Emerging industries often need the help of governments to survive. Companies like Solyndra have a hard time competing with Chinese exports because China subsidizes their solar industry to the tune of $30B...
And what evidence
BTW we still subsidize the auto industry (and theoil companies) to the tune of 100s of billions a year in road and highway construction and maintenance. Are they also a 100% political scam?
DrWattsOn, first off, your comment isn't off-topic, to my mind. Secondly, don't be too upset with the accusation of "thinking like an engineer". ;-) My wife tells me that sometimes, and trust me, it's not always an encomium. But I digress. Your evaluation of the Solyndra disaster is very pessimistic, but that doesn't disqualify it. In short, you seem to allege a fraud in the Solyndra business. Now, let's see: is this the first time any such fraud might have occurred? Um, no. Are the sums of money such that the risk of fraud are tenable to the players? Um, people have been killed for $500M. So: they had the means (control of the company, and the ear of upper-level administrative types), motive (serious money); how about opportunity? Of course, they ran the company and their friends run the government. I don't know if it was fraudulent from the get-go or not, but it is certainly possible. I'd like to think that these people merely plannned to use their influence with the administration to try to insure their company's success, but maybe it was just old-fashioned theft. You aren't crazy, and I think you are thinking like an engineer.
I appeal that my following comments be considered as ON topic. I'm a NON-"Professional", ie, I am a 67 year old Electronics Technician. At least, I have been accused of "thinking like an Engineer".
But I didn't manage my skillsets and financial resources, so I'm one of the "members of a herd of cattle in the socialist state" (at least my SS came partly from my own pocket). It was MY mistake to not plan for the effects of aging and saving for a "retirement" after hard times.
Politicians have proven to be vain, self-seeking, sociopaths on the level of Bernie Maddof: no goal other than accruing power and enjoying the personal perks and privileges of their daily lifestyle. Their skill set is manipulating others by deception, intimidation and coercion.
Solyndra was never designed to succeed as a commercial venture, it was a 100% POLITICAL scam, allowing our pious, imperious "governors" to take some of the Fed. Res. funny money out of taxpayers' pockets and put it into their own and their friends' pockets. They were all crooks from the beginning. Solyndra was just a cover operation to "launder" tax money under guise of a legitimate pursuit, that in the commercial space would have never been funded. The minute OUR money was "loaned" to Solyndra, they were all looking for a quick getaway. And they gotaway! They will never be prosecuted, much less convicted, for the crimes they commit ( some still, now).
Solyndra IS a Political topic; their Engineering had no redeeming inherent value!
I thank God that I got to read the opinions by Bob, Bert, et al, whose posts demonstrate that they are good engineers, and by that have developed accurate social precepts and perceptions. Too bad more like them haven't stopped "my Mommy/Daddy/God, the Government" (well, that's our RULERS own perception).
OK, that's all "just my opinion": I've been wrong before, so I want the heat of criticism of this post - contents or appropriateness, just to "get my mind right, Luke"
I honestly fail to see the "nobility" in incompetent waste of taxpayer's money.
This sound to me a bit like saying that the previous administration made a "noble" attempt at ridding Iraq of a despot.
In both cases, the administration overstepped its bounds, went beyong its area of knowledge and expertise, and the result was a predictable flop.
It is not the administration's job to be the country's venture capitalist. It is not the administration's job to single-handedly, unilaterally, enforce UN resolutions either.
Snowboard9, I am absolutely in agreement with you. It was "noble" in the sense of the Noble prize being awarded to Yassir Arafat, for "peace". And indeed, I wish you could do it all over again. And be joined with all of the folks who see it your way. You still have a chance: there are lots of opportunities in the penny stock market. ( I am curious: how did the "benefits of upside for success" outweigh the loss? What are "benefits of upside for success", anyway?)
Here's my (serious) point: you want to invest? I just don't want to be dragged along with you. That's what happens when the government becomes a venture capital firm. It invests _my_ money in things that _you_ like. I don't like that. I don't want to tell you how to invest. Why should you want to tell me?
Your observation on the DoD is spurious. True, you may or may not want your taxes spent in that way. Regrettably, the world is not a benign place, and a DoD will be a necessary department of the government for some time to come. I think you'll find that far more people would prefer their taxes to go to the DoD than government investment in failing businesses such as GM or Solyndra.
All this public fury on a noble attempt to invest in American technology for alternative energy.
I would do it all over again as the benefits of upside for success far outweighed the loss.
$535M is about 8 seconds spending for that sacred cow, the Dept of Defense.
Jongleur, can you point out to me anywhere in the Constitution where offering carrots for development is encouraged by the writers? Who asked the government to do this? But more importantly, what makes you think the government could ever be more efficient than ordinary competition in the market? Paying for results has two major drawbacks: (1) no one can guarantee results on cutting edge projects and (2) if some civil service group wishes to pay for an attempt, let them pay with their own funds. If I wish to fund a research effort, there's always the stock market and similar investment vehicles. It just isn't the federal government's job to be a venture capitalist.
And the government does this all the time, for programs that it legitimately runs. NASA, DoD, and all the other departments, do this on a daily basis.
However, no one has tasked the government to become our National Venture Capitalist. There is no government agency set up to do this, and the Solyndra case is a text book example of how taking on this new responsibility can fall flat on its face.
You cannot do the job of a VC by running on politically motivated slogans and hype. Just because some lawyer claims that what Solyndra was doing was the future, it doesn't make it so. Venture capitalism is very risky, and the people successful at have to be dispassionate, and they take personal responibility in making tough calls. Throwing tax payers' money left and right, with abandon, using nice sounding slogans, is certainly not the way to manage risk.
If a real world VC had blown that much money, he would likely be out of a job right about now, if not in prison. Who do you see in government, involved in this case, that is sending out resumés?
Replay available now: A handful of emerging network technologies are competing to be the preferred wide-area connection for the Internet of Things. All claim lower costs and power use than cellular but none have wide deployment yet. Listen in as proponents of leading contenders make their case to be the metro or national IoT network of the future. Rick Merritt, EE Times Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, moderators this discussion. Join in and ask his guests questions.