- Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, was named TIME’s 2021 person of the year.
- He said in an interview he does not think the government should be involved in people’s assets.
- But government subsidies allowed him to grow his wealth through electric vehicles and solar power.
Elon Musk — the world’s richest person and TIME’s 2021 person of the year — is biting the hand that feeds him.
With a net worth of $297 billion, Musk is a vocal opponent of increased taxes on the rich, including government involvement in all of his financial assets. He responded to Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden’s “billionaire’s tax” proposal — a tax on wealthy people’s assets — with a vulgar response to Wdyen’s appearance on Twitter. He’s remained firm in his stance that the government should stay out of his wealth.
“They’re basically saying they want control of the assets,” Musk said in a recent interview with TIME. “This does not result in, actually, the good of the people. You want those who are managing capital to be good stewards of capital. And I think the government is inherently not a good steward of capital.”
However, government subsidies are largely to thank for the mountains of money Musk holds today. As the founder of electric vehicle company Tesla, the Wall Street Journal reported that Musk received a $465 million loan from the Energy Department in 2010 that was paid back in 2013. The government’s $7,500 tax credit has also made purchasing Tesla vehicles cheaper for consumers, although that credit phased out for the company last year.
Musk’s space program has gotten a boost, as well. NASA selected SpaceX — Musk’s aerospace company — in April to work toward landing “commercial” humans on the moon with a contract award value of $2.89 billion.
Despite the early government support Tesla received, Musk has still spoken out against government subsidies, writing in a recent tweet that it “has always been Tesla’s view that all subsidies should be eliminated.”
—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 26, 2021
President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill recently signed into law included $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging infrastructure — something Musk also opposed during a Wall Street Journal summit.
“Do we need support for gas stations? We don’t,” Musk said. “There’s no need for support for a charging network. I would delete it. Delete.”
Despite his resistance to government involvement, it has helped Musk grow his fortune, and his stance remains unchanged even as progressive lawmakers continue to slam his wealth and demand he pay his fair share in taxes. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who spearheaded a tax on the ultrawealthy, wrote on Twitter that when someone like Musk “makes it big,” they should be held accountable for paying all their taxes.
—Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) December 13, 2021
And in response to a tweet last month from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders demanding the wealthy pay what they owe in taxes, Musk responded: “I keep forgetting that you’re still alive.”