Mark W. Hendrickson

Second lesson: The government's involvement in Solyndra raises troubling questions about possible corruption. While I think the Solyndra deal stinks to high heaven, I wonder whether any laws have been broken. Where is the dividing line between influence peddling, legitimate lobbying, political deal-making, and actual crime? Many farm-state Republicans have supported the uneconomical ethanol boondoggle for decades in exchange for generous support of their electoral campaigns, so the practice is bipartisan.

Third lesson: Government job programs are a blatant failure. They have never been economically beneficial. In the 1930s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had the department of agriculture hire 100,000 Americans to monitor how much acreage American farmers were cultivating. These federal jobs produced no wealth. Their jobs made no more economic sense than paying people to dig holes and then fill them up.

Today's green workers are economically nonsensical, too. True, they sometimes produce something, but the economic value is invariably less than the amount of tax dollars needed to subsidize their job. In other words, federal jobs make us poorer.

Fourth lesson: Finally, we simply can't afford these green boondoggles. Uncle Sam’s official debt is now $15 trillion, and when you include off-budget items and unfunded liabilities, the situation is far worse. Given this fiscal reality, it is the height of irresponsibility to throw taxpayer dollars at any special interests, and it is particularly egregious to subsidize enterprises that are plainly uneconomical.

I am not opposed to green industries. What we need is for the government to get out of the way and let green technologies prove themselves in the competitive marketplace. It's time for change and an end to economic foolishness. Let’s get the burden of green boondoggles off the taxpayers’ back.


Mark W. Hendrickson

Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson is an adjunct faculty member, economist, and fellow for economic and social policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.