I want to tell you a story about one of my DNA-confirmed relatives on my mother’s side.
Her rather breathy name was Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna von Habsburg-Lothringen. She was born an Austrian duchess, grew up in castles, hung out with Mozart when they were seven, was married off at age fourteen, and when her hubby became Louis the XVI four years later, the eighteen-year-old became Queen of France and Frenchified her name to Marie Antoinette.
At first, the masses loved her. She was pretty and charming, and she knew how to make the public swoon. She spoke a few languages, played a few instruments, and was a capable politician. Talented lady.
Aunt Marie, though, was a profligate spender. She was a fashion addict, a real estate hound, and an inveterate gambler. She never met a costly war she didn’t love. Some of her custom-made hair poufs were three feet tall. In fact, I’m embarrassed to say she earned the nickname Madame Déficit after it was discovered that she had personally spent more than 7% of the nation’s budget.
Meanwhile, the slaving masses were starving to death. Bread was so scarce that it literally started a war called The Flour War in 1775. By then, the public had rightfully turned on Aunt Marie and the rest of the elites who passively extracted wealth from the working class while evading taxation to help pay to keep the country solvent. Even worse, Aunt Marie did her best to block all attempts at economic reform to tax the rich who had benefited most from civilization.
Does this story sound familiar?
Enter the meme queen bubble boy
“We recommend investors not weight Tesla shares in their portfolio in equal proportion to the S&P because Tesla shares are in our view and by virtually every conventional metric not only overvalued, but dramatically so.” — JP Morgan
Like Aunt Marie, Elon Reeve Musk is not a man of humble origins.
Raised in South Africa by a former model and a city councilor/property developer, Musk grew up in lavish luxury in one of the largest houses in Pretoria, enjoying yachts and ski trips and a first-class education at Wharton and Stanford. (But please note that their tax-evaded emerald mine profits probably weren’t apartheid-connected; though he likely introduced convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to Mark Zuckerberg, which is all sorts of creepy.)
Elon Musk is quite rightfully a social media darling, even though he didn’t actually start the company that made him famous. (He didn’t start Paypal or SolarCity either.) Up until about two years ago, pretty much everyone had a favorable view of the former-Paypal-turned-electric-car-and-rocket guy.
But just like Aunt Marie, things have taken a turn for the worst:
The SEC sued him for lying about his publically-traded company.
Musk has become a blatant market manipulator, whip-sawing the Bitcoin and Dogecoin markets to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.
As we’ve covered on Surviving Tomorrow before, Tesla is the most dangerous story stock in the world right now, and will likely lose its investors up to $1 trillion dollars in the next crash.
In the meantime, Elon can see the writing on the wall and has begun cashing in his chips to the tune of $13 billion so far — but wisely, doing so loudly and publically so as not to spook investor-suckers.
People are starting to realize that, though Elon is certainly a very smart and interesting fellow, he definitely has a con-man streak.
Also, he’s cost the hard-working masses a metric ton of money.
Like the French kings and queens who lived large off the backs of the struggling masses, Elon Musk has built his twelve-figure fortune off the largesse of taxpayer subsidies.
Tesla has received more than a hundred handouts, grants, awards, and subsidies from the American people:
We gave him a $465 million low-interest loan in 2010.
We gave him a $440 million grant in 2014.
We gave him a $2.6 billion contract in 2014.
We gave him $1.3 billion in tax breaks and subsidies in 2014 that will allow him to avoid $300 million in payroll taxes through 2024.
We gave him $517 million in free tax credits in 2015.
We gave him $750 million toward an underperforming Buffalo plant in 2016.
We gave him $15 million in Texas, and also shut down a public beach and changed the laws to give him legal protection against noise complaints.
We gave him a $653 million contract in 2020.
We gave him some of the $600 billion in payroll benefits during the 2020 pandemic while Musk tweeted against government aid for individuals.
We saved SpaceX from bankruptcy in 2021 by giving him a $2.89 billion contract.
So… yay, free market?
This has to stop.
If you add up all the money we’ve given Musk, we could’ve given all of Tesla’s 70,000 employees a $144,000 loan to build their own startups. Think of all the lost opportunity cost of giving Musk over $10 billion. (We could’ve invested in Tesla stock and reaped a $120+ billion profit.) We could’ve built schools and hospitals. Imagine if we’d put that seed money in an endowment and educated thousands of kids through university instead.
So let’s just say what needs saying: Billionaires who oppose meaningful tax reform — especially Elon Musk — are traitors to the commons.
Musk goes Marie Antoinette
Normally when someone’s wealth balloons to $250,000,000,000 thanks to taxpayer subsidies and uneducated investors, they’re expected to pay a proportionate amount of taxation to help fund the society that made them rich and provided them with paying customers, a healthy and educated workforce, military and policing to keep the peace, and a judiciary to protect property rights.
But not Musk.
He thinks he’s paid his fair share, even though he’s not even close to paying back what we’ve already given him in handouts, let alone covering our lost opportunity costs or making a proportionate contribution to the commons.
After all, he reminds us, he might pay more in tax than anyone in American history. But who has profited more? And his premise itself is wrong: Thanks to a cadre of anti-commons accountants, there’s no precedent that suggests this will ever actually happen — after all, he paid zero federal taxes in 2018 and less than $70,000 in 2015 and 2017.
And yet TIME Magazine just named him Person of the Year.
Just what every oversized ego needs.
Thankfully, there’s at least one politician who’s willing to speak truth to power:
His (sexist) response?
Yes, you read that correctly.
Imagine this level of callousness toward the working masses who create 100% of all societal wealth through their labor and their spending.
Rather than being grateful that America let him into the land of opportunity in the first place, and paying what democracy decides is his fair share to pay, he’s doing exactly what Aunt Marie did — trolling the commons, mocking democracy, and opposing real and meaningful moves towards a fairer society for all.
Elites throughout history all sound the same.
The people need bread
The Federal minimum wage hasn’t gone up since 2009.
Think about how much houses, cars, and food cost thirteen years ago.
(If this isn’t the #1 reason to boycott multinational corporations and fire all of their rented politicians who’ve voted against helping millions of working poor people, I don’t know what is.)
Real wages and purchasing power stalled in 1971.
Shelter is unaffordable in every single state in the Union.
The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer — they just don’t know it yet, because inflation robs silently.
And the reality is that democracy simply doesn’t want rockets. Sure, it’s fun to think about living on Mars, but in reality, we need to urgently invest society’s wealth in ending hunger and poverty, rescuing 1+ billion people from slums, and solving climate change so we don’t all die down here on earth.
When billionaires evade taxes and block economic reform, they not only impoverish the masses, but misallocate humanity’s funds to ends that aren’t aimed at widest-spread wellbeing.
Billionaires are like black holes that warp the proportions of civil society.
We need to change the system so that they simply cease to exist:
We need a better pre-distribution of ownership. We should give tax breaks to companies where workers own 50+% of the stock, and put heavier taxes on those that don’t. If this was the case for Tesla, all 70,000 employees would be multi-millionaires.
We need to make the minimum wage a true living wage and index it to real inflation. (FYI: I define a true living wage as the ability for a single-income family to affordably own a home within thirty minutes of their job.)
We need a hard ceiling on unlimited wealth accumulation. Because billionaires no longer trigger income tax, dividends tax, or capital gains tax, they’ve left us with no other choice: We have to introduce a wealth tax.
Thankfully, Musk is inadvertently helping these efforts along.
Elon is the spark
“Her inordinate dissipations called into action the reforming hand of the nation; and her opposition to it, her inflexible perverseness, led herself to the guillotine. I have ever believed that, had there been no Queen, there would have been no revolution.” — Thomas Jefferson
At the end of the day, Elon Musk might be the best thing that’s ever happened to America.
Imagine what will happen if he keeps up this nonsense.
Imagine if and when he gets worse.
If he starts meddling in politics like the Koch Brothers…
If he starts a cryptocurrency…
If he becomes a trillionaire while tens of millions of working Americans go hungry and lose their homes…
The whole nation is going to hate him.
And nothing unites like a common enemy.
So keep it up, Elon.
Keep insulting members of Congress, fighting taxation, and protecting your “rights.”
It might be just the thing that ensures we get some real economic reform in this country.
Because “Don’t tax billionaires” is our generation’s “Let them eat cake.”
It’s time to guillotine billionaire wealth
We all know how the story ends for my Aunt Maria: The working poor chopped off her head and tossed it on a pile with all the other out-of-touch aristocrats.
She was the last dictator-queen of France.
That was more than two centuries ago now. Since then, we’ve seen the fall of most monarchies and aristocracies, but in their place, we’ve seen the rise of robber barons, multinational monopolies, and the predator billionaire class. Even still, the working masses struggle just to stay alive, despite the fact that they create 100% of the wealth in society through their work and their spending.
Thankfully, we don’t guillotine our elites anymore. I’d like to think that the working masses have matured over the centuries. We’ve done some self-improvement. We’ve educated ourselves. Become more understanding of the world, more compassionate to the plight of others.
I’d like to think that we’ve changed.
But clearly, the elites haven’t.