Green Jobs, Up In Smoke

There have been a number of similar stories lately–highly touted “green jobs” companies that got millions in federal subsidies are going under, one after another. The latest is a California company called Solyndra:

A California solar panel manufacturer which President Obama had made the poster child of his effort to expand the green economy and grow jobs has filed for bankruptcy, the company announced today. …

“Regulatory and policy uncertainties in recent months created significant near-term excess supply and price erosion,” Solyndra president and CEO Brian Harrison said in a statement. “Raising incremental capital in this environment was not possible. This was an unexpected outcome and is most unfortunate.”

It would be interesting to know what Harrison meant by “regulatory and policy uncertainties.” Was he complaining about the same regulatory disaster that countless non-green CEOs have fingered as the enemy of job creation? Is it possible that the Obama administration can’t even do crony capitalism right?

President Obama visited Solyndra in May 2010, heralding the company as “leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future.” He also cited it as a success story from the government’s $787 billion economic stimulus package.

“Less than a year ago, we were standing on what was an empty lot. But through the Recovery Act, this company received a loan to expand its operations,” Obama said at the time. “This new factory is the result of those loans.”

In 2009, the Obama administration fast-tracked Solyndra’s loan application, later awarding it $535 million in guarantees from the stimulus funds.

Another half-billion dollars, flushed down the toilet. Obama defended the stimulus bill on the ground that it really didn’t matter what the money was spent on. “Spending equals stimulus,” he said, in as pure an expression of economic ignorance as you will ever encounter. Does he still believe that? If not, can the country expect an apology for destroying nearly $1 trillion in hard-earned wealth?

Solyndra and the White House initially estimated that government financing for Solyndra would help create 4,000 jobs.

The company had received at least $475 million and created just 585 jobs, according to the most recent figures posted on Recovery.gov, which tracks Recovery Act projects.

Close to $1 million per job. That’s about par for the course, when you spend money stupidly. And those jobs, of course, only lasted a couple of years. If we had hired those same people to burn the money, a dollar bill at a time, their jobs might have lasted longer.

This is the price we pay for electing a president whose knowledge of both economics and history–wasteful spending as a spur to economic growth has been tried before–is substandard.

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