Tesla vs. White House

Tesla joins the $1 trillion club. Stock soaring at all time highs on record deliveries, high margins and insatiable demand.

But is the White House hamstringing them? 

Shouldn’t we be celebrating the most visionary business leader of our generation leading the most impactful clean energy company in the world? 

It is not my intention to wade into partisan politics; but just to highlight the hypocrisy and paradox we see intersecting politics and business. Personally, I feel like Biden should be calling Elon Musk to congratulate him on so many levels. 

Previously I wrote on how Tesla is on the way to becoming the most valuable company in the World. 

But instead, this happens: 

  • Today National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman harshly criticizes Tesla Self Driving. 
  • Yesterday numerous democrats announce support of a Wealth tax on “unrealized” stock gains; a punishment to founder/CEO’s and deterrent to investment. 
  • Last week National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) hired a vocal critic of Tesla and Elon Musk. She also has blatant conflicts of interest.
  • In September, as part of $3.5 trillion spending bill, the House put forth a proposal to provide a $4,500 credit for EV cars made with “union” labor, blatantly excluding Tesla. 
  • In September, no word of congratulations from White House to SpaceX for completing first ever all civilian crew launched for 3-days in orbit: a milestone for space travel. 
  • In August, Joe Biden did not invite Tesla – the largest EV automaker in the world – to the Electric Vehicle summit at White House. Ford, GM, Chrysler and Unions were invited. 
  • In May, California Congresswoman sends twitter message “F*ck Elon Musk”.
  • Jim Chanos is a famed short seller of Tesla (meaning he profits if Tesla goes down) hosted AT HIS HOME a main event fundraiser for Joe Biden. Chanos is a big donor to Biden and to this day continues to short Tesla. 

Alternatively, we could congratulate and be grateful for: 

  • Building the the most impactful clean energy company in the world: EV’s, Solar and Batteries! 
  • Creating tens of thousands of high paying jobs for working class Americans. 
  • Accruing billions of dollars of wealth to US shareholders, including pensions and 401k’s, thru their ownership of Tesla and indirectly thru S&P 500. If you own a piece of the stock market, you probably own Tesla. 
  • Ensuring the United States stays competitive in the space race. 
  • Building one of the world’s leading technology and artificial intelligence companies right here in the USA.
  • Fighting traffic congestion by boring tunnels. Check out what’s going on in Nevada

The list goes on and a book could be written on each bullet above. But you get the idea. 

Tesla is a global leader in the green energy revolution: manufacturing electric cars, solar panels and batteries. A global technological trailblazer solving the toughest engineering challenges and upending legacy businesses to move us forward to green and clean. And if you listen; truly listen to Elon Musk and management, they are deeply committed to enhancing safety through artificial intelligence and Full Self Driving (FSD). 

Humans text, drink alcohol, fall asleep and some just suck at driving. Tesla is developing a solution to this. Robotic self-driving cars are not a matter of “if”, it’s “when” and it’s within a few years. The masses love it and want it. If the US government impedes it, other countries will surely embrace it. Government can not stop technological progress. 

Enter NHTSA and NTSB

On Tuesday the Chairwoman of NTSB appeared on CNBC to criticize Tesla’s marketing of Full Self Driving. Is it a coincidence that she comes on to speak the day Tesla is reaching all time highs and breaking the $1 trillion ceiling? She is talking about recommendations her agency made 4 years ago that are hardly relevant any more and have largely been addressed. She fails to acknowledge the difference between Full Self Driving suite, offered to all owners, and the FSD beta, offered to a very limited set of owners with a very high safety rating. 

She does not offer any balanced discussion of what Tesla is doing well. And most importantly she fails to discuss or acknowledge the nearly 40,000 deaths per year in combustible engine auto accidents. She has one message: “Tesla bad”. 

Last week NHTSA appointed Missy Cummings as a Senior Advisor. She is an open Tesla critic, has posted offensive tweets about Elon Musk, AND worst, she is on the board of directors of Veoneer, a LIDAR manufacturing company. The latter is significant because Tesla has opted to not use LIDAR technology and instead use camera images and artificial intelligence to interpret real world surroundings. This is a conflict of interest. Here is a Change.org recall petition

It should be noted that some Tesla or Musk followers in the Twitter community were openly hostile and threatening towards Cummings and sent here vulgar threatening messages. This is not ok, appropriate or acceptable in anyway.

No one should be canceled or threatened. We should simply have open dialogue and debate to foster communication, empathy, understanding and move the dialogue forward. 

Wealth Tax

Many democratic members of congress are proposing a Wealth Tax to help fund the latest spending bill being drafted in congress. This is a highly controversial bill that will likely not pass, and may not even be constitutional. This topic is complex and controversial, and requires more consideration than budgeted here. But, I’ll leave you with this. 

Elon Musk almost went broke more than once starting SpaceX and Tesla. Politicians don’t talk about this. Instead billionaires are demonized as the enemy and beacon of economic division. But in the case of Elon Musk, along with other billionaire founders; they are heroes that have brought immeasurable wealth to millions of Americans. Their inventions and innovation have improved the lives of virtually every American: who doesn’t have a smart phone (thank you Steve Jobs) or expect 2 day delivery (thank you Jeff Bezos).  Also, never mentioned is that billionaires will pay billions in taxes when they die or they may donate it to charity beforehand. 

Only two certainties in life: death and taxes. The tax man always cometh; it’s just a matter of time.

EV Summit and $4500 Union Credit

How does one have an EV summit at the white house and claim that Ford, GM and Chrysler will lead the United States into the future of EV manufacturing. Thanks to Tesla the United States already is the global leader in EV manufacturing; and it’s unlikely that any company will ever catch them. 

But guess who else was invited to the event: The United Auto Workers Union president. Coincidence that Ford, GM and Chrysler are all unionized and unions are one of the largest donors to the democratic party? 

And how do you justify in the name of clean energy providing a $4500 tax credit to buyers of a “union made” EV? Why should it matter if a union manufacturers the car or not? 

Manufacturing in Covid

Tesla’s US manufacturing facility is located in the Bay Area of California and when Covid hit hard in March 2020 all non-essential manufacturing was required to shutdown. After about 6 weeks, Elon made a significant push to open the factory; a controversial decision at the time. He wrote “I will be on the line personally helping wherever I can….However, if you feel uncomfortable coming back to work at this time, please do not feel obligated to do so. These are difficult times, so thanks very much for working hard to make Tesla successful!”

Tesla ultimately sued the local health authority and threatened to move to Texas and Nevada. In response California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez tweeted and Elon responded: 

At least we know what Lorena thinks; and hopefully her constituents agree. Tesla recently announced their headquarters move to Austin, TX. 

Short Seller Jim Chanos

Jim Chanos is a famed short seller billionaire who is often featured on CNBC. He is known as a Tesla short and has always referred to Tesla as an overvalued car company. Jim hosted a high profile fund raising event for Joe Biden and is a democratic supporter. 

I actually don’t know if he is actively trying to influence government policy against Tesla, but he does have the connections and the monetary incentive. 

In Conclusion

You may not agree with all of my points above. Maybe FSD is rolling out too quickly. And maybe the factory in Fremont should have been closed longer. And maybe we should incentivize support of unions through tax subsidies. 

But one thing I’m certain of: its entrepreneurs and risk takers like Elon Musk that have built and made the USA the best place to live and prosper in the world. He is responsible for bringing great wealth, innovation and pride to the United States. And it’s not just Elon Musk, it’s all the employees that work hard in his companies and those employees that take the risk of working for other entrepreneurs. Every company starts small and flirts constantly with bankruptcy and disaster. 

We should embrace, encourage and honor our entrepreneurs and the companies they have built, the jobs they provide and the riches accrued to all of us. In the case of Tesla, our politicians should work with, not against Tesla. Yes we should be concerned with safety, but we should embrace risk and innovation as Tesla leads us to a future of clean sustainable energy.  

I am a financial advisor, but comments in here are not Financial Advice. Contact me at: sean@hathawayfinancial.com