[ExI] I salute Elon Musk, Captain of Spaceship Earth!

Dan TheBookMan danust2012 at gmail.com
Wed Apr 27 05:20:44 UTC 2022

On Apr 26, 2022, at 9:53 PM, Rafal Smigrodzki via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> On Tue, Apr 26, 2022 at 4:01 PM Dan TheBookMan via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> On Apr 26, 2022, at 8:25 AM, spike jones via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> > Ja.  But there are more than two sides.  Musk is African American and a libertarian (oh what a fine example of a libertarian is he, the modern John Galt.)
>> Recall how in Rand’s novel John Galt got all those government contracts? Remember how Galt was the scion of a wealthy family? You don’t recall those things? Well, that’s because Galt wasn’t born into wealth and didn’t step his way up the financial ladder via dipping into the tax fund. (Yeah, Galt is a fictional character, but his fictional biography is of someone born into a lower middle class family, leaving home at 12, and working his way up from there.)
>> This isn’t to belittle Musk’s achievements in the area of space technology, cars, and batteries. Hes shaken up those industries. But he’s hardly a John Galt. 
> ### Is Musk a "scion of a wealthy family"? Did he step his way up the financial ladder via dipping into the tax fund?

Yes and yes. Do you know his biography? Do you know about his father’s wealth? Do you know how his business have actively pursued and gotten federal and state subsidies?

Now Galt is a fictional character, but if you read the novel in which he appears he comes from a working class background — father is an auto mechanic in Ohio — leaves home at the age of twelve, goes to college at sixteen, then onward and upward in private enterprise (in Ayn Rand’s sense — not the typical American sense of businesses using the state as a funding mechanism and to keep out competitors). Surely, this is Rand’s mythical self-made man. But imagine Galt started out from, say, a wealthy family — maybe his father’s a multimillionaire — and he goes into business pursuing government subsidies. Then probably even more folks would laugh at Rand than do now.

I like the photos of the young Musk working on his BMW in a designer shirt under the rubric of him pulling himself up from his bootstraps. This is closer to the Bill Gates story — he didn’t come from poor folk and somehow managed to get access to computer tech in high school — and not to Andrew Carnegie — who actually did start working in a cotton mill in the dangerous role of bobbin boy at twelve. Carnegie fits the Galt rags to riches story better than Gates or Musk.

Granted, lots of rich kids don’t grow up to become billionaires, but it’s a helluva lot easier to get to billionaire when you have the big leg up in the world of having a wealthy family to back you, especially in your formative years and when you need, say, some seed capital to start a business. (The extreme case is a certain former president* who seems to have gotten about $400 million in today’s dollars from his father. Imagine getting that much money from your dad. That would cushion many of life’s blows and allow you to fuck up and recover in all sorts of ways, no?)


* It’s an exercise for the reader to figure out which former president this is. (This isn’t to praise the other former presidents. They tend to come from money. Very few rags to riches stories in their class.)
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