Tesla CEO Elon Musk has picked up yet another illustrious title. On Monday, Dec. 13, in addition to being literally the richest private citizen in the world, Musk has now been named by Time as its 2021 “Person of the Year.” For the better part of a century, the publication has chosen an individual or group who has “most shaped the previous 12 months, for better or for worse.”
Given the current climate and many people’s attitudes towards rich, white, male billionaires, we’ll leave it up to you to determine which category Musk falls into.
Though Time does point out that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was chosen in 1999 at the start of his e-commerce empire, and Mark Zuckerberg was likewise selected in 2010. So while you may or may not think Musk is necessarily in “good” company, you can’t argue that he’s not in fitting company.
Even in that rarefied crowd, Musk is in a class of his own. He sees his mission as solving the globe’s most intractable challenges, along the way disrupting multiple industries across two decades. These include what was once the core American creation, combustion-engine automobiles, and what was once the core American aspiration, spaceflight, as well as a litany of other manifestations of our present and future: infrastructure construction, artificial intelligence, neurotechnology, payment systems, and increasingly money itself through his dalliances with cryptocurrencies.
Be that as it may, following the announcement, many took to Twitter to highlight the “or worse” aspects of Musk’s inclusion into the hallowed ranks, which also includes Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Joseph Stalin (twice!), and Adolf Hitler. Despite the many contributions to progress Musk has made, more than a few people were quick to point out that he also doesn’t pay his taxes.
Others pointed out Musk’s various lawsuits and labor law violations:
The Twitter account for The Daily Show made a crack at Tesla’s self-driving cars that evidently, uh, need some more work.
And Public Citizen suggested that maybe we should be celebrating frontline workers instead?