Joe Nocera explains Solyndra | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Joe Nocera explains Solyndra

Posted By on Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 7:30 AM

The NY Times columnist has been calmly explaining the Solyndra failure while Republicans try to whip it into the scam of the century. In short, it's a deal that went bad, as they sometimes do, and the Republicans wailing about the government loan guarantee program for energy programs CREATED the thing, over Democratic opposition.

Nocera observes — in a point worth noting for Arkansas corporate welfare advocates — that the government is NOT much of a venture capitalist. But that's not what was happening here.

The third criticism is the one that really matters: government “is a crappy vc,” as Obama’s former economic adviser, Larry Summers, put it in another embarrassing e-mail that was recently released as part of a Congressional investigation into Solyndra.

“VC,” of course, stands for venture capitalist; the notion is that government is not equipped to play that role. A corollary point, voiced by Holman Jenkins Jr. in The Wall Street Journal, is that solar projects that make financial sense get financed by the private sector and those that don’t are the ones that need federal backing.

But if you spend any time actually looking into how the Department of Energy doles out the loan guarantees, you quickly realize that it’s not acting like a venture capitalist. Rather, it is funding projects that have already attracted private capital — lots of it. The private sector, in other words, is still the one picking winners and losers.

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