Elon Musk

Elon Musk, Welfare King!

The tech billionaire isn't alone among the mega-wealthy in getting piles of money from government at all levels, say the authors of Welfare for the Rich.


Tech billionaire Elon Musk is known for creating bold new companies such as PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX, championing liberating technologies like Bitcoin, and hyping visionary plans to colonize Mars.

But with a net worth of around $200 billion, he's not just the planet's richest person. He's one of its biggest welfare recipients, report Lisa Conyers and Phil Harvey, authors of Welfare for the Rich: How Your Tax Dollars End Up in Millionaires' Pockets—And What You Can do About It. By 2015, they write, companies led by Musk had gotten billions of dollars in subsidies, tax breaks, and other handouts. New York state even shelled out $750 million to build a solar panel factory for Musk's Solar City operation and said the company would pay no property taxes for a decade, saving another $260 million.

Musk is not alone say Conyers, a veteran journalist, and Harvey, a successful businessman who donates to many libertarian organizations, including Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this podcast. There are literally thousands of other immensely rich people who are constantly bilking governments at all levels for special perks, carve-outs, and handouts paid for by middle-class and poor people.

In exhaustively documented and perpetually enraging prose, Conyers and Harvey show how millionaire "farmers," billionaire team owners, and filthy rich oil-and-gas-and-wind-power barons lobby Congress, rewrite zoning laws, and plunder the public fisc like it's a bodily function. They also outline realistic and effective ways to fight back and level a playing field that benefits the people who need the least help from government.

NEXT: Punish Politicians for the Right Reasons

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  1. What is out country’s obsession with taxation? For rich and poor. How much R and D did these companies do with the money they saved, probably a lot. At least more than I did with my tax cuts.

      1. To be fair those ZEV credits could be going to any manufacturer who met the criteria… It’s not exactly Tesla’s fault that the government is so fucking stupid.

        1. Agreed. But it was a significant reason for their profits for many years.

          1. Tesla and profits should not appear in the same sentence.

            2020 was the first year Tesla had a profit.

            1. And only because of carbon credits, tax credits to buyers, etc..

              1. But such credits can’t be the primary driver of Tesla’s profits for “many years” since they only have one profitable year under their belt.

                1. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $65-85 per/h. How? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new…sde after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier.

                  Here’s what I do.=========> USA ONLINE JOBS

        2. It is Elon Musk’s fault that he took our taxdollars to set Teslas on fire on the roadways, blow crap up on the landing pad, and treat his employees like dirt and drive away his best and brightest minds.

          Read his Wikipedia page. The man named his child something he would name one of his rockets with a character not even on a Roman alphabet keyboard. The man ain’t right and he’s paid out of our privation to not be right! Fuck this guy!

          1. Is this some sort of parody indictment? Poe’s Law is king in the 2020’s and I can’t tell anymore.

            1. Every word is true. And how people treat others closest to them is a pretty good indicator of how they will treat you.

  2. So getting a tax break is now bilking the government? I thought we wanted to pay less taxes. The fact that they come for the regular people first to fund taxation is simply because we have far more to lose than a corporation with accountants and lawyers. The government can destroy your life if you fuck up your taxes, take a bunch of deductions, or are an all cash small business. A large corporation has far more leverage with the dolts at the IRS and can drag it out in court if necessary.

    All this really says is we need to end the income tax. States should collect whatever revenue they need to fund their operations and states should fund the federal government. Not individuals. If the feds had to come begging the states for money you can be damn sure it would be forced to balance its budget.

    1. Who knew my grandmother has been bilking the government on her property taxes since the day she turned 60

    2. 90% of what Musk promised wasn’t delivered. He’s not bilking the government, he’s bilking the taxpayers with the help of the government.

  3. I didn’t see where he forced anyone to give him anything. Only a fool turns down freebies.

    1. I think that i have available to me all the same deductions Musk does. I simply haven’t a clue as to how to get to a place to take them. So as a small business I deduct everything – civil and negotiable. Income? Report all – jail time crime.

    2. Of course Elon Musk didn’t force anyone. He got the IRS heavies to do that for him.

      By the way, I never cashed my stimulus check from Trump and Congress and I’m looking for a way to send back the stimulus that showed up on my tax refund card.

      And if Sleepy, Creepy, Crazy, Cranky, Tankie, Corn-Pop, Lunch-Bucket, Shotgun Joe and Congress starts sending UBI checks every month, I’ll still send them back!

      I’m not a sucker who thinks there are such things as freebies. These checks come at the cost of prosperity, freedom, and civilization. I’m not having a hand in what is destroying those wonderful things!

      1. Its the tragedy of the commons; unless everyone sends back their checks too you aren’t really helping our nation, only hurting yourself

        In fact even if everyone sent back their checks it still wouldn’t help the nation much, the total is only about 15% of the 1.9 trillion dollar package. The direct payments are the least of the problems in the bill

        1. I haven’t hurt from not using it at all, and I am no man of means. I’ve worked full-time this whole time and even get over-time.

          If anything, the stores and buying public has hurt from these stimulus checks, since shelves are emptying faster than the stores can get employees to fill the shelves and lines are consistently getting bigger.

          Also, since people evidently think the money is all Heaven-sent, they think the same about the things it buys. So now stores are putting even common items like Dove Soap and underwear behind locked glass cases.

          Me refusing the stimulus is my way of telling Washington that I don’t need them…the thing any politician fears the worst.

          I’m also framing my first check so I can show it to future generations of youngsters and say: “Kids, this is what dumb adults in my time thought equalled prosperity.”

    3. No but he has applied for and lobbied it is not like the government sought him out.

  4. “There are literally thousands of other immensely rich people who are constantly bilking governments at all levels for special perks, carve-outs, and handouts paid for by middle-class and poor people.”

    That’s a little disappointing. Apparently not all rich people accumulated their wealth the way Reason.com’s benefactor Charles Koch did — by rising from humble beginnings, starting your own company, and funding open borders advocacy in hopes of reduced labor costs.

  5. No wonder he wants to go to Mars. Get away from this loony bin.

    1. Of which he is a part. He’ll just be importing it to the Martians.

  6. The Left: This is all the fault of the super wealthy!

    The Right: This is all the fault of gub’ment!

    The Libertarian: It’s the fault of regulatory and tax policies that encourage the super wealthy to lobby the gub’ment for extra privilege and dole.

  7. I am shocked! Next you’ll be telling me Musk is a con man.

    1. Musk is just a smarter, better looking Donald Trump.. part salesman, part huckster, part con..

  8. Socialists are relentless and there is no appeasing them. Their appetite is insatiable and they will just demand more and more. Rich people will eventually realize this. Yes they can escape NY and CA but the socialists will follow them to FL and TX (which are inexorably turning blue). What’s the solution? Billionaires like Musk should fund retirement/advocacy colonies. Then people can retire and leave jobs for others to work and support themselves and thereby obviate big government and charity. And while there they can advocate for small government policy not just here in our safe space (assuming Reason doesn’t ban them – thank you Reason for not banning me today!) but out in enemy territory where it matters. (Of course they can’t be required to vote for specific candidates as that is illegal in many states.)

    1. Musk won’t be the one. The only thing he’d do is don a bad suit with question marks like Matt Lesko and teach others how to live at taxpayers’ expense.

  9. Wow, Capitol Hill on lockdown after far right groups have been plotting an attack on the USA. 3%’s and Proud Boys are terrorist groups backing Trump’s coup on March 4.

    Read up on it, Peanuts.

    1. The police force that guards the U.S. Capitol said on Wednesday it has obtained intelligence pointing to a possible plot by a militia group to breach the building on Thursday, an alleged plan with echoes of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

      A U.S. Capitol Police statement did not name the organization

      1. He just can’t not lie.
        Even a three-year-old isn’t as brazenly obvious as Buttplug.

      2. Echos of Jan 6? Oh the horror of more photos at the capital

        1. This time, maybe *two* cops will die of strokes in the same month!

    2. Lol. God damn. Youre stupid enough to even fall for this.

  10. U.S. Capitol Police officials said Wednesday they have “obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4” — the date that far-right conspiracy theorists believe former President Donald Trump will return to power.


    1. Hey! Whoever’s hiring fifty-centers like Buttplug to propagandize here. Hire me and fire all these fucking idiots.

      I might charge four times as much, but at least I know the chemical formula for water, what sophistry means, and enough history not to get in an argument about the Nazis and socialism.

      1. Oh, so the mask comes off. You’re an Alex Jones QAnon freak who wants Trump to take his rightful place as King of the USA tomorrow.

        You can’t win this.

        1. That entire sentence didn’t actually make sense, retard; but thanks for proving my point to your boss.

        2. Pretty sure Alex Jones hates Trump like most Americans.

          1. ‘Pretty sure Alex Jones hates Trump like most TDS-addled shits.’
            Fi9xed, TDSS-addled shit.

    2. Holy shit guys time to go into Iraq! I mean…Iowa!

      1. Dr Seuss canceled!

  11. We get it. You believe anything a dnc controlled government tells you. Clown.

    1. Meant as reply to the pedophile.

    2. It’s a big pile of fucking nothing.


      This will get quietly dismissed later, but they want an arrest in the papers so that people vaguely remember someone got arrested the next time there’s a Reichstag fire to push.

      1. This is due to the fbi having to admit today no guns confiscated on jan 6

      2. https://twitter.com/Grhm_i/status/1367295402253422593?s=19

        BREAKING : A federal judge in Washington has ordered the release of an Proud Boys leader Ethan Nordean after declaring that the government had presented “weak” evidence tying him to the Capitol Jan. 6 riot.

        1. But just watch in the future the establishment press will only mention an “insurrectionist” was arrested for “War Powers”, and won’t mention the release and the reason.

          It’s a psyop against the American people. Continuously gaslighting them into believing that there’s a sinister, evil force that’s violently opposing the rightfully “elected” leaders.
          You can see our fifty-centers here pushing that narrative.

  12. There’s a huge difference to between the government buying cars and rocket rides off someone and the Boeing Starliner and Lockheed F-35 money pits.

  13. Proud Boys nominated man to hold ‘war powers’ and lead January 6 attack, Justice Department says

    Federal prosecutors say a Seattle-area resident was nominated to have “war powers” to lead the Proud Boys on January 6, as they continue to allege that members of the Trump-supporting extremist group were prepping, communicating and organizing an attack on the Capitol.

    Ethan Nordean, who will appear in court Tuesday, was allegedly ready to step in and lead the Proud Boys’ violent push to overtake the US Capitol, a new court filing said, after the group’s leader, Enrique Tarrio, was arrested and then told to stay away from Washington, DC.
    “Following the arrest of the Proud Boys’ Chairman on January 4, 2021, Defendant was nominated from within to have ‘war powers’ and to take ultimate leadership of the Proud Boys’ activities on January 6, 2021,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing Monday arguing to keep Nordean imprisoned.


    Trump Trash is CRAZY!

    1. Lol, it’s a black guy. There goes the whole racism narrative.

      And what the fuck are “war powers” and how is being nominated a bad thing.

      Here Buttplug:

      I officially nominate Buttplug to have the War Powers of the Reason comment section.
      All in favor post Aye.

      Now somebody report this stupid, fat fuck to the justice department.

      1. Why are you defending Trump supporters? When push comes to shove, they will all shove Trump under the bus.

        (Of course you’ll insist you’re not defending them. But it’s far better for Trump to forsake them now and move on.)

        1. Buttplug’s pulling out all the socks. You must be really worried for your job security.

          1. Buttplug’s just baiting you so you can brag to your wife, “I kicked socialist ass on the internet today. Prove I said that you liar.”

            Except he’s a faux-cialist and this is your safe space echo chamber and you’ll end up forsaking the people you deny defending today when they turn against Trump at their trials.

      2. He is only black using the 1% blood rule conservatives invented.

        1. Actually that was the Democratic Party that invented the one drop rule in the 1800s, not “conservatives”. Even the Nazis thought that the one drop rule was stupid, but not team blue.

          1. Democrats were the conservatives prior to Reagan.

            1. He’s so fucking dumb.

            2. God, this lefty fuck even believes the souther strategy lie lol. You literally said you didn’t shill for Democrats earlier. Hilarious.

            3. One.

              One southern Democrat switched parties.

              The rest, including those who filibustered the ’64 CRA, stayed Democrats until they were out of office. Most remained Democrats until they died.

              There was no switch. The record of who was in Congress proves that.
              This is a lie perpetrated by Democrats, the party of slavery, of Jim Crow, of the Black Codes, of the KKK, of segregation, the party of redlining, of destroying the black family, of creating ghettoes.

    2. Lol

      The guy I just posted above that has been ordered released after 2 months of unconstitutional detention because the evidence is so weak…

  14. CRONY SOCIALISM to the Max.
    And to think the people maddest about this are the very one’s lobbying for MORE National Socialism. How retarded can they be?

  15. I see the Southern Poverty Law center has resurrected itself and is posting in the comments. It feels like it’s 1998 and I’m listening to NPR.

  16. Well if I have to subsidize anyone I’d rather it be Elon than some scum bag hedge fund Ivy League NYC commie…they don’t provide any benefit to society and just support the govt industrial complex and goldman sachs (a truly evil company). Elon is a great African American something the libs hate.

  17. “New York state even shelled out $750 million to build a solar panel factory for Musk’s Solar City operation and said the company would pay no property taxes for a decade, saving another $260 million.”

    But only Republicans give tax breaks to the rich.

    It is known.

  18. I’m questioning whether some of the things we’re talking about as subsidies, in Musk’s case, aren’t actually saving the taxpayer’s money. SpaceX isn’t just embarrassing NASA’s heavy rocket program by undercutting the cost of launches (without costing the taxpayer a dime for development). SpaceX is also embarrassing the hell out of traditional cable and telco when it comes to bringing broadband to rural America.

    “Biden’s plan for one key area, rural broadband, was laid out in one of his campaign documents as a part of a $400 billion procurement investment in infrastructure. Rural broadband would get a $20 billion investment in a variety of programs that would bring wired and wireless internet access to areas where it simply doesn’t exist now. The plan would also increase funding for Community Connect grants and it would direct the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to support areas that want to build municipally owned networks.



    In a choice between spending billions of taxpayer dollars on telcos and cable companies to wire rural America and Musk bringing broadband to rural America at no cost to taxpayers, that should be a no-brainer.

    In fact, there’s an ongoing argument right now over whether SpaceX should be eligible for some of the incentives that have already been approved to pay the traditional guys to roll out their service in rural areas. By paying the telcos and cable to roll out broadband where they wouldn’t do it otherwise, they’re actually creating competition for SpaceX’s satellite broadband where there wouldn’t be any–until Amazon and some of the others get their satellite systems up and running.

    Point being, if the government gives taxpayer money to some companies and SpaceX does it all with private investment, then complaining about SpaceX getting subsidized on the same basis probably isn’t an excellent example of welfare for the rich. Paying everyone but SpaceX to roll out broadband is actually a pretty good example of crony capitalism–they’re trying to pick winners and losers.

    And is anyone claiming that Musk wouldn’t be winning at Tesla or SpaceX if it weren’t for government subsidies. The best cross-party argument against those subsides may be that they were completely unnecessary. If you’re going to have them, let’s hope whomever would have won wins anyway in spite of them, and that appears to be what’s happening here.

    1. P.S. Transitioning to a society where private enterprise takes over the functions of government, which is what we want as libertarians, necessarily involves paying private parties with taxpayer money.

      Should libertarians oppose school vouchers as a means to privatize the public school system because that means giving taxpayer money to private parties, too? Shouldn’t we recognize that private parties can do a better job for the taxpayer for less?

      After the collapse of the Soviet Union, should the Russian government have refused to privatize industry because that would mean the government giving assets to private parties? Isn’t that what we want to happen?

      1. You’ve got it mistaken, Ken. Transitioning from a Socialist/Collectivist economy to a Free-Market Capitalist economy doesn’t mean putting business on the taxpayer-funded dole.

        Rather, the transition means selling off government assets at auction open to all the public and sold to the highest bidder, eliminating taxes and controls, and letting private enterprises freely compete. Nothing else from government is required.

        In fact, yes, what the captives of government schools need is not a voucher, but for taxpayers to be untaxed, school attendance should be voluntary, and all schools and curricula free to compete based on content and price. Again, nothing else from government required.

        1. “Rather, the transition means selling off government assets at auction open to all the public and sold to the highest bidder, eliminating taxes and controls, and letting private enterprises freely compete. Nothing else from government is required.”

          That’s a fantasy. There was no way the Russian government wouldn’t favor their political cronies in the process of privatization, and libertarian capitalists should want those assets privatized anyway. If you can’t transition from a socialist system to a more capitalist system until politicians stop favoring their supporters, then you’ll never transition to a more capitalist system.

          It was the same thing in China. All the important assets were scooped up by influential members of the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army. That’s not what you want to see happen, but it wouldn’t have happened any other way. Meanwhile, the standard of living and the economic benefits of moving away from communism have been tremendous.

          It would have been better if they hadn’t favored any party and auctioned assets off to the highest bidder in an open auction, but then it would also be nice if a giant gold-shitting unicorn had landed in the middle of the Forbidden City and just started shitting all over everything. Unfortunately, that wasn’t a real possibility in the real world.

          1. That may have been all to expect from Tiananmen Square, but The Shining City on The Hill should have something better. We won’t until we aim for it.

    2. If Elon Musk gets something from government not granted to all U.S. Citizens at the expense of those U.S. Citizens, that is a subsidy. What government should do is give nothing and tax nothing and let all parties develop what infrastructure they wish and let the best, most marketable one win.

      Might I add, if Musk got no subsidies, maybe he’d be more circumspect on blowing crap up on the launch pad and he’d build more resilient spacecraft.

      1. “That government should do is give nothing and tax nothing and let all parties develop what infrastructure they wish and let the best, most marketable one win.”

        That would be fascinating if it had some grounding in the real world.

        Unfortunately, we need to live in the real world, where the government doesn’t do what it should, and in the real world, if the government is subsidizing telcos and cable to lay down fiber at taxpayer expense, they’re inhibiting Musk’s privately funded approach–and he should be entitled to the same subsidies as his competitors.

        1. To get to real, somebody’s got to be real.

        2. After some reading on this subject from The Mises Institute, it turns out we are both mistaken.

          The first thing a government needs to do to transition from Socialism/Collectivism to Free-Market Capitalism is to, wherever possible, return seized property to the original ownerse. Then, where property has been seized from masses of people, send everyone share which can be bought, sold, or given in an unrestricted free-market exchange. And none of that would require either egalitarian redistribution willy-nilly nor giving Party cronies a leg up over any one

          1. By “everyone, ” of course, that means all who have had property seized, which should be easy enough to figure from tax records, escheats, court rulings and records, etc.

  19. Why do democratic governments “give away” money? For votes, silly. Tax breaks and subsidies go to wealthy, influential people and companies that can provide campaign support (or direction of voters under their control), or they go to business ventures that can be pitched to citizens as future jobs–leading to citizen votes.

  20. https://twitter.com/CalebJHull/status/1367260620626812928?s=19

    The White House was not happy that Biden tried to take questions….

  21. I’ll give you that Musk is a tax soak, but at least we get some cool toys in return, which is more than we get from most tax soaks. On the list of outrageous things my tax dollars get spent on, subsidizing SpaceX is a long way down on my list of complaints.

    1. Again, Elon Musk would perform better if he paid off his own 10,000 ways that don’t work without taxpayer subsdy.

  22. Tesla is now one of the most valued companies globally.

  23. Musk has been asked about the subsidies his companies received. His answer is “let’s get rid of all the subsidies.”

    I agree.

    1. After his own hand was in the cookie jar, of course.

      That works in reverse too, like when Sir Richard Branson lobbied to bail out Virgin Airlines after opposing a bail-out for British Airways.

      Self-awareness, anyone? Doth protest too much, M’Lady Branson?

  24. Jesus Reason. Tax breaks are not subsidies.

    1. The lefty “chicken-little; sky is falling down” coup even spun and marketed a report about how Big Oil having standard-to-everyone Tax Deductions were “subsidies”.

      Any lie they can pull out of their *ss to paint the deceitful narrative.

    2. I’m not a fan of Musk, but it’s always amusing to see him annoy the progs. He successfully made something they like, but he is a billionaire so he must be bad. Surprised they haven’t gone after him yet for making his cars too expensive for BIPOC people, like Henry Ford did.

  25. If you pay more in taxes than you get from the government, you aren’t getting welfare from the government. Liberals and other imbeciles cannot understand

  26. Tesla fanboys don’t like depictions of The Prophet.

  27. They didn’t mention the most interesting thing about Phil Harvey, which is where he made his money. He is the founder of Adam and Eve!

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