This situation is wrong, and dangerous for the world

You might have expected a picture of Elon Musk, but here’s another guy…

A few months ago, when everyone was having a cow over Elon Musk buying Twitter — and that’s what we call it, Twitter — I didn’t say a lot. I figured as long as it kept functioning, that was good, and we would see.

Also, I didn’t want to write anything about Elon Musk, in part because I think he enjoys having people write about him.

But in recent days, prompted by a gradual awakening I see out there among major media, I’ve been reading and hearing more about Starlink… and about other things. I had just mentioned that again, in an Open Thread on Thursday, when I saw more on the same subject, and tweeted this:

This is no longer about some social medium I enjoy but we can all live without, or absurdly expensive electric cars, or even (more seriously) our nation’s increasing dependence upon Space X. This is about national security. It is about whether Vladimir Putin will succeed in crushing a neighboring country into nonexistence, or be stopped by the collective efforts of NATO, the United States, and the brave people of Ukraine.

And that cannot be allowed to hang on the flighty moods of one demonstrably unstable man, who likes to buddy up to Putin, and is entangled with the oppressive Chinese regime.

But what, you ask, are we to do? The guy OWNS most of the satellites in space, so our hands are tied, right? No. Sometimes a nation realizes that there are more important considerations than private ownership of … land, railroads, oil, coal mines, satellites, or whatever.

I point to the trust-busting steps taken by Theodore Roosevelt and others in response to the ill effects of J.P. Morgan and others (such as Mr. E. H. Harriman of the Union Pacific Railroad) owning too many things of critical national importance.

I don’t want to kick off another big ideological argument about wealth between the social democrats and the Ayn Randians. I’m a pragmatist. I’m a guy who has no problem with the “billionayuhs” Bernie likes to rant about. In a free country, some people will always have more money than other people.

Aside from that, J.P. Morgan did a lot for this country, and the world. In the First World War, he kept the Allies afloat until this country could shake off its usual habitual isolationism.

But sometimes, a trust just needs bustin’. Seriously, folks — Teddy Roosevelt got along fine with J.P. Morgan much of the time. T.R. was no Marxist. He was a rich guy, who was comfortable with other rich guys. But when a different course was needed for the sake of the nation, he went that way.

This world isn’t about following absolute, ideological precepts. (Or, as I like to say, ones and zeroes.) It’s about looking at a situation, and deciding what would make it better. And this situation isn’t about an immature man wanting to call Twitter something other than what it is. Lives are at stake. Something needs to be done.

10 thoughts on “This situation is wrong, and dangerous for the world

  1. Doug Ross

    So buy Elon out.. pay him billions for the technology he created.

    You worry too much about Putin and Russia. It’s not 1963.

  2. bud

    In classic Brad Warthen fashion we have excellent description of a big problem followed by a face plant regarding the solution. Bernie is absolutely 100% correct when it comes to income inequality and market concentration. Brad loves to criticize ones and zeros treatment of complicated and nuanced problems. And in many aspects of the world, interest rates for example, that is an important critique. But gross levels of income inequality are dangerous to the financial health and security of the people. Elon Musk, Keff Bezos and Bill Gates have far too much influence solely because of their wealth. Teddy Roosevelt Bernie have it right. Brad, is only half right.

  3. Ken

    From a recent article on the ethos of Silicon Valley:

    “What unites them is a commitment to disruption. Disruption is not merely a business strategy but a worldview that celebrates the creative destruction of existing institutions. It also contains a particular theory of history: that technology makes the past, along with the forms of expertise that arise from studying it, irrelevant.”

    The past doesn’t matter. Expertise is valued only in certain (technical) fields. Destruction as a fundamental motivator and goal. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that these are also elements of an ethos operating in parts of contemporary American political life as well.

  4. Doug Ross

    Do you also expect American defense contractors to provide weapons to Ukraine for free? That would be the patriotic thing to do, right? And why not send out troops into Ukraine to help?

    It’s really odd that Elon Musk is now the critical resource for Ukraine while at the same time Democrats are doing everything in their power to shut him down and bankrupt him. It’s almost like there is a coordinated effort to punish him for not submitting to the liberal agenda. No, that couldn’t happen..

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I could be mistaken about this, but I didn’t think Musk was currently providing this service “for free.”

      As I understand it, Musk said it was costing him a bunch sometime back, and the Pentagon started paying Space X for it…

    2. Barry

      defense contractors – where-ever they are in the world- and some are not in the United States- aren’t publicly toying with the idea to flip a switch to make their equipment not work – on a personal whim.

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