Friday, December 10, 2021

Elon Fricking Musk

I'm beginning to suspect that Elon Musk might be slightly duplicitous.

For one thing, he's savagely attacking Biden's Build Back Better plan for its high spending, including billions to create a charging network for electric cars which would, of course, erode the competitive advantage of Tesla's proprietary charging network. Musk says "Do we need federal support for gas stations? We don’t. So there’s no need for this, for support for a charging network. I would delete it. Delete."

Musk also just hates the proposed $12,500 tax credit for electric vehicles. Which is strange considering how much he liked Obama's tax credits, which helped him build his customer base. But in this case, the credit only applies to cars made by unionized shops, and Tesla is staunchly (some would say brutally) anti-union. But rather than be straight about it, he's attacking it from a "we-can't-afford-all-this-spending" angle.

The little-recognized fatal drawback of autonomous cars is that, in populated areas (especially cities), any pedestrian impatient to cross the street can simply extend an arm or leg or umbrella into traffic and make all vehicles to come to a screeching halt. There's no imaginable way to police this. Urban streets are currently usable for both pedestrians and drivers due to a strategic stalemate: drivers MOSTLY don't want to kill anyone and pedestrians MOSTLY don't want to die. Necessary built-in public safety measures for autonomous vehicles will defang drivers and embolden pedestrians, so driving won't work. It's a hard dead-end.

But, purely by coincidence, Musk really really wants to see us have freer flowing traffic in cities:
“In cities that are congested we’ve got to do something about extreme traffic, which is some combination of double-deckering freeways and building tunnels,” he said. That, coincidentally, would be the only possible way to avoid the arm/leg/umbrella scenario making autonomous vehicles a no-go in urban environment.
It would cost many, many trillions to completely redesign road systems in American towns and cities to segregate pedestrians and drivers (thereby making autonomous vehicles viable), but Musk's all for spending those trillions under the pretense that traffic congestion's, like, such a drag. Build Back Better, however, is just too spendy for his taste. "We’ve spent so much money, you know, it’s like the federal budget deficit is insane,” he commented.

I grabbed all these quotes from this Guardian article, but you can find widespread reporting on Musk's comments. No one I've read, however, has pointed out the full hypocrisy (writers mostly caught the union/non-union issue, which couldn't be more flagrant). Is it really so hard to see the truth? I don't know if it's the fluoridated water or what, but people - including our pundit classes - seem to be getting dumber and dumber. I suppose I should be grateful; lowering sagacity levels allow a writer/musician shithead like me to look like a soothsayer for stating the merely obvious. Wheeee.

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