Outrage Outage: Why Solyndra fails to spark anger
By: Daniel Clark
After all the anger, rational and otherwise, that was directed at Enron after it went bankrupt several years ago, one might have expected Americans to be incensed by the failures of Solyndra and other federally-subsidized “renewable energy” companies. So why aren’t we?
For conservatives, the answer is fairly simple. To us, the Solyndra fallout has been the proverbial spilled milk. It’s not as if we thought these “green energy” ventures would actually pay off. The real offense was the taxpayer-financed investments that Obama made in these companies through his gargantuan stimulus package, at which we really were angry, and still are.
Since liberals championed the stimulus package, it stands to reason that they are undisturbed by Solyndra, assuming that they didn’t expect it to pan out, either. If the subsidies were meant primarily as a symbolic expression of liberal ecological sensitivity, then they have already served their purpose, regardless of whether or not they yield any real-world results.
Experience tells us that alternative energy is far more popular in theory than it ever is in practice. Whenever an attempt is made to produce it on a large scale, liberals actively oppose it, usually by acting as the ambulance-chasing lawyers of the animal kingdom. Years ago, they halted the advancement of hydroelectric power by arguing that the dams disrupted the spawning habits of certain species of fish. More recently, they’ve begun protesting wind farms, on the basis that the turbines are turning lots of birds and bats into McNugget meat.
They’ve also blocked the construction of solar plants in the desert, charging that they would encroach on the habitat of an endangered tortoise. In 2008, this effort caused an exasperated Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to remark, “If we cannot put solar power plants in the Mojave Desert, I don’t know where the hell we can put it [sic].” That realization, however, has done little if anything to dampen enthusiasm for solar energy at the federal level.
For corporations like Solyndra to become successful would actually be disillusioning to liberals, because they don’t envision “green energy” within a corporate structure. Liberals love solar and wind power because they perceive them to be quintessentially egalitarian. Nobody owns the sun and the wind. They simply come in though the window, free to each according to his needs, kind of like getting your energy from a communal “free store.”
What taints these energy sources in the eyes of liberals is not the effects they have on endangered birds and tortoises, but the fact that people are needed to convert the energy into electricity, and then to distribute it to the consumers. That’s because to the greenies, the real pollutant is profit. Don’t believe it? Just listen to the way the bile drips from the word as it spills from their mouths. Three times in the past decade, the Senate has summoned oil executives to hearings, primarily for the purpose of scolding them for their presumably immoral “record profits.”
Even today, President Obama is promising to “double down” on wind and solar investments, while dishonestly characterizing the oil companies’ legitimate tax deductions as “subsidies” and “giveaways,” creating the false impression that these write-offs are special advantages unique to their industry. During a terse Rose Garden speech calling on Congress to raise taxes on “Big Oil,” the president mentioned “record profits” three times, and “profits” or “profitable” five others, always disapprovingly.
“Today,” he said, “members of Congress have a simple choice to make. They can stand with the big oil companies, or they can stand with the American people.” That’s a dubious assertion, to put it mildly, since the oil companies and their customers have a mutually advantageous relationship. It does neither of them any good to see the other harmed.
The same is not necessarily true of Americans’ relation to fly-by-night “green energy” companies, some of which surely never expected to be commercially viable. These, the actual recipients of taxpayer giveaways, aren’t “raking in record profits,” as Obama accusingly puts it. They’re just taking our money, without having to reciprocate by providing any goods or services. All Solyndra has done is apply for and accept a federal loan it must have known it would never repay, robbing the American people of more than a half-billion dollars. Nothing “greedy” about that, apparently.
If Solyndra had instead become productive and successful, that’s what would have drawn liberals’ ire. Then, they would have depicted its executives as a bunch of sinister, moustache-twisting Big Sun profiteers — and tortoise-murderers to boot.
Daniel Clark is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author and editor of a web publication called The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press, where he also publishes a seasonal sports digest as The College Football Czar.