Politicians make lousy venture capitalists. What’s more, it’s not their own money they’re playing with. It’s ours. The latest proof comes from California, where Solyndra, one of Barack Obama’s pet “green energy” companies, shut down Wednesday even after getting $535 million in federal loans and guarantees.
This isn’t a unique story. Politicians put tax money into projects that meet goals they believe are worthy. The market couldn’t care less what they think. The market rewards what works and makes economic sense. I just wrote a few weeks ago about the continuing failure of state economic planning the last time a government-favored “green energy” firm crashed and burned.
You can see more here about Solyndra workers being turned away from the plant Wednesday. Also, remember that Obama touted the facility just a year ago — when he toured the place — as a “green innovator.” That’s Obama with company founder Chris Gronet.
Why is it so hard to understand that throwing taxpayer money (or even inflated funny money from the Fed) at industries isn’t going to work just because politicians want certain outcomes? Why do politicians have so little respect for the market?
The only thing I can figure is that politicians are accustomed to living in their own little worlds where they believe they can manipulate reality. Will they ever learn that an economy is far too big for them to affect in a positive way? I doubt it. They’re too arrogant and smug for that.
Addendum: I just found a comment about the failure of Solyndra on another site. It’s so representative of the irrationality that we free-market advocates encounter that I wanted to add it — to remind you of what we’re up against. This commenter suggests that the company failed because the subsidies should have been even higher:
“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.”