Grifters Gotta Grift

It’s real! (Snopes – click image to their fact-checking)

As regular readers know, I think Elon Musk is an ass. Oh, sure, he’s a brilliant physicist, but he may be a more brilliant PT Barnum-style promoter.

As I quipped to friends when Musk jettisoned his own, personal Tesla Roadster into the void from one of his SpaceX rockets (as the ultimate in cross-brand synchronicity marketing!), my regret was that he was not in it, just some other mannequin.

Anyway, I digress.

Here are some Musk stories that I think are worth reading:

Vanity Fair looks at Tesla:

Don’t say “death spiral,” but Tesla has unquestionably entered a perilous new era. Last September, a month after Elon Musk’s notorious “funding secured” tweet, I wrote a New York Times opinion piece about the fact that the real problem at Tesla, Musk’s electric-car company, was not necessarily Musk’s irresponsible, and perhaps illegal, behavior as C.E.O. Rather, it was the Tesla balance sheet, which was larded with $11 billion in debt, some $1.7 billion of which needed to be paid off before November 2019.

The article is brief and brutal: Musk keeps Tesla going, but “it becomes more like a Ponzi scheme, which, to be honest, Tesla is increasingly resembling.” 

Jalopnik looks at The Boring Company:

Yes, for those keeping score, in a mere two years we’ve gone from a futuristic vision of electric skates zooming around a variety of vehicles in a network of underground tunnels to—and I cannot stress this enough—a very small, paved tunnel that can fit one (1) car.

The Human Transit Blog has a neat-o summary of Mr. Musk:

“No, the real utility of Elon Musk is that he presents himself as an extreme example of elite projection.  I defined that term, here, as “the belief, among relatively fortunate and influential people, that what those people find convenient or attractive is good for the society as a whole.”

“…So don’t confuse elite projection with elitism. The problem with elite projection isn’t that it’s an elite point of view.  The problem is that it doesn’t work.”

Our usual disclaimer: Musk may be brilliant at physics, but he keeps failing at every other discipline.

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9 Responses to Grifters Gotta Grift

  1. Well, to be fair, Tesla has not only had issues with Musk, but deeply entrenched opposition from the industry, in particualr the extraordinarly anti-competitive nature of auto retail sales.

    Sure there are a ton of dealers, but in many, if not most states, it is illegal to NOT sell cars through a dealer network. Even the BIg Three cannot open ‘company stores’ to sell their cars; they have to go through the dealer middlemen.

    The biggest problem with Tesla is that he was trying to boot the entire modern electric car industry in the nation where we have the most politically connected and fanatical rsistance to anything but fossil fuels.

    It sucks, because Teslas are good cars; just I think he deeply misunderstood that the obstacles he faced building the company were never really technical in nature.

    The “Ponzi Scheme” crack is entirely unwarranted.

    This whole stupid tunnel shit is stupid, but it’s not entirely Musk; that ” most politically connected and fanatical rsistance to anything but fossil fuels.” is also fanatically opposed to public transit of any kind. A one-car tunnel is candy to their ears…

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Ten Bears says:

    Musk will impress me when he stops talking about getting ten billion people off the planet and starts putting his (used) boring machine to work digging caves of steel, when he starts building habitat not in space or on the Moon or Mars Bitches! but beneath the surface of the planet. All else is ego.

    I would like to see Tesla succeed, if only for the irony.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. w3ski4me says:

    I liked the idea of the cars, other projects aside. However, the price and lack of availability seem to have doomed them from the start. I suppose there was a niche market but it can’t be a big market. We need more electric vehicles I believe, but I envision more of a “model A” than a Rolls Royce.
    Too bad Big Oil never gave him a chance. How many projects have they buried now in the name of “more gas”?
    Now there are some treasonous sons of beaches.

    Liked by 2 people

    • tengrain says:

      w3ski4me –

      True. And I think this is where the success of the electric bikes and scooters comes in to play. But I think that there should be something in-between, too.




  4. Bruce388 says:

    We know people who traded in their Model S for a Model X. They’re both beautiful, sophisticated vehicles. They had an X when the S was in the shop and decided they had to have it. Then the X had to go back because the locks didn’t work. I thought locks would be pretty simple but apparently I was wrong. At least they got another Tesla as a loaner.

    They’re MAGAts so we’re not in contact any more, but I would like to know how long the X was in the shop.


  5. tengrain says:

    OK, I’ll give Musk credit on this: WHEN he identifies the problem correctly (electric engines don’t have enough battery storage to make them practical), he comes up with a pretty good solution (better battery technology!); but that’s kinda where it ends.

    Tunnels to move one car at a time? He’s kidding, right? (There was another story about the tunnel a while ago: it required a car elevator to get in it and get out of it — more one car-at-a-time solution that took several minutes each way to get into and out of the tunnel!)

    I’ve never heard of Elite Projection before, and it nails our entire corporate class of narcissists.



    Liked by 1 person

  6. laura says:

    Just sayin’:


  7. Astamari says:

    The notion that the “Big Three” is still GMC, Ford and Chrysler is outdated. The third Big Three should be one of the big three Japanese vehicles (Subaru, Toypota or Honda depending on total vehicle sales). Chrysler has been a minor player for a really long time now.


    • Fiat-Chrysler is a big damn deal, but yeah I said ‘Big Three’ as a kind of shorthand. (sort of, all the big dealers in town have four or five manufacturers on their lots, which points to the power dealers have where the rubber meets the road, so to speak)

      What Elon should fear is compamnies with deep pockets, well managed industry footprints and a BIG motive to get into electric vehicles…like Audi and Volkswagen. Note: even AFTER the big diesel cheating scandal VW/Audi is still one of the biggest car companies on the planet and when they decide to go all-out electric it will be a game changer.

      (conflict note: I own one of the “cheater diesel” Jetta wagons, and even after the fix (plus getting back approximately 25% of my purchase price in settlements) it still made about 39 MPG on a recent road trip cross country. I really like this car, but we’ve said for about 5 years now our next car will not be an internal combustion vehicle…If VW came out with an electric version of this car we’d probably get it in a heartbeat…sadly, station wagons don’t seem to be a thing that much, anymore. )


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