It’s not necessarily newsy or valuable to note that Elon Musk had a dumb idea online, but it’s important to note what, exactly, is dumb about the following idea, from very dumb idiot Elon Musk:
The idea, in a nutshell, is that Miami’s traffic congestion could be relieved by building a network of roadways underneath the city. As no small number of observers and commentators have noted in response to this ridiculous nonsense from one of Earth’s most tiresome clods, the city of Miami sits a mere six feet above (rising) sea-level, atop a precarious bed of spongy, soft, waterlogged limestone and sand silt. Homes in Miami do not have basements, for the reason that keeping them dry and un-flooded would be impractical bordering on impossible. In fact, there are only two tunnels in the entire state of Florida, for just these reasons. And things will only get worse in the coming years, due to already locked-in effects of climate change. If you wanted to stop there—at it just being plainly a bad and hilariously impractical idea to build a network of road tunnels below the water table in the foamy, dissolving substrate of a sea-level swamp—you could already stamp a definitive “STUPID” onto this suggestion.
But that is only part of what makes this idea so terrible! Even if the network of sub-swamp road tunnels could be engineered into existence and kept safe and dry at something less than a price that would bankrupt Florida’s systematically impoverished civic coffers a thousand times over and for the rest of eternity, it’d still be a bad idea—for the simple reason that more road infrastructure for cars is the worst and most misbegotten way to address traffic congestion and its environmental hazards, which makes it the very last thing virtually any municipality needs or will ever need. If you prefer not to think through all the reasons for that, that’s fine: The very fact that Elon Musk—a clown, charlatan, and serial grifter who never had an idea that could be described as “good” outside of the scope of his own personal quests for ever more money and attention—is speaking up for this plan ought to suffice as proof that it is a shitty one.
Here is Florida state legislator Omari Hardy, outlining that latter bit:
The ability to project a curated unreality out into the world is the greatest and most ruinous privilege of the scale of richness—and, just to be clear, a bump in Tesla’s stock value recently made Musk the world’s richest man, with a reported net worth surpassing $185 billion—our broken society now permits. Sure, your average pud may curate their exposure to fact and truth up to a point, may pick à la carte through news sources and/or educational material in search of their preferred framing of, like, climate catastrophe or transportation or the problems facing a given city. But reality is only ever so escapable to somebody who cannot afford to purchase an entire alternative one: For your average pud, shit sucks. Shit kicks the door in if it must to ensure you witness it sucking, and sticks you with the bill; the limestone dissolves out from under your house no matter what social network you’re being poisoned by. Above the level of, like, what to watch on TV tonight, pretty much any idea your average pud might have is now unworkably impractical and therefore, in the most instrumental contexts, pretty much not worth having.
But then imagine what it is like to be Elon Musk. He can afford to fire and replace, a million times over, anyone who so much as looks askance at any Ubisoft-brained Reddit-futurist bullshit scheme he half-cooks, and they all know it. Politicians want his money and are profoundly incentivized to say yes—what’s the alternative?—to his ability to materialize at least the promise of tech-industry jobs out of thin air, even for transparently stupid endeavors whose only medium- or long-term benefit will be to Musk’s heirs. If this or that town will not let him play Tonka trucks at full scale in its sodden bedrock, another one will.
Musk’s company literally hires people to fight for his honor on Twitter:
It’s been tempting, in recent weeks—as Donald Trump lost the presidential election, and failed (so far) in each of his increasingly reckless attempts at holding onto the presidency anyway; as Mitch McConnell lost control of the Senate; as scores of the bloodthirsty morons who stormed and breached the Capitol two weeks ago found themselves fingered for arrest by their own social-media touchdown dances; as various corporate horrors cringed away from the most explicit right-wing insurrectionists on the national scene; as some number of congressional Democrats and even a few Republicans finally, finally discovered the bare-minimal courage to ask for actual consequences for Trump and his cronies; as Sheldon Adelson finally died—to imagine that you’re witnessing the final act of what is revealing itself to be a kind of liberal morality play nested in the broader American narrative: the triumph or at least perseverance of civic institutions against the entitlement of unaccountable rich assholes.
In that context it’s fun and very gratifying to see a political office-holder, one who represents part of the Miami metropolitan area, actually calling Elon Musk out as the dummy he is, in public. I love it. But here are the mayors of, respectively, the city of Miami…
…and Miami-Dade County…
…buttering up Elon Musk, who’d just suggested building a network of single-lane roadways beneath their sinking swamp town as a way to alleviate traffic congestion and protect the environment. Every billionaire is like a tumor that secretes psychosis. Elon Musk is 185 of them.