Elon Musk is the Greatest American Industrialist of the 21st Century

It has been fashionable to criticize Elon Musk as lacking the qualities of a true entrepreneur, or not being a genuine free market capitalist. His primary transgression: his companies have taken advantage of government subsidies.

Before considering whether or not these criticisms are fair or justified, or even terribly relevant, it might be a good idea to examine Musk’s body of work. Because so far, 20 years in, this 48 year old immigrant from South Africa is arguably the greatest American industrialist of the 21st century.

Musk’s early work, back in the 1990s, focused on software and online financial services, including PayPal. The sale of his stakes in these companies made Musk wealthy, but what he’s done since then is what already secures his place in history.

Tesla, Musk’s best known affiliation, has brought electric cars into the mainstream. It’s easy to forget the risk Tesla’s founders endured, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, when back in 2003 they literally bundled laptop batteries into a storage package capable of powering an electric sports car. Recognizing the potential, Musk invested millions in the company and eventually took over as CEO.

Today, seventeen years later, Tesla is valued at $151 billion. In 2019 Tesla reported sales of $26 billion and an operating cash flow of $2.6 billion in 2019. Its 2019 “levered free cash flow” (surplus cash after paying interest on debt) was $1.6 billion. According to investors, to whom all that matters is economic data, Tesla is the most […] Read More

The Citizen Army That Will Recall Gavin Newsom

Even in deep blue California, it is possible to achieve the impossible. The technology to facilitate mass uprisings is mature and ubiquitous, and will function with or without the complicity of the social media and search monopolies. The political realignment we are witnessing in California is not partisan, it is not conservative or liberal, right or left, or Republican or Democrat. It is comprised of old and young, rich and poor, black and white and everyone else. This is a mass uprising. California’s pandemic shutdown isn’t just pushing the economy to the brink, it’s taken away whatever remained of the trust that Californians had in their elected officials.

This mistrust is finding expression in a growing movement to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom. Already, tens of thousands of California voters have signed up as volunteers to sign and circulate recall petitions. That number is growing every week. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Agenda are aligning. Alliances are forming. Gavin Newsom’s actions have created a unity that transcends political ideology and defies conventional labels. This is exemplified in the Open California movement.

The Open California movement isn’t found on just one website or Facebook group, and its members are as diverse as California’s electorate. What appears to be the largest group on Facebook is “Reopen California, established on April 11 and already attracting over 170,000 members. And along with large membership, there is high intensity, as exemplified in the Freedom Rally that took place on […] Read More

The Delusional Premises of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez

“Do we see largely that it’s the global south and communities of color that may be bearing the brunt of the initial havoc from climate change? – Without a doubt. – And in terms of that wealth, the people that are producing climate change, the folks that are responsible for the largest amount of emissions, or communities or corporations, they tend to be predominantly white, correct? – Yes, and every study backs that up.” – Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Congressional Hearings on Climate and Race, October 2019

Welcome to yet another example of the nexus between climate change alarm and a socialist redistribution agenda that relies on fueling racial resentment. That may be old news to those of us paying attention, but thanks to birdbrained stooges like “AOC,” the blatant race baiting rhetoric is being turned up a notch.

And why not? If you’re a socialist, or a globalist, there is only upside to tagging nations of European heritage with guilt for the problems facing their “communities of color,” or the problems in the rest of the non-European world. It would be far too painful to consider the alternative explanation, which is that socialism, in all of its antecedents and derivatives, is the primary cause of the societal afflictions that plague “people of color” both in America and abroad.

Deconstructing Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s convoluted logic isn’t intellectually hard, but the implications are hard indeed, at least for anyone who shares her delusional world view. Her arguments rest on three premises […] Read More

The American Media Has Betrayed America

There aren’t enough disparaging epithets in the English language to adequately describe “journalists” such as ABC Nightly News anchorman David Muir, the dashing forty-something actor who pretends to share important national news with America. Five days a week, Muir recites agenda driven propaganda as if it were truth, while his allies who run the social media monopolies throttle down, demonetize, shadowban, or flat out censor reports that conflict with his narrative.

One of Muir’s biggest crimes is his facade of objectivity. Unlike the hosts of the cable news networks, such as CNN’s rabid Don Lemon, or MSNBC’s smirking Rachel Maddow, Muir isn’t obvious. He spreads his phony lies and distortions with a straight face, never breaking character. If you aren’t exposed to the other side of his stories, it works.

It isn’t just David Muir, of course. Other pretenders include CBS’s Norah O’Donnell, who along with her reporters never saw a Spanish consonant that didn’t require a hard roll. NBC’s Lester Holt, who made it his business to debate candidate Trump in the 2016 presidential debates, instead of leaving that job to hapless Hillary. The diligent mediocrity who reports from the White House for NPR, who thinks everything has to do with race and gender, because flogging that obsession takes no work and reliably builds a career.

For over three years, and only with the occasional exception of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, the entire American media establishment, online and offline, has been complicit in spreading lies; despicable, […] Read More

Public Education is Changing Forever

The COVID pandemic has closed public schools for over two months, with no end in sight. This represents a seismic disruption to a system that was already strained. Before the pandemic lockdown, public schools in California faced financial insolvency, woeful failures to educate (especially in low income communities), and a parent uprising that was growing exponentially.

Now there’s an alternative. Home schooling.

As reported on May 14 in Real Clear Politics:

“A RealClear Opinion Research survey of 2,122 registered voters shows that support for educational choice is strong, and that a significant portion of parents are more likely to pursue homeschooling opportunities after the lockdowns end. The results show that 40% of families are more likely to homeschool or virtual school after lockdowns, and that 64% support school choice and 69% support the federal Education Freedom Scholarships proposal.”

If you want to disrupt the public sector union monopoly on public education, the pandemic shutdown is made to order. Up until two months ago, parent resentment of unionized public education was restricted to relatively small numbers of activists. But it isn’t as if their concerns weren’t valid. Parental rights had been undermined in two critical ways.

First, the newly mandated practice of “racial equity discipline” had turned many public schools into war zones. These Obama era federal rulings require punishments such as suspensions or expulsions to be meted out to students in equal proportions according to race. Districts that practiced racially proportionate discipline would receive bonus funds, and districts that […] Read More

From the California Militia to Pharoah Newsom

Over the past month, and with growing intensity, protests are cropping up in California against the pandemic shutdown. And as stay-at-home orders are gradually lifted, populist pressure continues to build, because the long term economic consequences have just begun. Rising prices in the stores just as households have spent what remained of their savings. Businesses fitfully coming back to life, but too late, with limited hours. Millions of jobs and businesses still lost, many lost forever.

History will judge whether or not this disease posed such an apocalyptic threat that choosing an economic depression was the preferable option. But at least half of all Americans today are completely alienated from the mainstream press. They view the totality of its product as nothing more than agenda-driven, self-contradictory, sanctimonious propaganda. For these Americans, the destruction of their liberty and livelihoods is a tough sell. And now in California, that feeling of alienation and mistrust has spread across ideologies and become a populist movement.

It may surprise many in the other 49 states, but even before the pandemic struck, California had its share of alienated citizens. In 2016, more than 4.7 million Californians voted for Donald Trump for president, and their support hasn’t wavered. These Californians are alienated from their state government, in most cases from their local governments as well, and they are grossly underrepresented by their congressional delegation.

Along with being politically disenfranchised, these millions of conservative Californians are belittled and dismissed in their own state by a liberal culture dominated […] Read More

Did Ballot Harvesting Impact March 3 Bond and Tax Proposals?

Next day returns on the special election for California’s 25th congressional district indicate that a Republican, Mike Garcia, is holding a 56 percent to 44 percent lead over Democrat Christy Smith. That looks awfully good for Garcia. And while in this case Garcia’s lead does look insurmountable, in California, early returns don’t always equal final results.

According to California’s current elections code, mailed in ballots are counted as long as they are postmarked by election day, and arrive up to three days later. In practice, this translates into final results in close elections being delayed for several weeks.

California’s election code also permits so-called “ballot harvesting,” which is alleged to swing the results of close elections. And unless, at the very least, both candidates and parties have equally effective voter harvesting operations, why wouldn’t it?

The process works this way: A campaign operative canvasses a neighborhood in the days prior to an election. Armed with a cell phone app that identifies which households have voters that are registered with the candidate’s party, they only knock on those doors.

“Hello, have you voted? No? You have not? Well do you have your ballot? Why don’t you fill it in and I’ll take it and submit it for you?” Or, if the person has already filled out their ballot, but haven’t gotten around to mailing it, “here, let me take that and get it mailed for you.”

Depending on who you ask, ballot harvesting in California was a major factor in […] Read More

Separating Good Bailouts From Bad Bailouts

The pandemic shutdown is about to enter its third month, and economic repercussions have just begun. Too much has been shut down for too long. In California, the initial reopen is not going to include huge business sectors – theaters, concerts, conventions, sports, travel, hotels – and other sectors such as restaurants and retail establishments are going to be at half-capacity. Business revenue and profits have crashed, with proportional hits to tax receipts. The cascading economic damage is likely to far outlast the spread of the virus.

The federal response so far has been the COVID-19 CARES Act Relief Bill, which allocates $1.8 trillion in emergency spending to stimulate the shut down economy. This dwarfs the $831 stimulus package passed in 2009, and is equal to more than half of 2019 federal revenue which was $3.5 trillion. In terms of spending, it represents a 40 percent increase to the 2019 federal spending of $4.4 trillion. Using these numbers, a reasonable estimate of the federal deficit in 2020 would be $2.7 trillion, before any additional relief bills are passed, which is likely.

California’s economy, huge and diverse, may confound its critics and weather the coming deep recession better than other states. The tech sector benefits by providing enabling technologies for distance learning and telecommuting, and it will also benefit from likely new infusions of cash into defense R&D as tensions with China deepen. California’s agricultural sector may slow down but it won’t crash, because people have to eat. And […] Read More

Rethinking College Education in America

In an interview posted last month by the Hoover Institution, the estimable Victor Davis Hanson, speaking in character, made a typically provocative comment, saying “for what we are paying for every provost of diversity and inclusion we could probably hire three professors of electrical engineering.”

That can be fact checked. And the results are illuminating.

On the Public Records Act-enabled online database “Transparent California,” take a look at these 2018 search results for job titles that include the word “inclusion,” or “diversity.” Note that taxpayers funded a position for Jerry Kang, UCLA’s vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, that bestowed a total pay and benefits package worth $468,919 in 2018.

Compare that to the faculty of UCLA’s School of Engineering, where two assistant professors (Jonathan Kao and Ankur Mehta) along with an associate professor (Chi On Chui), altogether collected pay and benefits in 2018 of $564,123. That’s pretty close. At UCLA, at least, you can definitely hire two electrical engineering faculty members for the price of one diversity don, and quite nearly three.

To be fair, perhaps an apples to apples comparison would be to look at UCLA’s top engineering faculty member. Ok. The chair of that department is Gregory Pottie, who made $312,027 in 2018, only two-thirds what Kang made. But Gregory Pottie is running an engineering department. That takes technical expertise and produces graduates that keep the world running. What does Kang do?

Read UCLA’s “Read More

How to Spend Six Trillion Dollars of Magically Materialized Money

If you’re going to spend money you don’t have, you’d better spend it to create things with genuine value. This is the choice facing Americans today. Estimates of how much the federal deficit will grow in response to the pandemic shutdown range as high as six trillion. So how should we spend such a stupendous sum of money?

The last time a huge sum of stimulus money was pumped into the U.S. economy, back in 2009, skeptics were told the money was going to fund “shovel ready” infrastructure projects. President Trump has repeatedly criticized the 2009 stimulus, stating it wasn’t used for infrastructure.

A “Fact Check” written in 2017 by NPR reporter Danielle Kurtzleben made a feeble attempt to debunk Trump’s claim, saying Trump was “mostly wrong” about this. Funny though, the facts cited in Kurtzleben’s own article demonstrate that Trump was “mostly right.” Of the $800 billion stimulus spending, only $81 billion, barely 10 percent, was used for infrastructure.

One may argue that any money going into the economy, for anything, has at least a short-term value, and is necessary in a crisis. That’s obviously true, and this time around, a lot of stimulus money is going to go to be used to provide short term but very necessary relief to households and businesses that would otherwise go under. But what about long-term value?

Usually lost in the debate over just how long the United States can continue to materialize dollars out of thin air is that […] Read More