Conspiracy Theorist 8/7: Done with Musk

E lon Musk has surpassed P.T. Barnum as the world’s most famous barker. Part showman, part clown, and all snake oil salesman, there is nothing he won’t exploit to make himself richer. He is the poster boy for how to become a billionaire while his companies lose billions, much of it paid for by taxpayers.

Elon Musk may finally pay

By Mark Luedtke

Elon Musk has surpassed P.T. Barnum as the world’s most famous barker. Part showman, part clown, and all snake oil salesman, there is nothing he won’t exploit to make himself richer. He is the poster boy for how to become a billionaire while his companies lose billions, much of it paid for by taxpayers.

In his latest public relations scam, he exploited the trapped Thai soccer team which was heroically rescued by men of character and skill. With no knowledge of the conditions of the cave or children, Musk built a prototype mini-submarine that was obviously incapable of rescuing anybody. All he succeeded in doing was distracting the rescue team and grabbing headlines. Fortunately, I’m not the only one who sees through this plutocrat charlatan.

After helping find the stranded children, British cave explorer Vernon Unsworth offered an honest assessment of Musk’s submarine to CNN. “It just had absolutely no chance of working. He had no conception of what the cave passage was like. The submarine, I believe, was about five-foot-six long, rigid, so it wouldn’t have gone round corners or round any obstacles,” he explained.

He also offered some colorful colloquialisms that might have upset Musk. Musk responded with the grace and class you might expect from an educated billionaire CEO. Sorry. No he didn’t. He responded by calling Unsworth a peodophile. Twice. Publically on Twitter. Then he deleted the tweets.

This follows some other controversies Musk has created for himself this year. You have to wonder if being pressured to turn a profit is getting to him. Musk’s major business, Tesla, has never showed a yearly profit since its founding in 2003. It had its first profitable quarter in 2013. Tesla has lost an estimated $5.4 billion so far, and it’s well on its way to losing another $2 billion.

Musk is worth an estimated $20 billion, but he’s not throwing his money at Tesla. He wants you to throw your money at Tesla.

Bloomberg discusses one problem. “On July 1, Elon Musk went home to sleep. The chief executive of Tesla Inc. had been camping out at his electric car factory in Fremont, Calif., for much of the past week. He’d been sleeping on a couch, or under a desk, as part of a companywide push to get out of what he calls ‘production hell’ by manufacturing at least 5,000 of Tesla’s new Model 3 sedans in a week,” it reported. “Musk initially promised as many as 200,000 Model 3s by the end of 2017… Tesla ended 2017 having made not quite 2,700 Model 3s.”

In a normal company, that’s a firing offense. Eric Peters explains Tesla has a different business model. “[When discussing Tesla] analysts refused to analyze the fact that Tesla loses money on every car it sells. That it remains in business only because of investor infusions and deposits given on cars that never seem to materialize. Well, the electric chickens may finally be coming home to roost.”

He forgot to mention subsidies. The chickens Peters refers to are layoffs at Tesla. “[Tesla] just laid off several thousand employees, about 9 percent of its workforce—which is one way to raise cash (by not spending it on worker salaries) when you don’t want to admit you need another infusion from investors—or realize you might not be able to get one because those investors are becoming gun-shy about giving money to Elon,” he notes.

The company closed twelve solar plants too.

The layoffs happened shortly after Musk messed up a meeting with financial analysts. Peters noted then, “When financial analyst Toni Sacconaghi of Sanford C. Bernstein asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk about the money-losing electric car company’s capital requirements going forward (Tesla has burned through—cue Dr. Evil—one billion dollars in three of the last four quarters) Musk replied, ‘Boring, bonehead questions are not cool. Next?’”

Tesla’s stock value dropped 5 percent in response. After calling Unsworth a “pedo,” Tesla’s stock fell 4 percent. MSN reports, “Musk’s posts on Twitter sparked backlash from shareholders and Silicon Valley analysts, who called his behavior immature and an impediment to the car company’s success.”

Investors forced Musk to apologize to Unsworth, but he’s on the hot seat. Tesla will lose its tax credit for electric cars at the end of the year. Refunds now outpace new orders.

Musk makes toys, often dangerous, not profits. Taxpayers should hope his investors finally make him pay.

The views and opinions expressed in Conspiracy Theorist are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at MarkLuedtke@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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