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Billionaires Won’t Save the World — Just Look at Elon Musk

Billionaires Won’t Save the World — Just Look at Elon Musk

Sam Pizzigati

Will Mars save humanity? Or will our savior be billionaire Elon Musk?

Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, humbly believes we don’t have to choose. Mars will save us, he promises, and Musk himself will engineer this Mars miracle.

In 2019, Musk claims, SpaceX will start making short trips to Mars. By the early 2020s, his company will begin colonizing the Red Planet with a human population.

Why this feverish haste to set foot on interplanetary terra firma?

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What do Billionaires have that we don’t, besides lots of money?

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Musk seems be doing great things with electric cars, solar panels, and batteries. And his warnings about artificial intelligence should at least be taking into consideration. But why the crazy stuff about going to Mas? Setting up any kind of colony on Mars would be incredibly difficult. That obstacles are so great that Musk should be ignored when it comes his talking up Mars. Maybe in 2119 going to Mars might be a reasonable objective should human civilization still be going strong which right now seems much in doubt. Musk should concentrate on addressing climate change where he is making significant contributions and leave the Mars stuff to the science fiction fans.

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Elon Musk launches a car in space.

Response from the mainstream scientific/engineering community: KUDOS!!!


Response from communities of color and progressive scientists and engineers:

Alternatives to such massive public/private allocations of funds:

  • electrical access for 1.2 billion
  • community owned/managed sustainable energy generation
  • access to sustainable cooking fuels for 2.5 billion
  • access to safe drinking water for 2.1 billion
  • access to food for 840 million with food insecurity
  • sanitation for 2.4 billion without sanitation
  • adequate housing for 1.6 billion without adequate housing

That’s about it.

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Thus it is manifest that the best political community is formed by citizens of the middle class, and that those states are likely to be well-administered in which the middle class is large, and stronger if possible than both the other classes, or at any rate than either singly; for the addition of the middle class turns the scale, and prevents either of the extremes from being dominant. – Aristotle



He can’t HEAR you 'cause he’s got his stereo turned up playing Billy Joel’s I Love You Just the Way You Are.

After all, the human experiment has worked so well here on earth that it’s time to take this (freak) show into space.

A note to the eccentric genius: it might do you well to try to colonize the moon before going to Mars. Just sayin’. Oh well, one enduring trait of those with more money than sense is that their reach most always exceeds their grasp.

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Mr Pizzigati picked the best (or only) example of a “good” billionaire to attack.

Electronic Voting:

This guy just keeps tripping all over dumb luck …

while the reality is: “… the global economic status quo that’s left him [Musk] phenomenally rich and our world phenomenally unequal.”

"He [Musk] hopes to shoot two very wealthy people around the moon at some point this year. Musk has invested an awful lot of public money into making those dreams a reality. But why should Americans keep footing the bill for projects where only Musk and his wealthy friends can reap the rewards?

This is a whole type of thinking. Unfortunately, you have highly educated people out there in the physical sciences who love it (I’ve known more than one). Some kind of peculiarly masturbatory thinking that really digs thinking about what’s “out there” as as opposed to “right here” in the favelas of Rio. I was always in the latter group, so I studied biology and geography.
Musk will have no shortage of followers…


Noam Chomsky pointed out years ago that R&D costs are usually borne by the public sector until the enterprise proves to be profitable, at which point it becomes privatized with the corresponding crowing about the magic of the marketplace to cure all our ills. An example is ARPANet, developed by the Defense Department (read: taxpayers) in the 1960s for “national defense,” which became the internet we all know and love, with Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon offering us a world of–well, we see how that is working out.

And on the wacky side . . . Alternative 3 was a BBC “documentary” from 40-odd years ago that purported to investigate the “brain drain” then allegedly occurring in the UK. Turns out that scientists were being disappeared to become unwilling slaves to a nefarious off-world operation . . .

Given the world-ending problems facing humanity including catastrophic climate change brought on by over-pollution (and this was 40 years ago), there were three alternatives posed to solve the problems–for rich people only, of course:

Alternative 1 was a drastic reduction in the Earth’s population.
Alternative 2 was to construct vast underground complexes for the elites a la Dr. Strangelove.
Alternative 3 was to colonize the Moon and Mars.

Alternative 3 required the work of all those scientists being kidnapped. Now, you don’t have to be a (ahem) rocket scientist to come up with those solutions, and in fact it was a hoax. I never got to see the “documentary,” but I did read the “novelization,” so to speak, and it was definitely written in a potboiler style.

But every time I hear about colonizing the Moon or Mars, a voice in the back of my head whispers “Alternative 3.”

(And for anyone who has seen or read The Martian, both of which were highly praised, would we really go back and “bring him home”? Not if it was a woman or a minority. I can hear Donald Trump now: “They knew what they signed up for.”)

Musk (and many other supposed thought leaders) might want to have a talk with evolutionary biologist E.O Wilson. Wilson makes clear in several of his more recent books that humans evolved over hundreds of thousands of years in relation to an incomprehensibly comlex symbiosis of bacteria and other-micro and environmental organisms, etc. That we’re just going to jump ship into some alien biosphere amd resume that life sustaining symbiosis is, well… not going to happen.


The musky smell of snake oil

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This author just demonstrates complete ignorance or of the facts

It is infuriating to read his slander of the only billionaire I know of who is working to save humanity from its own utter stupidity. You want to pick on a rich guy pick the Koch Brothers who are screwing us with ALEC and manipulation of oil markets and trying to shove crap tar sands oil down our throats. Or Mercer, who does nothing but create algorithms for winning at the gambling casino called our stock market.

Musk started his first business with his brother living and working in a small office they rented. They were successful, reinvested the money building what became PayPal. Again, successful. Took money from that and financed startup of SolarCity, Tesla and SpaceX. All these companies are in America hiring Americans.

In 2008 (remember the crash? Musk was starting two companies at the time, SpaceX and Tesla) Musk put the remainder his fortune into both companies. He almost lost it all. Both came through - the 4th flight of the Falcon rocket succeeded (after 3 previous crashes) and Tesla scraped through with last minute financing.

Meanwhile he had financed his cousin starting SolarCity which became one of the largest solar panel companies in America. Employing 10’s of thousands Americans They are now building, I believe, the largest panel factory in the US

So, he’s responsible for employment of 10’s of thousands of Americans in America. building and installing panels for years, all generating fossil fuel free electricity. He’s created a car company building electric cars so good they’re outselling their high priced competitors Mercedes, BMW and Audi and dragging the auto industry kicking and screaming into producing their own electric vehicles. Both the solar panels (renewable energy) and electric vehicles are fundamental to reducing global warming.

Meanwhile what have Facebook, Amazon, the Kochs, Mercer, even Bill Gates done for the world that is 1/10 as important?

He’s proven he’s one of the smartest people on earth and if he thinks it’s a good idea to go to Mars while doing all the good-for-the-earth stuff simultaneously then I say Good for him! Because I know whatever he makes he’ll be plowing it back into doing more great enterprises employing Americans.


Are you an engineer? Musk has not invented anything. Everything that comes out of his mouth is sheer carnival-barker-style hype. His “power wall” does nothing really useful and the lithium cells it uses are not even the right kind of cells for stationary power storage. His hyper loop is compete fantasy - a "high-tech version of Ponzi scheme. All his transportation schemes (which even in concept, are just toys for for the rich) are diverting us from what we really need - which is improved public - and by that I mean publicly owned - urban mass transit and high speed intercity rail.

Those boosters wasting a lot of fuel to return to land on their pads is a neat trick but it is largely just showmanship with little practical use. Parachutes and recovery ships (like the shuttle boosters did) would be cheaper and more efficient.


Your hero worship is scary and dangerous. Stop it.

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The odds of a success on the first launch were considered very small. Elon said if it got high enough to not destroy the launch pad before it blew up he’d call it a big success. So pretty stupid to put something valuable on it. So he had some fun.

You can always make your own millions. Then you get to choose what’s “best” way to spend.

Your ignorance is much scarier and more dangerous. I gave facts. Which ones were incorrect?

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So was Carnegie, Frick, and Rockefeller and the coal bosses of West Virginia.

The pay, benefits and working conditions in the (non-union of course) Tesla factory are reported to be pretty bad. Comparable to those warehouse workers for his good-buddy Bezos…

boosters that landed themselves would not have happened without Musk. Building them happened because of him. He has attracted the best and smartest to work for him.Why? because he’s so damned bright, knowlegeable and determined. OMG! He’s also got a personality! Take him out and shoot him!

Along with his rich person cars there is now the Tesla Semi tractor being tested and soon to be released. Best performance of any large truck. The model 3 meanwhile is for upper middle class, not the very wealthy. Next vehicle is Model Y, even cheaper.

If you look only for the bad, you’ll find it. Congratulations, you’re an expert.