melon Musk has declared himself Tesla Technoking. It is an appropriate title for a man with feudal aspirations. He already has a history of bad work practices, and he generally displays a great deal of arrogance in relation to his own actual personal productivity. He is undoubtedly an excellent businessman and showman, but he remains highly unworthy of the cult of personality that surrounds his supposed genius. In reality, Musk is a selfish demagogue who has amassed too much power and poses a danger to the future of workers.
Musk lives in an alternate reality of relentless private label and complacency. Promised – and then failed – to deliver 1000 fans to the state of California at the beginning of the pandemic. He also volunteered to design a miniature submarine for the purpose of rescuing 12 children trapped in an underground cave in Thailand, only to be outmatched by a cave diver who really knew what he was doing, a diver Musk then hinted he was a pedophile. Musk has a delicate ego, and that in itself would be a problem even if he weren’t as wealthy.
Musk is the second richest man in the world, an inherently unethical title given the level of global income inequality. Capitalism, at its core, requires a workforce of poor people or slaves to do back and brain work to maintain the wealth of those at the top. Musk’s wealth is no different. In 2019, the human rights group International Rights Advocates sued Tesla and other companies, claiming they profited from dangerous and sometimes deadly child labor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tesla, like most other big tech companies, relies on cobalt for its lithium batteries, with most of that cobalt coming from mines in the Congo. While Tesla is in the process of reforming their practices, only formalized its commitment one year after the lawsuit, and after doubling down on cobalt mining by entering a long term deal with Glencore, the world’s largest cobalt mining company. This engagement seems strange since Musk in 2018 reclaimed It was moving towards removing cobalt from Tesla vehicles entirely.
If Musk is really concerned about the plight of workers, it doesn’t show in how he treats workers over whom he has direct control. In 2019, a California judge ruled that Musk violated labor law by unfairly fire a worker for trying to unionize and for tweeting that workers who unionized would have to give up valuable company stock options. In the same series of tweets, Musk criticized the United Auto Workers union, claiming it did nothing for job security during the last recession. In 2016, workers were warned that they could be fired for trying to join the UAW; In a Medium post, an employee, José Morán, claimed that workers they were being injured and forced to work long hours in unsafe machinery. This echoed a report that found that only one factory had received more than 100 ambulance calls about workers experiencing chest pains, seizures and fainting. According to reports from The Guardian, hundreds more calls were made for “injuries and other medical problems.” Musk responded by stating that he cared about his workers and that the safety record at the Tesla factory was improving.
Of course, this contradicts the number of workers who were treated last year amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In early 2020, Alameda County, the aforementioned Tesla factory location, ordered the companies closed for the safety of their workers. Musk, who had already criticized the shelter-in-place orders, comparing them to fascism – refused to comply with the order and reopened its factory. Tesla called and texted employees asking them to return to work; some employees told Business Insider they were fear of losing their jobs if they refused. A worker, speaking anonymously, saying, “They are more concerned about profitability than about us.”
Musk sued Alameda County and finally got a compromise that allowed him to keep the reopening before withdrawing the lawsuit. Seven months after reopening, according to the Washington Post, some 450 workers at the factory it tested positive, a highest rate than the rest of Alameda County.
Musk’s vision for workers and his relationship with the government can be seen in his goals for the future. Musk has been touted as a visionary for his dedication to space exploration and his desire to, to use the more appropriate term, colonize Mars. Musk’s work toward space exploration is only necessary, if it can be called that, because of NASA’s deprioritization relative to the rest of the federal budget and its underfunding since the late 1960s. America would have a lot more funding for experimental rockets if billionaires like Musk weren’t constantly messing with the tax system like he did when moving to Texas to potentially avoid income and capital gains taxes. He had long threatened this move from his California home, using it as ammunition against the state in its fight against the closure of its Alameda factory. Musk hopes to use as much money as possible to colonize Mars; he said he wants privately transport a million people to the red planet by 2050, offering loans to workers who pay them with work once they reach the planet. This, of course, sounds a lot like indentured servitude. A suitable aspiration for Tesla Technoking.
While Musk’s real flaw lies in a system That allows individuals to acquire large amounts of wealth and use it to control the present and the future, its kind of selfishness is particularly dangerous. The public needs to be in control of its own destiny and cannot afford to depend on people like Musk to get us into space or determine the future of work. Human beings have spent the last centuries overthrowing monarchies and fiefdoms; It would be unwise to let a few new and selfish people teach themselves for us.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism