Elon Musk: Hero or Villain?

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I first came across this idea back when I was a student. In one particular lecture, my professor asked the question “Is Elon Musk really trying to save the planet or is he exposing a hot topic for profit?” Those who thought he was a hero stood on one side of the room, the others on the opposite. It was 50/50. I thought (and still do) that Elon is the hero we’ve been looking for, but the result of that question genuinely had me surprised. In this article, let us explore both arguments.

Who the Hell is Elon Musk???

He’s the man of the hour. He might just be the man who saves us. He is his own franchise (not sure if that’s the right word here). He’s not only an entrepreneur, but he’s also an engineer, an investor and an all-around genius.

He’s the co-founder of PayPal, founder of The Boring Company, co-founder of Tesla as well as the founder of, my personal favourite adventure of his, SpaceX. These are not the only companies he has founded by the way, just the ones which are more commonly known amongst the general population. He’s the CEO of three of those companies. He has a net-worth of over $20 billion. He’s made it on to two of Forbes most prestigious lists: ‘21st in The World’s Most Powerful People (December 2016)’ and he is the ‘40th Richest Person in the World (April 2019)’. If you want a more detailed background on the man, check out his Wikipedia page.

In this article, we are going to look at his three most recognised successes: PayPal, Tesla and Space X. It will talk about why or why not they may be beneficial to the future of our home. It’s time to decide whether Elon Musk is our saviour or our super-villain.

PayPal

PayPal logo

Not a great amount can be said on PayPal in all honesty, aside the fact it is contributing to the whole ‘cashless society’ movement. It was an early move from Musk, more of a start-up to fund his more recent projects rather than going straight for the sole purpose he conveys.

The whole cashless society idea, which I believe is estimated to be lodged around 2030, is a movement which can really benefit the environment. The printing of cash will be a thing of the past and so intangible monies will significantly reduce the resourcing and use of paper.

However, PayPal incurs fees for commercial purposes for sellers. It’s a fair amount too but there’s many variations, dependant on geographical location, which you can see here (Finder, 2019).

Now, the question is here is: Is Elon Musk passionate about advancing towards intangible cash to reduce paper-use? Or is he using this reasoning to take advantage of the extra costs of using card-payments, whilst applying his own fees, for higher profit?

Tesla

Tesla are the automotive and energy company who are really on the come up. The quality of their vehicles is second-to-none. Although founded in 2003, it is only recently that Tesla are becoming quite the popular name.

Why are they popular? It’s because of the efficiency of their products. Tesla cars are entirely electric, yet they are still as powerful, beautiful and luxurious as your top-end car brands (such as JLR, Aston Martin, BMW, Mercedes, etc). Only once have I sat in a Tesla car, but oh my is it quick! It’s easy for me to drift on a tangent here and talk about why it’s probably the best brand in the motor industry right now, but let me stick to the point here. It wouldn’t be fair for me to say Elon Musk has changed the industry by focusing on electric motors, as many other car manufacturers are also taking the route of electric (and even hybrid) vehicles, but he is certainly accelerating the rate of pace in which electricity-run motors are taking over our roads by producing the best quality product through the only well-known car manufacturer who do not rely on fossil-fuels.

Tesla Logo

Who knows where this might lead. It could come to the point where Tesla are the leading brand in the industry and so other car brands would have no choice but to accelerate their own pace of throwing out the oil-run motors and relying on electricity. It would lead to public transport relying on electricity too. It might even expand further than the roads. Our boats on the waters and our planes in the air could all follow in the footsteps of Tesla.

However, there is another side to this. Does Elon Musk want the others to follow Tesla?

A forum on Quroa suggests that Tesla does not supply their batteries to other cars. This is because Tesla’s technology is different. They’re ahead of the game. Their batteries/chargers wouldn’t be compatible with other cars, or even if they were, would not work as well. By offering better product which is more advanced tech than your competitors, and by keeping in-house and quiet, it will give you a distinct advantage in the industry and will definitely induce profit even though they are not selling it.

Does Tesla want to take over? Do they not want their competitors to succeed? Do they want to get so far ahead they kill them off? Do they want 100% of the market share? ALL the profit? Do they want to be just like Apple in their quest of world domination?
Or do they really want to create efficient motors and be the only ones to do so? Does Elon Musk think he’s the only one with the “right” vision and doesn’t trust the others in following that path?

What do you think Elon is trying to do with Tesla?

SpaceX

SpaceX Logo

SpaceX, supposedly, is here for space exploration, transportation and developing space technology. They’ve developed a rocket (Falcon 9) which is “re-usable”, and by that I mean it doesn’t just fall off into the sea it actually lands back on Earth and can be sent up again.

But you know what their mission statement is? Their “ultimate goal” is to enable people to “live on other planets” (SpaceX, 2019). In other words, even though Elon Musk is trying to save this planet, even he knows it’s f****d. In my eyes, SpaceX is a programme to get us the hell out of here before it’s too late. It’s his ‘Plan B’. Just watch this video and you’ll know what I mean:

Elon Musk’s vision for Mars

He wants to send people to Mars by 2024. You know why? Because once that step is done, and considering the pace Musk’s companies develop at, there won’t be many more steps before people can actually live there. Recent discoveries from NASA have suggested that there once may have been life on Mars, with some ice under the surface having been found.

How could Musk possibly be using this programme as a venture for profit rather than an escape plan? There’s not much against it, in all honesty. I might be saying that because I am, admittedly, slightly bias. I love his work. The only argument I could possibly think of is that he’s exposing an industry which only he is capable of being successful in. He has the finances to fund such a venture, as well as the advanced technology to actually have a massive presence there. The longer they stay there and develop their technology, and potentially exceeding NASA, it turns into a bit of a monopoly. NASA will have no choice but to buy from SpaceX (they’re already putting their astronauts on Falcon 9) because if they don’t, SpaceX will do it themselves. They have the knowledge, technology and, at some point, will definitely have the money. They’re either a threat or friend to NASA.

It’s difficult to suggest that SpaceX is some sort of “exploitation”. It’s nothing close to that in my eyes. Yes, it is guaranteed profit; if you factor Musk’s technological ability, his financial stability and his excellent entrepreneurial skills; but you need that if you are going achieve a mission which people don’t think is possible for DECADES! The big money is essential if he is going to achieve that goal. But I guess you could always ask ‘will he ever achieve it?’

YOU DECIDE

Is Elon Musk a hero or a villain? After reading this, it would be great to hear what you think of Musk and his projects!

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