Stop Elon Musk’s Federally Funded Lifestyle

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Stop Elon Musk’s Federally Funded Lifestyle
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I love the promise of clean energy technology. If there was a reasonably priced option, I would put solar energy gathering shingles on my house next week. (Yes, a crew is actually putting new shingles on my house next week.)

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While I was choosing my new shingles, I researched the solar energy options and it made me realize that despite the billions invested by the Obama administration, none of the “clean energy” solutions are viable for the vast majority of us.

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Eon Musk

OnInnovation Interview: Elon Musk by OnInnovation

Then I read about the purchase of SolarCity by Tesla Motors. Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity received $4.9 billion in governmental subsidies. Elon Musk’s defense of his dependency on government largesse? “If I cared about subsidies, I would have entered the oil and gas industry.”

So rather than address the concerns raised by unbiased, California-living L.A. Times reporters, instead Musk masterfully dances around the issue with a carefully spun response that the government investment should invest in a transition to renewable energy to prevent the end of the earth.

Musk is tying all three of these clean energy companies together in a shared goal, arguing that “we should become a multi-planet species,” using SpaceX as an “insurance policy.” Yet, despite so much money poured in by the Obama administration and several different states into this interconnected tangle of companies, Musk’s space dream has proven to fail — not sometimes, but consistently.

The Falcon 9 is the launch vehicle of Space X. It has been heralded by Musk as the answer to all of our problems. This is odd considering that it has failed in getting off the ground and effectively delayed launches an average of two years for every launch. The issue is that Musk sets unrealistic goals, like a student who begs his teacher for an extension to turn in their homework, and then manages to get that deadline extended again — every time the deadline approaches.

In any accountable workplace, consistent delays and postponements of this level would get anyone fired. In a market-based business environment, people would take their money and investment elsewhere. That is exactly what should be happening with SpaceX. Instead, investors remain as government contracts are artificially keeping the company afloat.

The L.A. Times estimated that SpaceX alone is heavily subsidized by at least $5.5 billion in federal grants from the U.S. government. This does not include the additional $20 million in tax incentives that Space X receives yearly. Who needs private investors when you can force everyone else to pay money in taxes?

When commercial investors and broader market indexes move out of an investment, it is generally expected that a wise investor do the same. But the Obama administration has not been a wise investor, nor does it intend to be one. It simply continues to agree with the rhetoric that Musk spews.

Progressive policymakers see Musk’s SpaceX as a symbol of clean energy and the future. They invest in his vision because they are easily swayed by the idea that this policy would stand as a symbol for their platform and re-election, rather than as a practical investment. When push comes to shove, these policymakers would rather see symbolism unsupported by fact than fact that lacks symbolism.

But the truth is that the facts carry significant weight on our future as a country, especially our aerospace programs. We need working launch systems to deliver food, water and scientific supplies to the Americans and other scientists on the International Space Station. We need working, dependable launch systems to put new communications satellites into orbit. Instead of falling for the narrative that Musk is the only one who can save us, politicians need to open their blinders and see that there are plenty of other opportunities.

United Launch Alliance, spearheaded by Boeing, has a 100 percent success rate on all its launches. Yes, the company charges more than Musk, but frankly, ULI’s rockets deliver payload.

Basic market economics of the balance between “supply and demand” means ULI might actually be charging the correct amount.

If the Obama administration truly wanted to focus on clean energy technology, there are several small startups inventing new ways to send satellites to space with little or no fuel. Innovation like this, far beyond the interest of the standard investors, is where government funding should be. If the government stopped picking winners and losers by subsidizing the space industry, you can bet that even better innovations would sprout up on the open market as well.

It is imperative that the incoming Trump administration not be blind to the facts. They must take notice that Eon Musk is not the man his public relations campaign claims. He and his companies continue to take advantage of both policymakers and taxpayers — playing a gigantic game of “Three-Card Monte.”

Even if Eon Musk does have the best of intentions, the manner in which he runs his business eliminates competition, stifles market-based investment and absorbs billions of dollars of government funding. Taking away those funds to float his lavish lifestyle hurts the people he is supposedly trying to save.

Maybe then I can get some solar shingles on my house that work.

Eon Musk article by Daniel Horowitz, Inside Sources

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17 COMMENTS

  1. So you turn a talk about numbers and citations into an Obama and Trump diatribe? For being 70 and “retired” you sure are ignorant – must be bliss. If you don’t know much about Elon or his history or his total contributions to the Tech industry, then take some time and read the biography written about him (Ashlee vance is the author).

    Listening to you talking about things that will “fail” and “break” and the “impossible” and the moonshots etc. I can’t help and think back to the 1890s where Inventors were doing the impossible with electricity and things were seen as nonsensicle by the “electrical engineers” of the day. How many times Nikola Tesla proved them wrong and made the impossible reality. How? Through failure, reiteration, innovation, research. The early days of the Space Race had a huge list of seemingly insurmountable obstacles and a myriad of failures for decades. Why are there no failures of late with ULA launches? Because they’re using much the same technology of the 70s and 80s. Rarely do they innovate. Were using Russian rockets for that matter, antiquated ones at that. Stuff will break. They will fix it. They will improve it. Absolutism is nonsense. Things go wrong in any industry and they especially go wrong when you’re in new territory/industry. No other company or government has landed their rocket stages yet and reflown them. SpaceX is the first. They’re on their 6th landing and aside from the first which was saved for historical record and another that was stressed beyond limits, the other 4-5 are being analyzed in every detail so they know what refurbishments must be made and what strategy they need to make multiple flights. This will take time. They’re the first and they’re not in a rush to make mistakes.

    As far as the presentation, the cars, and the LCD screens:

    They’re showing their ultimate goal of the process and the direction they’re working toward to simplify the process. That was also a presentation for the masses and an outline of independent systems to come.

    The cars: they’re the first to create an automotive scale battery pack and cooling system, software and digital control is all designed and built by them. Name another car company that hasn’t had manufacturing issues and recalls to be made, or improvements to make. Also whats the ratio of fires with Gas vehicles vs Electric per 100k? Fires in gas vehicles happen everyday. Nobody is perfect and they will continually improve and reiterate. I imagine you’ve done that plenty in your work?

    The LCDs- sounds like a personal preference and a “Golden days” mentality. They can make them withstand whatever they need to – AGAIN – Through design and innovation. Necessity is the mother of invention. They’re not grabbing Samsung panels of the chinese line and calling it good to go. Get real. They will protect them with impact glass and surely have a system. Why do i like the screen? Because it means they will do with the capsule what the Tesla cars have- simplicity, modularity, and ability to quickly implement improvements and upgrades. Over the air changes and fixs for otherwise static problems.

    Solar panels. Again. Your lack of imagination is pretty astounding for someone who touts being a veteran of technology and design. When the roof tiles in question cost less than their standard counterparts to manufacture and ship (were not talking asphault shingles btw) then you can easily justify covering an entire roof and settling for inefficiencies in some areas. They’re also innovating glass techniques and improving research in the area of refracting light from any angle to better strike the photovoltaics. Again, astounded by your lack of imagination and breaking down of the concepts and potentials.

    Battery innovations are a part of this industry. Tesla has made the first home energy storage solution using integrated inverters for ease of installation, lower costs, better efficiency (their inverters are based off their car inverters they manufacture). Costs are in steady decline especially as more companies enter the market.

    And that’s about all I have the effort to explain. I’m completely disinterested in discussing the politics you brought up from nowhere.

  2. WOW
    now my turn, I will be 70 next week, I am retired.
    Worked in electronics most my life, repair (I know what goes wrong) and design (the ‘impossible’
    that what has not been done yet.), for many fields, from missiles to consumer stuff.
    there is a basic law (it is a collection of Murphy’s laws) in engineering:
    WHAT CAN GO WRONG WILL GO WRONG
    Musk denies that law exists, and so his cars catch fire, his spacecrafts explode
    his cars bump into things and quite honestly his solar roof tiles have not seen the light of day…
    I did know nothing about the guy until I did see a video of his manned spacecraft presentation
    with 2 large LCD type video screens (glass cockpit) and said to myself (and others) what will vibration do to that piece of glass, if it fails you lose every single instrument.
    Look up vibration and rocket launches.
    Then other claims he makes started drawing my attention, and sure enough I know crap when I see it.
    Maybe Musk will simply disappear from the media focus once Trump is president,.
    he came with zerobama, and could well go with it.
    HOW MANY of his ‘reusable’ boosters have actually flown???
    In his silly mars presentation those land, new second stage or whatever is put on top,
    and away it goes, no checks…
    What a load a crap, how many hours did it take to refurbish the shuttles…
    And solar on you roof, well does your roof move _with_ the sun?
    or does it happen to be aligned looking north?
    Look up efficiency for solar panels pointing the wrong way.
    You need lot of batteries, but hey,
    The man is a crackpot.
    No matter if you call him iron man, super man, or mickey mouse.

    Sign of Times, take a black man from Af[f]rica genetics,
    an administration that claims everybody is equal (man women duh),
    a bunch of frustrated black racists played by on old witch, a school system that gives you good
    notes because you are black, and an increasing population like that will result in a post scientific era where US is ruled by black warlords with spears living in grass huts.
    Them traveling in hyperloops (in their minds).
    I am so happy Trump has been chosen to [hopefully] replace all that crap.
    Let all these great REAL tech companies work together,
    like they did in the days of the moon shots with Saturn V,
    go to mars, put the flag there! Even just to show who is boss.
    Else it will be China and Chinese restaurants and you will have to pay landing rights,
    get a visa for mars…
    Trump, your last chance.

    :-)

  3. LOL you ramble on and say nothing except “I’m an idiot, and Elon Musk wah wah”. Sorry to interrupt your crying. Wah wah!

  4. I think I largely agree with this article.

    From a technical POV Musk is often very very wrong,
    hyperloop being one of those cases.

  5. Ouch. I was going to critique this, but looking at what’s already been said, I’ve decided not to pile on. Hopefully the author’s got the message.

  6. “The LA Times article is old and has already been de-bunked.”
    Haven’t you learned anything this year? Facts have no place in the fake news industry

  7. Is it the same hills that other businesses/industries would run for if their subsidies were taken away?
    Of $13 BILLION PER YEAR the Department of Energy spends on energy and science programs, how much of that is going to the Musk et al enterprises versus new oil, gas drilling, nuclear reactor research, biofuels, and/or wind turbines? The fossil fuel industry ALONE, gets national subsidies from DOE and other federal resources of $78 BILLION!

  8. Please look up this author before taking anything this seriously. It comes from an unbelievably biased source who knows nothing about the subject at hand. This article and its author are garbage who wouldn’t know good journalism if it danced naked in front of him. Please include some facts the next time you want to publish something.

  9. The LA Times article is old and has already been de-bunked.

    Further, how does this author claim, “Even if Eon Musk does have the best of intentions, the manner in which he runs his business eliminates competition, stifles market-based investment and absorbs billions of dollars of government funding. Taking away those funds to float his lavish lifestyle hurts the people he is supposedly trying to save.”

    Tesla opened all its patients – and the Mission statement of Tesla is “to further the advent of sustainable technology and transportation” – sounds anti competitive doesn’t it… This author is a tool…

  10. The number of things wrong with this article and the false statements… *sigh*

    First off, in reference to Tesla:
    The purchasers of EVs are afforded up to a $7,500 in tax credits depending on the battery size and the eMPG. Each Automaker offering vehicles that are eligible has a limited number of 200,000 vehicles that can be sold and have the purchasers still receive the credits. Nissan, Ford, GM, Tesla – all take advantage of this, but all except Tesla take advantage of it for one reason. Zero Emission Vehicle credits. The $7500 credit @ 200k numbers is 1.5 billion dollars that goes not to the companies, but to the purchasers. The Zero Emission vehicle credits are given to Low or Zero Emission vehicles and can be used to counteract the fines imposed on vehicles that are polluting. Tesla only makes zero emission vehicles. Other automakers are currently making EVs and Hybrids and taking advantage of the $7500 credits in order to make the offerings viable (they still sell them at a loss) but they earn ZEVs to offset the fines on the Polluting vehicles.

    So that’s 1.5 billion off the incorrect LA times number.

    SpaceX was awarded grants to initate tests and preparations to launch missions for NASA and after proving their launch capability they were awarded contracts and fronted money from them to begin manufacturing their systems en masse for future NASA launches awarded in contract. They launch for roughly 1/5th or 1/3rd of the cost of ULA. They are the first private space company to make it to Orbit and the first to successfully (Government or Otherwise) to land the first stage of their rocket back on land and barge for reuse or recycling. As far as tax incentives are concerned, the number of incentives that Boeing, Lockheed, Northropp, Raytheon, Etc. all receive is astounding. All apart of the long term contracts given to their de facto monopolies.

    Do your research. Read some books on the subject. Watch senate hearings. Don’t reference the LA Times and their poor citation.

  11. You gotta love the depths of this author’s commitment to his love-to-hate relationship with Musk. Beware: Envy that leads to vitriol seeking an audience leads to blindness of a special sort. A kind of selective blindness that prevents a talented writer from ever blooming into a legitimate journalist.

Comments are closed.