Meltdown May is continuing apace, as Elon Musk and his newest baby’s grandmother engage in online beef.
But we’ll get to that in a minute.
First, I would like to turn my opera glasses to one of my favorite types of content: billionaire-on-billionaire rivalry.
I am thinking of Musk’s rivalry with Jeff Bezos, the other billionaire who resists shelter-in-place orders and owns a private space company.
Remember how Bezos got bounced out of NYC?
It was part of a Musk-inspired effort to get the corporate version of The Bachelor going,
with the idea that the winning contestant would get a factory instead of a marriage.
Much like The Bachelor, the entertainment value for us plebs is just watching a bunch of thirsty cities embarrass themselves.
Business types call this sort of thing a “bake-off,” but having actually participated in bake-offs, I can tell you they tend to be less desperate and more fun.
What does it take to make Bezos envious?
Government subsidies, baby. Musk got $1.3 billion out of Nevada, $750 million out of New York, and a comparatively piddling $15.6 million out of California.
Anyway, when Bezos was pursuing HQ2, pressuring municipalities into “bake-offs” of perks, it was Musk he had in mind.
I mention this because Musk has a new bake-off going, for a Cybertruck factory.
Right now, the finalists are, reportedly, Austin, Texas and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
(Nashville, Tennessee may also be in contention; then again, maybe not.)
Musk has been very clear that incentives will play a role in which city he chooses —
though other considerations he’s cited include logistics costs and the type of workforce that can be supplied.
Now, Texas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee (I guess) all do have some things in common.
Texas’ governor, state House of Representatives, and state Senate are Republican.
The same is true of Oklahoma.
Now, you may recall that Musk donates across the political aisle — an absolutely classic tactic for entrenched interests and industrialists to secure power — in California,
to Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and Republican Representative Kevin McCarthy, for instance.
Also among the direct recipients of his donations:
Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Representative John Carter of Texas, and
Representative Lamar Smith of Texas.
Texas is already important for SpaceX; it’s building its Starship in Boca Chica and a rocket testing spot in McGregor.
Musk’s donations give him a toehold in these states.
He’s got connections to powerful political figures who may be able to persuade ambitious local politicians to take him seriously.
This isn’t a guarantee of course; Amazon donated heavily in New York,
but managed to insult local officials by cutting them out of the loop.
Politics is about kissing babies and kissing asses.
So of course slighting the local politicians led to a rebellion among those politicians,
who blew up the attempt at a New York HQ2 in spectacular, embarrassing fashion.