A Step-By-Step Guide for Explaining Away Your Party's Crony Capitalism

Mother Jones' Kevin Drum writes the most depressing (or hilarious) piece you'll read all day, titled "How to Talk About Solyndra." Sample: "There was no scandal in the loan process, and there's nothing unusual about having a certain fraction of speculative programs like this fail. It's all part of the way the free market works."

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Kristen||

  • Kristen||

    Sorry - forgot to include a target=_blank in that link.

  • ||

    No worries. Most of us are well trained enough to select "open in new tab."

    Or, if you have reasonable, it displays in-line. ;-)

  • Kristen||

    Uncle Sam won't let me download anything on his network. Uncle Sam also won't let me use any other browser except IE7 (and I'm one of the fortunate few in the "test group" - most of the poor bastards around here are on IE6).

  • ||

    That's some rapid-fire adoption right there.

    I recall talking to some OMB IT guys in 2001, who were only starting the migration to Windows NT 4.0, released in 1996, because they received a "D" on a security audit.

    Yes, please. Let these same people run our health care industry. We should be approving blood letting as a an official procedure any day now.

  • KPres||

    But at least everybody will be bleeding equally.

  • Some Guy||

    Piece can be summed up as, "I hadn't drank the Kool-Aid for more than 15 minutes when I first heard about the indefensible Solyndra scandal. Then I drank a gallon or so and I'm fine now."

    Proper way of talking about it @ TDS. Good stuff around the 4 minute mark.

  • Old Mexican||

    "There was no scandal in the loan process, and there's nothing unusual about having a certain fraction of speculative programs like this fail. It's all part of the way the free market works."


    You're right - that's hilarious.

    It's also sad to see just how infantile and deluded these lefties have become.

  • ||

    I'm actually starting to enjoy it. It's car-wreck-like.

  • ||

    No. It is a car wreck, just slow motion to allow for extra Schadenfreude. The idea of Mother Jones telling us a five hundred million dollar loss to tax payers is okay because "that is how the market sometimes works" is too delicious for words.

  • ||

    Yes, but we are also reaching an epic "piss down our backs and tell us it's raining" content, here. I mean, do retards like Drum actually think we--or his opponents--are this fucking stupid? Is he this fucking stupid? Somebody is fucking stupid, and I know it's not us, so Drum is either a mongoloid, or he's almost one for thinking we'll believe this stuff.

  • ||

    Somebody is fucking stupid

    Those NYT and WaPo subscriber biases aren't going to confirm themselves, ya know.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Whether Drum is an idiot is not determinable from this article alone.

    However, Mother Jones would only employ him to write this drivel if it were popular with its readers. It seems reasonable to conclude that Mother Jones subscribers are indeed fucking stupid.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    It's not about stupidity--it's about affirming the confirmation biases of Mother Jones' readership.

  • ||

    The thing you have to remember is that people like Drum have spent their entire lives convinced not just they were right but that anyone on the Right were evil and racist. People like Drum derive a tremendous sense of self confidence and superiority from their political views. Well in 2008, they finally got a lot of what they wanted. And it is ending in epic failure. That is a real problem for Drum and the Mother Jones readers. Could their ideas be wrong? Could maybe the people on the Right not be racist and evil after all? Those are disturbing questions lurking in the back of their minds. And they will pretty much go through any mental gymnastics or denial to avoid confronting them. That is the source of the stupid here I think.

  • Atanarjuat||

    people like Drum have spent their entire lives convinced not just they were right but that anyone on the Right were evil and racist.

    I like to listen to other viewpoints sometimes, and was listening to some Thom Hartmann guy on XM's lefty political talk channel, and he said "The Republicans have done a great job capturing the racist vote the last few decades". Just threw that shocker out and went on talking about something else.

  • ||

    They honestly believe everyone on the Right, libertarian and conservative alike, because the way they do because they are racist and immoral. And when you think that, what do you do when your side's idea are proven to be a failure?

  • ||

    A common rejoinder to this is that Obama is drifting to the right and never really implemented the "Left's" agenda.

  • ||

    And no one ever implemented "real communism" and so forth. That is certainly one of the things they tell themselves to get through the night. But reality says otherwise.

  • KPres||

    Their hedging for a loss in the presidential race. If Obama goes down, they can claim its because he wasn't radical enough. But, of course, we were there, and know that the extreme rhetoric from his first two years is what cost him the house, and if he's moved toward the center, its because it was in the best political interest of the American Left to do so.

  • Doctor Whom||

    True Scotsman, party of zero, your table is ready.

  • KPres||

    You can always tell how stupid somebody is by how transparent their lies are.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    How else can they continue to peddle the "it's the fault of the 'free market'" line?

    If a company fails as a result of government failing to pick winner correctly, how can they blame the free market?

  • MarylandMike||

    That's funny how his spell check replaced the word 'Lie' with the word 'Talk'. Mine doesn't do that.

  • Spartacus||

    Note to Kevin Drum: As soon as the phrase "government-guaranteed loan" is issued, we are no longer talking about the free market.

  • sarcasmic||

    These are the same people who think writing ten thousand pages of regulation a year instead of the usual twenty thousand pages amounts to deregulation.
    They equate decreased acceleration to decreased velocity.
    I'm guessing they didn't do well in basic physics.

  • ||

    No fucking shit. The valadicktorian of my law school class (a lefty) actually considered not getting a yearly cost of living allowance a pay cut. It is amazing how these people think. 2 + 2 = 5

  • ||

    When helicopter Ben is a'printin' dollars just as fast as he can, I would say that notion has merit.

  • adam||

    If there's inflation and your nominal salary doesn't increase commensurately, you take a cut in your real salary. What's so crazy about the view that no-COLA equals pay cut?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    What's so crazy about the view that no-COLA equals pay cut?

    COLA's nothing more than a weasel way to make employees think they're getting a bonus of some kind. Rather than simply increase the regular pay scale, it allows employers to set a "lowball" salary structure, then include a vague, arbitrary pay scale for extra money and call it "COLA," so that employees are suckered into thinking they're getting pay in line with the local economy.

    COLA's really nothing more than a low-grade confidence game.

  • adam||

    Bonus? I don't think anyone thinks of COLA as a bonus. It also has nothing to do with the local economy. It's supposed to make up for inflation. That's why it's based on the CPI or other established inflation-measure, which is neither vague nor arbitary.

  • sarcasmic||

    Is that the same CPI that ignores the price of food and fuel?

  • Doctor Whom||

    ...or that a spending increase smaller than originally proposed is a spending cut.

  • sarcasmic||

    That is correct.
    If your paycheck increased by less than you wanted, then it became smaller.
    You know what they say-
    More is less.

  • Tony||

    Too many pages!

  • ||

    To add insult to injury, read where Mark J. Perry reveals that Solyndra employees have applied for worker re-training money under the Trade Adjustment Assistance program claiming that the Chinese have displaced them from their jobs!

  • sarcasmic||

    Interesting advert at the bottom of the page.

    So Mother Jones' demographic includes people willing to spend eighty bucks on a "compact intimate massager".

    Meanwhile talk radio features adds for erectile dysfunction and baldness cures.

    So it's the jerk-offs vs baldies who can't get it up.

    Par-tay!

  • kilroy||

    Hmm. I don't get those ads. Must be targeted based on your web history...

  • Apologetic California||

    Um, those ads are based on the site visitor's prior browsing history.....

  • Jack||

    Was this written ironically? "There was no scandal in the loan process, and there's nothing unusual about having a certain fraction of speculative programs like this fail. It's all part of the way the free market works."

    Ah yes, Mr. Drum. The free market.

  • ||

    "It's all part of the way the free market works."

    I don't think that word means what you think it means.

  • Number 2 ||

    And these were the same people who condemned Citizens United for allowing Big Corporate Donors to buy politicians.

  • Tony||

    Solyndra did receive only 1.3% of the money spent on this initiative. It doesn't look good sure, but one thing's certain: the talking points will be far more hysterical and divorced from reality coming from those who want to prop it up as an excuse to call the entire program a failure or boondoggle, and equally so that the much more entrenched and expensive crony capitalism the Republicans engage in for, among other things, non-clean energy, will go unchallenged.

  • sarcasmic||

    Non-clean!

    Non-Cleeeeeeeean!

    Non-Cleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeeeean!

  • ||

    Except the Dems get more money just about every year and election from lobbyist and corporate donors.

  • bobchild||

    So to summarize your point:

    (1) Obviously none of the remaining 98.7% was equally poorly invested, because... why? Beyond the fact that it's politically convenient for you to believe this was done well, what in the history of government subsidized businesses makes you think this was process was more efficient?

    (2) Doesn't matter because Republicans do crony stuff too, the famous "If my neighbor poops on your lawn, I'm also justified in pooping on your lawn" defense.

  • Tony||

    I know one thing for sure: not investing in clean energy businesses means China (who very heavily subsidizes its solar industry) will win the market, and we'll continue favoring oil and coal, whose subsidies and institutional advantages over the decades will probably never be matched.

    If you're going to invest in an industry you should expect some businesses to fail. Whether to invest is a separate issue. But if you're for no investment in green tech but for the status quo with regard to oil and coal, then you're simply favoring government handouts to oil and coal.

  • ||

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • Spoonman.||

    If China wants to mortgage its future to provide us with stupidly cheap solar panels, isn't that good for clean energy adoption? Why must the panels be made in the US for solar energy to be collected here?

  • Tony||

    It's just a matter of economic competitiveness. We can hang onto free market fundamentalist fairy tales and stick with high unemployment if you like. But it seems to me that if China can subsidize an industry and thereby outcompete us, we're disproving free market fundamentalism anyway.

  • NotSure||

    Whether China subsidises an industry or not, China has many more advantages over America. A productive workforce, lower wages, but most importantly, they have not had their country overrun with losers like you, who think a sociology degree makes one an expert.

  • Tony||

    I don't have a degree in sociology.

    But another thing China and other countries that are competing with us don't have that we do is rampant anti-intellectualism and completely unjustified dependence on faith in free markets.

  • NotSure||

    Yes rampant morons like you, who think they are intellectual and then openly argue that giving free stuff to people is not a moral thing but improves the economy. Your solar company debacle is a result of anti-intellectualism, the idea that politicians can defy supply and demand, all made possible by giving ignorant fools like you the vote.

    So what do you have a degree in, media studies ?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    But it seems to me that if China can subsidize an industry and thereby outcompete us, we're disproving free market fundamentalism anyway.

    LOL at this goonfiction. You clearly don't understand that the one and only reason China would kick our ass in solar panel production no matter what is because they don't give a shit about the environmental degradation that results from mining the materials needed to make them.

    If Steve Jobs thought he could make more money and deal with less regulation to make iPods here, he wouldn't have all his production factories in China.

  • Spoonman.||

    So we should compete to waste the most money subsidizing solar panel production? That's baldfacedly moronic.

  • bobchild||

    "China can subsidize an industry and thereby outcompete us,"

    Ah, the "international trade as a dick measuring contest" theory. Good to see it's alive and kicking.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    ^^THIS^^

    It isn't about Green Energy, but about "remaining competitive with China in this market" which, for one reason or another, is seen as an end in itself.

    I thought the point was to find an economically viable alternative to oil/gas/coal, but your position belies that the REAL point has nothing to do with green energy and everything to do with "remaining competitive" with China.

  • Fluffy||

    If China subsidizes the manufacture of solar panels and sells those panels overseas for less than they would have cost without the subsidy, we win.

    Because they will be subsidizing OUR energy production and consumption.

    Cheap(er) energy's value to the economy as a whole is much greater than the value of a handful of manufacturing jobs...to everyone but a handful of organizers at the AFL-CIO.

  • cynical||

    Not really. If China gives us free money to buy their solar panels, then we take their solar panels and their money and give them (virtual) paper in return. Eventually, if they want that paper to be used for something other than wiping their asses (virtual asses, so maybe they can wipe the asses of their gold farmers' WoW characters or something), they need to pay Americans to do something useful to them.

  • sarcasmic||

    If you do not favor subsidies for "green" energy, then you favor handouts to oil and coal?

    Contrats!

    Two posts in and you've succeeded in both false dichotomy and moving the goal posts!

    The fallacies abound!

    Go suck a dick, Tony. That's fallatio, not fallacy.

  • Tony||

    The status quo means continued handouts to oil and coal. Does reason or any of its followers favor anything but the status quo with respect to oil and coal?

  • sarcasmic||

    If you had a brain you would understand that libertarians, proponents of limited government and laissez-faire economics, would end all subsidies to everyone.

    But alas you do not have a brain.

    That makes you a scarecrow arguing with a man of straw.

  • Tony||

    Yeah, in theory. But reason is essentially a mouthpiece for big oil so theory and practice don't really coincide.

  • NotSure||

    If you can show a single article supporting energy handouts you may have a point. Since you cannot, all you prove is how thick you really are.

  • sarcasmic||

    NS -
    If you do not support "green" energy handouts, then you're a mouthpiece for big oil.
    If you at all question AGW doctrine, then you're a mouthpiece for big oil.
    The only way to prove you are not a mouthpiece for big oil is to support "green" energy subsidies and renounce your denier ways.
    False dichotomy and moving the goal posts.
    It's all Tony knows: fallacies and fallatio.

  • ||

    Since it came up twice and I care about my hummers, it's F*e*llatio

  • OO=========D||

    Take it from me, he doen't know the latter very well at all.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Clueless in economics sockpuppet,

    I know one thing for sure: not investing in clean energy businesses means China (who very heavily subsidizes its solar industry) will win the market[...]


    The market of what? Who is buying these things besides unplugged hermits? You're so clueless, sockpuppet. You're such an imbecile, you seem to want to outcompete Double Asshole in boredom!

    You're also an inconsistent drip:

    We can hang onto free market fundamentalist fairy tales and stick with high unemployment if you like[...]


    And yet you argue that the Chinese will "win the market." WHICH MARKET WOULD THAT BE, you stupid twit? The free one, or the unfree one? What the fuck are you arguing for?

  • sevo||

    Shorter shithead:
    'China's ahead in the "Throw-Money-Down-Rathole" event!'

  • Nipplemancer||

    this 1.3% of the blah blah blah defense is just silly. They put out the cash knowing it was going to fail even with infinity dollars. What's next, the surprise increase in Chinese production that everyone knew about?
    The Admin knew what was up and signed the deal in spite of it.

  • Sparky||

    prop it up as an excuse

    I suffered sentence fatigue right about here. Maybe more punctuation next time to give us readers a little break during your message.

  • the rael O2||

    lulz at the libertaraian ho cant reed lol

  • KPres||

    "...the talking points will be far more hysterical and divorced from reality..."

    Only an evil racist homophobe who wants to starve grandma and would say something like this.

  • Some Guy||

    So one question is raised here. What would have to happen for this to be a "real" scandal?

    If a large cash kickback were given directly to Obama, would it depend on the container?

  • icgamblers||

    if the container is in the freezer, then it is a real scandal. Refrigerated currency equals blood money.

  • ||

    If Bush was still president is the answer you are looking for.

  • Atanarjuat||

    And if the $.5B had gone to Halliburton, an energy company, or just anything that's not a lefty green-job masturbation fantasy.

  • KPres||

    Well, the guy did orchestrate a hurricane in order to kill black people, after all.

  • ||

    Just one more thing this poor guy, Obama, inherited. Maybe a guy that unlucky shouldn't be President, d'ya'know?

  • ||

    The Stupid, it burns!

  • ||

    Conservatives have been trying to paint this as a big scandal of some kind, despite the fact that: the company had plenty of private investors too

    Okay, then.

    As we all know, there is no distinction between "public" and "private" money.

  • ||

    So if Bernie Maddoff had given a few hundred thousand to the Republicans and used his influence to get a government loan for his ponzi scheme, I guess this guy would think that would be no big deal since Madoff ripped off lots of private investors too. Ah, ok.

  • ||

    So, if I understand him, having private investors inoculates a company against charges of crony capitalism.

    Well, that pretty much lets Exxon off the hook, then, doesn't it?

  • ||

    And Haliburton.

  • KPres||

    But not KOCH INDUSTRIES!!!!!

  • Invisible Finger||

    Also, how many of those private investors are public employee pension funds

  • Whappan?||

    I'm not sure, but my impression was that most private investors in Solyndra were venture capitalists, hedge funds, etc. I could be wrong, though.

  • Rev. Blue Moon||

    How did I ever participate here without reasonable? I know Tony said something stupid, and I didn't have to read it. Doc says blood pressure is down ten points.

  • Veemee Sashimi||

    Is there a firefox equivalent, or must I submit to the Chrome monster?

  • ||

  • Veemee Sashimi||

    Thanks. A little labor intensive for me right now, but I'll give it a whirl later tonight.

  • ||

    Both work off of screen names for people not providing email or URL, which is why most of the hardcore trolls constantly change their name. Eventually, your list of filtered handles will be many screens long.

  • ||

    The public list can be dicey and I've had to turn it off. Some regulars have been filtered lately.

    Griefers gonna grief.

  • ||

    I've always run a custom list.

  • Joe M||

    INCIF is a pain compared to reasonable though. I greatly prefer the latter.

  • ||

    We owe Amakudari HUGE thanks.

  • ||

    I say we all pitch-in and send him on a sex junket to Thailand.

  • ||

    Are you suggesting that his breasts aren't perky enough?

  • ||

    No, I just thought he might want to change careers.

  • ||

    I've heard mention of the trillions China--one of the most egregious polluters on the planet, incidentally--is allegedly spending on solar. That's fine. Because if they crack the nut to make solar effective on a general, large scale, we'll just adopt/buy/steal the technology and benefit.

    Though China hasn't been the source of much scientific or technological innovation--just lots of cheap labor.

  • Atanarjuat||

    Letting the Chinese waste their money on improving solar technology while opening up offshore drilling, fracking, oil sands, coal, and any other somewhat dirty but profitable energy source here would pretty much be a win-win for everyone except those poor Chinese bastards.

  • Tony||

    China invests in quantity over quality--here we've been focused on making the technology more efficient, they're focused on pumping out volume of cheap parts. But say we maintain the "free market" status quo with respect to solar tech--The communist top-down managed economy will then outcompete us and what does that say about the glories of the free market?

  • ||

    No top down managed economy has ever out competed anyone for anything. They are wasting billions of dollars and the efforts of millions of people who could be otherwise usefully employed.

    You don't get rich by making products that lose money.

  • Mikey||

    "We lose money on every piece, but we make it up in volume."

  • ||

    No top down managed economy has ever out competed anyone for anything.

    I think the Soviets out-competed Germany in the tank market in the mid-40s.

  • ||

    Both the Soviets and the Germans were top-down, managed economies at the time. But so was everyone else.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Stupid, moronic, totally clueless sockpuppet,

    China invests in quantity over quality--here we've been focused on making the technology more efficient, they're focused on pumping out volume of cheap parts.


    Just like Ford focused on pumping volume of cheap cars. So did Volkswagen. Don't tell me they were good cars, but they DID offer cheap transportation for the poor.

    You're trully clueless and childish, sockpuppet. You have NO idea, not a clue, of how the economy works. NONE.

  • Tony||

    I don't believe I asserted a value judgment on either approach. Just a comment.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Sockpuppet,

    I don't believe I asserted a value judgment on either approach. Just a comment.


    I didn't say you did - I am saying you're clueless and stupid, for coming up with that totally irrelevant comparison.

  • ||

    I seem to recall that in the past a free-market economy soundly "out-competed" a communist regime in Russia, yet the lefties remained highly skeptical (to say the very least) that the free market worked. Now we have Tony fantasizing that maybe, just maybe, China will get a jump on us with one type of technology, and that will all but prove that the free market system has failed.

    Also keep inmind here that our free market system DID fund Solyndra. They raised plenty of private capital. But no one but the Obama admin was dumb enough to dump another 500 million into it when it was already clear that the company was hopeless. And that's what liberals today call an "investment."

  • Tony||

    While China has been figuring out how to correct the errors of communism (by allowing for some measure of capitalism, but not dispensing with the top-down approach), we've been dicking around in childish free-market fairy tales and are predictably being out-competed.

  • bobchild||

    If you're keeping track at home, this is roughly the fifteenth time that someone has "figured out" how to solve the problems of the top down approach.

    So, when... sorry, "if"... China's top down stuff flames out (note this is not the same thing as the country failing), does that prove that top down stuff doesn't work? Or does it get another do-over for whoever does it next?

  • KPres||

    "While China has been figuring out how to correct the errors of communism"

    By dumping it. People in China pay fewer taxes than Americans.

  • ||

    Yes, well when China's extreme real estate bubble bursts, we'll see how much better infrastructure-centric central management works. China can live in their fantasy land for only so long before their fascist regime collapses under the weight of their own best laid plans and those forced to pay the price start fighting back.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Tony still thinks that we've been a free market economy.

    Isn't that enough to completely dismiss anything he has to say about anything even closely related to economics?

  • Tony||

    The Soviet economy was much stronger the US economy - they weren't plagued by the market inefficiencies that we face.

    They were simply devastated by their attempt to match the idiotic military spending by Reagan.

  • ||

    I hope this is a spoof-Tony, because if the Soviet economy was really that much stronger *hahaha* then by any stretch of the imagination, they could have outmatched us in military spending!

  • Tony||

    Yes spoof Tony. Still entertaining for all, no?

  • ||

    I'm scared...

  • wheelock||

    Wow... Really? 10's of millions murdered? An entire industrial economy built on slave labor and outright fear of ones neighbors? This is your rational vision for us? Were the the ones talking in "fairy tales"? You sir are a truly sick puppy.

  • ||

    Um, no. Believing that the Soviet economy was stronger than the U.S. economy is ahistorical. There is no truth to that statement at all.

    And the Soviet top-down economy had tremendous costs. Just ask the dissidents that lived.

  • Some Guy||

    But say we maintain the "free market" status quo with respect to solar tech--The communist top-down managed economy will then outcompete us and what does that say about the glories of the free market?

    And the best part of this statement is that even if it were true, it would still be an argument for letting the free market pick the best energy tech. Not that Tony is capable of understanding that.

  • MWG||

    "But say we maintain the "free market" status quo with respect to solar tech..."

    Just the fact that you believe that the solar industry in the US could be considered a free market shows just what an ignant

  • ||

    The communist top-down managed economy will then outcompete us and what does that say about the glories of the free market?

    That you're an idjit?

  • ||

    It is the Yellow menace Brooks. The chinks are going to take all of our jobs and out compete us by having a top down authoritarian society. Freedom is the enemy of the good.

  • ||

    Just like those shitty Japanese and Koreans cars everyone is buying. All cheap low-quality junk compared to Chrysler and GM.

  • ||

    Japan and Korea are hardly top down authoritarian systems. And oh yeah, many of the Japanese and Korean cars are made in the United States, sans the UAW.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    And are better built/engineered (partly as a result of the lack of UAW).

  • ||

    The Left is actually somewhat consistent when it comes to this stuff. They can't achieve their energy and environmental goals without corporate welfare. To them, the ends justify the means in this case. Same with the bailout of the auto industy attaining the end of saving UAW jobs.

    In the case of most other corporations, the basic motivation of profits is not enough to justify any subsidies, and in the case of the Republicans' favorite utilitarian subsidies (the military-industrial complex), the ends are perverse. Not defending them, just trying to accurately characterize what they believe.

    Thus if the Left really wanted to get in front of this and save any hope for envirocorporatism (we should start calling it that instead of "green jobs"), they should admit that the Obama administration should have done more due diligence but argue that a few bad actors and a few big DoE mistakes does not inherently invalidate the ends they wish to achieve.

    Only if they continue to diminish the amount wasted or deny the fact that the administration mishandled the loan will they allow this to turn into a deathknell for "green jobs," because it's so patently obvious and the spin makes them look untrustworthy and corrupt.

    Obama should also live up to the Left's image of him and apologize for his administration's mistake. Nobody is suprised when a federal department acts incompetently; but it's not really an impeachable offense unless they're covering up true high-level corruption, which is how their evasion is making it appear. Carville's probably right that Obama should clean house.

  • ||

    They can't achieve their energy and environmental goals without corporate welfare.

    Which is another way of saying they shouldn't be a achieved at all.

  • ||

    Well, that's not really how they see it. If we assume they don't prefer capitalism, but they are de facto living in a corporate society they realistically can't fundamentally replace, they are attempting to gradually shape the market to mimic their desired end goals in the non-corporate utopia they'd like to see.

    Of course, the unintended consequence is that their policies perpetuate poverty and hurt small businesses/lead to the consolidation of big businesses - and their "solutions" to these exacerbations merely continue the cycle. I generally assume most Leftists have good intentions, and I share many of their values, but the outcomes achieved by their policies have lead me to believe that either they are truly ignorant of the counterproductivity of just about all their policies (probably the case for the average self-congratulatory progressive idealists like Tony), or they see the negative outcomes as a way to further consolidate political and economic power (probably the case for your average Democratic politicians and union bosses).

  • Tony||

    We understand that capitalism, like everything else humans have invented, isn't perfect. And if its unattached to even loosely considered ends, what good is it? It's just an object of religious reverence.

    We know that there is no such thing as a market in which "winners and losers" aren't to some degree picked by government, since government will always be a customer in that market. Free market fantasies are beside the point; as you rightly describe, both political parties channel funds to their favored industries. We can only hope that it's done in a way that is concerned with social ends rather than just increasing the profits of campaign contributors. Energy is clearly something that government has a stake in since every single member of society needs the product and is affected by the makeup of that market. Given that free market fantasies are just that, we have to choose whether to favor the oil and coal status quo (which is hardly an example of a free market) or something that is obviously necessary for economic and environmental ends, "favoratism" toward clean energy.

  • Old Mexican||

    Oh, Jesus on the cross - please don't reply to the Sockpuppet's claptrap. above. It's boring, clueless and stupid.

  • ||

    Which is why I filtered it months ago.

    Bliss.

  • Trespassers W||

    OM, you're consistently the worst offender!

  • Fluffy||

    And if its unattached to even loosely considered ends, what good is it?

    This is idiotic.

    In capitalism, I can spend my money on my ends. You can spend your money on YOUR ends.

    This puts my pursuit of my ends within my control more than any possible alternate system. That's MORE "attached" to my exhaustively-considered ends than any system of collectivism could ever be, regardless of whether that collectivism is oligarchical (as they all are) or "truly participatory", as the fantasy versions claim to be.

    You're just pissed off that I don't have to consider your ends. That's what you mean by "unattached". I'm not thinking of Tony 24/7 and that's just unacceptable to you.

  • Tony||

    You fail to appreciate that there are social ends that individuals can have a stake in. For example, if we provide a safety net for the elderly, capitalism works better according to your own criteria, since individuals aren't randomly burdened by the huge cost of taking care of their parents in old age. More wealth to invest in one's own ends!

  • Trespassers W||

    "Social ends". Another example of how that modifier can suck all the meaning out of a noun.

    Paging Dr. Hayek...

  • Tony||

    The same Dr. Hayek who was in favor of a social safety net?

  • Shorter Tony||

    Look over there!

  • cynical||

    You mean the minimal amounts of food, shelter, clothing and basic healthcare needed for survival?

    If social safety net meant only that, and was not a euphemism for redistribution as an end itself rather than a means to humanistic ends, the subject wouldn't be interesting for any but the most strident ideologues. But you know that's not what is meant, because that doesn't grant any substantial wealth or power to the progressive leadership.

  • ||

    Sorry OM, I can't resist. I know how futile it is.

    Markets aren't something libertarians worship, Tony. They are merely the outcome of all individuals inherently seeking to maximize their utility. Libertarians and classical liberals believe that individuals would naturally maximize their own utility with minimal or no government help, and as a whole, the market will acheive more happiness than bureaucratic management would, starting with the fact that bureaucratic management requires involuntarily stealing the labor of one to pay for the temporary utility of another.

    You seem to believe that outcomes like affordable energy and clean air will only come efficiently through government management and restriction of resources. That makes the mistake of assuming that individuals value money alone and would voluntarily choose products based upon savings alone, which is silly if you consider an example like the health food market - wealthier, fit individuals voluntarily choosing more expensive items that make their lives better, and make them feel better about themselves.

    Only those who have no choice but to place affordability as their dominant motivation over other values (the poor) have more difficulty maximizing their utility in a free market, and we can accept this as a fact.

    However, it's even harder for the poor to maximize utility when the government is cutting off all roads to entrepreneurship and replacing them with dead end streets of substandard dependency, forcing them into uncompetitive school monopolies, devaluing currency and inflating the price of goods faster than wages, restricting the number of available jobs and placing the yoke of environmentalism around their necks between wealthy environmentalist NIMBYism and forcing them out of their cars with gas taxes, emissions standards, etc. Not to mention the War on Drugs, which has been a key factor in violence in low-income communities (making them unsafe areas to start businesses) and in blocking off lower income former addicts from any hope of legitimate employment. Until you can address this paragraph, I will assume you are either a willfully ignorant utopian blinded by the merit of your own intentions or you are truly a regressive statist willing to both manipulate and sacrifice the poor for more power and control over other peoples' lives.

  • ||

    I left out a point that the relative wealth of the health food market or the Prius-purchaser is proof that the Left should focus on increasing economic mobility and wealth - instead of punishing it - if they want to achieve their desired environmentalist outcomes. That's the gist of classical liberal environmental policy.

    Note that I distinguish between "environmentalism" and environmental justice, the latter of which comes down to basic property rights (where the unwilling victim's should take precedence) and the tortability of pollution.

    Of course, I differ from most libertarians because I see the corporate entity as a statist arrangement, and I think pollution would be far lower in a truly free market where individual wealth of the owners is fully at risk for violating the rights of others and liability insurance creates profit incentive not to pollute.

  • Tony||

    Libertarians and classical liberals believe that individuals would naturally maximize their own utility with minimal or no government help, and as a whole, the market will acheive more happiness than bureaucratic management would, starting with the fact that bureaucratic management requires involuntarily stealing the labor of one to pay for the temporary utility of another.

    And what the advocate of a mixed economy argues is that people can maximize their individual utility while at the same time investing in a minimum standard of living for all people so that the risks inherent in capitalism don't punish people so severely as to remove the possibility of upward mobility (or worse) for those who fail. People can collectively invest in such things for individual good, and to take that ability away is to remove an element of freedom.

    The stuff about stealing labor is a moral argument completely divorced from utilitarian considerations. It's not one that's particularly useful for anyone who believes in civilization, which to date have all required taxes to function.

    You seem to believe that outcomes like affordable energy and clean air will only come efficiently through government management and restriction of resources.

    Even if the market were free, I don't think there's any reason to believe it would result in social goods like clean air, since, despite the assumptions you seem to make below, there's no reason that the true costs of pollution would ever be paid by polluters. You'd have to have an extremely sophisticated (and hugely bureaucratic) tort system to account for that, and it could never be done anyway since the air is something shared in common. But we don't have a free market, we have a market that hugely favors polluting energy, not least because of the global infrastructure already set up for it. Since we will never be able to start from a tabula rasa baseline, I fail to see what would be more fair and useful than subsidizing the obviously necessary transition to clean energy. The barriers are just too great if we stick with the status quo. You're asking an industry to compete when their competitors have been given a huge handicap, else fail, and if they fail they deserve to and, what, pollution is not a problem after all, because the market has spoken?

    Agreed on the war on drugs--one of the biggest and most easily solved social problems in America. But if people are dependent on government handouts, I think it's a mistake to assume it's because of a moral failing on their part or that they could be successful entrepreneurs if the safety net were taken away and the issue were forced. And to argue that in a time of 10% unemployment is just absurd. If dependency is a problem I'd agree with you, but I've never seen data that suggests this--in fact, it usually says the opposite. Data show that unemployment benefits, for example, decrease people's dependence on other people and afford them the ability to seek work. You can't just make a bunch of assumptions based on a two-dimensional moral assessment of how people behave.

    As for schools, I'm not sure what you're offering, since the whole point of public schools is universality. How do you offer a marketplace of schools unless people are voting with their dollars (which the poor don't have)? You provide vouchers so that people can choose to go to schools that are more expensive because they have to produce not only an education, but also a profit? It's not something I dismiss out of hand but I am extremely wary of voucherizing everything because it makes it increasingly easy for politicians to assert the same moral condemnation of the poor that is rampant here and eventually cut off the payments. Every civilized country on earth has universal public education; we should be focused on how to improve it, not experiment with the free market when pretty much by definition you can't have a free market for a service meant to be universally provided.

  • ||

    "investing in a minimum standard of living for all people so that the risks inherent in capitalism don't punish people so severely as to remove the possibility of upward mobility (or worse) for those who fail"

    Replacing the entire tax and welfare structure with land value taxes with a citizen's dividend would do the same thing without stealing labor, would be naturally progressive and have no deadweight loss. It agrees with the notion that we all deserve a stake in shared natural resources not created by individual labor.

    "there's no reason that the true costs of pollution would ever be paid by polluters. You'd have to have an extremely sophisticated (and hugely bureaucratic) tort system to account for that"

    No you wouldn't. Technology is already able to gauge chemical levels in the land or air one uses, and science has revealed increased risks. The lawyers on the mesothelioma bandwagon are a perfect example - but in a corporatist economy the damaged individuals claim only from the property of the company that damaged them, regardless whether the current owners have anything to do with the original action. In a just, free market society, the owners of the companies would have likely done more research on the health effects of asbestos and sought superior alternatives before risking their personal wealth in the first place. All your regulation is merely curing the effects from the moral hazard of incorporation, which intrinsically violates free market/individualist principles.

    "Data show that unemployment benefits, for example, decrease people's dependence on other people and afford them the ability to seek work. You can't just make a bunch of assumptions based on a two-dimensional moral assessment of how people behave."

    How can complete dependence upon current workers reduce dependence on other people? Unless you're assuming in a free market these transitory people would instead be working 23 hours a day, 7 days a week at sub-minimum wage jobs and would have to spend the last hour sleeping and commuting to stay alive instead of spending time finding a job to match their lifestyle and qualifications? Why do you support lower income individuals sustaining the lifestyle of higher income individuals in transition? That's fairly regressive, just like forcing workers with fewer assets to sustain the retirements of wealthier elderly people who should have a lifetime of investments racked up and generally own their homes outright.

    "How do you offer a marketplace of schools unless people are voting with their dollars (which the poor don't have)?"

    As a classical liberal utilitarian (and not a strict libertarian) I think that public schools should be the limit of the welfare state for non-handicapped individuals - and should exist in a radically different format. All public schools should operate as secular magnet, charter and concept schools and compete for funding, any student should be able to attend any school in the district (although they may limit attendance via random lottery, admissions tests/interviews, or some combinaton of the two), and each school would have its own elected "school board" accountable to voters that hires, reviews and fires teachers annually. The schools should place a much heavier focus on consumer finance, skills and technology than they do today.

    I don't think public education is a "right" - merely that, if done correctly as a public investment, it should pay for itself many times over and avoid the need for poverty programs in the future. How can public schools even be defensible from a utilitarian perspective if aren't even breaking the cycle of poverty?

  • ||

    Increasing profits is a social end.

    In industries that face less distortion by government preferences, increased profits coincide with increased utility - that is, when companies make more money it's because they are providing more value for the dollar to their customers. Either they come up with new products or services, or new ways to make old products or services cheaper, or both. Competition to bring new products and services to market serves the social end of providing people with the products and services they want to take advantage of. This is huge, and always ignored. Profits tell companies that they are doing something right, and that they should keep doing it. Profits tell competitors and new entrants to copy the profitable company, undercut their prices, and to steal their market share - which consumers also benefit from.

    When governments step in with huge sums of money, taken by force from citizens, they distort the market and change the game. Now companies must compete to please the government, and not consumers. Consumers take a back seat in government distorted industries. That is not a social good. That kind of thing can cause huge social damage, of which Solyndra is just a tiny part.

  • ||

    The Left are completely incompetent utilitarians (hurting the poor by "helping" them, helping Wall Street by "punishing" them). The right are perverse utilitarians (racially profiling Muslims and Latinos, funding certain businesses by raining death on other countries). Classical liberals are realistic, happiness-centric utilitarians, and libertarians are not utilitarian. The last two have a lot of policy and outcome overlap because the rational individual can determine his own utility far better than a bureaucrat can.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Good intentions - an almost certain indicator of trouble

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Propietrist,

    Thus if the Left really wanted to get in front of this and save any hope for envirocorporatism (we should start calling it that instead of "green jobs"), they should admit that the Obama administration should have done more due diligence but argue that a few bad actors and a few big DoE mistakes does not inherently invalidate the ends they wish to achieve.


    The Left would never ever make the moral equivalency between their brand of cronyism and the Conservatives'. For the Left, THEIR ends justify the means even if the means are exactly the same as those defended by their counterparts in the other side.

  • ||

    It isn't the spin that makes them look "untrustworthy and corrupt."

  • Gus||

    True that.

  • mr simple||

    I'd say it's their handlebar mustaches and shifty eyes.

  • ||

    that a few bad actors and a few big DoE mistakes does not inherently invalidate the ends they wish to achieve.

    so basically -

    broken eggs, omelettes?

  • ||

    Well, just saying that if I were an Obamacrat, I'd let the advisors and the DoE take the fall for the mistake, and encourage Obama to speak candidly, apologize, clean house and increase oversight and accountability for taxpayer money to any corporation. So more like lemons, lemonade.

    Carville's basically suggested as much, proving he's still one of the smartest people on Team Blue from a purely political perspective.

  • ||

    gotcha!

  • ||

    Somehow, I don't think Obama taking Carville's advice is going to help:

    "I had no idea, then or now, about what goes on in my administration. I'm sure its just a big coincidence that a major campaign contributor got special treatment on his way to a half billion taxpayer dollars. But I have sternly, sternly, scolded DOE, and a few of my advisors have moved on to very lucrative positions with private firms.

    "So its all good now. Vote for me next year!"

  • GILMORE||

    "How to Talk About Solyndra."

    Most noteworthy about this MJ piece, as well as other similar things we've seen from Daily Kos, others... is that - despite their ostensible purpose - they really aren't aimed at "pushing back" agaist criticism by 'the right', nor are the points made as direct rebuttals to any allegations or criticisms... the "arguments" being presented (which largely amount to a "nothing to see here!"-non-defense-defense) are principally aimed at *other liberals*. They are a mantra to recite *to themselves*, so that they can remain convinced that no one wearing Team Blue-colored ties can *ever* do anything wrong. They're talking points to share with each other at the next cocktail party, to be repeated ad nauseum until it becomes accepted wisdom despite all facts to the contrary.

    None of these pieces, for all their exhasperation, address the role George Kaiser may have played in greasing the wheels for Solyndra, and whether there might have been some conflict of interest in the Obama admin going out of their way to 'speed up' the half-billion loan guarantees despite concerns about their finances... christ, none even mention the guys *name*.

    Basically, they want to turn this into their standard narrative of victimization... where Team Red are the 'bad guys' picking on poor, innocent Team Blue again, cause they're just such *meanies*

    Given this is Mother Jones, I am not surprised they can easily reinterpret "failed subsidy of politically-connected green-energy by Government" as "free market at work". Mother Jones aint exactly The Economist.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement