In Massachusetts, one of the poster children of the “green energy” and “green jobs” myth has shown us what the reality really is. After taking $58 million in taxpayer money to build a factory, the company has filed for bankruptcy liquidation after having shut the factory down months ago.
The end of Evergreen Solar should be a reality check for cheerleaders for “clean energy” advocates — such as Barack Obama — who beg governments to pour millions and millions more of our dollars down that rathole in search of the elusive dream of energy without any environmental cost.
Evergreen Solar promised 800 good jobs in Massachusetts, but it wanted $58 million in state money to help build the factory. So the state ponied up the money — leaving taxpayers without their money as the company owes nearly $500 million in debts. But the funniest thing is that it didn’t even produce the promised jobs for long. The factory was built. Those 800 people were hired. But it wasn’t working. The economics of solar power don’t work at this point. So the company shut down the factory last March and shifted its production to China.
If there is a legitimate market for a product, a freely functioning market will provide the capital to build it. If the market isn’t willing to provide capital to build a venture, the odds are very high that it’s a lousy venture that won’t work. Politicians are like flies to honey on those sort of insane deals, and this one was no exception.
Government economic planning doesn’t work. It didn’t work for the old Soviet Union, with its numerous failed five-year plans. It didn’t work in China, which finally dumped most state economic planning to give the market more power — and China boomed.
Many people (on the political left) want the United States and other social democracies to be more like that failed model. They want governments to funnel money to industries that they like, in order to guide industrial activity. I can only conclude that these people are ignorant of history and completely unable to evaluate the results of shutdowns such as the one of Evergreen Solar.
There are plenty of other examples of why the market is better than the state planning that’s pouring money into the “green” rathole. In Seattle, a $20 million program was announced with great fanfare — with a White House ceremony with Joe Biden — to create 2,000 “living wage” jobs and “retrofit” a couple thousand homes in poor neighborhoods. A year later, KOMO-TV reports that the program has created only 14 jobs and spent money on an athletic club and hospitals instead of the homes of poor folks. Who would have thought that the politicians’ promises weren’t going to happen?
And since “green” power is the darling of the environmental movement, it’s hard to know how they reconcile their love of subsidized wind power with the birds those turbines are killing, including some on the endangered species list. If “greedy” private industry were doing this for profit, these same environmentalists (and state officials) would be working to ban the turbines. But since they’re in the name of another enviro good, the facts are ignored.
All of these facts — and others — should make those people re-evaluate what they believe in. It should have shown them that government is a lousy venture capitalist and a lousy planner (even if they’re immoral enough to believe governments have any right to be spending our money in the first place). But it won’t. They’ll double down on stupidity just as soon as another “green” project comes along.
With each one, we’re told that this one will be different. They’ll never be different until the market is ready. And when the market is ready, taxpayer subsidies won’t be needed anyway.