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Critics Say Elon Musk is ‘Worst Choice Ever’ For TIME’s Person Of The Year

Critics Say Elon Musk is ‘Worst Choice Ever’ For TIME’s Person Of The Year

Time magazine’s decision to make Tesla founder and billionaire Elon Musk its person of the year for 2021 has been criticized because of his attitude towards taxing billionaires, his opposition to unions, and a history of playing down the dangers of Covid.

Musk, who is also the founder and chief executive of space exploration company SpaceX, recently passed Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as the world’s wealthiest person as the rising price of Tesla shares pushed his net worth to around $300b.

SHANGHAI, Jan. 7, 2020 — Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks at a delivery ceremony for Tesla China-made Model 3 in Shanghai, east China, Jan. 7, 2020. U.S. electric carmaker Tesla officially launched its China-made Model Y program in its Shanghai gigafactory Tuesday, one year after the company broke ground on its first overseas plant. The first batch of China-produced Model 3 sedans was also delivered to its non-employee customers at an opening ceremony for the program.(Photo by Ding Ting/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Ding Ting via Getty Images)

The surprise announcement drew sharp criticism in the US, where Musk is a controversial figure because he, along with other prominent super-wealthy people, paid only small tax rates relative to the significant increase in his total wealth between 2014 and 2018 according to a ProPublica investigation this year, with Musk paying a “real” rate of 3.27%. While legal, the rates expose the failures of America’s tax laws to levy increases in wealth derived from assets in the way wages – the prime source of income for most Americans – are taxed.




Describing him as a “clown, genius, edgelord, visionary, industrialist, showman”, Time cited several of Musk’s endeavors, from his founding of SpaceX in 2002 to his help in creating the alternative energy company SolarCity in addition to Tesla, the most valuable car company in the world.

The magazine emphasized that its annual acknowledgment was not an award, but rather, “recognition of the person who had the most influence on the events of the year, for good or for ill”. The award has previously been bestowed to popes, Ebola healthcare workers, and Greta Thunberg, but also Hitler and Stalin, who received it twice. In 1982, it went to “The Computer”.

Musk also bombed earlier this year when his hosting stint on “Saturday Night Live” brought the show catastrophically low ratings.

Robert Reich, who served as labor secretary in the Clinton administration, said the announcement was a good time to remind people that he “illegally threatened to take away stock options if employees unionized”, an apparent reference to a 2019 National Labour Relations Board finding regarding a tweet in which Musk wrote: “Why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing?”

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Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted that the Time decision highlighted the need for the tax code to be reformed “so the person of the year will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else”. Musk responded by calling her “Senator Karen.”

That didn’t sit well with Twitter users, either.

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