Tuesday titter – Josh on the Stench of Green Subsidies

Josh writes: H/t Paul Homewood on an interesting story in the LA Times about the subsidies Elon Musk receives from the US Government. Well worth a read – if you don’t mind the smell.


Cartoons by Josh

171 thoughts on “Tuesday titter – Josh on the Stench of Green Subsidies

  1. Google Elon Musk rent seeker
    Elon Musk– making average Americans poorer one Tesla at a time.

      • Lest you forget, to the rest of the World, the average US Citizens income IS in the 1% bracket worldwide

      • Now, the question that you need to ask yourself gator69 is an honest… Why?
        Although I wouldn’t expect you to say so here. The Social Justice Warriors will hang you out to dry.

      • Um, “Bryan A”, you cannot compare salaries around the world because currencies are different.
        Certainly there are many more poor people outside the US and like countries, which is the fault of their politics. Individual freedom supported by defense and justice has been proven in history to feed and fosters humans. Hernando de Soto covers economic barriers in his books, started with “The Third Path” from South America and proceeding to include Aftrica.

          • It’s taking advantage to the free education you can get, it’s getting up everyday and going to work, even when you’d really rather you didn’t, it’s sacrificing your time to learn what you need to do to get that promotion, it’s pulling all nighters to make good on your word, it’s packing your family up and moving across the country to get a better job.
            Fair doesn’t have anything to do with it.

          • They are both part of the equation. I agree with what you say, but I also know that not everyone has the talents to be a Bill Gates. Life is not fair. Work hard and do the best with what you have been given.

      • Exactly the response I expected.
        Fairness has not a lot to do with it though.
        How about intelligence, importance of real education (Science, Math, Engineering and Technology), innovation and work ethic. In a free market these are gold standards.

        • Intelligence is luck of the draw. Just like height, hair color, and the country in which you were born. Life is not fair. Get over it.

      • “Why is the standard of living in the First World so much higher than that of the Third World?”
        Because we have much more of the supply of “stuff”.
        Why do we have so much more of the “stuff”?
        Because we invented “stuff”.
        And they did not.
        If they were better copycats, they would be catching up faster.

      • @Mick
        It’s an issue of head start. But this can be squandered too. No amount of race, gender, etc guarantees a thing.

      • Brute,
        Yes, we got a huge head start for the very reasons I stated above.
        I am hoping they can catch up, not dreading it.
        But some do dread it, it seems. Perhaps based on a belief that there are small and finite supplies of resources in the world.
        If this is the case, then we all live on borrowed time anyway, but I do not believe this to be the case.
        I think there are vast resources below our feet and over our heads.
        I want these poor countries to move into the future,
        As long as they get their wealth by working hard and producing, then we are all better off.
        I am not poorer if other people get rich.
        But the plan of the IPCC and the warmistas seems to be wealth redistribution…splitting the pie into tiny slices instead of baking more or bigger pies.
        And like the war on poverty in this country, any such effort is doomed to failure. People only value and appreciate that which they work for.
        And making people dependent on handouts only stifles motivation.
        How can third world countries ever build an economy based on intermittent power?
        We could not survive power outages here for very long.
        How is it different for people who have less to start with?
        (Just asking rhetorically, I do not think you suggested otherwise)
        Of course, there are places in the world where people do not want their own fellow citizens to move out of the dark ages. People who do not want women to be educated, or have rights. Do not want a free and open society. In these places, their own worst enemies are amongst themselves. Nothing is ever created of lasting value because the destroyers hold sway. No one can live in peace in these places because children are taught only to hate and to kill and to die. Not to learn and create and t save and to love.
        I am not so sure we can save these people from themselves. I am not sure how much longer we should even try.
        But the path from the present world, and a future world in which the entire Earth is a free and open place, and in which everyone has a degree of prosperity, and opportunities to improve their lot in life…this path seem unlikely to be a smooth one or a quiet one.
        The forces of evil and darkness will not allow such a transition to be painless.
        The only question in my mind is…when will be the next (last?) big conflict, how bad will it be, and who will be prepared for it, and who will not?

      • @Menicholas
        The subject of “limited resources” has been dealt with at length. It comes down to innovation. Read Matt Ridley on it. Humanity has run out of renewable resources many times (despite being theoretically infinite) while “limited resources” are still around. In short, resources are not the deal breaker.
        Poverty is decreasing fast (misery, on the other hand, is increasing). The issue is how fast. The problems you comment on are but some of the obstacles in the way of comparatively poorer populations. I reckon it is not the hoarders or the greedy but the social engineers the ones doing the most harm.
        In any case, I’ve seen giant leaps forward over my lifetime and across 4 continents. In fact, I’ve witness more progress than anyone expected ever to see. I am throughly optimist although, again, the many legislative mistakes made by political agents hurt the poor and, in many cases, are downright perverse (look into vitamin A deficiency).

      • FINDER of US$4.9 BILLION in government subsidies.
        He’s a better FINDER than he is a FOUNDER.

      • It was his first huge success. He sold it for umpteen gazillion dollars, and used that money to start these other bidnisses.

      • Wrong. His share of the proceeds was about $130M. Which he used to start SpaceX and Tesla; by 2008 he was all in, and living on borrowed money. Then Tesla’s financing came through and he got his first NASA contract for SpaceX, all within a couple of days of collapse, Christmas Eve.

  2. i refuse to support the prostitution and theft of the name of one of the engineering giants of the 20th century.
    For mine these ludicrous vehicles will only be referred to as MuskMobiles.

    • I wholeheartedly agree. I plan on calling them MuskMobiles from from now on. And what would be a good name for the company? Musky Motors?

  3. Muskovites… are everywhere.
    The man can do no wrong, it seems.
    But he’s also one Hell of a capitalist.
    And the Tesla is a darn good car; I’ve driven them.
    Now, “Falcon” and “F-Heavy” (think “J-Lo”) … are also good ideas.
    And built surprisingly fast; have worked surprisingly well.
    People oft wonder, “why is the Muskateer’s Rocket cheaper than all comers?”
    Dunno on the surface.
    Underneath, history sez, “well, ‘cuz the other companies are STILL paying for past research”
    … into projects that didn’t fly. Or weren’t multiplied on the assembly line.
    The big Musk Rocket doesn’t have that legacy.
    I rather like the guy, in the end.
    Put HIS money where HIS mouth was rattling off at.
    …along with hundreds of enthusiastic groupies’ monies.
    Very Web 3.0

    • What gets a lot of people is that corporate welfare takers can also be true believers in the power of the assembly line and mass production and have good mixed in with the bad. I’m not very fond of the subsidy taking but I love, love, love, the idea of getting into space affordably. I’m rooting for rocket reusability to succeed even as I hope the subsidies that solar city harvests dry up and go away.

    • He’s also put my money where his mouth is and he got my money at the point of a gun, through taxes. Whatever else he might be, Elon Musk is a consummate master of reading social winds and mining government money.

    • Let’s not forget the neverending stream of lies coming out of Musk’s mouth about the cost, driving range, recharge times and fuel consumption of the Model S (orig cost – $49,000 – actual cost $69,000. recharge times – original claimed under 1 hour at supercharge stations – actual recharge times – 1 1/2 hours,
      driving range – originally claimed – 300 miles – actual 230 miles. ).

      • The driving range is even more restricted than that . That 230 mile range is the “Doolittle Raiders” driving range, a one way trip.
        But when you drive your Musk Ox out of your garage gas station, the only place you can be sure of refilling it, is right back in your garage.
        So divide that 230 by three and you get about an 80 mile range, including a little combat time at the target area.

      • The issues with electric cars is really the lack of charging infrastructure, with no electric cars, no one is going to build charging stations. But in this respect I think has done everyone a favor by building charging stations (I saw the diesel charger, let’s leave that out for now), I happen to live about 5 miles from one of his mega stations, and see Tesla’s there frequently. The point is not only did he start building cars, he started building chargers as well. Car and driver has driven across the country in a Tesla, it’s far from perfect, but it is a start. He’s also given all of his charging patents away. as long as cars keep being built, chargers will get built.
        The big flaw is battery tech, but until someone comes up with a really better battery we have to live with what we have. I also don’t have an issue with the Gov giving tax breaks to incentivize businesses to do something that is too risky to do otherwise, a lot of those oil subsidies are for drilling in deep water in the Gulf of Mexico far deeper than had ever been done before. They earned them. Now people complain about the deal the oil companies got, forgetting what they risked, if it hadn’t worked no one would care about the billions they lost.

      • “The big flaw is battery tech, but until someone comes up with a really better battery we have to live with what we have.”
        If some technology doesn’t exist now you can’t depend on it ever existing. Throughout the years I have read about promising research into all sorts of problems, with just one more final bump-in-the-road to get to the solution. Occasionally that final bump-in-the-road is driven over, and the problem is solved. Usually that final bump-in-the-road is the end-of-the-road. Chances are pretty good that a really better battery will never be discovered, no matter how much money is thrown at the problem.

        • Maybe, Maybe not.
          I do think chemistry has many limits, and I hope to live to see nuclear batteries, real high power long life small volume power sources.
          More likely in the longer term they’ll just build coils in the road to charge your batteries as you drive.

      • Janice and micro6500,
        You’ve already lived long enough: ten times the energy density, and half the manufacturing cost of conventional lithium-ion batteries.
        This idea will really change everything. It won’t take off until cars are designed for this technology. But if they do, the infrastructure change will be minimal. One of the flavors of gasoline could be replaced with battery slurry.
        The PIH is already the best of both worlds, but if the battery was10x more energy dense, and replaceable, it would be even better.

    • And the Tesla is a darn good car; I’ve driven them.
      pretty much any car is a “darn good car” so long as the taxpayer buys it for you.

      • Rolls Royce make a very good car.
        If you subsidise me to purchase a Rolls, and then get all the other motor vehicle companies to pay for my subsidy, I could finish up driving the cheapest car in the world – a Rolls Royce.
        Keep those cards, letters and subsidies rolling in folks.

    • Making money by government taxing ppl isn’t capitalism its called socialism…. and yes he’s a very very successful socialist.

    • My father in law is a retired executive from Orbital ATK, and dealt with government red tape for 3+ decades. When Obama spiked Constellation and said he would let private space companies take the lead, he told me that it’s the government’s own fault it’s so inefficient.
      He explained that if ATK were starting fresh today with the same technology and same processes they could have built the same rocket motors to the same specifications for ~1/3 the cost. Government involvement in every facet of the design, testing, and manufacture of the rockets more than tripled the overall cost. The government turned the manufacturers into inefficient monstrosities, then blamed the companies.
      If SpaceX follows the same trajectory they may be less expensive in the short term, but over time government red tape will make them just as inefficient and overpriced as every other manufacturer.

      • What I hope will save SpaceX is that at their price point, the dominant customer will be private, not government.

  4. Ooooh that smell
    Can’t you smell that smell
    Ooooh that smell
    The smell of death surrounds you

  5. I’m ambivalent on his taking the Gov hand outs, it’s legal and all of that. I think they all should be stopped (electric cars, solar panels, etc), but if they’re there he’d be stupid to not take advantage of them, his competitors will surely do so.

    • I think you hit the nail on the head. The kick backs run through the economy, get rid of them all. Trouble is each one has a clan determined to maintain them.

  6. The money invested in Spacex has helped to break the USAF launch monopoly of ULA and will therefore save the USA billions in the future. It will also help break the crewed launch monopoly held by the Russians, which I would argue is worth even more.

    • So you’re saying its OK for one part of government to do crony capitalism as long as it competes agains another division’s poor practices? Wow – the old “two wrongs make a right” argument.

    • Reading the underlying LA Times piece, Space X has gotten almost nothing. Most of the subsidies went to Tesla and to SolarCity

      • ‘Elon Musk’s California companies — Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX — have enjoyed at least $4.9 billion in government support.
        There are those in positions of influence who’d like to see any mud from Tesla and SolarCity stick to SpaceX so that ULA could keep their monopoly.

      • Solar City sells you your own solar energy, and they use your own real estate to get it, without paying you any rent for it.
        I will rent my roof and indeed my whole yard, to Solar City on the basis of 1,000 W/m^2 with a location latitude factor, and a yearly average sun insolation time factored in.
        Then SC can sell the energy they gather to PG&E for whatever they can get for it. I don’t want any of it.
        That way, I’m not on the hook for the inefficiency of SC’s solar panels; they are.

    • Hear hear! Although I think he has significantly advanced electric car technology with Tesla Motors, I’d rather he wasn’t taking the US Govt up on its stupid subsidies for doing so. Ditto for his solar power company. (but as others have pointed out, he’d be an idiot to pass on the Govt offers).
      HOWEVER, hi company SpaceX is the most important company to come along in a very long time, working to development routine, reusable, and inexpensive access to space. So, no matter what one may think of his shrewd business practices in other areas, he will go down in history as the man who opened up access to space for all of humanity.
      Elon Musk did this, not established aerospace companies. Remember that.

  7. Hate to be appearing to defend Musk again. However, I’d like to point out 4 things for perspective:
    1) the vast majority seems to be tax credits (e.g. $1.29 billion — Nevada tax incentives). True free market folks know that corporations shouldn’t pay any taxes.
    2) The tax credits are not money handed over, it’s the removal of a future tax, assuming that the business makes money. Almost all manufacturing businesses above a certain size make tax deals with governments.
    3) These situations are all caused by governments, people that you all elected. I’m confused why anyone would blame Elon Musk for taking advantage of the deals that government has set up. Blame government.
    4) He’s an easy target, but don’t use him as the scapegoat for all of your AGW angst. If government intrusion into free markets is an issue for you, why is the rest ok: $64 billion worth of tax deals.

    • Yeah but most of those same tax credits are exactly what eviros claim are tax subsidies received by “Big Oil”.

      • no, the “big oil subsidies” are not tax credits. they are “taxes” that big oil should be paying because we need to build roads and bridges for cars and since cars run on oil, big oil should build the roads and bridges. and since government builds the roads and bridges, the cost of the roads and bridges is a subsidy to big oil. it isn’t a subsidy to car makers or car owners, because CO2 comes from oil, so big oil must pay the taxes.

        • they are “taxes” that big oil should be paying because we need to build roads and bridges for cars and since cars run on oil, big oil should build the roads and bridges.

          I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not, and I know some thing this is the case, as if we didn’t get food, necessities of life, a opportunity to drive to a job (for those willing and able to find a job), and so on.
          I find it preposterous that some want to lay this on the oil companies, it bad enough that the gov already tacks on 25% or so on the price of gas to pay for roads, then spends it on whatever, as well as they collect income tax off people driving to work.
          As for those who want a carbon tax, it’s just another way for the Gov to stick it’s hand in my wallet, if they truly made it neutral I might feel slightly more friendly, but they Gov never ever makes the promised neutral tax neutral. And if you really think they will this time, I have a great stock(bridge,land,horse, etc) to sell you…..

        • Taxes are eventually passed onto consumers, so in reality, corporations are merely intermediaries for the parasite known as government.

      • @Ferd Burple:
        Never heard of gas tax, eh? Specifically to pay for those roads, bridges, etc. and paid per gallon of oil derived fuels. Read the sticker on the gas pump….
        Though lately the Green Bloob have stuck their money sucker snout into the road tax fund for pet croney projects like empty rail and unused busses…

      • People buy cars because they need transportation for themselves and their stuff.
        They buy gas because it takes energy to move mass around.
        Roads are built to facilitate this need for people to be able to get around.
        The cars and the roads were not built so the oil companies would have some excuse to foist off a worthless product.
        To say that, since the oil companies provide the product which we buy to obtain energy for our transportation needs, therefore this means that the oil companies should pay for the structures we have built to facilitate our movements, is absolutely ludicrous and makes not even any semblance of a logical argument.

      • I suppose the electric companies should pay for our houses because they make and sell the electricity we buy to heat, cool, light, and control stuff, in our houses?
        That makes as much sense as roads being the responsibilities of oil companies.
        Question: Did we have roads before we had a oil companies?
        Answer: Yes, because the need for roads has nothing to do with the source of the energy that we use for transportation.
        Did the breeders of horses or the people who sold hay have to pay for roads before we had cars?

      • The U.S. Interstate system was built for national defense and to evacuate people in emergencies.
        Probably has saved thousands of lives when hurricane evacuations were needed.
        All based on the problems the U.S. military encountered in Europe during WW 2 in moving troops and evacuating civilians.
        Interstate system never built so that more motor vehicles could be produced and sold in the U.S.

      • And which vehicle would rather be in if you need to evacuate? A fossil fueled vehicle or and EV?

    • “I think you should be paying $64 billion in taxes, but you’re only actually paying $48 billion. Therefore, you’re getting a $16 billion subsidy.” Is that sort of how that works? Once nebulous “externalities” are factored in, any numbers are possible.

      • Any money that people make as profits is the property of everyone, accordibg to these people.
        So, yes.
        Any money not taken as taxes is a benevolent gift from our overlords.

    • VikingExplorer is right. About $3 billion of the subsidies look like the sort of thing that states hand out to all sorts of companies. They have nothing to do with “green” (well, they do, but a different sort of green). The rest are green subsidies, but they are there because governments established them as a matter of policy. Musk taking advantage of them is not different from middle class folks taking advantage of the mortgage interest deduction. You may well think that these are horrible policies, but your enmity should be directed at the lawmakers, not at Musk.
      I do not like corporate welfare, but on a scale of 1 to 10 I put this at about a 3.

      • Where do you place business men who lobby the govt for more and bigger tax breaks that the business proceed to take advantage of? Is the fault still all with the govt?

      • The best and most powerful lobbyists are former government officials.
        It is the most transparently corrupt and unfair way to allocate tax dollars imaginable.
        When they imagine a more efficient way to enrich thselves and their peeps, then it will change.

    • The issue is one company that does the govts bidding getting lower tax rates compared to companies that don’t.
      Nothing free market about that.

    • Concurrence. Tax subsidies exist to create incentive for someone to do something while taxes themselves often exist to discourage something. Congratulations; both incentives work.
      Tesla is successful because people want it. Other electric vehicles failed because people don’t want them.

      • VikingExplorer
        Conflicting data on EV’s. Remember the president said there would be “was it a million” on the road in 2015?
        Not working despite huge tax dollars wasted for cars that don’t have a decent battery. Lets develop the Battery before pushing the EV’s
        Edmunds reports that sales of EVs and hybrids are generally down, representing 2.7 percent of total new car sales this year versus 3.3 percent the year prior, which can probably also be attributed to the lower price of gasoline. The report doesn’t break down loyalty by specific model, but it’s likely that Tesla — where the premium price of the Model S precludes buyers who are primarily concerned with saving on fuel costs — isn’t being hurt by the trend. Hybrids are likely the biggest victims, followed by inexpensive, lower-range EVs that compete with commuter cars (Nissan’s Leaf and Ford’s Focus Electric, for instance). The decision to move all the way up to an SUV, though, is a little puzzling.

      • The GM electric car was very popular but they refused to sell them – only rent them. See the movie, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” They pulled them all back and crushed them to kill the notion that cars should not have engines. They cost nearly nothing maintain. Scared the daylights out of dealers.

    • It also seems to conflate a tax benefit received by buyers of the products with a benefit received by Musk companies. The dynamic effects are often different than the authors of these laws think. For example, when food stamps are used enough, they actually cause prices to rise significantly, as the demand curve shifts.

    • “The tax credits are not money handed over, it’s the removal of a future tax, assuming that the business makes money.”
      This is not correct. The tax credits are not against corporation taxes (which, as you point out, would only be redeemable if the company makes money, i.e. a profit). Just over half the tax credits are against sales taxes, which of course are paid regardless of whether the company makes a profit or not, and are quickly redeemable against sales. About a further quarter of the 1.3 billion is property taxes, admittedly over a long period of time (10 years), but again redeemable whether the company makes a profit or not, and a clear direct subsidy of the company. A further chunk is transferable tax credits, i.e. credits that can immediately by sold, for cash, to another company to redeem them. So in fact, virtually all of the subsidies are directly convertible into cash, whether the company makes a profit or not.
      “True free market folks know that corporations shouldn’t pay any taxes.”
      I’m a libertarian, and it is true that ideally zero taxes would yield the most free market. However, if taxes are to be applied, they should be applied as uniformly, fairly and evenly as possible, that would be the next best thing to a completely free market. The worst thing would be taxes that vary from company to company, which represents a direct distortion of the market, and is pretty much as far away from a truly free market as you can get, with the sole exception of state capital controls.
      And for those who think these subsidies are normal / typical, note the second highest subsidy given by Nevada was $89 million to Apple – less than one-tenth the subsidy given to Tesla.

      • Spence_UK,
        I was wrong about the nature of this deal, but you are .completely wrong to say that this isn’t normal in the US. You just needed to click on my 64 billion link. I don’t want to assume that you are in the UK, but anyone in the US would know that comparing the deal to other deals in Nevada is quite misleading. The state of Nevada is almost devoid of population, and is an extremely unlikely target for a manufacturing facility. They would only pay sales tax when people in Nevada buy a Tesla. States in the US compete for manufacturing facilities. All of the many automobile plants in the south were won by states with lucrative tax incentive deals. Rightly or wrongly, that’s the way it works. Cities and states even compete for sports teams.

        Nevada won the fierce, five-state competition to host Tesla Motors’ planned $5 billion battery factory by offering a package of tax breaks and credits that could be worth $1.2 billion over the next 20 years, according to terms released by state officials Thursday.
        The deal, announced by Gov. Brian Sandoval and Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Carson City Thursday, requires the approval of Nevada’s Legislature. Sandoval said Tesla’s “Gigafactory” would bring the state $100 billion in economic benefits over the next 20 years, create 22,000 direct and indirect jobs and “change Nevada forever.”
        In return, Tesla won’t have to pay sales tax for 20 years. The company also won’t have to pay real property, personal property and modified business taxes for 10 years.

        Every good freedom loving American would read the above and approve. It’s a win-win for all parties.
        As for the rest, I don’t think you are really a free market person, because in your paragraph, everywhere you wrote “free”, fair would fit better. So, by your logic, it’s ok if we’re all slaves, as long as it’s applied fairly. That’s not how freedom loving Americans think. That’s how a socialist thinks.
        >> is pretty much as far away from a truly free market
        While I’ve been horrified my whole life by market distortions by government, you are distorting the truth here to such an extent that I would assert that your anti- EV or anti-Musk bias is causing a huge blind spot to make you say something so obviously false. Since this is exactly the way the US is, and has been for a really long time, you are saying that the US has been further away from the a free market than socialist Europe. In fact, by targeting Musk, you are displaying a rather strong socialist Occupy mindset.
        Given that states have the ability to tax corporations and property, companies SHOULD make the best deal they can. One of the best mechanisms that results in more freedom is our federal system which forces states to compete for business and population.

      • “I don’t think you are really a free market person, because in your paragraph, everywhere you wrote “free”, fair would fit better. So, by your logic, it’s ok if we’re all slaves, as long as it’s applied fairly.
        Umm, what? I said free is better, but if not free at least fair, and you turn that around as if I said fair is more important than free? I guess you had no response to what I actually said, so you just made up some nonsense that I didn’t say and replied to that instead.
        Incidentally, the reason slavery is abhorrent to libertarians has nothing to do with the marketplace (property rights), slavery is abhorrent because it breaches human rights (humans are not property). That you don’t appear to understand that is… disturbing.
        As for the $64 billion figure, it shows that Musk has managed to appropriate just shy of 10% of all of the money lavished by governments on corporate megadeals in the last few decades. And you think that is a good defence of the largesse splurged on Musk? Wow.
        Feel free to go ahead now and respond to something I didn’t say, like the last time.

      • In Canada it is illegal for a municipality to give a subsidy to a company to attract it to their domain. In the 30’s it was popular and bankrupting the towns. I find the deals made with huge companies obscene. It is robbing Peter to pay Paul.
        Taxes should be on net gains. Transactional taxes are plain evil and destroy otherwise viable businesses. All businesses are ultimately owned by people. If their asset increases in value, that increase is taxable. That means there is no need for corporate taxes, but they lose their tax identity as people in the process. Anything a company owns is the property of the shareholders. Those shareholders are taxable. No shelters. No escape. No taxes on the movement of money or goods. A high enough transactional tax brings the whole economy to a halt.

      • >> I said free is better, but if not free at least fair
        But you did say it, because you just did it again here. With your Occupy mindset, targeting a business person for making the best deal he can, you can’t lecture me about freedom. I believe with every fiber of my being that every human being has an inalienable right to life, property and liberty.
        Musk is breaking no laws, and violating no one’s rights. Although he has a degree in physics, his name is on no scientific papers about AGW, let alone any fraudulent ones.
        A market or society is never completely free, so your supposedly libertarian statement breaks down to just fair. Just like when a person comes in to buy a car, the price is negotiable. A person who negotiates a better deal is NOT immoral.
        Your premise that Musk is immoral for doing so with state governments is that his money isn’t really his. That it belongs to those governments, or to the “tax payers”. This is completely outrageous, and I rise up in defense of human rights, you #$% Occupy socialist using libertarianism as cover for your anti technology bias.
        Musk has no moral obligation to pay any taxes whatsoever, let alone more than what he bargained for. As for him outdoing his peers, well good for him, because that’s what he’s been doing all along: Blastar, BS Physics, Economics from Penn’s Wharton School, Zip2, PayPal, SolarCity, Tesla, SpaceX.

      • Oh look. I predicted once again you would have no reply to the points I made, and once again you just invent a bunch of rubbish I didn’t say and argue against that instead. The stupidity of this comment defies belief:
        “Your premise that Musk is immoral for doing so”
        This is a prime example. Please link me to where I said Musk is immoral for getting massive state subsidies. I never said the fault was with Musk. The fault is clearly with crony capitalism in government, not with Musk. Musk is just gaming the system that exists. Don’t hate the player and all that.
        But anyway, while you fail miserably to address any of the points I raise, and just resort to throwing out claims that I am a socialist (which just goes to underscore how far from reality your mind is), please feel free to read what *actual US libertarians* have to say about crony capitalism (even with reference to the occupy movement, with whom they – like me – generally disagree):
        Of course I’m not sure it will help you much, you actually have to listen to a point being made before you respond to it – not your strongest suit, I think.

    • Well the people buying those Teslas get the price benefit of that subsidy, so they are being hoodwinked into buying a car that costs more to make than they can sell them for.
      so those subsidies are very real to the buyers of those cars.
      And Solar City does not sell solar power plants. They rent them to you to use on your property, and they don’t pay you any rent to put their capital equipment on your roof for storage. They charge you for using your own solar energy.

      • I wish I was being hoodwinked into buying everything I need at a price which is below cost.
        If the system sucks, we should try to change it. In the meantime, getting the best deal we each can get is the most rational course of action.

  8. Meanwhile, Alan Bond is still pushing Skylon along, on a cup of warm tea every 6 months….

  9. It not just government tax credits, but the subsidy rate system put in place that makes Elon Musk a rich man via inflated share price of his Solar City venture..
    My Arizona electric bill has a ~ $6/month charge for renewable (solar) subsidies. Every customer pays it. Im am subsidizing the rich who can afford to outright spend $30k on their own PV system, or those who contract a solar city owned installation on their rooftop.
    Tucson Electric Power uses that money from nonSolar users to offset the higher cost per kWH (16cent/kWH) it must pay to Solar City for the excess power passed to the grid from contract home solar panels it has installed on people’s homes. Also the 30% installation federal tax credit is ( set to expire in 2016) is another way Solar City benefits from crony capitalism.
    Arizona’s metering scheme was first put inplace in 1981 during the tenure of Gov Bruce Babbit. He went to be WJ Clinton’s Sec Interior. Now he’s an “environmental lawyer” raking in huge payola from the environmental NGOs and probably Elon Musk’s companies are among his client list.

    • Right, that’s outrageous, but I still can’t see the logical connection to hating Elon Musk. All of these things were set in motion by governments, with cover from vague public opinion. It’s also small potatoes. US Federal, State and Local revenues are now about 6 trillion, up about 2 trillion since Obama got elected. This is a scorched earth assault on the American way of life, and you’re offended by .08 % of that amount.

      • Stealing is stealing… just because some random person walks in a bank and opens the vault and says “take as much as you want” doesn’t change the fact its stealing.
        Future people like musk give millions in money to the elected government officials to create these system so they can give taxpayer money to him of which he can then give more to said officials… thats called corruption and conspiracy.

      • Temp, get a grip. If the US Govt offers an incentive for “doing something” and you “do that thing” and receive that incentive… it’s NOT stealing!

      • Thank you Bennett. Amazing this mindset, especially after I pointed out that the “take”, the “cut”, the “protection money” increased by 2 trillion under this administration. There is something fundamentally suspicious about complaining about .08% of that amount, while everyone has 2 trillion dollars less.

      • Yer welcome, VikingExplorer. I’ve enjoyed Josh’s cartoons until this latest. I guess i’ll just chalk it up to a case of misplaced enthusiasm over a hit piece of rag journalism.

    • Living in Phoenix, you got me curious, for I never look at the details on my electricity bill. I’m with APS, and there is a “Environmental benefits surcharge” of $8.50. Assuming that SRP also includes this for their customers, and given a population size of 3.25 for the Phoenix metropolitan area, that’s more than $27 million per MONTH! Outrageous!!!

  10. I can’t blame Elon Musk. He didn’t write the law.
    Same goes for Walmart or GE or anyone else that plays by stupid rules made by foolish politicians.

    • The laws are written as they are at the behest of Elon Musk and Walmart and GE. That’s what lobbyists are about.
      The politicians are corrupt, not foolish. They all leave Washington much wealthier than when they arrived.

      • Believe me, laws are not written “at the behest of Elon Musk”. Even with his millions, he is small potatoes when it comes to lobbying congress. The really big companies (GE, LockMart, Boeing, etc.) did the footwork, Musk is simply in business, in a smart way

  11. I agree with the premise of this thread. A government contract to build is one thing. A free handout subsidy is another.
    Private money for private enterprise.
    Government money for government enterprise.
    BUT We should give Elon some credit.
    Spacex’s Falcon9 booster launches a ship into orbit then returns for an automatic landing of the main booster to be used again. Now that’s unprecedented and way cool. They’re still perfecting the technology, but it will work.

  12. Spacex is not really taking government handouts, it’s taking government contracts for real actual government work – and charging less than the competition. Net benefit to all of us short and long term.
    Tesla and Solar City? Monetizing government giveaways. A pair of mooching companies

    • I have a few remaining shares available for the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
      Please send me you bank details and I’ll look after you.
      Trust me.

    • “$4.9 billion is almost 10 $olyndras”
      Sad but true. On the other hand, what has been received in return is an infinite number of Solyndras.

  13. IMHO, those conflating the government launch contracts with solar and EV subsidies are undermining their own point, because these things are not alike. (so the 4.9 billion claim is likewise hyperbole).
    The subsidies stink, and are plenty bad enough without exaggerating them.
    However, instead of going after Musk alone on this issue, why not also go after the true cause; the preposterous government-imposed system that makes such graft possible, and indeed, encourages it?

  14. Elon Musk, has lost his luster.
    All that glisters is not gold as they say.
    That video of the Tesla being charged at a diesel generator said it all. Tesla is a wish not come true. Electric silent cars rolling around on rainbow colored roads, with cardboard cut-out clouds painted on a masonite blue sky, with white-skinned blue eyed, nouveau-riche techo-aristocrats, making their fashion statement.
    To Musk, an electric car is fashion. Not science. Science is a attribute of fashion because all things must have the imprimatur of “science to be chique. He used to be believable, to some. Now he is a failed futurist. I am ok with his wealth. I am not ok with the fraud he pulled with science to scam public money for his escapade. He told politicians and non-technical people that his car was green. THAT is a lie. It is powered by mostly coal.
    Also PayPal is sucky.
    So he is just a Canadian, slightly socialist, with a penchant for soliciting public money for his exploits and self enrichment. He convinced the green goblins in the administration, as did Solyndra etc, to bankroll him. I hold the administration at fault for that.

  15. How much of the $4.9 billion was returned to the Democrats and Republicans for reelection campaigns?

  16. 4.9 BILLION? Is that all
    “It took about $150bn in today’s money to put a man on the moon in the 1960s, and now it is said we need to come up with the same amount to save the world from climate change.
    That is the message from Sir David King, Foreign Office climate envoy, and six other prominent British scientists, businessmen and civil servants behind a climate plan modelled on the US Apollo space programme.”

  17. Bit strange this appearing in the LA Times, which is one of the newspapers that has banned, first comments, and then articles questioning “Climate Change”.
    One thing to consider is that Nevada and New York are one-offs, whilst the carbon and solar credits are ongoing.
    Even with these generous subsidies, Tesla is burning through cash like a wildfire.

    • “Bit strange this appearing in the LA Times”
      For sure. I observe the writer is careful not to pass judgement on whether all this is “good” or “bad” allowing readers to leap to their own conclusions; and leap they have!

  18. I originally wrote this as an email to Alberto Zaragoza Comendador, pointing out to him the folly of SpaceX. This seems like an appropriate time and place to share it with a larger audience:
    When I first learned of SpaceX’s plan for reusable rockets, it was presented as a single stage booster that would return to its launch site and make a soft, powered landing. The obvious, glaring flaw in their plan was that rockets are all about energy conversion – they take a relatively huge mass of fuel and use it to make kinetic energy. For some background, look at a launch system that actually worked in the real world – the Saturn V.
    The Apollo Lunar Module (LM) did make a soft landing on the surface of the moon, but the part that landed was a tiny fraction of the initial launch mass, and only a fraction of what landed had to take off to get the astronauts home. The three lift stages of the Saturn V rocket had a combined empty mass of about 183 600 kg, with a fueled mass of 2 909 200 kg. In other words, 93.7% of the launch vehicle’s mass was fuel, and that was with the second and third stages burning liquid hydrogen. Every bit of that fuel energy went into giving the last stage and the payload just enough energy to get to the point where the pull of the moon’s gravity would take over and the Command/Service Module (CSM) and LM would essentially fall the rest of the way to the moon. The LM’s mass was 16 400 kg, including the fuel that it needed to counter its kinetic energy so that it would fall out of lunar orbit and descend to the surface. So yeah, it is possible to make a soft landing with a portion of a rocket, but that soft landing was in a low-gravity environment, and the mass of such a vehicle is tiny compared to the mass of the vehicle that was required to get off the surface of the Earth in the first place. When the Command Module returned to Earth, it jettisoned the engine and life support systems in the Service Module and then burned up its heat shield scrubbing off most of its kinetic energy gained from ‘falling’ most of the way back from the moon.
    Wikipedia actually has some excellent content on the Apollo program:
    Now, enter Saint Elon, the boy who was never told that he was wrong. Musk doesn’t think that the economies of rocket design apply to him. The original Falcon 9 concept had the launch vehicle releasing its payload with enough kinetic energy to achieve orbit, then turning around and coming back to the launch site. The problem is that every joule of energy that was put into the rocket to get it to the speed and altitude where it releases its payload then has to be taken away, which means that it has to carry enough fuel to burn during its descent, and that fuel is included in the mass that has to be turned around at the top of its flight. Launching that extra fuel on a reusable rocket means that the structure of the rocket itself has to be much more robust to withstand the stresses of repeated launches. The legs that Musk wants to put on his vehicle are an extra weight penalty, and they are compounded by the fact that they’re not just being launched along with the rocket, they also have to be turned around and landed. In short, the concept is a series of multiply compounding weight penalties that do nothing but sap the payload capacity of the launch vehicle. My initial gut feeling was that a launch system following this model would have a payload capacity of maybe 20% (and more realistically about 10%) of the capacity of a conventional launch system of similar mass. My thoughts were borne out by SpaceX quietly abandoning their initial concept and going to their current circus of a program.
    The revised mission profile for the Falcon 9 is somewhat more realistic, but it’s still folly. Now, Elon wants a smaller first stage to make a powered descent and land on a barge located downrange from the launch site. This plan bears the distinct advantage of not having to reverse direction of travel of the mass that’s being returned, but it still has to carry enough fuel to offset the energy equivalent to falling from the altitude at rocket staging, along with the aforementioned landing legs. The concept does away with most of the compounding penalties of the initial plan, but it’s still giving up payload capacity for the sake of making it easier to recover the first stage out of the ocean and refurbish it for its next flight. Elon claims that he will get the cost down to anywhere from 10% to 1% of launching on an expendable rocket. Anyone who actually believes this is being fooled. Even if he could build a reusable rocket with mass, cost, and capacity similar to expendable launch systems, the only thing that his model would accomplish is to avoid having to pluck the first stage out of the ocean after launch. The vehicle would still have to be refurbished prior to its next launch – his idea of simply refueling and throwing a new upper stage on top would require a much more robust structure and redundant systems, both of which would drive cost and reduce payload. Yes, SpaceX has some cheerleaders from NASA. I chalk that up to the fact that NASA is barely in the business of space exploration any more, and the closest that its employees can come to reliving the agency’s glory days (and reliving the way they were allowed to spend money 40 years ago) is to get in bed with Musk.

    • Your rant is wrong in too many ways to address, I simply don’t have the time. However, it’s easy for all to see that you’ve got some personal issues with SpaceX and the technology that seems to work just fine, despite your run-on paragraphs of wild claims to the contrary.

      • “Even if he could build a reusable rocket with mass, cost, and capacity similar to expendable launch systems, the only thing that his model would accomplish is to avoid having to pluck the first stage out of the ocean after launch.”
        Wrong. He would have an intact first stage with nine engines ready to fly again, at the very least. The Merlin engines are good for many thousands of seconds of burn time, whereas an actual flight only uses them for a few hundred. If the rest of the structure is flight worthy (TBD) he has a first stage (that cost millions to manufacture) ready to go for a SMALL fraction of the original cost.
        Over to you, hater.

      • And you completely ignored the point of what I said.
        I’m not arguing that the Merlin isn’t a good engine. I’m saying that bringing a rocket stage to a soft powered landing may be visually spectacular, but it’s asinine from the perspective of trying to maximize the economy of a rocket launch.
        It’s not about a personal grudge, or even being a hater. It’s about the fact that Musk sets off my bullshit detector every time he opens his mouth.

      • That’s funny, your comment sets off that exact same meter for me.
        If the cost of a launch is only 5% fuel and 95% rocket (it is), then reusing the rocket’s first stage is a huge game changer over an expendable rocket.
        This is true even if the fuel used to bring the first stage back for a soft landing cuts your payload by 50%. Musk has done the math, and now that he’s shown it can be done, United Launch Alliance (LockMart/Boeing) is doing something similar with their new “Vulcan” launcher…
        ULA’s Vulcan Launch Vehicle

      • Sorry I’m not going to pony up the cash to read a paywalled article.
        Nowhere did I say that a reusable launch vehicle is a bad idea. I think it’s an overblown idea, but that’s another matter. What I did say is that giving up payload capacity in the name of simplifying turnaround is an idiotic idea. Yes, it’s easier to refurbish components that haven’t been immersed in seawater, but that doesn’t mean that doing so isn’t cheaper than giving up half your payload.

      • I’ve been ruminating a little more, and your own numbers (and Elon’s numbers) make no sense.
        Say for the sake of argument that your figures of 5% fuel and 95% rocket are correct – Even then, Elon’s supposed two order of magnitude cost reduction would be an abject impossibility. Even if the rocket were free and had zero refurbishment cost, the best that one could get would be launching for the price of fuel, or 5% of what it costs with an expendable rocket. That says nothing of the other costs involved in space launches. I’d have to guess that logistics and support account for at least half the cost of a space launch, and that amount only gets higher when the vehicle is reusable.
        Just because Elon decrees that they’ll be able to ‘gas and go’ with another launch doesn’t make it so. The cost of post-flight processing was largely overlooked (or underestimated) in developing the Space Shuttle, and it’s not going away with any new reusable launch system. As for having supposedly proven that a soft landing can be done, the Grasshopper is nothing more than a neat toy – it’s the furthest thing from a SSTO launch vehicle. And ULA’s idea of snagging a parachuting first stage out of the air may be the kind of visual drama that Musk employs, but it’s another of the same things that aerospace companies have been doing for years, that end up going nowhere – anyone remember the XF-85? If there’s one industry with a long and storied history of flushing money down the toilet in spectacular fashion, it’s aerospace.
        Say all you want about Elon having done the math… I have yet to see anything to dispel the notion that he’s a pathological liar.

    • @Bennett In Vermont…
      Actually, what he says has quite a bit of truth to it, so take the time & try again.
      With the depth & reasoning of your last post, I’m intrigued as to your disagreement …/sarc

  19. Here is a break down for the subsidies, I don’t see any contracts in this:
    “TESLA MOTORS: $2.391 billion total
    $1.29 billion — Nevada tax incentives for Gigafactory
    $45 million — Value of discounted Department of Energy loan
    $90 million — California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority
    $517.2 million — Sale of California and other regulatory credits
    $284 million — Estimated value of federal income tax credits for eligible U.S. buyers of Model S sedans
    $38 million — Value of California rebate for California buyers of Model S sedans
    $126 million — California Self-Generation Incentive Program
    $647,626 — California job training reimbursement
    SOLARCITY: $2.516 billion total
    $750 million — New York State cost to build solar panel factory
    $1.5 billion — Estimated value of 30% subsidy for solar installation since 2006, including at least $497 million in Treasury grants
    $5.6 million — Oregon tax credits and rebates
    $260 million — New York local property tax exemptions
    $20 million — Texas state and local incentives and rebates for space launch facility near Brownsville”

  20. The Tesla Model S is styled well, roomy, comfortable, great handling, quiet, powerful, and a gadget bedecked automobile with the longest range of any pure electric car ever built. It’s priced in the low/mid range of luxury sedans and suitable for urban travel. Taking advantage of government incentives is smart business. My complaint is this is part of the CO2 as a demon circus by the US government that ….once again….misses the mark because the target consumer is too small to make any effect on energy conservation. Had they stipulated that part of the incentive criteria was making the car affordable to the masses we would have received more for our money. Musk claims future models will be “more affordable” and we shall see. I support electric cars for their obvious advantages over ICE in urban transportation.

  21. How Tesla got Nevada to give it $1.4B in exchange for a giant battery factory
    Note it includes electricity discounts while others pay full fare!
    “A recent Fortune story explains, step by step, what went on behind the scenes as various states jockeyed for Tesla’s favor. Ultimately, Nevada won out by giving Tesla a generous package of incentives, including:
    20 years without paying sales tax on equipment and construction materials (worth $725.8 million)
    10 years of zero property taxes ($349 million)
    10 years of discounts on payroll taxes ($29.4 million)
    $195 million in tax credits from a program originally meant to benefit filmmakers and insurance companies
    $113 million in Nevada state funds committed to building a new four-lane highway from U.S. Route 50 to the Gigafactory location
    $8 million in electricity discounts for Tesla
    980 acres, paid for by the state, in a desert location east of Reno
    A bill to legalize direct car sales in Nevada, a serious point of contention between Tesla and most other states”
    Much of this for a car that only the super rich can afford.

    • Consider for a second that Nevada is the same state that has repeatedly sent Harry Reid to Washington.
      Suddenly, throwing $1.4B at Tesla sounds like one of the more prudent things they’ve done.

  22. uh oh josh –
    ***the liquid in that ottle suggests you know this slang term!
    2 June: UK Daily Mail: AAP: Coalition MP breaks ranks on RET (Renewable Energy Target)
    Nationals MP Keith Pitt said the draft laws paring back the target from 41,000 gigawatt hours to 33,000 would only increase the cost of electricity for those who could least afford it, and slug taxpayers billions of dollars to subsidise private enterprise.
    “And come 2020, environmentalists will have little to show for it other than a warm and fuzzy feeling,” he told the lower house on Tuesday.
    Another coalition backbencher also voiced concern with the draft laws, saying the target simply won’t work.
    Liberal Craig Kelly said the legislation, which requires 20 per cent of Australia’s energy to come from renewables by 2020, would lead the nation backwards in terms of productivity.
    He questioned how building 2,000 wind turbines would reduce the impact of climate change.
    “It is little different from those in primitive societies that believed that we can change the weather by throwing 2,000 virgins down a volcano,” Mr Kelly said.
    The costs of investing in solar panels would outweigh the benefits, he said.
    ***”The investment will see $9 billion of our nation’s limited and precious resources – excuse the language – simply pissed up against the window.”
    it is not made clear in the following whether Kelly ended up voting for the bill or whether his vote, like Pitt’s, was not counted:
    3 June: 9 News Australia: AAP: RET bill passes lower house
    Legislation paring back the renewable energy target to a bipartisan 33,000 gigawatt hours has passed the lower house
    Nationals MP Keith Pitt broke ranks during debate on the legislation…
    However, his vote was not formally counted among those in opposition, with only independents Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie voting against the bill…

  23. Which of these sources of non-dilutive funding should Musk be turning down, and how should he explain the decision to forgo the funds to his shareholders? You have to play the game with the set of rules that exist.

    • I am a bit surprised that many here are bagging one of the great entrepreneurs of our time. How much is NASA now saving because of SpaceX carrying payloads to the Space Station? If he had several options to place the solar factory, should he have avoided all states that offered inducements? The mind boggles. Industries of all types get inducements to bring employment to specific states all the time. Yet Musk’s subsidies are tainted, while others are OK?
      It is also well established that he has put all his money where his mouth is … once again, something that used to be celebrated in the USA. What happened? The problem would seem to be with legislators if the subsidies are ill-conceived, but you are attacking someone for taking advantage of inducements on offer.
      The lynch mob mentality here certainly doesn’t do this web site any favours.

      • Bulldust</strong>- Try this: Since the advent of the internet, more citizens are aware that the government picks winners and losers in the economy, always and ultimately, by force. Sam makes out like a bandit and Bill, Mary and Alice have less money in their pocket. The money issue is endemic to government at all levels.
        Now, we find that the schemes which the government supports the most, are exactly too often made in order to support the government's own agenda of increasing its power over the citizenry.
        This article is about Elon Musk, the poster boy for beneficiaries of gov't largesse in regard to the two points I just made. You've made some good points, but chastising the readership for talking about the obvious downsides to Musk's efforts doesn't do you any favors, but does lend credence to your name as being apropos to your remarks.

      • LOL the ole Bulldust how apt remark /yawn at ad homs
        The point is that the commentators here appear to be increasingly politicised these days. They see green (aka watermelon red) and go batcr@p crazy. I much preferred the site when it was a bit more scientifically oriented and aloof. These kind of posts and the associated commentary detract from the more serious aspects of the site – but that is just my opinion. Obviously it is Anthony’s site and discretion as always, and I respect him immensely.
        I am a long-tim reader here, but less and less a commentator, largely for the reasons outlined above.

  24. Elon Musk is clearly both very bright and very successful. How someone who is so successful and so bright can believe in CO2 caused runaway global warming is totally beyond me. It just goes to show that being bright and successful does not guarantee a proper understanding of genuinely reproducible evidence based science. He must know that there has been no warming for 18+ years or more.

    • There are many bright (and rich/powerful) people who are all aboard the CAGW bandwagon. That they disregard clear evidence which refutes the CAGW meme, while lining their pockets by way of their advocacy, really tells the tale.

  25. No-one with the name “Elon Musk” could ever be taken seriously, however many “achievements” fall into his lap from the generous American tax-payer.

  26. To guard against social faux pas here is a phonetic guide on how to pronounce the writing on the featured bottle of eau de toilette:
    Elon Musk
    Parfum de blob

    Should sound like:
    Ey – lohn Moose
    Stonn – shh
    Parr – fumm d’ blow
    Pa – ree

  27. Tesla is a diversion.
    In the society run by loonies and corrupt loony wooers one has to [focus] their attention on something shiny and useless enough to be approved — while doing something useful, something they would stop immediately if only they could realize, what exactly. But I am talking too much already.

    • Heh, TANJ. But I harbor similar thoughts to explain EM’s path through the wickets. Mars or Bust.

  28. Musk does deserve credit for forging ahead to achieve economies of scale in the battery segment, but that is now about to be wasted on all electric vehicles in place of the 10x potential benefit of 200 mpg cars and crossovers that could have been produced with those batteries. The big disconnect between the overly conservative Toyota Prius battery and the Musk all electric battery push is a tragedy.

    • What economies of scale? If anything, he’s taken advantage of the economies of scale that already existed for laptop cell production, and exploited them for use as a niche automotive battery. Try scaling the energy content of the Panasonic cells up to what would be required for 1,000,000 Nissan Leafs per year (let alone 1,000,000 Model S) and watch what happens to the price of Lithium.

  29. The SpaceX $20 million can’t be counted as Green subsidy.
    The LA Times piece counts ALL of the solar subsidies everywhere as being in favor of this one company.
    Even Climate Scientists know that’s bad math!

    • Eh… no matter how one splits one’s ledger, the fact is that bilking the taxpayer should always appear on the bad side.

  30. If you are a business man, and your competitors have a shot at almost $5 billion of free money, are you going to be dumb enough to let them get it? Musk is no Solyndra. Pick your targets better. With SpaceX and Tesla at least we have some things to be a little proud to call American. These things work and they are going to get much, much better. And maybe we’ll get the HyperLoop.
    My worry is excellent business leaders like Musk might get used to the easy cash and become dependent on it. I hope he avoids the trap. Obama, et al., can’t stand the idea someone can succeed on their own. Government prefers to pick the winners and losers, and then they have servants instead of entrepreneurs. Mostly, that serves govt purposes better, while it falls well short for us.

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