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FLOWERS: Musk’s Twitter Stock Stake Brings Hope Censorship Will End

“Elon’s coming, You can tweet, girl

Elon’s coming, You can tweet, girl

Girl, Elon’s a coming no need to hide

Girl, Elon’s a coming no need to hide

Girl, Elon’s coming, Trump might tweet too…”

I’ve been singing this to the tune of “Eli’s Coming” by Three Dog Night ever since I heard the Tesla founder just bought a sizeable stake in Twitter. It’s not that I think things are going to change overnight, or that President Donald Trump will be gracing us anytime soon with midnight commentaries from the golden bidet.

However, the fact that an accomplished capitalist has decided to look in the face of censorship–and call it what it is–fills me with a hope I haven’t felt since the initial days of the Black Lives Matter riots. I suppose I should call them protests, because “riot” was one of the words that used to get you banned from social media platforms back when Orwell was just an old, dead White guy with no current relevance.

But, Elon’s coming, and with him the possibility that people will actually be able to express themselves without fear of using the wrong word, an improvident letter, an offensive pronoun. Musk may not be the sort of change agent we need in these censored times, but he’s a start.

The thing that seemed to push him over the edge into action was Twitter’s decision to suspend the satirical site, Babylon Bee, because it had the audacity to point out the fact that Rachel Levine is a biological male. Yes, she is a trans woman who spent the vast majority of her life as a man. Yes, she was praised by USA Today as one of its “Women of the Year,” (Unlike Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the newspaper can at least propose one definition of the term.) And yes, it’s not nice to make fun of people.

But, um, that’s what satire is, and really good satire can sting. The Babylon Bee has an exquisite sting (hence the name), and there are many of us who need our daily dose of what I like to call “uncommon nonsense” from some of the best writers in the business. Its sharp, perceptive, sometimes cruel but always entertaining, and intelligent commentary is water in the ideological desert, at least for thirsty conservatives.

Twitter, however, wasn’t amused. When Elon Musk saw this technological megalith was selectively silencing people who violated the accepted standards of woke virtue and secular sacrament, he did what any good entrepreneur would do: he bought himself some power. I love the fact that, in this case, money really did talk. Or rather, tweet.

Of course, progressives are apoplectic. They started out pretending that it was no big deal and that Musk’s share of the company wouldn’t change its direction. Then, when he was asked to sit on the board, they started talking about how Twitter wasn’t a governmental entity and the constitutional principles that they usually venerate (choice, equality, fairness) didn’t apply to the marketplace of ideas.

Fortunately for them, Elon has, at least temporarily, decided that he won’t join the board. This might be because he would have been limited to only a 14.9 percent stake in the company as a board member, and could exercise greater financial control if he wasn’t on the board.

Regardless, his decision not to assume an official leadership position hasn’t stopped the apoplexy.

The thing that these triggered Twittorwellians don’t understand is that the marketplace is not just composed of government actors.  If a private company reaches such mammoth dimensions that it essentially “becomes” the marketplace. It is a quasi-governmental entity, and I think that Justices Brandeis and Holmes would agree that the First Amendment has at least some relevance.

Watching progressives sweat is both a delight and an inspiration. I don’t have the billions that Elon Musk does, but I think I will start using my own limited wallet to make my voice heard. I’ll cancel my subscription to WHYY because it no longer welcomes conservative voices. I already canceled my subscription to Disney Plus because of its support for inappropriate content for toddlers. The Inquirer, which seems to think White people killed Christ and did a lot of other things to destroy the universe, is now lining my lizard’s cage. Elon is an inspiration.

But beyond the money, it’s good to see a public figure step up and defend speech, all speech, regardless of content, against the ideological Stalinists. And it’s really great to know that Elon’s coming, and we don’t need to hide our tweets, anymore.

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McGILLIS: California Has It Wrong on EV Mandate; Pennsylvania Shouldn’t Follow Suit

Notorious for its crime and its outrageous cost of living, California seems an odd choice for Pennsylvania to mimic. And yet, with the adoption of California’s onerous electric vehicle rules, the commonwealth would be doing just that.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has submitted a proposal for wholesale adoption of the California Air Resources Board’s electric vehicle (EV) program. The California rules import would impose new requirements on automakers and dealerships to stock lots with EVs.

In essence, the combined California-Pennsylvania mandate would command automakers to deliver increasing numbers of EVs for sale in Pennsylvania each year. Should they fail to meet the quotas, automakers will be required to buy credits from others that have banked them, like EV-only Tesla. There’s little doubt that adopting the California program would result in more EV proliferation. In the most recent data year, more than 7 percent of the new cars sold in California were EVs, leading the nation as a percentage of sales and pushing the cumulative number of EVs on the state’s roads to nearly half a million. But does the value-add of the program exceed the additional costs to the auto industry that eventually filter down to all of us? The evidence says no.

One commonly peddled myth about California’s EV program is that it increases consumer choice. The truth is there’s no barrier to EV purchases as it is and EV sales are already growing. In the last three years, the number of EV registrations in Pennsylvania has tripled.

While for some families, especially those with smaller budgets or more kids, EVs make little sense; for others, EVs are a smart choice, particularly if they have the luxury of another longer-ranger vehicle for road trips. In the open market, EVs have already earned a significant share of sales and are here to stay. They don’t need more help.

The great irony is the world’s leading electric vehicle mogul, Elon Musk, agrees. According to Musk, the government should “get out of the way and not impede progress,” serving more as a “referee” and less as a “player on the field.”

Of course, Pennsylvania’s adoption of California’s rules would be just one small part of a larger government push for EVs. Other parts of this agenda include the existing $7,500 tax credit for the wealthy car buyers who choose to go electric and the proposed $7.5 billion of spending on subsidized EV charging stations.

“Rules and regulations are immortal,” Musk said at The Wall Street Journal’s December CEO Council event. “They don’t die. The vast majority of rules and regulations live forever … there’s not really an effective garbage collection system for removing rules and regulations, so this hardens the arteries of civilization where you are able to do less and less over time.”

Convoluted programs like California’s EV rules are prime exhibits of this odious phenomenon, clogging our economy with red tape that only drives up costs.

No state shows the harms of government tangles like California. Ranking 48th in the Cato Institute’s state economic freedom list, California also has the highest poverty rate in the country and is among the states with the highest levels of income inequality.

EV subsidies and requirements do nothing to resolve these issues, and likely make them worse. With its requirements on automakers and dealers and its extensive state subsidies for buyers, California policy is shifting the cost of expensive EVs onto the general public, despite the fact that EV buyers are far richer than average.

While just over 30 percent of U.S. households have an annual income in excess of $100,000, more than 55 percent of new EV buyers do. Even looking at the used car market, the EV purchases skew severely towards the rich. In California for example, the average income of a used EV buyer is 66 percent higher than the average income of someone buying a conventional used car.

Adding insult to injury, EV evangelists like Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tout the savings a household will benefit from in the absence of weekly tank fill-ups, seemingly forgetting that the average household cannot afford the delta in upfront purchase costs between expensive EVs and more affordable, comparable, conventional cars. Compounding this injustice, California taxes gasoline purchases at the highest clip in the nation while giving wealthy EV drivers a free pass to use the same infrastructure shared by everyone.

EV policies are a microcosm of California’s two-tiered society. It’s not a model Pennsylvania should follow.

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