Ironically, the absurdity of the entire “green jobs” investment scheme was pointed out in an email to Larry Summers, who was the director of the National Economic Council. The snippet is a bit long, but instructive:
The allocation of spending to clean energy is haphazard; the government is just not well equipped to decide which companies should get the money and how much. That is, after all, what my industry does, and there are lots of mechanisms in place to see that it is done right. One of our solar companies with revenues of less than $100 million (and not yet profitable) received a government loan of $580 million; while that is good for us, I can't imagine it's a good way for the governement (SIC) to use taxpayer money (I'd prefer my opinion about that specific company be between us). Every administration seems to feel like it knows better than the private markets how to allocate capital, and I've just never seen that be true.
That email was from Brad Jones, the founding partner of Redpoint Ventures, and the company he referenced was Solyndra. Amusingly, in subsequent emails, Mr. Summers appeared to agree with him, emailing, “I relate well to your view that gov is a crappy vc [venture capitalist] and if u were closer to it you'd feel more strongly."
Another blacked out email warned that the Energy Department’s “‘system’ for monitoring loans is quite problematic…and does not seem to be a program priority.” So, not only were bureaucrats and political appointees acting like investors with our money, they knew they were doing a “crappy” job of it all.
Americans understand that Solyndra is just the most tangible symptom of a much deeper problem. The Washington Establishment’s faith in the power and expertise of government knows no limits. When given nearly unchecked power and money, bureaucrats and political appointees will use taxpayer money however they please, even if they recognize they do it poorly.
Right now, it is Solyndra. But until we get our government out of the daily ins-and-outs of the private sector, we can expect similar boondoggles.