By on March 17, 2009

There are a lot of places you’d expect to find a defense of trickle down economics (the idea that wealthy people create jobs for people further down the food chain). National Public Radio is not one of them. And yet there it is: the publicly-funded [via rich people] bastion of liberalism ran a piece thanking Mr. and Mrs. Moneybags for . . . buying the Tesla Roadster. Otherwise, Tesla wouldn’t have the capital to build cheaper Teslas for the rest of us (providing you exclude their applications for federal funding, paid for by rich people). “Using money from rich customers to fuel mass-market production is a fairly common business model,” NPR’s reporter reports. “Think of the Tesla Roadster as the $2000 cell phone of 1985,” Tesla spinmeister, Diarmuid O’Connell, suggests helpfully. Is it a coincidence that the DeLorean-lauding movie Back to the Future came out that year? Probably. Anyway, “O’Connell says we take for granted our easy access to cheap products, and forget the role of the rich in making it happen. He says we wouldn’t enjoy such low airfares today if it weren’t for the initial wealthy travelers.” Me, I worship first class passengers. Anyway, big news! New car!

DIARMUID O’CONNELL: We’ll be shortly introducing what we call the Model S, which is a four-door, five-passenger sedan, which will retail — after a federal tax credit — for $49,000.

The Model S is being unveiled next week. But O’Connell says there’s a less expensive, zero-emissions car in the works.

O’CONNELL: We’re already looking at our third vehicle, which is targeted at a $30,000 price point. And building in the hundreds of thousands.

So much for champagne dreams and caviar cars, then.

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28 Comments on “Tesla Birth Watch 42: NPR Hearts Rich People… Third Model!...”

  • avatar

    Tesla is working on their third car before they raise the funds needed to fill the remaining orders for their current car?…oh wait, I get it.

  • avatar

    I’ve never been hired by a broke person… and never will.

    Lots of young, idealistic kids think it’s a great idea to take and spend other people’s money in the interest of “doing good”. Then they grow up, get a job, and work hard for years just to still be barely getting by and realize that it is THEIR money funding all these causes and maybe it isn’t such a great idea after all.

  • avatar

    Of course NPR loves rich people, who do you think they get their money from?

  • avatar

    I have zero money, but I give some to NPR. And Marketplace is it’s own show, broadcast via the NPR network.

  • avatar

    guyincognito –

    Hey, give ’em credit for trying. Bernie Madoff rode that wave for years.

  • avatar

    I wonder from where they think rich people get all their money.

  • avatar

    I wonder from where they think rich people get all their money.

    Well, most of the ones in the Banking Industry got it from the Government…..

    3rd model for Tesla already?


    Because the development engineers don’t have anything left to do on the first two models, and they’re bored.

    Reminds me of the old saying….

    “Where there’s smoke, there’s a mirror somewhere.”

  • avatar

    I think your points on Tesla are valid – it’s definitely too early for them to start touting a 3rd model.

    However, I don’t understand your disdain for the general point of the story. It’s not a new concept – think of all the technologies that have debuted at outrageous prices, but in a few years, you either see the same thing for a fraction of the price, or you see some of that technology being used in a cheaper model (look at the latest whiz-bang processors from Intel/AMD, video cards, cell phone technology, digital cameras, etc.) It’s those who are well-off enough to afford those initial prices who help bring the price down for future generations of the product.

    Unless you think Fox News is truly fair and balanced, I don’t see how you can call NPR a “bastion of liberalism”. I listen to it every day, and in comparison with any other news network that I hear on a regular basis, it’s the most even-handed.

    As Proscriptus says, this isn’t even by NPR, it’s a show American Public Media, which airs on some NPR affiliates. This is like blaming the Tribune Company for an AP article appearing in the Chicago Tribune.

  • avatar

    … rhymes with Fonzi.


  • avatar

    This is an example of a companies marketing and financing strategy – not trickle down economics. Would you argue that
    Ford selling millions of cheap cars to pay for the GT40 program was an example of trickle up economics?

    Trickle down economics is pure idiocy and fails even the simplest sniff test. If you have a 100 peaple with a moderate amount of money and assets, you will have years of economic activity in which a few peaple get rich, a few get poorer, and most prosper. If you have 98 poor peaple and 2 rich peaple, the rich will sit on their money, you will have almost no economic activity, and everyone will grow poorer – leading to violence and political instability. You can find examples of this kind of situation all over the third world.

    The idea that rich peaple somehow hand out jobs just because they have the capitol to do it is a folksy fantasy. No rich person ever gave anyone a job unless there was demand for a product or service that hiring an employee helped meet, but plenty of poor peaple have become rich meeting demands in the market place without any rich persons blessing.

  • avatar

    Gotta love this tidbit from Wikipedia:

    “A study conducted in 2003 by the polling firm Knowledge Networks and the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes showed that those who get their news and information from public broadcasting (NPR and PBS) are better informed than those whose information comes from other media outlets, including cable and broadcast TV networks and the print media. In particular, 80% of Fox News viewers held at least one of three common misperceptions about the Iraq War; only 23% of NPR listeners and PBS viewers were similarly misinformed.”

    Evidently the truth is liberal.

    trickle down economics (the idea that wealthy people create jobs for people further down the food chain)

    Trickle down economics is an elitist idea that the tax and regulation policy should favor the wealthy. It is better known as voodoo economics. It failed because it did not take into account that in the world of crony capitalism it is easier to make money using financial witchcraft than by building business that hire people. We gave away the farm and got nothing in return.

  • avatar

    I have to respectfully disagree. I don’t believe they’re talking about trickle down economics at all, it’s early adopters falling on a sword to get the latest and greatest bleeding edge stuff before economies of scale set in. It’s the same as the current fastest PC, early flat screen tv’s and really any technology that’s new. If you want it first you’ve got to pay for the privelage. And it’s those people that keep the technology and progress moving (and the companies in business long enough) so the rest of us can get the benefits later. Keep in mind this could be folks from the middle or upper class, the difference being that rich folks that just buy it because they can and may not be directly interested, and middle class folks buy it because they REALLY want that specific thing.

    Trickle down economics on the other hand, yeah that doesn’t work.

  • avatar

    NPR took a hard turn to the right post 911 and when they took the widow Croc’s rather enormous endowment of burger money. And they pretend to be unbiased, so it would not surprise me to hear them defend supply-side economics to combat their perceived liberal bias.

    I don’t listen to Marketplace anymore but I thought it was a PRI production. Not everything on public radio is NPR, though it’s true that most public radio is on the NPR teat.

  • avatar

    Qwerty: Evidently the truth is liberal.

    No, that only proves that certain people do better answering pop-quiz style questions. Doesn’t prove that the correct answers are “liberal” or “conservative.”

    Qwerty: Trickle down economics is an elitist idea that the tax and regulation policy should favor the wealthy.

    It might be a good idea to properly define a theory if you are going to talk about it.

    Trickle-down theory is based on the idea that investments by the wealthy will result in jobs and therefore income for those lower on the income scale. It is not a good idea to levy onerous taxes on the wealthy, as this discourages them to invest the money. We can debate whether this is valid or not, but that is how its proponents claim it will work.

    Incidentally, one of the proponents of this theory is the well-known conservative Republican, Alec Baldwin. He recently claimed that if New York Governor Dave Paterson eliminates the 35 percent tax break for films and television shows shot in New York, his show – 30 Rock – will pack up and move elsewhere, taking the jobs associated with the show with it.

    His exact words: “If these tax breaks are not reinstated in the budget, film production in this town is going to collapse, and television is going to collapse and it’s all going to California.”

    Wow…taxes DO matter, at least according to Mr. Baldwin.

    Alec Baldwin as a closet, supply-side Republican who evidently believes in the trickle-down theory. Who knew?!

  • avatar

    I have long ago re-named “trickle-down economics”- it should be called ECONOMICS.

    I grew up in the poor-lower middle class borderland and am currently still middle class-we live in constant denial as a class rather than admit that we don’t have what they have because we haven’t bothered to learn how (working on it).

    The un-ethical wealthy do not represent their class any more than lazy blue collar workers do theirs.


  • avatar

    All of you who think NPR is funded by “rich people” must be living on a diet of dog food.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    Would someone please give me the number. How much money do I have to make to be considered rich?

    Really, at what income are you considered wealthy by NPR or Obama.

    And Robert, don’t say, “when you can fly first class”.

  • avatar

    @Johnny Canada

    I believe it’s when you’re above $250K per year – i.e. when the tax breaks start to not apply to you.

  • avatar

    The current comedy-hours that pass for “conservative” or “liberal” economic philosophy are both “trickle-down” economics of the worst sort.

    If you’re a liberal, you’re all for the money trickling down from Beijing Washington D.C. I mean, really, what is the “stimulus package” if not trickle down economics? So the crumbs roll down the government’s hill instead of some rich guy’s hill. Still trickles down as best I can tell.

    If you’re a conservative, you’d rather the crumb come falling down through the cracks of New York City…Wall Street and Park Avenue are cool sewers to go troll for crumbs these days I hear.

    I say we should stop being compelled by the rigged game that is the US financial system to have to send so much capital to the snakes on the East Coast. I’m tired of those bums.

  • avatar

    Stephen Colbert at the White House Press Corps Dinner: “….and Reality has a well-known liberal bias….” [joke]

  • avatar

    Mr. Colbert needs to tell that to Mr. Baldwin, who is sounding awfully conservative these days, at least when it applies to tax breaks that apply to him.

    For that matter, judging by recent revelations surrounding several of President Obama’s nominees, it appears that they don’t like paying them either. Or maybe they are secret followers of the late Leona Helmsely.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada


    Has anyone in the Obama administration said that if you make 250k per year gross, “you are rich”.

  • avatar
    tesla deathwatcher

    Tesla’s “third car” is old news. They have been working on it for over five years now. It’s always been part of the plan.

  • avatar

    Actually the trickle down economics is when rich people build industry in the USA and then hire people to work in he industry and build things. Instead we have a bunch of crooks on Wall Street and in the government that don’t really produce anything but magically produce wealth and spend the wealth. So now we have a country with a large spending habit and no way to produce money to pay for that spending habit. It is like a person with no job running up a credit card tab only to realize now they need to pay the tab.

  • avatar

    Marketplace is one of the better programs on Welfare RadioNPR. However, a little more skepticism when it comes to Tesla’s promises was in order.

    The whole range of media has fallen for a lot of hype regarding electric cars. They’ll be status symbols for the wealthy for a very long time before the masses start buying.

  • avatar

    @Bunter1: You are right. And keep working on it.

    A rich guy is somebody who has a dollar more than you do.

    Whoever doesn’t think trickle-down economics works should ask themselves how much their boss or their company earns. If your company is losing money (GM), your job may be in jeopardy. The economic rules apply both ways.

    Exxon-Mobil employs 82000 people, yet they are criticized when they make a profit. Try telling that to an XOM employee, and then think about your own employer – do you want them to be “rich” or poor?

    And if you say these companies are “too rich”, then you really don’t believe in the free market.

    Most “rich” people don’t sit on their money and live in grass huts – they buy Teslas.

  • avatar

    First, Fox is conservatively biased AND NPR is liberally biased, and I catch them regularly. Big Deal.

    Second, many liberals, such as Alec Baldwin and Whoopi Goldberg, have no real core belief system so it’s not surprising to hear them waiver from the path. That’s not to say that there aren’t some liberals who do have a core ideology, nor that all conservatives understand their own belief system. I meet plenty of christian conservatives who can hardly even parrot conservative beliefs.

    Remember, the average IQ is 100.

  • avatar

    Some people here are confused as to the difference between rich companies and rich people. This does not surprise me in America.

    When Elon sees a window of opportunity to dump Tesla for a tidy profit on his investment, he’s going to be burning rubber right on out of there. Tesla employees be damned.

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