Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is most famous as a purveyor of electric cars and rocket launches. Now we can add to Musk’s resume, political rebel. PJ Media explains how the imbroglio started when a local health official in Alameda County in California refused permission for Musk to restart production at the Tesla auto plant located there. Musk tweeted:
“Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependent on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA.”
The threat elicited a wide variety of reactions. Public officials in Texas from Gov. Gregg Abbott on down were ecstatic. The industry had grown up in Texas of poaching businesses from California, where high taxes and heavy regulations prevail, to the Lone Star State, which often offers tax breaks and other incentives for businesses willing to relocate. Musk is aware of that situation as he took advantage of it when he established his spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas.
California public officials were not quite as pleased. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, known for her sponsorship of a law called AB5 which wiped out millions of gig economy jobs, had a terse response on Twitter. “F-ck Elon Musk.”
Musk’s response was just as terse. “Message received.”
The dustup took a turn when Elon Musk threw down the gauntlet to California by announcing, “Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”
As of this writing, the Tesla Plant in humming along making electric cars. Musk nor anyone else has been arrested. However, the reaction on social media has been largely positive for Musk, with people debating which character on “Atlas Shrugged” he most resembles, Many have just gone to the old standby that Elon Musk is Tony Stark, the Marvel Comics tech entrepreneur hero also known as Iron Man.
Musk also got some support on Twitter from another billionaire who happens to be President of the United States.
“California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW. It can be done Fast & Safely!”
Musk’s legal position is that he is instituting safety measures at his Tesla plant, including safety gear for workers and partitions. He suggests that the Alameda County officials are dragging their feet out of spite. He has filed suit saying so while he continues his act of civil disobedience via doing business.
The California Globe notes that Gov. Gavin Newsom is staying out of the fight. He suggested that the fight is between Musk and Alameda County. The state government is staying out of it.
Hot Air notes that Alameda County is in something of a pickle. If it allows Musk to continue in its defiance it will have thrown away its authority to pass and enforce edicts. Every business in the county will feel empowered to reopen, giving the county government the middle finger.
However, if the county moves in and arrests Musk, shutting down the Tesla plant, things get much worse. The Tesla CEO instantly becomes a martyr. He will also be obliged to carry out his threat to move Tesla out of California, taking 14,000 jobs with it,
CNBC notes that Elon Musk could save a boatload of money if he did, in the words of Davy Crocket, tell California, “You can go to Hell. I’m going to Texas.”
“If Musk moved his primary residence from California, which has the highest income tax rate in the country, he could save hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, in income taxes in the coming years. Texas and Nevada have no income tax.”
Because of a new compensation scheme that ties what Musk makes to Tesla’s market capitalization and profitability, he stands to eventually expand his net worth to $55 billion. If Musk moves to Texas as he has threatened, he could save $7 billion in taxes.
The upshot is that Musk may carry out his threat and move to Texas or Nevada anyway. He will have joined a large group of people, rich and middle class, who have become economic refugees from the formerly Golden State