Subsidies

Obama/Solyndra Reaction: "Should government pick winners/losers? Qualified Yes!"

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In Soviet Union, winners pick you.

An L.A. Times editorial boils the scandal over Solyndra – a Fremont, California solar panel maker backed by an important Obama fundraiser that is bankrupt after burning through a taxpayer-guaranteed loan of more than half a billion dollars – down to two questions: 

Should the government be in the business of picking winners and losers by providing loan guarantees to risky energy ventures? And is Obama using stimulus funds to reward his political contributors?

To the first, the answer is a qualified yes. Solar and wind projects aren't the first to benefit from loan guarantees; Washington has been offering them to nuclear power plants for decades. Research and development of alternative forms of energy are expensive and often need more support than private investors are willing to provide, but such investment is worthwhile not only because it stimulates job growth during a downturn, but also because in an era of climate change and worldwide turmoil over oil and other fossil fuels, it's in the national interest. Moreover, competing countries, notably China, are outspending the U.S. on clean-energy subsidies, and falling behind will only cede the future market to them.

In reverse order, these arguments are: missile gap; global warming; jobz; that the market's disinterest creates a compelling public concern; and that the nuclear power industry is now a model worth emulating. 

Solyndra's Ben Bierman with President Barack Obama

I'm especially concerned about this last, as I recall one long midsummer morning in the boardroom in 2007, during which editorialist Dan Turner slowly sucked all the oxygen from the room and left the rest of us to die one by one or agree to his all-out denunciation of nuclear power, a piece that put the verdict right in the title: "No to nukes." Some of Dan's arguments, including the one that the industry has never existed without massive public subsidies and shows no glide path away from public subsidies, I even found compelling. 

Why the switcheroo now? I would have thought lingering questions about whether Fukushima is in fact under control would at least give pause to proponents of all-or-nothing behemoth energy policies that are constructed in spite of rather than in response to market conditions. 

I also can't imagine any number of qualifications that would square the notion that government should choose private-sector winners and losers with a rudimentary understanding of fair play or individual liberty. Is the logic that because in this case the winner turned out to be a loser anyway, we shouldn't pay too much attention? 

President Barack Obama with Solyndra's Chris Gronet

Finally I think the ed board is thinking wishfully when it claims the Solyndra debacle just raises "two important questions." I can think of a few others: What did Solyndra do with the $527 million (out of a total guarantee of $535 million) it borrowed in the form of taxpayer-subsidized loans? Why did the Energy Department provide so much money for a technology – cylindrical rather than flat solar panels – that has not been proven scalable? What role did Tulsa-based fundraiser George Kaiser, whose George Kaiser Family Foundation held more than a 35 percent equity stake in Solyndra as of an aborted IPO in 2009, play in encouraging this subsidy? 

I realize editorial writing is a task more otherworldly than priestly transubstantiation of the host, but it's just willful blindness to pretend the Solyndra case raises only abstract issues. There's one journalismism that still holds up: If it looks like shit, smells like shit and tastes like shit, it's the food at the L.A. Times cafeteria. 

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  1. Moreover, competing countries, notably China, are outspending the U.S. on clean-energy subsidies, and falling behind will only cede the future market to them.

    Q: Is X a good idea?
    A: The other guys are doing X, so we have to do it even harder!

    1. This is my side of the street, motherfucker.

  2. It’s shit like this that made me give up Slashdot. There used to be a sizable libertarian presence there, but the recent thread on this was insanely depressing — lots of the “THROW MOAR MONEYZ” crap that earmarks the speaker as a greedy fool.

    1. Before anyone jumps to the conclusion that green technology is not profitable and therefore a big scam, or a modern religion if you will, with all of its guilt, shame and asking for money, let me state an opinion that might not be popular here: Maybe, just maybe, the subsidies was too low? I know what you think but let me play an evil’s advocate for a second. How much the fresh air is worth to you? To your children? To your children’s children? To your children’s children’s grandchildren? Well, you get the idea. And what about fresh water? What about cold weather? I am not saying that all of those things should be worth more than 500 billion to everyone but I suggest that we have to account for them in the business plans of companies developing green technology. We have to ask ourselves: Why do we develop green technology? How much money are we willing to waste? What sacrifices are we willing to make? What do we expect to get in return? Those are the most important questions that we should at least try to answer.

      I remember when I used to expect nerds to be smart.

      1. Now it’s all about wishcasting.

      2. This guy is not a nerd. I don’t frequent slashdot, so I can’t speak to what kind of people hang out there, but I can tell you this is not the work of a nerd.

    2. Agreed. In fact, I would generalize that to a large swath of the IT/high-tech world has gone leftward.

      1. I saw one website today bitching, in honor of Labor Day, about how republicans have fucked the working man out of his money ‘n shit. And then had about 15 links to MP3 downloads.

      2. Yeah, programming no longer is a requirement. In fact, I would go so far as to say the level of discourse there — which used to be dominated by open source (read: Richard Stallman/GNU or his more successful successor, Linus Torvalds and Linux) versus Microsoft flamewars — is now pretty much at the level of people who know how to drive an iPhone thinking they understand tech.

        1. Hipsters decided that being nerd was cool, ironically, and then decided to do nerdy things like post on /.

          Fucking hipsters.

  3. Need you really ask what happened to that $500 million? A hefty chunk of it is sitting in the bank account of the Democratic party.

    1. Not enough, apparently.

    2. “Just a few months ago, ABC News revealed that one of the major financial backers for Solyndra is also a major donor to the Obama campaign.
      The donor, Steve Westley,…”

      “According to The Center for Public Integrity, one of Solyndra’s major investors was George Kaiser, an Oklahoma oil billionaire who raised large sums of money for Obama during the 2008 election.”
      Both quotes here:
      http://theendtimesarehere.com/tag/solyandra/
      I can’t vouch for the site; anyone have a link to the ABC or CPI claims?

      1. I’m having problems getting opensecrets.org to open.
        hmmmm, you think Janet has shut it down?
        Bitch

  4. This is a very off-the-rack corpo-kleptocrat story (except for the vast sums involved).

    In all seriousness, I’m most interested in following the Dem-fundraiser angle. That has the potential to do enormous damage to statists in general, and Obama and the Dems in particular.

    We’re one smoking gun away from a truly massive scandal.

    1. In some ways it’s a relief to know that it’s an influence peddling scandal. All the parties involved know the investment bad, but they do it to pay each other off. This is marginally better than Obama thinking this green shit technology actually is a good idea.

    2. Crap, let’s look at the whole “stimulus.” It’s got to be two parts payola to every one part. . .more payola.

      1. Maybe Michael Moore will make a documentary exposing the malfeasance of this adminstration.

        On the other hand, probably not.

        1. Too easy. Making the Cuban medical system look good – that took my rotund talent!

    3. Yeah, and once people see the government-industrial complex for the game-rigging, gate-keeping, profiteering cesspool of corruption that it is, they will rise up and smash not only the corrupt regulatory/funding apparatus but also the two party system that feeds it!

      What’s that? They won’t? Then who gives a shit about another fucking scandal?

    4. We’re one smoking gun away from a truly massive scandal.

      Bullshit. We have had scandal after scandal after scandal and it hasnt done shit to statists.

    5. RC,
      Post above, 3:29PM

    6. “”We’re one smoking gun away from a truly massive scandal.””

      Maybe.

      http://campaign2012.washington…..-lobbyists

      “In July, Solyndra retained the powerful Glover Park Group, where the company’s lobbyists include top Max Baucus aide and Environment & Public Works Committee staffer Catherine Ransom, longtime Republican aide Alex Mistri, and Energy and Commerce staffer (and former John Kerry Legislative Director) Gregg Rothschild.

      The company’s in-house lobbyists are former top Republican Hill aides Joe Pasetti and Victoria Sanville.

      Solyndra’s biggest lobbying contract is with McAllister & Quinn, co-founded by Steny Hoyer’s chief of staff Andy Quinn. Steve Ham, another former Hoyer staffer at McA&Q, is on the Solyndra account, as is Al D’Amato aide Chris Fish, and former American writer Kyle Winslow. Gotta love it when young cub writer jump from liberal magazines to K Street.

      As befits any company seeking green subsidies, Solyndra retained McBee Strategic Consulting. Steve McBee, a former Dem Approps aide, helped lower the standards for federal green energy financing before signing Solyndra as a client and getting Solyndra the financing under these lower standards. Former Democratic Energy & Natural Resources staffer Angela Becker-Dippmann was also on the Solyndra account.”

      Maybe not. Looks like DC politics as usual.

      1. Sure, that much is.

        The part that is not so typical is having a big fundraiser get a nine figure loan guarantee. Might be somebody got sloppy with that connection.

        “Hey, Barack, you remember me – George Kaiser! Yeah, I bundled a shitload for you in ’08, dude.

        “Anyhoo, I’ve got a big stake in this solar panel deal out in CA. Yeah, green energy, in a solid blue district. We’re outta cash, migh have to close. A loan guarantee would be good, if you could have your people look into it.

        “Hey, looking forward to working with you in 2012!”

        That right there would be a felony, folks.

        1. We should be so lucky.

        2. The part that is not so typical is having a big fundraiser get a nine figure loan guarantee.

          It IS typical. The bulk of the subsidies given to other energy sectors (coal, oil, NG, nuclear) is in the form of loan guarantees. It would be incredible if less than half of these were big fundraisers.

          Part of the problem with energy subsidies is politicians are scared shitless what would happen to them if energy prices went up significantly. We already see how nuts they get when the price of gasoline goes up.

          Another part is the fact that while these industries get government subsidies, the government is also controlling the prices they can charge.

          It’s great that the LAT at one time wanted to kill nuclear subsidies. Did they also support killing the price controls? I tend to doubt it.

          1. Russ, I can’t imagine Exxon or Chevron needing loan guarantees. Pls give some examples.

    7. One smoking gun and a media that cares about exposing rather than hiding scandals.

  5. What role did Tulsa-based fundraiser George Kaiser, whose George Kaiser Family Foundation held more than a 35 percent equity stake in Solyndra as of an aborted IPO in 2009, play in encouraging this subsidy?

    As if it wasn’t bad enough that Obama was supporting unfounded technology with public funds. Now, there’s a clear influence peddling scandal to go along with it.

    1. Which won’t even be mentioned by TEAM BLUE media, though the TEAM RED media will try and scream it from the rooftops.

  6. yea that’s right; white guys tanked to company but its the black guy’s fault.

    1. “tanked THE company”…damn (white)squirrels

      1. I know someone else who should get tanked.

    2. Did you name yourself O2 because you did not receive enough as a child?

      1. I think O2 is the same thing ohio orrin, who, IIRC, took some shrapnel in Irafghanistan.

        Like the villain in The World is Not Enough, it is traveling deeper into his brain, and he will become more incoherent and impervious to rational thought every day until it kills him.

    3. Heeeehawwww! Heeeehawwww!

    4. “yea that’s right; white guys tanked to company but its the black guy’s fault.”

      Red herring almost worthy of shithead.
      Imitation: B+
      Logic: F

      1. B+ on the “to” instead of “the” or “teh” – quality

    5. It’s not his fault the company failed, it’s his fault that he gave our money to a company that any idiot could see was going to fail.

  7. From the article, addressing the second question: But if there’s evidence that political rather than business considerations played a role in funding decisions, Obama will have much to answer for.

    How long are we going to keep pretending that politicians using their position to hand out favors to their allies is some kind of anomaly.

    Next thing your going to tell me is that College Football recruiting corruption is widespread and not just limited to the schools that have gotten caught.

    1. That’s a hilarious sentence in what it implies. If the funding decisions were motivated by political consideration, there might be some explaining to do, but if the doling out of public funds was done purely as a commercial investment on behalf of the government, well, that shit is just hunky dory.

      1. Separation of commerce and state. That’s the way to go.

  8. What did Solyndra do with the $527 million … it borrowed in the form of taxpayer-subsidized loans?

    At least they probably wasted it in the USA, not Iraq or Afghanistan.

    /sarc

    1. Their campus in Fremont is pretty big, with at least two huge buildings you can see from the I880 freeway. I wonder how much of the taxpayer money went into buying/leasing/constructing those facilities. How many people were drawing salary inside?

      I always liked their tech proposition and their “change the world” idea, but the financials always seemed too squishy for their business model to seem real to me. I am sorry, though, that we won’t soon see rooftop Solyndra installments everywhere, as was once prophesied by those associated with the firm.

      Now I wonder how “solid” SolarCity is. Will they be the next to fall?

  9. Nice first picture. Is that the Korova Bar? Are Barax and his droogs in there getting sharpened up?

    1. Welly, welly, well!

      1. Right right?

    2. I was wondering if Moloko in Russian is similar to malaka in Greek.

      1. It means milk.

  10. Moreover, competing countries, notably China, are outspending the U.S. on clean-energy subsidies,

    Dear God in Heaven, please don’t forget the spending on TRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINSSSSSSSSSSZ!!1!!!111!onethousandonehundredeleventy!!

    1. China, the most polluted country on the planet? That China?

  11. Obama’s my guy!!! He’s going after the “fat cats”!!!

  12. Over $500 MILLION dollars? Gone in a little over a year, that equates to more than $1M per day. Fifty million would be an outrage. What’s the word for $500M? Farcical? Absurd?

    1. What’s the word for $500M?

      Chickenfeed.

  13. The sad thing: Solyndra is just the latest example of something that keeps happening over and over in California.

    For example, there was SDG&E’s plan to fill the Imperial County desert with solar dishes.

    And there’s Green Vehicles, which swallowed about $700,000 in taxpayer money from the city of Salinas.

    I could go on.

    1. Tesla is certainly a candidate. No product, trying to enter a crowded, high-development-cost field.

  14. There’s a solar project out here in the Mojave desert that got an even bigger guaranteed loan than these guys. And then all the jobs were promised to trade union workers.

  15. cylindrical rather than flat solar panels

    I’m not a structural engineer, but on its face, this strikes me as being one of the dumber things I’ve heard of today.

    Solar panels are only going to know a bonanza when they can somehow make an easy-to-install, low-cost, long-lasting version of them appeal to the mass market as a roofing material, and every homeowner in America will be rolling boxes of them around Costco on one of those big orange pallet-carts.

    Nobody’s going to want a big empty tube or drum sitting in their yard. They want the panels on the roof, where they’re out of the way, can’t be broken by the kids or the dog playing, can’t be taken out by a clumsy whack with the lawnmower, and have the best chance of getting maximum sunlight. So they have to be flat.

    Unless, of course, the plan was never for Solyndra’s product to be available to the general public. Maybe the plan was that the general public subsidizes a technology that can be used only by large, commercial enterprises and installed on commercial properties. I love scrimping and saving so that large corporations can benefit from my tax contributions, don’t you?

    Oh, and I love how the Kaiser foundation whines that Chinese government subsidies of solar panel factories in China is what killed Solyndra. “Waaanh, it’s not faaaair! Their government subsidizes them! Waaaanh! Our government should subsidize US even MORE!” Because two wrongs really do make a right.

    Go sell crazy someplace else. Looks like we got plenty here.

    1. DOW? POWERHOUSE? Solar Shingles can turn your home into a source of clean power without disrupting your house’s good looks or your lifestyle. And they will be on U.S. rooftops before the end of this year.

      http://www.dowsolar.com/

    2. The initial Solyndra story that I heard was that their technology was NOT intended or ideal for residences. Rather, the idea was to populate the flat roofs of high-tech offices and factories, as well as warehouses, etc. — in the kind of neighborhoods that look like boards full of integrated circuits when you fly over them. That actually sounded reasonable and doable to me, given the nature of their technological approach. There was a lot of vacant rooftop space on suitable buildings, much of it in sunbelt states that could count on a lot of sunlight for power generation. I also thought I read that they would be pursuing a SolarCity leasing strategy — installing and operating the “rooftop solar plants” free of charge to the building owners. I’d be interested to see why that didn’t work for them, when it seemed to be going very well for SolarCity. Is the latter a deck of cards waiting to be toppled as well?

  16. Looks like this time government picked a loser.

  17. The news of the collapse of this company made me smile, and damn near moist.

  18. The Noxious Solyndra Affair

    Solar energy is fine for plants, but for humans it is nothing but a ridiculous boondoggle. It never pays for the energy inputs without subsidies and never will. Also, contrary to the GREENSHIRT’S baloney, it is very polluting:

    “Solar power is not all sunshine. It has a dark side?particularly in developing countries, according to a new study by a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, engineering professor.

    “A study by Chris Cherry, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering, found that solar power heavily reliant on lead batteries has the potential to release more than 2.4 million tons of lead pollution in China and India.”

  19. Oboma has NOT brought CHANGE, In fact ~~ THE ONLY real THING needing CHANGE !

    Was Barack Hussein Obama II.

    Barack Hussein Obama II ( Who hates American Values )

    Who is A ”

    SELF PROCLAIMED Enemy ” ~ of responsible, Morally Conscious HARD WORKING Americans.

    oBOMAS

    supporters KNOW~ that Barack Hussein Obama II, WILL FORCE YOU to paY THEM, out of your PockeT ….

    This UN~CHANGABLE fraud, has done His VERY BEST to Inspire VIOLENCE.

    THESE ARE OBAMAS OWN

    WORDS.. saying “Bring it on” To his supporters.

    Oboma ~ Demands Saying “Get ready for hand-to-

    hand combat with your fellow Americans”

    ? Obama has ALSO DECLARED to his Supporters”I want all

    Americans to get in each others faces!?

    Obama demands !

    “You bring a knife to a fight pal, we’ll bring a

    gun” ?

    Obama Cant wait to get everybody involved in some kind OF CONFRONTATION of some sort….

    THESE ARE OBAMAS OWN WORDS..

    Obama has ALSO DECLARED “Republicans are our enemies”-

    **

    Obama on ACORN Mobs: “I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m
    angry!”

    ANGER VIOLENCE and more taxes….. THIS IS OBAMAS Change for america

    /”Hit

    Back Twice As Hard”. He commands !

    THESE ARE OBAMAS Very OWN WORDS..

    *Obama

    on the private sector: ~~ “We talk to these folks?~ / so I know whose a*$ to KICK.”

    OBOMA wants to KICK your a*$ /

    Shouting THAT Republican victory would mean ~ “hand

    to hand combat”

    HE IS EXPECTING people to kill & BE VIOLENT / for their immoral CAUSE

    THIS IS WHAT HE LIVES FOR

    THESE ARE OBAMAS OWN

    WORDS..
    * Obama Tells democrats: ” I’m itching for a fight.” !

    PLEASE go to reXes

    NEW WebsiTe ~ ! Oboma *( Just like Adolf Hitler~~ In that oBOMA~~~ Demands

    ! — [ THE FINAL

    SOLUTION – For Un~Wanted Children.

    Barak Obama A MURDERER .~Torturing UNWANTED babys on

    DEATH ROE

    http://obomanationinfanticide……fault.aspx

    OBAMA supports

    TAKING a little NEW BORN innocent child.. / BORN. ALIVE ~sTabing it iN the head & SUCKs ITS BRAINS

    OUT.

    He also demands, that a Child SURVIVING a FAILED ABORTION, Has no RIGHT to Life or medical care.

    After having Just been tortured Nearly to death, in agony.

  20. Again, PLEASE ! … go to reXes Brand NEW WebsiTe ~ !

    Oboma *( Just like Adolf Hitler~~ In that oBOMA~~~ Demands ! — [ THE FINAL SOLUTION – for Un~Wanted Children.

    The Economic SOLUTION for oBOMA is the FINAL SOLUTION for UN*WANTED CHILDREN.

    Barak Obama A MURDERER .~Torturing UNWANTED babys on DEATH ROE

    http://obomanationinfanticide……fault.aspx

    OBAMA supports TAKING a little NEW BORN innocent child.. / BORN. ALIVE ~ sTabing it iN the head & SUCKs ITS BRAINS OUT.

    He also demands, that a Child SURVIVING a FAILED ABORTION, Has no RIGHT to Life or medical care. ({ After being tortured in pain and agony }

    And JUST one more thing if you will allow//

    And no disrespect or distain is intended for the OFFICE of our GREAT PRESIDENCY

    and White House.

    Respect and honor and a great varity of reasons hold the United States

    Presidency in our Prayers and hopes for continued blessing and truthfull success.

    BUT the truth is STILL THE TRUTH .

    oBOMA does what he has to do~~~ just to get by.

    Feeding his donors and supporters Un merited fuel, is HIS only OBJECTIVE.

    this is HIS main OBJECTIVE.

    The only REASON things SEEM to get done, is because the people who SURROUND oBOMA, Drape the American Flag around him,

    IN PRETENCE )~ WHILE HE shoves it off of himself, in disheveled pride. and NUMB, Angered, ignorance.

    While, He HAS ADMITED, Boldly and sneeringly, ~ he has done plenty of COCAINE.

    Please, Use your head and tell us, BECAUSE we need and deserve to know…

    Why would we want a NUMB, cacK heaD in the White House. ! ~ ?

    oBOMA should have stayed *( WHERE HE WAS ) ~ in the DOPE house. !

  21. Want to thank all of you, for your Powerfull stand against Oboma & His Corrupted political partners.
    But

    there is so much more we can do. Being aggressive and focusing on the facts and truth is only the first step.

    We musT follow Up with more details standing by our convictions and dont back down.

    Oboma has NOT brought CHANGE, In fact ~! ~ THE ONLY real THING needing CHANGE !….Was Barack Hussein Obama II.

    HIMSELF

    Barack Hussein Obama II ( Who hates American Values ) who is A ” SELF PROCLAIMED Enemy” ~of responsible, Morally Conscious HARD WORKING Americans.

    oBOMAS Irresponsible & DRUG MAFIA and reckless supporters KNOW~ that Barack Hussein Obama II, WILL FORCE YOU to paY THEM, out of your PockeT .{ FOR all of their UNCHECKED Vices and THRILLS/

    { All on YOU | /

    At your COST & Sacrifice

    …This UN~CHANGABLE fraud, has done His VERY BEST to Inspire VIOLENCE. For THESE ARE OBAMAS Very OWN WORDS.. saying ………To his supporters.

    Saying “Get ready for hand-to-hand combat with your Fellow Americans”

    ? Obama has ALSO DECLARED to his Supporters….”I want all Americans to get in each others faces!? Obama demands !

    “You bring a knife to a fight pal, we’ll bring a gun” ?

    THESE ARE OBAMAS OWN WORDS.. /and ANGER VIOLENCE and more taxes….. THIS IS OBAMAS Change for america

    /”Hit Back Twice As Hard”. He commands !*Obama on the private sector: ~~ “We talk to these folks?~ / so I know whose a*$ to KICK.” OBOMA wants to KICK your a*$ /

    Shouting THAT Republican victory would mean ~ “hand to hand combat”

    HE IS EXPECTING people to be on Edge and BORDERLINE killing MODE, VIOLENT / and STAND up for their immoral CAUSES

    THIS IS WHAT HE LIVES FOR ./ ./ ./ THESE ARE OBAMAS OWN WORDS.. !

    * Obama Tells democrats: ” I’m itching for a fight.” !

    ….PLEASE…. go to reXes NEW WebsiTe ~ ! Oboma *( Just like Adolf Hitler~~\oBOMA~~~ Demands ! — [ THE FINAL SOLUTION – for Un~Wanted Children

    Barak Obama is A MURDERER .~Torturing UNWANTED babys on DEATH ROE

    CLICK HERE http://obomlnation.webstarts.com/index.html

    OBAMA TAKES a little NEW BORN innocent child. BORN. ALIVE sTabS it iN the head SUCKs ITS BRAINS OUT.

    This is just to wrong and horrible. Please stand for Loving Children and the USA

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