The free-market vs. government cronyism
In a recent article in The Christian Science Monitor, two analysts from the Union of Concerned Scientists make the argument that President Obama’s investments in green technology were a good deal.
The Union of Concerned Scientists’ John Rogers, a senior energy analyst in the Climate and Energy Program, and David Friedman, the senior engineer in the Clean Vehicles Program, described the well-publicized bankruptcies of Solyndra and A123 Systems as “a few falling acorns” and call critics “Chicken Littles.”
President Obama’s green energy investments have received a lot of publicity in Michigan because four of the largest nine green companies to go bankrupt had Michigan ties.
The Heritage Foundation did an analysis of 19 bankrupt green energy companies that failed even though the government had promised financial assistance up to $2.6 billion.
Proponents of limited government say the Union of Concerned Scientists is missing the point about government investment in green companies.
“Whether the Obama Administration’s investments in clean technologies succeed or fail, the fundamental problem is that the federal government is risking taxpayer dollars to bet on companies in the first place,” said Heritage Foundation Spokeswoman Rachael Slobodien. “Regardless of their fate, the government should not be ‘investing’ in these technologies or companies, especially in the energy market where there is already ample demand and diverse supply. We should be equally infuriated about the successful companies. These are companies that have profitable products to offer and do not need taxpayer support. There is a phrase for subsidizing successful companies: corporate welfare.
"As Heritage’s Nick Loris has explained many times before, ‘Two kinds of companies seek subsidies: economically uncompetitive companies, which need the subsidy to survive, and potentially competitive companies, which use subsidies to pad their bottom lines. Neither case can be justified.’ “
Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, said the Union of Concerned Scientists’ contention that the incentives are working because many companies are still operating is flawed.
“It’s not because the program is working. It’s because they are giving this money to large companies,” de Rugy said.
Well-established wind-farm owning corporations such as NRG ($145.5 million) and NextEra Energy ($955.5 million) received multi-millions in cash from the federal government, de Rugy wrote.
“I’m sorry. These are big companies that could get capital without the help of the government,” de Rugy said. “That’s the real scandal.”