Tesla Making the S&P 500 Is Another Immigrant Success Story

Elon Musk, now the third-richest person in the world, was born in South Africa but eventually came to the United States via Canada.


The recent announcement by the Standard and Poor's 500 Index that Tesla Inc. would join the index of large U.S. stocks is the latest reminder of the importance of immigrants to America's success.

Tesla's founder and CEO, Elon Musk, is now the third-richest person in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Musk was born in South Africa but eventually came to the United States via Canada.

People may complain about Musk's erratic tweets or the share of his company's revenues that come from reselling regulatory credits. Even discounting for all that, though, what he has done with Tesla is a remarkable achievement. People who can afford to drive Mercedes-Benz cars or other luxury gas-powered vehicles are voluntarily (okay, with nudges of government subsidies in some cases, but more or less voluntarily) trading them in for cars from a new entrant to the market. They are doing so in such numbers as to make Musk and other Tesla shareholders extremely wealthy. In the third quarter of 2020—amid a global pandemic—Tesla produced 145,036 vehicles. Tesla's market capitalization now exceeds that of much older companies such as JPMorganChase & Co., Coca-Cola Co., or McDonald's Corp.

Nor is Musk an exception when it comes to America's most valuable companies being led by immigrants. Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella, is originally from Hyderabad, India. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, was co-founded by an immigrant from Russia, Sergey Brin. The current CEO of Alphabet is Sundar Pichai, who was born in Chennai, India, and came to the U.S. to study at Stanford and Wharton.

Some big companies that aren't immigrant success stories are children-of-immigrant success stories. Abdulfattah Jandali was a Syrian professor of political science who came to America and gave his son up for adoption; the son became Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is the son of an immigrant to the U.S. from Cuba.

All this is worth thinking about now as an incoming presidential administration looks at how it might support economic growth amid the effects of the pandemic. Joe Biden's temptation will be to try to handle this via executive order, as President Obama did with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and as President Trump did with rolling it back.

But if Republicans are to do a proper reckoning with where Trump went wrong, part of it has to be a clear-eyed look at the mixed signals he sent on immigration. At moments, such as the naturalization ceremony staged at the Republican National Convention, Trump welcomed immigrants. The more dominant message, though, was that immigrants, especially illegal immigrants and refugees, were a threat—"rapists." Some of that was press bias, seizing on Trump's negative statements and ignoring the positive ones. But the signals were clear enough from the policies of building the wall, reducing refugee admissions, and separating children from parents at the border.

As Matthew Yglesias writes in an excellent new book, One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger, U.S. immigration policy needn't be "an act of kindness toward strangers." Rather, it can be "a strategy for national growth and national greatness."

With more people, America will have more innovative, job-creating companies like Apple and Tesla and Alphabet and Amazon.

A recently retired CEO recalled the other day that during a visit to China he had tried to curry favor by telling his hosts that with the talent of 1.4 billion people to draw on, China would be formidable. The Chinese interlocutor had replied, wisely, that the U.S. could draw on the best talents of the world's 7-and-a-half billion people.

Musk is but one example.

The best way for Senate Republicans to put the Trump era behind them would be to work with Biden on immigration legislation that will throw open America's doors to the next generation of immigrant and child-of-immigrant entrepreneurs. They are worthy descendants of the Thanksgiving Pilgrims.

What those new innovators will invent is impossible to imagine, but anyone with retirement savings in an S&P 500 Index fund—and anyone invested in the future of the United States—will want it to happen here.

NEXT: In His Final Days, Is Trump's Approach to China Changing for the Better?

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  1. The trick is figure out the strategy for finding these people without opening the doors to everyone.

    1. South Africans need to share their culture and innovations with America if we expect to compete in the global market. From innovations in criminal justice (i.e. necklacing) to medical breakthroughs (i.e. curing HIV by raping a virgin), South Africans are critical to America’s future!

    2. There is nothing wrong with opening the doors to everyone. There is everything wrong with letting the government control who can enter.

      You xenophobes have this weird idea that criminals and bums are most likely to want in. Yet at the same time, you complain they will bring their socialist welfare ideas with them. It makes no sense; why would lazy bums leave a place with good benefits for the lazy, just to go to a place which has crappy welfare benefits? As for criminals, either they are locked up for being criminals, or they have served their time, and somehow think they can come to the US and thrive as thugs in the land of too many guns.

      It makes no sense.

      There’s also the well-known and long-established fact that immigrants are the adventurous types, more likely to excel at starting businesses and looking out for themselves. The boring lazy kind are not likely to leave their home comfort zone for an unknown world speaking a different language and having bizarre customs.

      1. “Crappy welfare benefits.” LOL. First time I’ve heard that any level of handouts can be crappy.

      2. I guess all the xenophobes are of pure Mayflower blood. The rest of us know we came from immigrants, and many of us are descended from immigrants who were not considered particularly desirable.

        1. No. Go fuck yourself you weaselly fucking demagogues.

          There’s a willfully dishonest conflation between legal and illegal immigration you pieces of shit are trying to make here just so that you can squeal “racist” and “xenophobe” and you aren’t going to get away with it.

          My mom was an immigrant to Canada from France, My sister-in-law from the Dominican, my other brother and sister married Americans and immigrated to the US, and all of them had to pay large sums, jump through all sorts of hoops and wait years to become citizens.
          Fuck you both for equating queue-jumping assholes with people who follow the laws of the country they are working to become citizens of.

          Both of you can stick your cheap rhetoric up your asses.

          1. It is good to see a libertarian that stands up for a massive federal government bureaucracy and associated regulations because opening up the country would be unfair to those who previously had to deal with the strict rules. This way is much more libertarian than eliminating all the hoops and red tape that legal immigrants have had to put up with all these years. Nothing screams libertarian like, the laws are the laws, we have to follow them all, even if they are bad laws.

            1. Yeah the libertarian solution of using the executive to make immigration policy entails no bureaucracy at all.

          2. Check out this guy coming to libertarian website and demanding people “pay large sums, jump through all sorts of hoops and wait years” on behalf of Daddy Government

        2. Elon is a testament to the ability of African Americans.

        3. Gee you mean if we throw open the borders we could get more welfare leeching sub-80 IQ drooling fucking retards like you who make your grift posting Open Society Foundation talking points for 50 cents?

      3. There is EVERYTHING wrong with opening our doors to everyone. Are you stupid? Open borders is bullshit. And it worth re-litigating here for the millionth time.

        Somehow, a million plus new immigrants every year isn’t enough for you.

    3. For what purpose? He’s a con man.

    4. There is no trick. Let in everyone who can pay their own way or is willing to work hard to try. The country has room for millions more people. The types of people who risk everything to bet on themselves are the people who make your country stronger and richer (and not just financially richer).

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  2. Elon Musk, now the third-richest person in the world, was born in South Africa but eventually came to the United States via Canada.

    Slipped over the border, undetected, I suspect.

    1. If only he were still undetected.

    2. Maybe Canada should be a proving ground for future US citizens? Being a humanitarian, I’m sure Justin Trudeau would not object to keeping the people who have their request for US citizenship denied.

    3. African American.

    4. Not sure if this is still relevant; I immigrated to the US from Canada in 1981, but: At one time, it was quite easy to immigrate legally to Canada from many countries. Once you became a Canadian, you could immigrate to the US using a much shorter queue than from many other countries. For some countries, the wait to enter the US legally can be 20 years; effectively forever. At that time, I understood that the number of green card slots allocated annually to Canadian applicants was often not completely used up. In fact, my Canadian sister in law got her green card in the “green card lottery”. She had no qualifications but was lucky enough to have her lottery application selected.

  3. Third richest? I didn’t know they could fit all the royalty, Vaticanites and Rothschilds in the space of the top two.

    1. Amber Heard was working hard to give Elon the old shekel shakedown.

    2. They deliberately don’t count heads of state at all. because their wealth is largely dependent on them being heads of state.

      1. Yeah they don’t make it all in the hard scrabble markets like Elon Musk did…

  4. “The best way for Senate Republicans to put the Trump era behind them would be to work with Biden on immigration legislation that will throw open America’s doors to the next generation of immigrant and child-of-immigrant entrepreneurs. They are worthy descendants of the Thanksgiving Pilgrims.”

    Ira, FFS, are you really this dense? You know perfectly well that the immigrants you describe aren’t the problem. The problem is the body of immigrants here without abiding by the current legislation.

    1. If the United States becomes a socialist shithole, like the rest of Latin America, Ira can always perform aliyah and return to Israel.

      1. Kind of funny how Israel is different than the US in terms of immigration huh?

    2. What problem? Be specific.

      1. Would you like a notarized citation?

        The problem of breaking the law. The problem of being more competitive by providing untaxed, regulation free labour at less than minimum wage while legal immigrants and residents can’t do the same.

        1. Ah ha. Wouldn’t that problem be best caught at the point of employment, rather than creating a vast and largely unaccountable army (ICE) within our borders, creating concentration camps for children, and decreeing border zones (100 miles in!) to be no rights zones?

          Seems like a lot of Trump’s policies, and what people who are shall we say, enthusiastic about curbing immigration want seems to be punishment and retribution against migrant laborers, rather than effective solutions.

          1. The wall is a most effective solution.

            1. Not if you respect others liberty to seek work and to hire workers.

              1. We do. Just not illegals, who are a de facto slave class. But then, that’s the way you and Tubby Pedo Jeffy want it.

          2. “creating concentration camps for children”

            And right there you pissed away the last tiny remnant of credibility you ever had.

          3. Which president built cages for children again?

          4. Wouldn’t that problem be best caught at the point of employment

            Didn’t you squeal like a stuck pig when they mandated E-Verify? Do you even remember the bullshit you spout from one day to the next, or do you just hope nobody else does?

        2. So you’re in favor of taxes and regulations and arbitrary laws?

        3. The problem of breaking the law. The problem of being more competitive by providing untaxed, regulation free labour at less than minimum wage while legal immigrants and residents can’t do the same.

          Much like liquor or drugs, if you want labor to be above the board then legalize it.

          1. Big talk coming from the piece of shit assholes advocating for a $15 per hour federal minimum wage.

        4. I see, the reason we need laws to keep out illegal immigrants is because they break the laws to keep out illegal immigrants. Nothing circular about that logic.

  5. “They are doing so in such numbers as to make Musk and other Tesla shareholders extremely wealthy. In the third quarter of 2020—amid a global pandemic—Tesla produced 145,036 vehicles. Tesla’s market capitalization now exceeds that of much older companies such as JPMorganChase & Co., Coca-Cola Co., or McDonald’s Corp.”

    Tesla’s valuation is interesting but is not based on their current car sales and profits. They have a PE of over 1000. BTW, Mercedes Benz sold 2,385,400 vehicles in 2019.

    1. Tesla like most of Musk’s companies is largely a scam.

      1. The stock is a Wall St playground.

      2. Tesla stock is a bet on their future technology (self driving cars and trucks, batteries, and energy storage). It has very little to do with the car company and its sales and profits.

        1. But it does have to do with some very libertarian principles, such as massive government subsidies. Oh, wait…….

        2. “Tesla stock is a bet on their vaporware.”


    2. Mercedes Benz sold 2,385,400 vehicles in 2019.
      You have to be able to see the future, not what is happening now.

      1. The greatest predictor of future performance is current performance. Tesla had an early market share of electrics, but is now competing against every other major manufacturer, who all have tens or hundreds of times their capacity.

      2. I’m that case, why are we talking about cars at all? Why aren’t we talking about personal teleportation devices?

  6. Federal incentives no longer apply to Tesla purchases..

    1. ^Right; I was hoping someone figured out that the Fortune-500 was marked entirely by lefty federal subsidies. With Biden taking office I won’t be surprised if Tesla doesn’t become the ONLY car maker in the next 10-years; I mean isn’t that EXACTLY the legislation marked on today’s auto-industry.

      Have no fear. The [D]-Team is here to make the auto-industry just as perfect as the medical industry… Don’t worry; The [D]-Team only makes crisis industry for the bottom 99%.

    2. I have been playing with the idea of buying one. I noticed that as well. It just seems like a fun car to drive. Even the model 3 is quick as a jackrabbit.

      1. Teslas have terrible build quality. Do a little research, they’re awful.

  7. Greatest African American ever!

    As for immigration..well first get rid of social welfare programs, learn english proficiently and ensure no socialists, communists are allowed in (it would have saved us much if we did with with central and eastern europeans who have unfortunately become the driving force in cultural marxism in America and for globalist wars that seem to benefit wall street types). But by all means more immigration…BS in engineering, computer science, and business should be the criteria. No liberal art women with 10 kids and no daddy..ok?

    1. The rules. To be enforced by the politicians and the enforcers they control. If only we elected the correct politicians all would be well.

      Control with the best of intentions.

      “Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends. And whoever has sole control of the means must also determine which ends are to be served, which values are to be rated higher and which lower, in short, what men should believe and strive for.”
      Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

      1. Economic Control =/= Immigration Control

        1. If you can’t move here, you can’t work here, how is it not economic control?

        2. They are the same. If you put conditions on which immigrants to let in then you are are directly controlling the labor market. So we need engineers and not plumbers is controlling the market for both. The economy is people.

          If Musk is an example of success he would never have got in. He came to the US with no college degree and even then just got a couple bachelors degrees and dropped out of graduate school. Even on a J-1 he would have been forced to leave.

          Free markets require free movement of people, goods, and services.

        3. So; The argument is only immigrants make up the USA economy work-force??? Give me a break! Are Americans really THAT pathetic?

          1. Nice strawman you have there, think it’ll burn nicely?

            1. Is that what it’s called when you get your idiotic non-sequitur stuffed up your ass like a Build-A-Bear workshop?

  8. Does the guy run any business which doesn’t get healthy on taxpayer money?
    If so, he keeps is well hidden.

    1. Yeah, but compared to Boeing and GM who also got tons of cash to create space taxis and electric cars, Musk actually made the stuff.

      1. So did GM first as a matter of fact – The Chevy Volt.

        1. So good that they stopped making it.

          1. Sorry SOTW for the misclicked flag.

            Meant to reply that GM EV1 was misspelled “Chevy Volt”.

            Poor attempt at humor, topped with incompetence.

    2. Hate the game, not the player.

      Musk is very good a manipulation to keep funding rolling in. But thats the current reality in our economy and cant begrudge someone for successfully playing the game. But, Musk also creates with a vision. The Tesla was visionary. When the idiot car companies were making crap EVs that only hippy greens would drive, Musk made a high end performance car. And that says nothing about SpaceX….my god….first time in a long time i was proud and excited for the US Space industry after NASA went woke and broke..

      1. “Hate the game, not the player.”

        Why can’t it be both?

    3. Does he run any business where his pre-existing competitors don’t get way more taxpayer cash than he does?

      1. Yeah, all of them, actually.

      2. Why would a real libertarian shill for Musk?

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  10. And no one would be surprised if he’s working on an actual Iron Man suit in his basement.

    1. i think most would be surprised if he wasnt.

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  12. Yes, Elon Musk is an immigrant story. But Tesla and SpaceX is NOT an entrepreneurial success story, it is a cautionary tale of Government picking market winners instead of the market. Accepting Millions of dollars of Federal handouts from the start, Musks’ companies started out in debt to taxpayers and then (checks notes) have stayed historically unprofitable while having a C suite revolving door and widely documented cultural problems and mismanagement rivaled only by Donald Trump’s business ventures. What are you celebrating?

    1. They’re celebrating that someone who immigrated legally did well so we should remove restrictions and allow anyone who wants to in.

    2. Well they do make some cool stuff.

      When it comes to things like new tech electric cars the government has been throwing money at those all along. Space as well. We may not like it but it is not limited to Musk.

    3. What are you celebrating?

      Musk is the perfect embodiment of libertarianism: gigantic, bloated, technocratic government in service to supranational global governance organizations at the expense of everyone else.

  13. Title Correction needed: “Tesla making the sp-500 is another Democrat crony-communist taxpayer-funded ?success? story..”

    *Free* Cars!!!

    It’s utterly sick what Democratic policy supports. To think; I spent 33% of my labor so Tesla could make the sp-500 and NEW car buyers could get $7500 —- GO BUY YOUR OWN DAMN CAR!!!

    1. Free minds and free markets baby!!!!!!!!!

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