The question Americans have to face that most people do not want to accept is can they live with being poorer relative to the rest of the World. Why do politicians not square up on their campaigns and tell the truth? No one wins on the truth apparently.
World per capita income is $10,000 dollars. America’s per capita income, 5x this, is flattered by its total wealth, but its citizens are heavily indebted. Job security disappeared in the 1980’s as tax policies and declines in real wages began to take its tool even then. The contradiction is the productivity gains were siphoned off. This isn’t my premise, but one I agree with since the data backs it up. Of course, somewhere in this paradoxical poverty, Americans watch 5 hours of TV and get in 2 hours of Internet browsing per day. Surely in the process, they will catch a good cat video while the Facebook and Google engineers mine them to no end. The hypocrisy of Silicon Valley is that for all their technology they have little sense of culture or taste. This means that not only are Americans poor in actuality but they feel entitled. It is the paradox of the plenty, the dutch disease, or similarly a function of hedonic normalization which largely contributes to many of these feelings. But it is also the expectation that they will be poorer in the future. Their lives are not getting better, and they fear it will get worse. To say Americans are poor is to look back to the past economically, as Thom Hartman does in “The Crash of 2016”. Could they be richer with a one-time wealth grab as Bernie Sanders campaigned on? Who knows, but it is coming. Trump became the inverse of what some Americans thought they wanted. Politicians and central banks can no more defeat long term economic trends as they can actually produce anything.
In any event, Musk, a former McLaren Owner, and self-styled all knowing Silicon Valley playboy, who lives in one of the states in America with the highest income disparity, has been allowed by the hierarchal disconnected like-minded financiers, to play a trick on the public, and in a sense, themselves.
The car of the future has to be for poor people. What else will they really be able to afford en masse as wages continue to converge to global averages? Is a $50,000 dollar vehicle a mass market car in that future? Or will insecure, underemployed, and hip Americans ditch their over-subsidized cars at the first opportunity and pay the lowest price possible.
Uber for instance, despite their flaws, gets this dynamic. They pay their drivers little, will eliminate them at the first opportunity after displacing the existing taxi services, then will likely try to crush any competition. Or why else do they have a $60 billion valuation despite also being a cash burning operation?
In this paradoxical World of the future where the rich are poor, self-driving cars are not just going to be convenient, they are needed. $50,000 dollar mass market cars are going to be an oxymoron. The Model 3 is that $50,000 oxymoron conceived in a World of the plenty while the opposite was unfolding. Tesla, even in America, sells them to people who have forgotten how to be critical and empathetic. It is a symbol of national decline. This is not to be critical of its buyers, after all, the government was directing a redistribution of wealth from the only people that pay taxes. They bought Tesla’s because the government succeeded with a temporary and unsustainable tax credit. In Tesla’s defense, and this might sound contradictory if the government really wanted them to succeed, why didn’t they do more?