Comparing President Donald Trump and Elon Musk

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On Friday 15 May 2020, the United States House passed a 3 trillion-dollar coronavirus relief package on Friday that would send another round of aid to state and local governments and a second round of 1,200 dollar payments to American taxpayers. The coronavirus crisis has pushed almost 3 million more Americans into the ranks of the unemployed, according to statistics released Thursday. In the past two months, a whopping 36 million Americans have lost their jobs as the country went into lockdown to try and slow the spread of COVID-19.
Elon Musk, the outspoken and controversial billionaire Chief Executive Officer of electric car-maker Tesla, made it clear that he isn’t a fan of the United States Federal Reserve’s coronavirus stimulus. Financial Times recently reported that Elon Musk thrust himself to the forefront of America’s anti-lockdown movement by threatening to “immediately” relocate the electric car group’s California headquarters to Texas or Nevada; filing a lawsuit; and then restarting production at the company’s Fremont plant in defiance of authorities. He may be one of the world’s loudest clean energy advocates, having almost single-handedly jump-started the market for electric cars. But he has long displayed the same hatred of being told what to do that fuels the gun-toting protesters who stormed Michigan’s state house to protest anti-coronavirus measures.
President Donald Trump and Elon Musk, with their 80 million and 33 million followers, respectively, are two of Twitter’s biggest stars. However, their characters certainly do not fit the image of a sweet little bird tweeting on a tree branch. Rather, both men use Twitter’s 280-character format as a vehicle for psychotic outbursts in which they combine attacks on critics with bouts of self-pity, as well as a lot of outright nonsense and craziness mixed in.
Alexei Bayer, Senior Economic analyst based in New York stated that it is true, Elon Musk does it only periodically. In between, he does act like the visionary entrepreneur that he primarily is. But when he veers off that techie/geeky script, he causes the collective jaw of his millions of followers to drop in shock. In many ways, Elon Musk is the personification of what psychologists have long found: There is a fine line between genius and insanity.
Barry Wood, a Washington writer and broadcaster noted that in contrast, President Donald Trump regales his one-and-a-half time larger pool of followers on a daily basis with a steady barrage of usually ridiculous and evidently deceitful tweets. President Donald Trump could be better summed up by the late American concert pianist and comedian, Oscar Levant, who once said: “There is a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased that line.”
According to Barry Wood, the two men are not just a pair of “unstable geniuses” but, as even audiences far removed from United States shores can easily see, each of them represents a different enduring American stereotype. Elon Musk is the proverbial crazy inventor, one of those who have been popularized by Hollywood since the days of silent movies. And President Trump is, of course, a typical charlatan. President Trump has bragged of being a genius, for example, declaring during the coronavirus crisis that he understood science and medicine. And before that, he claimed that he knew more about military matters than the generals at the Pentagon.
Barry Wood further noted that since the early 19th century, all kinds of snake oil medicine hawkers traversed the enormous country praying on the gullible. They were often portrayed in American literature, ranging from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn to O’Henry’s short stories. Ominously, in the 20th century, the confidence game became married to politics. Frank Baum’s prophetic Wizard of Oz, published appropriately enough in 1900, is a story about a dictator, a scammer who rules Oz by creating a happy illusion. Of course, the wizard knows full well that he is deceiving his people, but they are willing to be deceived, because his lies bring them happiness.
In the book, the wizard is benign. President Donald Trump’s supporters see their leading man the same way. They resolutely believe that he has nothing but their well-being at heart. In real life, these Americans might want to consider those Germans, Russians and Italians who fell under the spell of political swindlers in the first decades of the 20th century. With all the sources of information and fact checking readily available today, these folks should certainly know better.
Professor Tom Berenstain of Oxford University argued that Elon Musk, the South African-born 48-year-old, for all his accomplishments might also be viewed by some as something of a snake oil salesman. While his Tesla car company sold only around 88,000 cars in the first three months of this year, Tesla’s market capitalization is around $130 billion. That is nearly twice as high as Volkswagen’s market cap. The world’s largest car manufacturer sold almost 11 million vehicles last year and has a stable of highly diversified international brands, ranging from the Czech Republic’s Skoda to Germany’s Audi and Porsche.
Professor Tom Berenstain noted that despite Tesla’s limited sales numbers, Elon Musk has the formidable German automotive industry scrambling. They see the writing on the wall and are eager to get in on electric vehicle technology. As a warning to the Germans, in neighboring Netherlands, a market where German cars used to be kings, Tesla Model 3 has become a hands-down best-selling car. And even though China is a global leader in electric vehicle technology, it is Tesla that has come to symbolize the electric future for cars and trucks.
According to Professor Tom Berenstain, President Donald Trump is also eager to take on both the Chinese industrial might and the German car industry. But not being an inventor, and, for that matter, very far removed from being an economic genius, President Trump wants to do it the only way he knows how, by imposing tariffs. The sitting United States president wants to do all this even though the world is facing the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, which took place in the early 1930s. Economists have long declared that, back then, protectionism, and specifically the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act passed by United States Congress in 1930, ended up being the real culprit. Far from serving their presumable purpose of saving domestic jobs, that law made the Depression far worse for every country involved.
Alexei Bayer stated that Elon Musk has his awful periods on Twitter. His current rage denying the dangers of the seriousness of the pandemic and demanding that his factory be allowed to open are not just the latest, but perhaps the most egregious case. In fact, on 29 April 2020, Elon Musk tweeted in all capital letters: FREE AMERICA NOW. That Nearly mirrors Trump’s encouragement of mass demonstrations in Michigan and other states under lockdown to “liberate” these states as he called it. According to Alexei Bayer, the true shame for Elon Musk is that, on this matter, no matter how absurd he tries to be, he will forever be solidly behind the curve of Donald Trump, demanded such an act of idiocy two weeks earlier.
T0 conclude, the difference between Elon Musk and President Trump is that Elon Musk’s occasional delusional tweets only hurt his credibility and maybe the viability of his businesses. In contrast, President Donald Trump’s daily barrage of insane tweets and policy decisions actually cost lives, many, many thousands of them. Maybe the world can live with the borderline insanity of Elon Musk. However, it is bound to become a very dark place given the wide-ranging displays of near-insanity of the man in the White House.