Have you ever gone online and then posted some kind of innocuous opinion about billionaires, only to have a bunch of people start telling you that the weird space race we've got going on at the moment is good actually? It's an odd phenomenon, and one that occurs especially frequently if anybody badmouths Elon Musk.
Now you, dear reader, may well see how confusing it is to defend a billionaire as you're scrabbling around working and paying your tax, but not everyone does. If you've ever wondered why it is that people always talk up to defend dear old Elon Musk, then you're in the right place.
Who is Elon Musk?
Elon Musk, in case you've somehow not heard of him, is the son of Maye and Errol Musk. Maye was a finalist in the Miss South Africa beauty competition, modelling for magazines such as Vogue. On the other hand, Errol was an engineering consultant and a real estate developer.
The family gained a huge amount of wealth after selling an aeroplane and then buying an emerald mine. The Musk family irrefutably has a fair bit of money historically, so it's also fair to say that Elon Musk isn't exactly as self-made as his followers claim. According to an article by The Independent, "the teenage Elon Musk once walked the streets of New York with emeralds in his pocket."
However, Musk has undoubtedly made some good decisions. He delved into software with Zip 2 and sold it off for good money. That money set up PayPal, which in turn funded SpaceX and Tesla. After all, wealth results in more businesses to gain more wealth.
SpaceX is one of multiple companies effectively running in the billionaire space race at the moment. Additionally, you'll recognise Tesla as the forefront of the electric car industry. This, for the record, is undoubtedly a good thing, as the world does need to figure out better ways to move away from fossil fuels to avoid the upcoming immolation of our atmosphere.
Why do people defend Elon Musk?
So, that's Musk in a brief nutshell. However, it doesn't really explain why people so vehemently defend him. You might be forgiven for assuming it's all climate change activists who are really keen on electric cars, but we'd also suspect that the fuel usage of SpaceX somewhat offsets that.
People defend Elon Musk because he embodies the untouchable capitalist dream. He's the poster child: he's nerdy, and appears relatable to some. Well, as long as you don't think about just how much money he earns off the backs of underpaid workers beneath him. To many nerdy individuals, Musk portrays himself as "one of the guys", creating a mask of familiarity not so dissimilar from a celebrity.
Musk posts memes, talks about weed, and interacts in a way abnormal for someone with his wealth, even when it leads to backlash from the financial sector. Maybe people defend him because Tesla could make the world a better place. Maybe people defend him because he wants to explore space, and that's cool. No matter what it is though, many of those defending him do so because he's got a lot of money, and they'd also like a lot of money.
To Musk's fans, he's their friend. When he makes money, it's their friend making money. If workers rebel against him, he convinces them he's being bullied. When he promotes a particular cryptocurrency, he wants his friends to make money — not just manipulating a market he's invested in.
However, it’s also important to keep in mind that he’s infamous for an anti-union and anti-worker industry. Per an article on Vox, Musk tweeted: “Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union. Could do so tmrw if they wanted. But why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing?” Which he had to delete because it was deemed threatening, probably due to the underlying current of threat within it.
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