The universe is run by three main elements, it’s said in one episode of the 1990s cult sci-fi series "Babylon 5": "Energy, matter, and enlightened self-interest."
Given how much humanity has advanced in the last 20 years, science fiction has rapidly become science fact. And where the third of those three elements are concerned, one’s thoughts turn to the futurist who wants to dominate the next 20 — Elon Musk.
Elon Musk is a charismatic, media-savvy South African futurist who wants to secure humanity’s future through innovation and discovery.
While some are weirdly rooting for humanity’s extinction because of climate change (blah, blah), Musk wants to preserve humanity as a multi-planetary species by establishing colonies on Mars and the Moon.
He wants to revolutionize spaceflight through free market principles.
And while many immigrant-innovators seem like they hate America (looking at you, Silicon Valley), Musk describes himself as "nauseatingly pro-American."
What’s not to like?
Well, it seems like Musk’s only interested in the future if he’s part of it.
To support its national security missions, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) wants to develop launch vehicles for the next generation of space travel.
On Oct. 10, 2018, the USAF announced three aerospace companies who met the national security requirements as finalists to build the necessary prototype — Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman, and United Launch Alliance — for their Launch Services Agreement (LSA) and two of them will receive contract vehicles for missions flown between 2022 to 2025.
However, one will notice that Musk’s SpaceX is conspicuously not on that list, so he’s doing everything he can to interfere with the Air Force’s mission.
SpaceX is allegedly lobbying against the Air Force’s decision and may even be drafting members of Congress to pressure the Air Force for an independent review of its procurement strategy.
Indeed, on March 28, 2019, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith — who SpaceX apparently bought — wrote to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to pressure her to delay the program until SpaceX can get in on it.
And last week, Musk straight up sued the Air Force!
This is all despite the fact that in mid-April, Secretary Wilson herself, and a bipartisan coalition of Congress members, acknowledge that delays to the program are not in the United States’ best interest.
Regardless of Musk’s success with getting himself on magazine covers, SpaceX hardly has a perfect track record of success. On April 20, 2019, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon exploded during testing, potentially delaying NASA’s plans for the country’s manned spaceflight missions.
Initially described as an "anomaly," it took Musk’s company nearly two weeks to admit that they experienced a critical shuttle failure. Additionally, Musk has even admitted that SpaceX "missed the mark" and wrote a "poor proposal" while competing for Phase 1 of the Air Force’s LSA last year.
Yet, SpaceX’s advocates are seemingly demanding that the Air Force lower its standards in the second round so it can compete.
Musk speaks about advancing the interests of humanity, but his company SpaceX has acted to serve its own interests at the expense of innovation and advancement. Moreover, no one’s better than Musk at gaming the system for tax credits and government subsidies, so his financial success is less innovation and more crony capitalism.
As The Wall Street Journal astutely wrote about Musk’s Tesla, it "looks more like a classic of the reverse income redistribution of green crony capitalism, in which the middle-class taxpayers subsidize billionaires who make products to satisfy the anti-fossil-fuel indulgences of the upper classes."
Musk is a reverse Robin Hood: he doesn’t rob from the rich and give to the poor, he takes from the working class and keeps for himself.
And he’s using those skills to butt in on a competitive process SpaceX lost. His procurement-through-protest strategy hinders the Air Force’s mission, hampers the U.S.’s interests in space, and creates unacceptable delays that cede ground to our hostile global adversaries.
The three most important forces in the universe may be energy, matter, and enlightened self-interest. But this is just self-interest, period.
Jared Whitley is a long-time politico who has worked in the U.S. Congress, White House, and defense industry. He is an award-winning writer, having won best blogger in the state from the Utah Society of Professional Journalists (2018) and best columnist from Best of the West (2016). He earned his MBA from Hult International Business School in Dubai. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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