Taxing the Rich

When Socialists Collide With An Oligarch
FILE PHOTO: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk reveals the Tesla Energy Powerwall Home Battery during an event in Hawthorne, California, U.S., April 30, 2015. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon/File Photo

The centuries-old debate in the US about taxing the rich for the benefit of the poor and for maintaining a fair society, reached its climax last week when Elon Musk, the richest man on earth (almost $300 billion worth) clashed with Senator Elizabeth Warren, a progressive leader in the Democratic Party.

There was more than one irony: first, Time magazine had just named Musk as the “Person of the Year,” and second, NASA, the government agency for space exploration, had earlier selected Musk’s SpaceX Corporation as a partner in the exploration.

During this year, SpaceX had made great strides in developing the Starship, a rocket that promises to revolutionize space travel, bringing both the moon and Mars within reach of astronauts.  Most of the launched rockets deployed Starlink communication satellites that the company hoped will provide internet communications across the planet.

The Falcon 9 rockets launched both crew and cargo aboard the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. One Crew Dragon, the Inspiration4, sent a civilian crew into low Earth orbit to raise funds for St. Jude’s Children’s Cancer Research Hospital.

However, during the year some experiments on the Starship rocket ended with failure: one crashed on landing, another exploded in midair and a third exploded on landing. But, in the end, a Starship flew and landed intact.

On the other hand, Musk has had his share of criticism and controversies: he was sued by a government agency for presenting false information about one of his other companies, electric car-maker Tesla, and was forced to temporarily resign as the company chairman; he was also sued by another government agency for violating technical laws about his electronic cars; he was warned by Twitter company for spreading false information about Coronavirus; and he was connected to Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire who committed suicide in jail last year after being arrested for participating, with some other celebrities,  in having sex with underage girls.

Musk’s fierce enemy, Senator Warren was a law professor before she entered politics, and has been representing Massachusetts since 2013. A progressive, she has focused on consumer protection, economic opportunity, and the social safety net. She has been highly critical of former President Donald Trump. And in 2017, she introduced in the Senate “The Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act” about Trump's corruption, but the bill didn’t find enough supporters in the Senate.

She had been against outsourcing, low wages for the average worker, high drug prices, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) because of its strict policies against illegal immigrants.

On the other hand, Warren had her share of controversies. Her claim that she had Native American blood led to accusations of exploitation and to mockery — Trump called her “Pocahontas” in reference to a historical Native American woman.

Following are excerpts of Musk’s and Warren’s opposing opinions, from each side’s tweets, websites, and statements to the media:

 

Elizabeth Warren. Credit: Reuters

Warren: Tax the Rich

“Let’s change the rigged tax code so 'The Person of the Year' will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else…

Mr. Musk has been a freeloading billionaire … and a severe wealth tax should be imposed on him, without paying attention to his whining like a baby ...

It has been long overdue time to change the rigged tax code, so that the richest man in the world, and his fellow billionaires and millionaires must contribute to the well-being of the country that has been protecting their investments, allowing them to play around the tax codes and giving them the benefit of the doubt …

Mr. Musk is a capitalist exploiter who must be made to pay his fair share of taxes…

Because birds of the same feather flock together, here is Mr. Musk becoming a star on Fox News, with on-air personalities singing Mr. Musk’s praises on their shows …

I want everyone to know that I am not the only senator that Mr. Musk has been attacking and insulting. He previously tweeted a sex insult at Senator Ron Wyden, the chair of the Senate finance committee. The Senator's fault was that he had criticized Mr. Musk for using Twitter to pressure the Senator to sell 10% of the Senator's Tesla electric cars stocks …

In 2018, Mr. Musk paid nothing in federal income taxes. That caught the attention of the people who have been pushing for more equitable taxes on America's highest earners. It has not been only me who is mad at Mr. Musk; millions of Americans are mad and are seeking a fair tax system ...

During the summer, nonprofit news outlet ProPublica released a bombshell investigation into just how much America's wealthiest people pay in taxes. According to ProPublica's reporting, Mr. Musk saw his wealth grow by $14 billion from 2014 to 2018 — but he paid just $455 million in taxes...

And, in 2018, Mr. Musk paid no federal income tax, according to ProPublica. When the outlet attempted to reach him for comment, he texted back with "?"...

 

Musk: More Taxes Than Anyone

“No naturalized American has contributed to his adopted country like I have been [he is originally from South Africa] … I have saved NASA, the military and commercial customers tens of billions of dollars through the development of my reusable Falcon 9 rocket ...

I am glad to declare that I will pay a total of $11 billion in taxes for this year, and I believe that has been a national duty I should always abide by, although I could have argued that the $11 billion would be better spent on more technology innovation -- and not on wasteful government programs like the ones that Senator Warren has been pushing throughout the years …

Anyhow, I will pay more taxes than any American in history this year …

Why hasn’t Senator Warren been appreciative of my attempts to make the world a better place, and has only been pointing to taxes? I believe that she has launched this campaign against me so as to collect contributions for her political campaign. She bought ads against me on Facebook and asked people who agreed with her to contribute to her campaign.

Senator Warren reminds me of when I was a kid and my friend’s angry mom would just randomly yell at everyone for no reason … Senator Warren should be named ‘Senator Karen’ [a woman addicted to complaining] ...

I want everyone to know that it was not only Senator Warren who has been attacking me. I just read a tweet from Senator Bernie Sanders saying that the wealthy should ‘pay their fair share.’ I keep forgetting that he is still alive, an old man at the edge of the grave …

Like I wrote on Twitter earlier, I am going to pay $11 billion for this year. But those progressive Democrat Senators, like Warren and Sanders, are advancing in the Senate an extreme tax bill that would make me pay $50 billion. Apparently, those progressives run out of other people's money and then they come for me ...”


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