One of the many things that drive me crazy about this country is how our long tradition of venerating capitalists as larger than life figures with moral or political or cultural values we should emulate. This goes back a long way, as late 19th century capitalists such as Andrew Carnegie began trying to shape their own legacy, in his case after the Homestead disaster. Henry Ford was seen this way after his $5 day, at least until he went full anti-Semitic. Even Donald Trump was envisioned in a heroic way after The Art of the Deal was published. In more recent years, we’ve seen people such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg be brought into cities to help reform education, even though the total qualification they have is being rich in fields completely unrelated to education. It takes a certain kind of capitalist that fits a time period for this; Trump worked because it was the 80s, but for liberal-progressive types, the capitalist in question needs to have an image of progressive, whether in vision of the economy, product created, or social values. This is how Steve Jobs, who was a real psychopath in his behavior, was so venerated in the years before and just after he died. In fact, I remember the comment sections in my early years at LGM when I would criticize Apple’s labor practices and commenters would defend Apple in a way they would defend no other company based on the solid labor principle that they admired Jobs and liked Apple products. This wouldn’t happen with someone as cartoonishly evil as actual vampire Peter Thiel, but it sure has with Elon Musk. That guy is seen as some futuristic genius that has captured the imagination of way too many people. But he’s just another anti-union hack and this response to the United Auto Workers is eye-rolling in its ridiculousness.
Tesla Inc.’s trial before a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge began with a lawyer for the electric-car maker accusing the United Auto Workers of waging a smear campaign on its billionaire chief executive officer, Elon Musk.
“That’s what this trial is — it’s a gotcha moment,” Tesla attorney Mark Ross said during his opening statement from the federal building and U.S. courthouse in Oakland, California. “This entire trial is an infomercial in an effort to place Mr. Musk and the company in a negative light.”
A smear campaign against St. Musk because workers want a union. OK.
Ross spoke after opening statements by attorneys for the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel and the UAW. The judge in the case is considering allegations that Tesla management violated federal labor laws by restricting employees from organizing activities, maintaining a strict confidentiality policy that infringed on workers’ rights, trying to stop employees from discussing safety issues and retaliating against pro-union workers. The company has said the claims have no merit.
“What we see is a very heavy-handed anti-union campaign which has affected all levels of workers’ lives,” UAW attorney Margo Feinberg told the administrative law judge. Feinberg cited a recent tweet by Musk as evidence of Musk’s “targeting” of workers who have been leaders in the unionizing effort.
Sounds like a smear campaign to me!