Corporate Welfare

RFK Jr., Green Energy Boondoggles, & Socialism for the Rich

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I'm reading Peter Schweizer's excellent new book Throw Them All Out, which details how politicians ranging from Nancy Pelosi to John Boehner to John Kerry to Dennis Hastert use their political positions to massive advantage in trading stocks. And how politically connected fat cats such as Warren Buffett and George Soros use their access to lawmakers to swing sweetheart deals, stimulus dollars, and government-loan guarantees their way. The book is an appallingly thoroughgoing and transpartisan expose of crony capitalism as it is practiced today.

Over at Big Goverment, Schweizer talks about how green energy tycoon Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has gotten his knickers in a twist over claims that his "politically-connected solar company called Brightsource (of which Mr. Kennedy's firm is the largest investor) landed a sweetheart billion-dollar plus taxpayer-guaranteed loan." RFKjr calls Schweizer a "sock puppet" for "Big Oil."

What has been so remarkable to me with the reaction to the book is the incredible disconnect between those on the inside getting these deals and those of us on the outside watching the rich getting rich with our money.   I think the vast majority of people had no problem with the late Steve Jobs getting fabulously wealthy.  He simply provided products and services people wanted.  But those getting richer courtesy of our money and special loans? People are sick of it.

The bottom line is that Brightsource Energy got a sweetheart deal and it did so thanks to political connections. This is a company that admittedly has huge problems.

Kennedy never disputes that Brightsource got the money, nor that a former Principal at his firm, Sanjay Wagle, was a fundraiser for Obama and went to work in the Department of Energy's alternative energy grant program after the 2008 election.   Nor does he dispute that Brightsource admitted in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that the Ivanpah project is highly risky, or that Brightsource is in financial trouble.  (The company is $1.8 billion in debt,  had total revenue of just $13.5 million in 2010 and ran an operating loss of $71 million.)  The company openly admits that its technology may not perform as planned and that it faces technological challenges.  It's also curious to note on the SEC filing (on page 42 linked above) that Brightsource is spending almost six times as much on "marketing, general and administrative" costs than research and development. And more than twice in those areas than it is spending on project development. Does this sound like a company that could survive without taxpayer money?…

Mr. Kennedy wants to do is divert us from the real scandal:  the green energy program that he has advocated for is socialism for the super-rich. Wealthy investors likes Kennedy and his partners try to portray themselves are disinterested parties who are trying to help the environment and our country,  but they have a stake in the game….

Schweizer concludes by discussing the old "Baptist-Bootlegger" coalitions that formed around alcohol prohibition and noting that folks such as RFKjr have managed a neat trick: By being both sanctimonious greens and politically connected entrepreneurs, they are simultaneously Baptists and bootleggers.

Read the whole thing here.

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  1. Brightsource is spending almost six times as much on “marketing, general and administrative” costs than research and development.

    Companies invest in R&D, so that they can develop new products that will generate revenue, and hopefully make them rich. That sounds like hard work. Brightwater found a way to make their executives rich, without having to rely on something as boring, and tedious as R&D.

    1. Is Schweizer (or Gillespie for that matter) qualified to make a judgement about the optimal ratio of admin costs to R&D spending in a green energy startup?

      1. Naw. Nor do they need to, as such questions are completely irrelevant to whether any company should get its pockets stuffed with federal cash.

        1. Frankly, I don’t think the feds needs to be giving or loaning money to anybody. If they need to buy goods and services, they can pay for them.

          1. Are YOU qualified to make that comment, peanut?

      2. I am qualified to judge the absurd situation in this case. That makes Schweizer and Gillespie highly qualified. This shit is common sense staring you in the face.

      3. Anyone with a high school economics course under their belt (and probably less than that with some kids) is qualified to tell you that a start-up should spend the vast majority of it’s capital on R&D and not administration.

        But since you are an idiot let me break it down for you. If you don’t research and then develop the new technology that you want to sell (and you have to develop it to a point where it actually works and you will make money from selling it) your administrative staff won’t have any jobs cause your company will be bankrupt.

      4. vertical peanut|11.30.11 @ 9:51AM|#

        Is Schweizer (or Gillespie for that matter) qualified to make a judgement about the optimal ratio of admin costs to R&D spending in a green energy startup?

        ’cause nothing says specialist as much as a degree in public administration from the Kennedy School at Harvard. Good Lord could you have asked a more retarded question.

        1. I’m hoping you are being sarcastic …

      5. The 6:1 ratio sounds pretty consistent with firms in general. It may be out of whack for “green” firms, but I don’t know. Besides, RC Dean gets to the crux of the issue below.

  2. Makes sense – the Kennedys were the original Catholic-Bootleggers.

    1. Unfortunately the family turned from the honest trade of bootlegging to the villainy of politics.

      1. Tragic, but true.

  3. Gee, change Brightsource to Haliburton and Team Blue goes ballistic and Team Red spins apologia. And Libertarians, who have been fighting this crap for 40 years, continue to be disregarded, mocked, and told the free market has failed once again.

    1. Did Halliburton get a handout? I missed that one.

      1. Exactly. They were given government contracts to perform numerous services. Which, as far as I know, they actually did provide.

        Now, whether those services were appropriate for a contractor to do or even necessary at all is another question, but completely unrelated to the “green energy” crap. That’s just pure, unadulterated corruption.

          1. Oh, there’s plenty of corruption in defense contracting, too, and plenty of “services” being invented to keep contractors fat and happy.

            But that’s not the subject of Nick’s post.

  4. Check out the first review on Amazon.

    278 of 286 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and Abominations of the Earth, November 15, 2011
    By Citizen John (USA) – See all my reviews
    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)

    “Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and Abominations of the Earth.” Excellent.

    1. Can I get her phone number?

  5. 535 heads stacked in a pyramid on the Mall.

    That’s my proposal.

    1. I still fondly remember Clancy’s mastabatory fantasy ending to Debt of Honor.

      1. And here I was thinking I was the only one who remembered that.

        Of course it only works if you have some incorruptible as the next in line.

        1. I’d formally like to offer my services…..

          1. You guys masturbate with Tom Clancy novels?

            1. I was 12 or so when I read “The Sum of All Fears” and I distinctly remember on at least one occasion cranking one out to Jack and Cathy Ryan getting it on.

    2. Can we all sing a topical song while we’re building it? That’s some colony cooperation I could get behind.

    3. Too few. I get 546 by my count.

    4. My brilliant mind is engineering the perfect monument. Some type of mortar to hold them together. Put the most disgusting examples on the exterior faces of the structure. Coat them with cement in a wall of captured souls kind of fashion. 535 or 546 isn’t going to be enough.

      1. Coat them with cement

        No, no, no. Dust the monument with a powdered pottery glaze, then vitrify. Much nicer finish and it’ll really bring out the details.

        1. I’m claiming Vitrified Pyramid of Skulls as a band name.

  6. “Brightsource is spending almost six times as much on “marketing, general and administrative” costs than research and development.”

    Gotta spend money to make money.

  7. “People are sick of it.”

    Hahaha! Good one.

    1. It’s simply missing a clause. “People are sick of it, because they aren’t getting a piece of the action.

      A distressingly large percentage of the populace is perfectly happy to be on the take without bothering to think too hard about where the money comes from.

      1. A distressingly large percentage of the populace is perfectly happy to be on the take

        Including Capitalist, who are necessarily aggressive Takers.

        “[The Native Americans] didn’t have any rights to the land … Any white person who brought the element of civilization had the right to TAKE over this continent.”

        ~Ayn Rand, US Military Academy at West Point, March 6, 1974

        1. ….once again tries to pull the wool over our eyes and pretend that her reason for hating capitalism is something other than that she is a stupid COMMUNIST.

          1. Both are agricultural city-States enforcing gambol lockdown.

            Officer, am I free to gambol?

            MARX: NO!
            MISES: NO!

            The Marx-Mises axis of evil.

  8. (The company is $1.8 billion in debt, had total revenue of just $13.5 million in 2010 and ran an operating loss of $71 million.)

    Maybe Kindly Old Grandpa Buffett will step in and offer them some cash at usurious terms, if he can get a behind-closed-doors guarantee from Timmay that this technology is too important to be allowed to fall into the clutches of our slanty-eyed nemeses.

  9. Hey, cut Bobby Jr a break ?. with the Kennedy family fortunes sapped by successive generations of leeches, how else is he supposed to pay for his smack.

  10. I first saw a solar array similar to the one pictured above in the crapass movie “Sahara”. I thought it was some made up Rube Goldberg science fiction type shit that wouldn’t work that well. I have a diviney gift for being right.

  11. Does anyone else find RFK jr’s voice almost unbearable to listen to? It’s like a dozen people going at a chalk board with their fingernails.

  12. A company that’s all overhead and no product. Sounds like it’s modeled after the federal government.

  13. “RFKjr calls Schweizer a “sock puppet” for “Big Oil.””

    This is bizarre, given that BP and Chevron are also investors in the Brightsource project, last time I checked.

  14. RFKjr has Spasmotic Dysphonia. I love to hear him talk. It is like hearing him die from autoerotic asphyxia.

    1. But his most serious condition is terminal liberal idiocy.

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