Is Elon Musk Prepping for State Failure?

FuturePundit on twitter has an interesting theory of Elon Musk’s technology portfolio, namely a lot of it will be very valuable for living in a failed state.

Solar panels, for example, are a necessity when the state can’t deliver power reliably, as is now the case in California.

Solar panels plus the Tesla give you mobility, even if Saudi Arabia goes up in smoke and world shipping lines are shut down.

Starlink, Musk’s plan for 12,000 or more cheap, high-speed internet satellites, will free the internet from reliance on any terrestrial government.

Musk’s latest venture, the truck, certainly fits the theme and even if the demonstration didn’t go as well as planned isn’t it interesting that the truck is advertised as bulletproof. Mad Max would be pleased.

Image result for musk truck

And what will you be carrying in your Tesla truck? One of these for sure.

Finally, the Mars mission is the ultimate insurance policy against failed states.


If I lived in CA, I’d be ready for state failure.

I live in SF bay area and wanted to provide actual experience of the power outages.

My power was shut off one time for 3 days in all of 2019. 0 days would have been better but let's keep things in perspective.

Perspective. Colorado here... we had three surges that temporarily reset out WiFi router. Unfortunately, our city is making an asinine attempt to take over the utility because green... maybe someday we can be like CA.

Strangely enough, surges are one thing we don't get in California. At least SoCal. I've heard of people losing their stereo equipment in the midwest, etc. but never here. Maybe something to do with the length of lines and thunderstorms?

LA Water and Power, East Bay Municipal Utilities District, SFMUD, Sacramento MUD, Redding Utilities, Trinity County Public Utilities where I live up in the heavily forested mountains, they have all been providing electricity without a glitch. PG&E is a private utility, a libertarian dream utility. Unlike the public utilities it has the option of leaving the game in a snit and taking the ball and bat with, because they had to pay for burning down a few small towns.

PG&E is far from a libertarians dream. It’s really just a vassal of the CPUC

Correct. You are one of the very few who get it.

Well, he gets "it", but I get consistent electricity, from a government utility, at half the price of PG&E.

I believe you.

I don't think a corporation is a good model for providing electricity when they have a monopoly. Also, the CPUC board is appointed by the governor, which makes it susceptible to political patronage. The CPUC board is a disgrace - they used their positions to force PG&E to fund all sorts of nonsense - a piggy bank to fund their various agendas.

I think a good model might be that of our local water utility. It is publicly owned by the customers and is managed by an elected board of directors. It is truly a modern version of an 18th century New England town hall. Board meetings, where the public is welcomed and invited to comment are raucous. Tempers flare, some people get kicked out for bad behaviour. Elections, every two years, are hotly contested. When the board f*cks up they get voted out of office. In the main, people want clean, cheap, reliable water.

Real democracy at work.

LADWP? You mean the public utility that overcharges customers (, is used as a piggy bank by city politicians (, and was raided by the FBI ( Just standard crony socialism.

Rich beat me to it. Musk already lives in a failed state, so obviously that drives his thinking.

Yeah, all the conservatives have left California, taking a minimum of two houses with them when they leave, creating the housing crisis and all the homelessness.

That's why Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, have so much vacant housing that is too big for the elderly farm couple and the young married couple with one kid; who needs 4000-7000 sq-ft California ranch in Red America?

Across the US there are millions of vacant housing units, but few are in Blue America where they are needed.

It's an odd theory that vacated housing signals population inflow and housing shortages indicates population flight.

Note, California has a significant amount of vacant housing, but it's in the rural, and generally conservative parts of the State, the places where paying workers to work costs too much and kills jobs, places just like rural Iowa, Kansas, Indiana.

CA and CAlifornians are in such a precarious state they have no idea...

They live in a state that could be military cut into 4 pieces in the span of 4 hours with their backs to the sea and America's largest arid region just to the East, in a state that is practically already arid. Their 'fruitful valley' wouldn't be so fruitful without irrigation (which can be cut) and their tech industry relies on electricity of which a sizeable portion is imported by PG&E elsewhere.

And let's not forget about the ease with which their state can be engulfed in raging hellfire...earthquakes or a mid-oceanic tsunami.

Secede CA. Skin that smoke wagon and see what happens.

This is true of most blue areas, i.e., urban areas. If they were more aware of the fragility of their position, then perhaps they wouldn't treat flyover yokels as combination serfs / whipping boys; but then, if they had self-awareness they wouldn't be leftist in the first place.

You hate democracy and the productive populations of our civilization.

There are many urban areas that are independent countries, and most of those are among the world's most successful. Singapore, Luxembourg, etc. I'd expect an independent New York or San Francisco to be equally successful. As long as the people in there are producing goods and services of value to people elsewhere in the world, they can trade for all the resources they need.

Moreover, how do blue states treat flyover yokels as serfs? If anything, the opposite is true. Money in the US flows from blue states to red ones and people living in red states have more political power, on average.

City-states, real or potential, that are unable to secure the necessary components of their citizens' survival are always going to be subject to the whims of those who are able to secure them. Singaporeans, Luxembourgers, New Yorkers, and San Franciscans need food a hell of a lot more than their trading partners need, for example, financial services; further, you'll have a much easier time creating the latter product in a rural environment than you will creating the former in an urban environment.

It's not enough to simply produce goods/services of value; you also need a mutual respect between trading partners that recognizes the mutual dependencies and benefits present to create and sustain a voluntary transaction. That's not present in the coastal elites and their urbanite subjects, who insist on shaming the deplorables and forcing their cosmopolitan "values" upon them even as they hold out their hand for the means for their survival. Rural America exports grain and raw materials; urban America exports globalist hedonism and demographic replacement. Such an arrangement can only go on for so long before it is cut off for good, one way or the other, and it seems obvious who is better-prepared to survive without it.

Whoa! The Shark be preaching the gospel.

The rural folks could cutoff the urban areas from water, electricity, and food.

Think Washington's army surrounding the Brits in Boston and starving them until they fled to Canada, taking many Loyalists with them - the core of the future wimp state of Canada.

Or for a more modern example, think China cutting off Hong Kong and Macau from the same... oh wait, Hong Kong and Macau are way richer than rural China because they don’t have to subsidize rural China or follow its laws.

That's true of nation-states as well. Neither Germany nor the U.K. could produce enough food to feed their populations from the 19th century onward. In the U.K., this anxiety over food security led to the Royal Navy ruling the waves so that food shipments from the Americas or Eastern Europe couldn't be disrupted. Germany was starved during WWI due to a blockade and the Nazis tried and failed to conquer Eastern European grain-producing regions.

Since WWII, the only game in town has been mutual respect between trading partners.

The U.S. political system already gives rural areas big influence when it comes to influencing national politics so any urban vs. rural resentment tends to be more heat than anything else. Agricultural subsidies, highway spending, and military bases in rural areas are all part of the compromises Americans make to help keep the peace.

People need water more than diamonds, yet diamonds are far more valuable. Similarly, people need food more than financial services, but financial services centers are far wealthier than agricultural centers. Because almost anywhere on Earth can produce food, but few places have the requisite combination of skills and institutions to be a financial center.

Second, there is plenty of mutual respect between trading partners. We regularly have farmer’s markets in my city where most vendors come from very Republican areas of the surrounding countryside and yet these are very popular and we trade all the time. Of course, if a specific vendor were found to be a white supremacist, people may boycott that vendor. But a key part of our cosmopolitan values is not to judge people based on where they are from, and we apply this to people from rural parts of our state as well as from less developed parts of the world.

Third, what are some concrete examples of having cosmopolitan values forced on red states? As I see it, the opposite is happening; people in blue states don’t force those in red states to deal with foreigners but those in red states force those in blue states not to. Red states control the government so it’s difficult for blue states to force their way; instead, people in blue areas subsidize the lack of economic vibrancy in red areas caused by red areas’ lack of cosmopolitanism. Moreover, if red areas didn’t like blue areas forcing cosmopolitan values on them, they should be happy for those areas to become independent so that no values are forced on anyone, much as Singapore is independent from Malaysia. Even a semi-independent status like Macau or Hong Kong would be preferable.

Finally, blue America produces more than you think. The largest agricultural state in the US is California, and all the blue states together have a higher agricultural output than all the red states together (although admittedly much of this is in rural areas of blue states, which are Republican in some areas but not in California or New England).

"The largest agricultural state in the US is California"

True, but once you start studying voting behavior of the population, rural California is approximately as red as Arizona. Should California be split into 5-6 states, some of them would be red and some swing. Only the shore would be reliably blue.

How many nation states are self sufficient? Are any of them? The US certainly is not. See: imports.

Singapore is overrated.

Consumption of goods and services per capita is really only Western European average. Not bad on a global scale, but when you consider that the average Singaporean worker is on around 40% more hours per year than their Western European counterpart, and that they are benefiting from gains to productivity from urban density, it begins to look rather poor. (Singaporean consumption per hour worked is more comparable to Greece or Portugal, let alone Athens or Lisbon, let alone Berlin or Paris).

Singapore also has sweltering levels of income inequality, and is rather dependent on high and low skilled world immigration (Singaporeans born and bred see fewer benefits than you'd think even from that).

East Asian megacities that are part of a larger nation state do markedly better - Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei - although in the case of Hong Kong, that obviously comes with some tradeoffs (being connected to some country is good, being connected to the PRC is swings and roundabouts).

The main point is that if Singapore is taken as a go-to example of the strengths of a "city state" or "charter city" model, it's not a good example to strengthen the argument. Singapore is of course still successful, but it probably would be a fair bit more so if it were part of a larger country (and what success it does have is precarious to a wider international political environment over which it has no influence).

(Luxembourg, besides being tiny, is also no counterargument; tiny with only 600k population. and a tax haven).

East Asians generally work longer hours and consume less compared to Europeans—Europeans had a century or two head start on economic development. Is consumption in Seoul, Tokyo, or Taipei higher than Singapore? Moreover, isn’t the best comparison to Singapore Kuala Lumpur? Kuala Lumpur is a decent place to live but is surely worse off economically than Singapore.

And why couldn’t an independent Manhattan be a tax haven? It’s quite likely that it would be a tax haven. Moreover, the fact that Luxembourg has a small population supports my point—small countries lacking in resources can nonetheless thrive in the world through finding a niche.

zaua: Is consumption in Seoul, Tokyo, or Taipei higher than Singapore?

Consumption share of GDP in South Korea (Seoul) higher than in Singapore (somewhat low by world norms but not near as far as Singapore). Hong Kong about the same as South Korea. Japan (Tokyo) same as Western Europe. Taipei hard to get data from. The point is more that Singapore is badly out of whack relative to comparable nation states, rather than the smaller picture of how they are compared to the West.

I'd add that a low consumption share of GDP doesn't go way back in East Asia or in poor countries in general (it can't, really), at this extreme, without oil, it is almost unique to Singapore among comparably sized populations.

Manhattan could be a tax haven perhaps, if lots of factors out of Manhattan's control went OK for that. They'd have less leverage as an independent state making sure those factors did in North America than Sing has in SE Asia. Point is it wouldn't necessarily do much for the people who live there though, compared to being part of a larger state (going by Singapore as an example).

Malaysian Chinese in Kuala Lumpur might do better than you think in terms of consumption measures relative to hours, and may be closer to Singaporean Chinese than expected (which would normally actually probably be your point, as a more Open Borders-ish type?). That is an arguable comparison still, but it is confounded by being of a state which is not really the same people, and which will have a lower developmental basis for different reasons, somewhat apples to oranges to simply being part of wider nation state or not.

Not arguing that Singapore is very much extraordinarily bad compared to what would be possible as part of a wider nation state. They have done well with their circumstances. Rather to make the point that those who point to its GDP PPP/capita to argue for it as an example as amazing heights which cities can achieve when cutting themselves off politically from a hinterland while remaining open to trade and immigration are missing a wider picture where that GDP/capita is combined with relatively weak living standards (as indexed by consumption factors), high hours and high income inequality, compared with comparable cities (in ethnic basis, an education and health basis) that are part of a wider ethnic nation (or comparable cities in the West). Looking at Singapore's GDP/capita PPP overrates globalization and trade and underrates being part of a nation, while adjusted consumption and distribution measures give you a more realistic picture that makes a more favourable case for city membership in a nation.

Or to put another way, in contradiction to your point upthread implying cities are richer when "they don’t have to subsidize rural (region) or follow its laws", measured by consumption as an index of living standards, cities are probably not richer and if anything poorer when they are connected to a wider nation, which includes other urban and suburban areas in a wider nation, as well as rural.

Being part of a wider nation and networking with other areas, gives the average person in a city more ability to shape their community's economic destiny towards higher consumption and living standards measures, not only what international business and local elites are looking for. Globalization is overrated, nations and their states are underrated.

That fruitful valley is full of stout yeomen/gun nuts. Even with our backs to the sea we would sit on our rooftop solar arrays and pick off the leaders of the four invading flyover yokel columns as they struggled down from the Sierra Nevada and tried to cut the pipes, or canals, or river systems, or whatever it is they imagine that the irrigation system is made of. Or maybe it would take only three columns of flyover yokels to try to cut California in four pieces. This is going to be a piece of cake.


The yokels wouldn't have to come down from anywhere, they can cut off anything at the source. Urban elites don't like dirty stuff nearby, so they put it in Yokeltown.

I'd love to see a soy-boy fire a high powered rifle! Shooting isn't good enough. You have to hit the target.


High-powered rifles hurt a soy-shoulder. I figure we can get by with .22's since it's only flyover yokels that are coming.

"to cut the pipes, or canals, or river systems, or whatever it is they imagine that the irrigation system is made of"

I think maybe 25-50 well targeted drones strikes could take out the critical components of the system in such a way as to foment crisis, if that was the goal. No cutting of pipes needed, and the system would be largely intact for restoration once control had been firmly established. I bet the knowledge needed could be gotten off the internet.

"Finally, the Mars mission is the ultimate insurance policy against failed states."

How is a Mars colony going to survive long-term without regular shipments of goods and materials from Earth? Let's create an autonomous colony in Antarctica -- easy compared to Mars -- first before imagining that a Mars colony can survive without subsidies and regular shipments from Earth.

Mars would be much more difficult to send troops or missiles to vs Antartica. Also if an asteroid the size of the one that killed off the dinosaurs hit, Mars would also be a better place to be. I think Mars could be just about self sustaining without Earth, after say 100 years of continuous development. But it wouldn't be pleasant.

"Also if an asteroid the size of the one that killed off the dinosaurs hit, Mars would also be a better place to be."

Nah. There was still water, thick breathable air, and biomass everywhere (even if a lot of was recently deceased) after the dinos got whacked. Not to mention a lot more solar insolation once the air cleared. I'll take Earth in pretty much any scenario.

It's already been shown that potatoes grow satisfactorily on Mars. The problem was poor quality ductape to keep the atmosphere healthy.

Just give the man a prize for the best comment already.

I enjoyed it as well.

"Let's create an autonomous colony in Antarctica -- easy compared to Mars -- first..." Let's create an autonomous colony in New Hampshire. The locals that don't like can be compensated. :-)

Nothing motivates you more to innovate than precarious position far from every help.
Given that the first colonists would probably be high-IQ and well educated, I am carefully optimistic about the prospects of a Mars colony. Enough that I would volunteer to spend my old age there.

To make a Mars colony self sufficient would require extensive genetic engineering in order to reduce the weight of transported capital needed to set up and maintain a Mars colony. For example, microorganisms genetically engineered to produce a wide variety of drugs and other needed chemicals, possibly even building materials. Plants genetically engineered to produce a wide variety of foods, textiles, building materials.

Nanotechnology might be needed separate from biotech. But I'm not sure. Certainly organisms could perform many more processes than they perform today. Can microorganisms be genetically altered to make photovoltaics and batteries? Energy would be a key need for a Mars colony.

Can microorganisms be genetically altered to make photovoltaics and batteries?

I think that this can be done with algae: they use solar power to create biomass that can be burnt for energy. Of course, they require CO2, water,oxigen and some sort of dirt (although they can create their own oxigen too) so it is not so easy.

It may be best to reassess the level of survival you believe is required to sustain a colony.

At a bare minimum colonists require food, water, oxygen, and the power to generate all three. It is entirely possible today (though perhaps not inexpensive) to bring all the materials needed to do this on the initial trip, IF you accept the fact that you cannot cover all contingencies. Note that this is not a compromise in safety, only an acknowledgement that Murphy will show up sooner or later and you can't control that.

This is the basic premise of colonization missions such as Mars to Stay: choose the most fit colonists for the job, give them the basic tools, knowledge, and materials they need, then let human ingenuity do the rest. It worked for the colonization projects that took place on this planet, it can work off of it as well.

Whether we still have in this world of self-indulgent comfort the breed of explorer who is willing to endure significant existential risks of both the known and unknown varieties to live a spartan life in a hostile environment, all in the name of exploration, is another matter. I know if you told me I had the opportunity to shoot to Mars to live off my wits I'd take it even if there was a significant chance I didn't make it.

The fourth problem is radiation. On Earth we're shielded by a thick atmosphere and a magnetic field. Mars has neither.

Mars colonists will either be troglodytes or cancer patients. You'd have to spend 90%+ of your time underground just to reduce your exposure to the maximum allowable for nuclear power plant workers.

Again, you need to recalibrate your expectations. What's acceptable for a nuclear power plant worker, in an environment that is seeking to minimize liability for cancer risk, is not the same as what's acceptable for people carving out a colony on another planet.

The radiation dose from a two-year stay on the Martian surface is about the same as the dose from the six-month trip there; either one is associated with about a five percent increase in fatal cancer risk. We aren't talking Chernobyl levels here, where radiation poisoning becomes a factor. We're talking about what may or may not happen to you a couple of decades down the road.

Is that enough time to construct underground habitats? Or at least sleeping areas, for example? We have been digging holes on this planet for a hundred thousand years now so presumably we ought to be able to figure it out on another. If it means that more of the initial generation of colonists get cancer, is that an acceptable risk?

I read the following recently from what I believe was an authoritative scientific source, unfortunately I can no longer find the link:

Radiation levels on the surface of Mars are actually higher than in interplanetary space, because none of the space radiation is shielded by the thin atmosphere and nonexistent magnetic field, and the soil itself releases a small amount of background radiation.

The minimum duration for a round trip would be two-and-a-half years because of the transfer orbit windows, and during that time the radiation dose received would be enough to cause cancer eventually in one of every ten men and one of every six women.

I would also add that Mars gravity is 38% of Earth's. We already know that zero gravity is really bad news. It is unfortunately very hard to experiment with partial gravity and we have no real knowledge of how much gravity we need to remain healthy. I would not be surprised if we need upwards of 0.8g in order to be healthy without the daily rigorous workouts most people abhor.

I personally see Musk's focus on Mars to be more of a marketing campaign than a near future goal.

I'll take a Mars colonization push seriously when I see the project talking about radiation and gravity solutions. I haven't seen much of that thus far and it's a real interest of mine.

And here's a question:

Once we've built spacecraft that provide radiation shielding, artificial gravity and comfortable living space for multi-year journeys, why would we want to spend huge amounts of money climbing up and down planetary gravity wells? Arrakis, Hoth, and Tatooine are all paradise when compared to Mars. I would rather mine asteroids to create huge space habitats.

I don't question that a small group of hearty colonists could probably scrape by on Mars for a while. But Murphy's Law -- really just the Law of Not Particularly Large Numbers -- would kick in and something would wipe the colony out. Yes, there are successful colonies. There is also Jamestown.

Captain Slime correctly mentioned lack of protection from solar radiation. Growing food long term would be a serious challenge. Forget about the scenario in "The Martian" -- Martial soil is extremely toxic and even breathing in Martian dust could prove fatal. Soil and fertilizer would probably need to be shipped over from Earth.

I know trace amounts of water have been found on Mars but how you do make it usable? And what do you do when all the equipment you have precision-engineered to cope with the fact that Mars is basically an uninhabitable s***hole breaks down?

Again, why don't these hearty colonists start with Antarctica or the ocean floor. There are lots of of scientific opportunities there and they are both more hospitable to humans than Mars.

To (allegedly) quote George Mallory, because it's there.

I should hope in fifty-odd years we haven't fallen so far from "We choose to go to the Moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard" to "why don't you guys just find a place on Earth to study?"

Arguably, a "time dilation" effect is already in play concerning Earthling aspirations to colonize Mars.

The ambition to visit and colonize Mars is a 20th century trope, not much different from what fueled the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions (still awaiting moon colonization outcomes as predicted).

21st century realities concerning the advent of Technogenic Climate Change may likely mean that most ambitious Mars colonization goals will have to be scrapped or suspended indefinitely over the next two+ decades as NASA, et al., scramble to bring as much valued space ice to this planet as can be excavated and transported, which explains research interest in solar/electric propulsion and gravity tractors.

If or when Musk arrives in the 21st century, he can turn his attentions to ice mining and space transport thereof, first of the Moon's polar ice collections (next to negligible for Earth's purposes), next, asteroid/comet ice harvesting.

I wouldn't say so. Gigafactories work out when you have state collapse and de-globalisation? Gigafactories are massively centralized one-per-continent scale production facilities that rely on massively centralized supply of power and labour, and then transport networks to move product about, all guaranteed by the state, and probably sweetheart protection by their base states. I'd be more impressed with the argument if you made it on the production side. (Ol' Musky isn't going big on decentralized production - 3D printers, etc).

A more intermediate argument is that he may be orienting towards the possibility that governments de-investment in broad based infrastructure outside the urbs and Special Economic Zones (not urbanised regions where gigafactories might be based) and a general re-wilding of much of urban countries (which would be 'green'). But I think it's harder to imagine his investments are prepping for doom. The plausible end isn't really "I know it's gonna be Max Max so I made solar panels to avert the Guzzoline Wars".

State failure takes on more and less severe forms, with failure lasting different lengths of time. During a state failure period if production stops people can still use products they bought before the failure. During periods of varying degrees of milder state failure the economy will decay but production won't totally stop.

Any who can afford it can buy stuff that reduces reliance on the state:
- guns
- barriers against criminal invasion
- solar panels and batteries and EVs
- satellite dish and satellite internet account
- more refrigerators and freezers
- CNC machines
- Bitcoin

Some people buy this stuff in advance. Lots of it is getting cheaper and more powerful. The ways that tech can reduce your reliance on the state are growing. Imagine what biotech will do: small vats of yeast will produce drugs, textiles. This will also make Mars colonies more viable too by reducing weight of capital needing to be transported to Mars and reduces the variety of skills needed on Mars.

Libertarian judges, for example, are a necessity when the state can’t deliver liberty reliably, as is now the case in California.

It's even worse than that.

As a lifelong libertarian we believe in states rights. I can care less how Californian voters want things to go. California is better off than most of the country even though I couldn't deal with the restrictions.

I think this is tongue-in-cheek. The Mars bit is the real giveaway of course. It is the ultimate escapist fantasy that we can easily just run off and terraform another planet rather than solve our problems here. Sadly though some people do fall victim to that "escape valve" thinking.

Most of our problems are easily solvable if, you know, we just did it.

"Most of our problems are easily solvable if, you know, we just did it." - unfortunately not. Even if you discount medical issues that we cannot solve, like many cancers or old age, we have no idea how to solve problems like the Middle East, where overlapping claims on the same land all have validity. In fact it is very likely that in any reasonably large group of people there are incompatible views on what to do about just every situation, Arrow's impossibility theorem describes why. I often see this simplistic approach "every should stop being horrible and just be nice" but it completely misses the point that just about everyone believes their particular views are the correct and just approach. Resolving this is either through violence - compel everyone to follow your desired approach - or through by everyone minding their own business as much as possible. I prefer the latter approach.

I think you chose some edge cases there, and that's probably as bad as escape valve thinking.

Now we can't pick up trash in public spaces because .. what difference does it make if there is no Mideast peace!

I’ll be more willing to take advice once you figure out how to stop thousands of homeless from defecating and mainlining heroin in a two block radius from Union square.

"Now we can't pick up trash in public spaces because .. what difference does it make if there is no Mideast peace!" - you are missing the point of my response. Skeptic has exactly the right example - cleaning up neighbourhoods infringes on people who would prefer to have less restrictions on disposing of trash. As most people are in the camp in most western places, rather than for litter, then by force we enforce the first case, hence anti-littering laws and have taxes to clean up litter. But there are areas of the world where the majority preference is different, would it be right for your to impose your views on them? It is not solvable by simply saying we should all come together and solve it, because there are incompatible beliefs about whether there is a problem.

Do you not notice that you are preaching pathology as non-solution?

It's one thing to say it's hard, but let's do this. But if you told your doctor that you couldn't exercise more or stop smoking because what's the point, we'd see it more clearly.

It's the same thing, only on a larger scale.

The difference is that in one case there is a hard thing you want to do and no one is stopping you. In the other, there is an intractable disagreement and one person has to lose for another to win.

The "we" is the problem.

Musk is a Mars colony advocate. My position on Mars colonies is that they require massive advances in biotech and nanotech done first on Earth to make them independent. The biotech and nanotech will reduce the weight of capital needing to be transported to Mars and will reduce the skill sets needed on Mars.

I can imagine sufficient tech for an independent Mars colony in 30-40-50-60 years. But not in 10 years.

Then the question ought to be, what do we need to send with them now that can allow the colony to last the 30-60 years needed to become independent?

I see no point in sending a colony to Mars with our current level of technology. If you want to see a Mars colony then focus on developing enabling technologies. Those technologies which will also provide a net benefit here are the ones to pursue because they'll generate revenue to fund their further development and refinement.

I would specifically advocate for the use of CRISPR engineer plants and microorganisms that produce useful chemicals.

So solve the murder rates in Chicago.

What you are saying is that if only I had the power to fix everything, everything would be fixed. I think you are the problem.

Is that a good answer? Doesn't every town with a murder rate try to solve it? And aren't I endorsing such plans?

Whereas you (in Western Canada?) are saying "we" (with me in California) "can't" because people in Illinois are not living up to your expectations?

That's what I call pathology.

You are going out of your way to find examples to block our actions closer to home.

And equally arguably .. the policies that anger do-nothings are California's practical responses to those problems.

I mean seriously, cut pollution California style, or say you are going to just run of to Mars and begin again?

Save the California salmon, or say that some day you'll get around to salmon streams on Mars?

Or maybe your Mars vision is just an easy chair, a big gulp, and a widescreen. So you can shout along with FoxMars that it was all the progressives' fault.

This obvious bait. But just to fact check how stupid this is.

From 1970 to 2017, aggregate national emissions of the six common pollutants alone dropped an average of 73

Between 1990 and 2017, national concentrations of air pollutants improved 80 percent for lead, 77 percent for carbon monoxide, 88 percent for sulfur dioxide (1-hour), 56 percent for nitrogen dioxide (annual), and 22 percent for ozone.

California salmon, you say?

California commercial fishermen are reporting the biggest king salmon season in a decade, on the heels of three years of disastrously low catches because of the drought.

Who are the “do-nothings” and what policies are they advocating against? Are they anti-rain and pro drought?

Or is this just more bait, troll ?

Yes, I agree regulation to address pollution and overfishing has worked wonders.

And California has pushed harder than critics would like on those. In fact, the position of the Republican party is that they should do less, on pollution, and on salmon protections.

Find me the demographic for “wants dirty water and air.” That’s my point. Who are the do nothings?

In your world the EPA was signed into law by famous Democratic President Richard Nixon?Get a grip dude. The NEPA was passed unanimously in the Senate and 372-15 in the HoR. You’re living in a fantasy land.

Outside of Newark and Flint the water and air are clean in the US. This isn’t a partisan issue.

Again, please find me the constituency for “we want to go back to 1970s air quality.”

This is just partisan nonsense.

One of the terrors of being a doctrinaire post-adolescent libertarian must be that you have to be ready to pontificate about California salmon without knowing anything more about them than you know about, say, recent weather patterns, or whether there is an actual California ocean salmon fishery left that is any more than ten or fifteen guys with trailer boats who go out every now and a lobbyist or two, or how to operate a Department of State, or how to tie your shoes without the knots coming undone. Actual effective management of community affairs requires a bit more, little dudes.

Did you have an actual point, or is this just partisan trolling?

Meanwhile in the real world, all research says the Chinook salmon decline in population is a result of

A) drought
B) California policy of damming rivers to divert water to agriculture

Maybe the Department or State or Shoetying can explain why pricing water at $0 during a major drought is ... not the best idea.

Or more likely you’re just a lost troll.

It's an excellent point stated with perfect clarity: theory won't get you there and that's all Libertarians have got. Stop being obtuse you know exactly what was meant.

Those policies have created the problems. The practical response would be to rescind those regulations, but instead more regulations will be introduced to cause more problems. The more problems for government to "solve" the better Blue tribe does.

Reminds me of this meme:

... in part because a jack seems useful in a failed state.

By the way, as big and stupid and ridiculous as the Cybertruck is, it is very solutionist.

So people buy them, dust a few Ford Raptors, and suddenly a big internal combustion engine doesn't look so king-of-the-hill anymore.

It devalues internal combustion across the full range.

(As would the Roadster, should it ever actually arrive.)

Ford made a big deal of the fact that their prototype electric pick-up could tow a million pounds.

Range towing is a better caveat. Will a truck with trailer even fit at the charging station? Not until more are built.

The state doesn't supply electricity or anything else, except bogus scrip engraved with the images of now deceased politicians.

Apparently, there are different degrees on "bulletproof."

All else aside, the CyberTruck is a superb kind of Musk-style hype and hucksterism.

How do you make a boring Tesla electronic utility vehicle exciting? Well, it turns out Musk's solution (or whatever corporate arm of his that made the decisions) appears to be to make it evocative of the '80s dystopian sci-fi that most Gen-X and Millennial techy and geeky types (perhaps such as yours truly) still guiltily experience as the aspirational future that they really wanted*.

The finished product may not be a chrome construction that looks like it's escaped from some fusion of Akira-Aliens-Robocop-Bladerunner-Mad Max, but it's a hell of a way to try and get word of mouth through that audience. Including, it appears, Alex.

*And I mean, in some ways can you blame 'em? The real world future has rounded corners, pastel aesthetics, Woke-capitalism, Disney-Marvel as the mass opiate, Julian Assange as a rather depressingly uncool real life incarnation of the "hacker hero", etc.

I ordered the dual motor AWD, which is pretty ridiculous with a sub-5 second zero to sixty. The tri motor promises a sub-3. Why even? Nothing but a danger to the community.

But you're right, it is classic Musk.

(Big though, if the 79 inch width is before mirrors, I'm screwed. A small garage.)

He is terraforming earth.

The batteries used in Tesla vehicles often catch fire when the vehicles collide with something solid, making their use for combat not so good.

Totally unlike a gas vehicle...

rayward doesn't think very much before he posts.

Solar panels, for example, are a necessity when the state can’t deliver power reliably, as is now the case in California.

Of course government provided power, as in the LA Division of Water and Power (a government agency), is running like a top. It’s the private sector that can’t reliably deliver power in CA.

You mean publicly regulated government monopolies?

Our solar panels in California are smart enough to shut down when the local grid shuts down so that people don't get hurt by unexpected power.

I think it was very clever of him to make an electric truck, but as to what such a truck will carry - I'll play. If it's typical of current trucks in an urban setting: one asshole, an umbrella in the gun rack, and maybe a bag of dog food or case of bottled water in the bed.

My favorite is an 18 pound racing bike in the back of a quarter ton pick-up.

We'd be better off if everyone drove Chevy Bolts, or Nissan Leafs, but the revealed preference is that pick-up owners aren't ready to do that.

I noticed yesterday as I googled the Cybertruck that Ford was buying ads at the top of the page saying that they had committed to full electric F150 production.

So that's a positive change in the world right there.

It's hardly clever. It's just a response to the market. Rivian has invested in going after this market (to include taking preorders), starts delivering next year, and is already starting to show signs of success - Amazon ordered 100,000 vans from them back in September. Just a guess, but I would imagine that the discussion on Tesla's board is less about 'failed state' and more about market share, profit, and competitive threats.

Think how much better California would be if they shifted to a wholly socialist system of power generation and distribution like they have in Nebraska. Ever hear about power problems in Nebraska? Nope.

Ever hear about power problems anywhere except California, Europe and 3rd world countries? Nope

Sure, with every East Coast blizzard and every Midwest flood, most Southern hurricanes.

"Oct 28, 2015 · The storm killed five people, cut power to nearly 300000 homes and businesses in Nebraska ..."

Nobody, outside of California, loses power in anticipation of a storm.

Really? You'd run power in a flood until something shorts?

When power is run overhead, as most places, yes.

Easy Google

"In anticipation of Superstorm Sandy, ConEd preemptively shut down three electric networks, including the Bowling Green Network"

No, Elon Musk is not prepping for state failure. Assuming elon has the foresight to accomplish anything except vacuum up government subsidies, recycle old sci-fi ideas as his own, and get into (and repeatedly get clowned on) twitter fights and lawsuits, is giving him too much credit.

If Sacramento's failure to oversee and regulate PG&E is as very lame as it is, how is California's failure to manage wildfires along with its largest utility contributing to northern California secession efforts? (California's failure to properly manage a public utility--quite a feat to note only five weeks from the arrival of 2020--at least begins to provide ample incentive to secede from the ill-managed state, whose municipalities themselves no longer find themselves able to enforce reliably existing building codes [e.g., the Ghost Ship conflagration].)

In California, the State lacks the managerial and the technical competence to manage the distribution system of its largest public utility.

In California, the Tech Sector lacks the political (democratic) legitimacy to manage state functions and finds itself unable to contribute technical solutions to electricity distribution.

Two distinct worlds with distinct sets of problems in terms of competence and legitimacy.

What a silly post or conjecture.

1. Starlink has to work with governments to clear terrestrial frequencies.
2. Solar panels undercut the need for power plants and electrical distribution systems. What this really is is competition with the monopoly local utility. Just as Starlink is potentially a competitor to the local monopoly cable company,
3. Tesla is a counter to OPEC

So, you could make a better argument that Musk is going where there are entrenched monopolies/oligopolies, where the money is, and where the incumbents are slow to move to adopt new technology.

The post is about as silly as saying Amazon's internet shopping model is designed to meet consumer demand when the malls are closed because of an ebola outbreak and we will not be able to meet at the Mall.

You can always find some argument to make, but, geez, think first.

After that presentation, I bet Elon is more worried about ending up in a failed company than in a failed state.

"Solar panels plus the Tesla give you mobility"

Statist: "But muh roads!"

Well, solar panels and Teslas might buy you some time, but then you eventually have to replace them.

Lots of states go through more and less functional time periods. For example, my guess is that California electric grids will be more reliable in 20 years. But right now home solar panels and batteries are useful for a few million Californians.

Not prepping for a failed state. He's aiming to make the state irrelevant.

SpaceX has benefited tremendously from government contracts. Here's Musk busy making the state irrelevant

Yes, collaborating and cooperating with government has been and will continue to be necessary, but who knows what Elon’s long term view is…. I am simply observing that his products seem to undermine the state’s relevance within various industries: electric power and satellites are just two that Alex mentioned above.

I had these exact same thoughts yesterday:

Not one person mentioned South Africa. Hes from South Africa where the failed state has already happened, so this theory makes a lot of sense.


Or, may you have succumbed to a marketing strategy to relieve survivalists of money from their wallet.

Do you still have 1950's survivalists crackers in your basement bomb shelter?

Comments seem to show a disdain for Calizuela. I wonder why?

Partisanship and ideology

Actually, California was an OK place back before, say, the mid-60's. But it was filling up with military retirees and mid-western dentists, and it was changing. They installed one of their own, Ronald Reagan, as governor, not knowing he was a man who shaved his arm-pits and not like them at all.

But it was a done deal, and when you make a bonehead of that magnitude your chief executive, you've pretty much guaranteed a failed state. California was just ahead of the curve.

I would not throw stones at the failed state from the glasshouse of a failed company that is Tesla. No government on Earth runs those deficits/loses for such a long time.

There was a long set of articles about Musk on the "Wait But Why" blog that concluded that Musk is aiming at saving humanity. Seriously. To do that one must stop the climate apocalypse and obtain a "backup Earth" in case that doesn't work.

That means large-scale energy storage with advanced batteries (we have lots of solar power but our storage technologies suck), cheap space flight, a Mars colony as a backup to Earth (which is why "Why not colonize Antarctica?") doesn't fly. Dream big.

The Muskrat and his wedgie lol. What a crappy design! Elon is the biggest conman ever to fleece our tax dollars! His supply chain is so vulnerable this article is pointless.

How can you charge a 100kW battery from a 12kW Powerwall? This makes no sense to me.

Musk: Master of Illusion

He should just purchase Afghanistan.

Or...his whole portfolio could be designed to do what he has long it is supposed to do: give humanity a back up plan on mars.

Elon Musk is planning to go to Mars.

He said it.

He's prepping things.

He needs

Rockets to go to mars : check
Solar Energy : check
Transportation on site : check

And lots more I forget right now.

This truck is his proposal for a car for mars.

Are there fissionables on Mars?

A Mars colony would be dependent on Earth for an exceedingly long period of time, millennia at least.

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