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Seeing ’em jump

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Obviously, Elon Musk turning into an alt-right fanatic was overdetermined, but his consistent misogyny and horrible treatment of workers is certainly a major factor:

Eight former SpaceX engineers filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk on Wednesday alleging sexual harassment and retaliation.

Musk, who founded SpaceX in 2002, “knowingly and purposefully created an unwelcome hostile work environment based upon his conduct of interjecting into the workplace vile sexual photographs, memes, and commentary that demeaned women and/or the LGBTQ+ community,” says the employees’ complaint, which was earlier reported by Bloomberg.

The complaint — which cites many of Musk’s Twitter posts making sexually explicit jokes — claims that Musk fostered “a perversely sexist culture at SpaceX.” Several of the plaintiffs say they “experienced direct harassment that mimicked Musk’s posts.” According to the suit, senior engineers often used phallic language during technical meetings, referring to mechanical parts as “chodes” and “schlongs.”

“It was also common for engineers to apply crude and demeaning names to products in an attempt at humor, often at the expense of women and LGBTQ+ individuals. For example, the name ‘Upskirt Camera’ was used for a camera on the first stage of the Falcon rocket that views the bottom of the second stage.” The complaint also cites a video “starring SpaceX’s upper management, including Vice President of Human Resources (HR) Brian Bjelde, President and CEO Gwynne Shotwell, and Elon Musk that mocks and makes light of sexual misconduct and banter.” 

In related news, I think Krugman made a great point recently about why American plutocrats are so eager to put tax cuts and deregulation over the survival of American democracy even though the financial benefits will not — as Biden once observed — actually materially affect their lives:

Second, at some level I don’t really think it’s about the money. How much difference does it make to a billionaire’s quality of life if he has to settle for a slightly smaller superyacht? At the top of the pyramid, wealth is largely about status and self-importance; as Tom Wolfe wrote long ago, it’s about “seeing ’em jump.”

And when politicians don’t jump, when they don’t treat the very wealthy with the deference and admiration they consider their due, some of them become enraged. We saw this when many Wall Streeters turned on President Barack Obama — after he helped bail them out in the financial crisis — because they felt insulted by his occasional criticisms.

They’re doing great under Biden, but Trump winning means a government essentially acting as their personal executive council, and that matters more than anything.

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