Solyndra Scandal: The Silliest Talking Point of All

The Solyndra scandal involving the squandering a half a billion taxpayer dollars down a campaign supporter’s rathole, and then subordinating the taxpayer to another of said supporter’s interests in apparent violation of the Energy Policy Act, marches on. And as it does, so do the ramblings of Obama administration apologists sensing the danger posed, and their talking points are becoming increasingly confused.

But one distraction has proved persistent within the repertoire even as others get tried out. It is a new utilitarian “green” talking point, applied so far to the entire suite of folly, from electric cars to windmills, and thus deserves response. That is, we had to make bold moves on this front or face the prospect of falling behind China in the great [insert green boondoggle here] race.

Given that this does not seem to be going away any time soon, please consider the following about the alleged Yellow Peril.

Americans should be far more concerned about Belgium producing better beer, chocolate and Brussels sprouts than us than over the prospect of China developing a superior solar panel. It’s a solar panel. Not Flubber.

I understand that this can be difficult to keep in mind with all of the mysticism attached to anything labeled “green”. But the romantic folly is getting really expensive.

Solar electricity generation was first patented in 1888 and Music Men have sauntered into town ever since vowing revolutionary this and that and cost competitiveness juuust around the corner — it’s always been just around the corner, and always will be — and that they’ve finally fixed the bugs in the system such that it’s now viable…some of which bugs upon scrutiny are actually features (the sun, like the wind, is intermittent, that is, it isn’t an alternative to something that works when you need it, let alone all the time; and it is very diffuse, meaning it takes a lot of space to produce a little).

And so we’ve squandered scores of billions time and gain. Yes, billions. So much for “isn’t it time we began investing in…”

And, do not fear that they will leave us on the outside of their solar panel nirvana looking in, beholden to them. China is only making the things to sell them to us. Not cluttering their own energy system with solar.

If you don’t want to buy solar panels from China, don’t pass laws requiring us to use solar panels. Otherwise, you’re going to buy solar panels from China. Things that exist solely due to political divination, not for reasons of their economics or performance, are essentially commoditized. The low-cost producer will always win, and it will never be us.

China’s edge is in mass producing commodities. Not innovating. Similarly, anything like solar panels that require command-and-control policies to exist will always be something China beats us in. They’re communists.

Why not fetishize that which China is doing that actually drives its prosperity: going on a binge of building coal-fired, nuclear and hydroelectric production?

If Western political leaders abandon this vanity of pushing uneconomic energy sources into the economy because, well, we should be making and using them — despite there being many and very good reasons that we do not — the Chinese will immediately retool their industry to make something else.

Hopefully, it won’t be something else that only exists because Western politicians have concluded it should. But I’m realistic.

The more legitimate fear is not that we lose some mythical race to China but that we succeed in turning into the country Obama cited eight times as his model to examine if we want to know where he’s going: Spain. Oh, yeah…remember the European boogeyman previously invoked to convince you we simply must accept this absurd industrial policy? Whatever happened to that?

Well, after decade of tossing their own billions down this same kind of crony-populated ratholes, they lost their industry to China. Spain, Germany, Denmark and any other model Obama used to cite but no longer does is experiencing this. For reasons stated above. The key point is to note he no longer cites these European miracles. Now it’s suddenly China.

We do not know for sure that Solyndra will put an end to politicians’ profligate pouring of debt-financed wealth down this drain. But, in the event this proves out, the half billion it cost us will also prove to have been worth it. In the meantime, let’s educate Americans on Obamanomics, one ridiculous talking point at a time.


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