual car?
Subsidies for the wealthy and mostly white
Second, the subsidies go to wealthy and upper-class mostly white people. This is self-evident in Elon Musk himself, on the brink of bankruptcy both personal and business, he received investments from Mercedes but most importantly from you and me. Initially it was a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy from the infamous Solyndra fund. Yes, it was paid back early, but you and I funded Tesla Motors. Then we have the on-going federal ($7,500) and state ($2,500) subsidies for Tesla’s luxury vehicles. After that we have the carbon trading scheme in California in which Tesla sells carbon credits and has made roughly $130 million and Musk is now kvetching that other automakers are taking some of that money.
Here is where it gets worse. The former SolarCity (the combined entity is just called Tesla) is subsidized on the photovoltaic solar panels through tax rebates and through ratepayer subsidies. The problem is all of those rooftop solar subsidies go to commercial building owners and homeowners. According to Trulia’s post “From Own To Rent: Who Lost The American Dream?” wealthy and upper-middle class mostly white people are homeowners. That’s right you have to own a home to get these subsidies, not renters, and homeownership among the wealthy is above 80%, compared to less than 50% for poorer households. And by ethnicity whites receive the greatest subsidy because blacks (61%), Hispanics (66%), and multi-racial (56%) rent far more than whites (34%). Oh, and let’s add in ageism. Young people are over 71% renters and older people are only 24% renters. So young, non-white ethnicities are providing billions of dollars in subsidies to older, mostly white people.
Rooftop solar won’t save the world
Third, photovoltaic solar will not save the world. It is complicated and doesn’t work when the sun sets and works in a diminished capacity when it is cloudy, yet you always want electricity for your refrigerator, lights, air conditioning, electric car charging, and Internet. The Tesla PowerWall violates the Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) principle, because you’ve complicated something with a device in-between. We already have a simple answer for clean, renewable, base-load and peak generating power in the form of Geothermal Energy. According to Google and SMU we have such massive potential in the newer generation geothermal plants that we could produce nearly all of our energy simply using the heat already produced inside our planet. But rooftop solar has become a massive and popular jobs program in California under the guise of saving the planet, so you don’t know about that. I have much more on this topic in chapter three of my book Liars & Whores: How Big Government and Big Business Are Working to Save Their Own Assets, Not Yours.
So, are you one of those people who says that saving the world is a priority? Then rooftop photovoltaic solar is not the best answer, but crony capitalism geared toward wealthy mostly white people is trying to convince you one way, and I am telling you there are better solutions like geothermal.
Tune in to The Ethan Bearman Show on KGO 810 weekdays from noon to 2pm Pacific Time – www.kgoradio.com
Yesterday Elon Musk released Master Plan Part Deux for Tesla. No question the man is a visionary building on the intersection of science fiction possibilities and technological innovation. However, the devil is in the details.
His plan appears to need massive funding, in which he relies heavily on public subsidies. We know this partially because of the discontent over the Tesla Motors acquisition of SolarCity. We also know this because according to the Los Angeles Times, as of one year ago was over $4.9 billion, so the number continues to climb as we subsidize his cars for the wealthy, the solar panels SolarCity installs through tax and ratepayer subsidies, the cap and trade system in California, and the subsidies for his businesses (see Nevada and the Gigafactory).
While he is a brilliant engineer and the cars are amazingly cool, he isn’t succeeding without you and me subsidizing his businesses and thus him. And now his plan does not include a car for the masses, instead he wants you to ride his new electric mini-bus. If we are going to subsidize him, shouldn’t he focus on a product for all of us and not just wealthy homeowners?
What do you think?
Tune in to The Ethan Bearman Show weekdays from noon to 2 pm PT on KGO 810 – www.kgoradio.com
Ethan brings us his technological perspective on artificial intelligence, the importance of self-driving cars, and our exponential growth toward A.I. He discusses some of the worlds most brilliant scientists, like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, and how they are now fearing that a self replicating artificial intelligence may be the end of the human race like the movie “The Terminator.”
In the movie Elysium, the wealthy and privileged flee Earth to inhabit a Larry Niven-like artificial ringworld, leaving the rest of humanity behind on a destitute planet. The future, if left to Elon Musk bears an eerie resemblance to Elysium.
Elon Musk, the chief executive officer (CEO) and chief technology officer (CTO) of SpaceX, the CEO of Tesla Motors, and chairman of the board of SolarCity, doesn’t care about the poor or middle-class and his business models prove it.
The technology-centric crowd fawns over Elon Musk like he is the second coming of Steve Jobs. He is a creative problem solver who looks to the future. However, his products serve only the wealthy and elite.
Government support through taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies of a billionaire’s business models is a form of fascism, blind to your labels of liberal and conservative.
There was a recent article in Quartz,”Why Elon Musk is a utility executive’s worst nightmare” fawning over SolarCity for upending the traditional power companies. Here is what they are all missing. Only homeowners can lease those solar panels that SolarCity installs. How many low, and even middle income people are homeowners in California? The same California, and particularly Santa Cruz, which is one of the most expensive states and metro areas in the country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, San Cruz’s homeownership rate is 59.4% and California overall is 56.7% compared to the national average of 66.1%.
Traditional power companies like Pacific Gas & Electric, still maintain the power lines, transformers, substations, and equipment for connecting those houses to the grid, yet SolarCity bears none of those costs. So, the lower to middle income renter subsidizes SolarCity and their customers through higher rates on electricity. Ratepayers in California have spent $1.68 billion on these subsidies to the benefit of SolarCity, competitors of SolarCity, their customers, and other industry players.
How many coal, natural gas, or oil power plants have been removed? Zero. Not one of those polluting plants have been decommissioned in California. One nuclear plant, San Onofre, is being taken off-line and not as a result of solar installations, but actual problems at the plant. The result of San Onofre’s discontinuance of contributing power to the grid is concern over about rolling blackouts.