The Solyndra Debacle

“Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation” – Henry Kissinger

The big headline news-splash this week is the Solyndra bankruptcy. (There are thousands of stories out there, but I think the best treatment was by John Stewart – check out the video, it’s very good.) Naturally, I have thoughts.

Why is this such a big deal? …

I think Kissinger had it right. Somebody paid tons of lobbying money into a candidates coffers, the candidates then funnel public money to those donors, and this is a scandal? Of course it’s criminal. Of course it is a fundamental violation. Of course it is evil and immoral and untenable. But if you’re going to make a deal out of this then you need to can 90% of congress (and maybe we should).

Microcosm of crony capitalism …

This points to the main issue I have with crony capitalism. At some point, rational businessmen come to the realization that there is a larger profit in bribing politicians than producing a good product – so that’s what they do. Who here has betrayed the public trust? Who has betrayed morality? It is not the businessman. He has merely played the hand he was dealt. It is the government itself.

If the government was not in the business of picking and choosing the winners and losers of the economic spectrum, then this nonsense would not happen. They only bribe politicians because politicians have shown they are quite willing to usurp any and all authority over the public – and are thus willing to tell individuals they must buy this or that product and give patronage to this or that business.

It is a probabilistic certainty …

This is the problem that governments run into when they do just about anything. There is bound to be one case out there where the government did something and it blew up spectacularly in their face.

For instance, there are those on the Libertarian side who favor releasing all non-violent drug offenders. But if the government did that (and there are thousands upon thousands incarcerated) then almost surely there would be one character that went on to commit a violent crime. That crime would be laid at the feet of the federal government (or whoever was responsible for the release). “If you hadn’t cut thousands and thousands of non-violent drug offenders loose then this crime would not have happened.”

Similarly, the politicians open themselves up to this type of accusation by offering public loans to political donors. If one of them collapses (and they almost surely will) the politicians will rightly pay the penalty. The only way out is to stop offering public-secured loans for private industry. Let the free market be free.

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