Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman used his New York Times (NYSE:NYT) column to roast Elon Musk, claiming the Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) chief suffers from an “insecure ego” who is blocking the proposed “billionaires tax” out of pettiness and Ayn Rand-inspired political ideology.
To Have And Have Not: In his latest column titled “On Elon Musk and the Dangerous Power of Insecure Billionaires,” Krugman denigrated Musk’s pushback at the concept of the billionaires tax, which was presented as a means to finance President Joe Biden’s proposed multi-trillion-dollar domestic programs.
“Elon Musk doesn’t think visionaries like him should pay taxes the way little people do,” Krugman wrote. “After all, why hand over his money to dull bureaucrats? They’ll just squander it on pedestrian schemes like … bailing out Tesla at a crucial point in its development.
“Musk has his sights set on more important things, like getting humanity to Mars to ‘preserve the light of consciousness,’” he added.
John Galt To The Rescue: Krugman insisted Musk and others with $1-billion-plus net worth were using their political clout to “block Democratic plans to pay for much-needed social spending with a tax that would have affected only a few hundred people in a nation of more than 300 million.”
Krugman claimed the aversion of the wealthiest Americans to pay more in taxes was rooted in Rand’s 1957 “Atlas Shrugged” and its plot where “taxes and regulation induce wealth creators to withdraw to a hidden stronghold, causing economic and social collapse.”
Yet Musk has never been a supporter of Rand’s objectivist politics and once commented that “Atlas Shrugged” was “very appealing if you’re a sophomore in college,” adding that it was “a counterpoint to communism and useful as such, but should be tempered with kindness.”
Calling Dr. Freud: Krugman then attempted to psychoanalyze Musk, claiming his aversion to paying taxes could be the result of emotional turmoil.
“What I suspect, although I can’t prove it, is that what really drives someone like Musk is an insecure ego,” he continued. “He wants the world to acknowledge his unequaled greatness; taxing him like a ‘$400,000-a-year working Wall Street stiff’ (my favorite line from the movie ‘Wall Street’) would suggest that he isn’t a unique treasure, that maybe he indeed doesn’t deserve everything he has.”
Krugman also declared rich individuals like Musk surround themselves with “courtiers and flatterers” who feed their sense of self-worth, resulting in problems for those who lack their fortunes.
“The important point, however, is that the pettiness of billionaires comes along with vast power,” he added. “And the result is that all of us end up paying a steep price for their insecurity.”
Musk has not commented on Krugman’s column — his latest tweet from early Wednesday featured a cartoon of a surprised American astronaut finding the remains of Viking vessel on the surface of the moon.
Photo: Daniel Oberhaus/Flickr Creative Commons.