14.02.2020 Author: Ulson Gunnar

Tesla and SpaceX: What America Still Has to Offer


Washington and Wall Street and the collective international order they’ve built over the decades following the Second World War appear to have run their course.

To adversaries and allies alike, the US has become more of a liability than the global leader it attempts to present itself as. Yet there are still nations around the globe, including those which find themselves the target of Washington and Wall Street’s most aggressive machinations, who still desire to work with and benefit from cooperation with the American people at large.

There is no doubt that nations like Russia and China which find themselves the subject of sanctions, trade wars, covert subversion and even covert terrorism and proxy war, still benefit greatly from the ties, trade and cooperation they are still able to maintain with the United States. There is no doubt that if the special interests in Washington and on Wall Street were to fade and an alternative, more collaborative circle of political and economic interests took their place, these benefits would grow immensely for the US and the rest of the world.

But is there any ray of hope that as America’s current leadership fades from the global stage, something else (and something better) can take its place?

It appears that the answer may be, yes.

Tesla and SpaceX 

Tesla is an American electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer. Founded by Elon Musk who also serves as the company’s CEO, the company has accelerated the otherwise stalled US electric vehicle market into unprecedented territory.

After passing many hurdles, the company has finally broken through into what appears to be sustainable success. In CNN’s recent article, “Tesla just proved all its haters wrong. Here’s how,” it was reported that:

This week, the company reported its first annual profit in 10 years as a public company.

Perhaps more significant for Tesla skeptics: the company generated $1.1 billion of free cash flow last year. That means it is no longer in danger of running through its cash or depending on investors to pump more money into its operations.

The stock has skyrocketed more than 250% over the last eight months, making Tesla the second most valuable automaker in the world by market value, behind only Toyota (TM).

Tesla’s meteoric rise has created a mix of reactions within and beyond America. It has inspired the general public with an entirely fresh approach to car design, manufacturing and sales. Coupled with the attractiveness of Tesla’s vehicles being entirely electric, existing automakers have little to offer in terms of competition.

This has forced incumbent auto monopolies who had previously and deliberately dragged their feet regarding EVs to finally make commitments toward R&D, manufacturing and sales of their own EVs.

While Tesla’s rise has introduced badly needed competition to the existing, stagnant auto industry, it has also provoked attempts by incumbents to sabotage Tesla’s success. Shady union protests and dishonest media organizations engaged in campaigns to smear Tesla have attempted to poison the public against the new automaker.

However, this pressure within the United States will likely do little to stop Tesla. The company has strong public support and has already expanded into China with its new Gigafactory opening in Shanghai which is already producing cars.

Tesla’s eager desire to work with China, putting business, cooperation and mutual benefits ahead of shortsighted monopolistic practices provides a template for other emerging US companies to follow in creating an alternative to the exhausted and fading interests still dominating Washington and Wall Street, including the deeply entrenched incumbent US auto industry.

Another example is the US aerospace company SpaceX, also founded and chaired by Elon Musk.

It has gone from just barely launching its tiny Falcon 1 rocket in 2008 to regularly launching its Falcon 9 rockets which are used for domestic and foreign missions, military and commercial as well as supplying the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX is also developing a manned spacecraft to send astronauts to the ISS and beyond.

Not only has SpaceX achieved a launch cadence on par with established US aerospace giants, it regularly recovers and reuses the first stage of its Falcon 9 rockets, a feat no other aerospace enterprise public or private has achieved, meaning SpaceX offers access to space for considerably less than its competitors.

SpaceX has likewise inspired the public as well as entrepreneurs who are attempting to replicate or improve upon SpaceX’s style of business.

And just like Tesla, SpaceX has spurred ugly reactions from entrenched special interests who, with the aid of those in Washington, sought to bar SpaceX from competing for US Air Force contracts. Just like Tesla, SpaceX has overcome these obstacles through persistence and by simply providing vastly superior alternatives than its competitors.

Tesla and SpaceX’ trials, tribulations and eventual success provide insight into how a wider transition of power from established, entrenched and exhausted special interests  to more constructive alternatives may play out in the future as Tesla and SpaceX expand and as the companies they’ve inspired begin growing and competing against established US monopolies as well.

The success of Tesla and SpaceX against the odds and the impressive achievements they’ve both made should not only inspire Americans and demonstrate to the world that the US still has much to offer, it should also serve as an example for other nations to follow, creating industries that are driven by specific purposes rather than purely for profit and power.

These industries abroad could then meet those popping up in the US somewhere in the middle. Considering the positive impact Tesla and SpaceX alone have had on the auto and aerospace industry, more of a good thing certainly will have a positive impact on the world in the years to come.

Only time will tell if purpose-driven industry will win out over fading profit-driven models and the fading international orders they’ve constructed, but the more aware people are that there is an actual alternative to existing circles of special interests, the more likely these alternatives are to succeed.

Gunnar Ulson, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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