Friday, June 7, 2013

The bogus Tesla backlash: What if the Internet saves the middle class? - Salon.com

The bogus Tesla backlash: What if the Internet saves the middle class? - Salon.com

The headline in the American Conservative invites an immediate rebuke. Of course not! In an era of high gas prices and global warming, how could a stylish electric car that is getting rave reviews from just about everyone possibly be conceived of as a threat?

The answer only gradually becomes clear in writer Jonathan Coppage’s provocative article. Tesla, it turns out, is really just a stand-in for the entire Silicon Valley change-the-world mythologizing apparatus. Like Amazon, like Google, like Facebook, Tesla’s paradigm-busting innovations pose a serious threat to the existing integrity of the social fabric. Want some more anti-Silicon Valley backlash? Here’s a hefty dose, courtesy of everyone’s favorite electric car.

The immediate context for this intriguing argument is Tesla’s ongoing fight, across the United States, with established car dealerships. Tesla wants to sell cars directly from its website, thereby cutting out the middleman.

The middlemen are not amused, and they are leaning on their political connections to squelch the Tesla challenge. In North Carolina, reports Coppage, “the state Senate’s Commerce Committee recently unanimously voted to approve a bill, backed by politically powerful auto dealers, that would prohibit direct sale of automobiles over the Internet.” It is also already against the law in nearly every state, for manufacturers to directly sell their own automobiles, online or off.

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