This may be a bit risky with nearly two months left in the year, but if there’s some kind of “taxpayers’ friend” award for 2011, I’d like to go ahead and nominate Solyndra. That’s the insider-connected green company that got half a billion dollars in government loan guarantees, then jumped insider payoffs in front of those taxpayer-backed loans, gave themselves some bonuses, went bankrupt, and laid off all of its workers– in less than a year!
That kind of efficiency is just too rare when it comes to government programs.
Think of how much better off we’d be if Amtrak had just politely collapsed after a couple of years, instead of continuous billion dollar annual losses over its forty plus year existence. That’s not counting the billions of “high-speed fail” money. Amtrak will keep bleeding us far into the future; but Solyndra jumped in, crashed spectacularly, and is done and out.
Or think of what we could’ve done with the billions of dollars spent every year pretending that it’s a good idea to grow food, expend more energy than it produces to make ethanol, then burning it. Instead of leeching us for decades, Solyndra proved quickly and definitively that “lowest cost solar panel producer” still means first place economic disaster.
Then there’s FutureGen, which after years of painstaking analysis, the feds decided to site in Mattoon, IL. Then not. Kill it? Of course not. After minutes of intense reflection, they decided they really meant to build a pipeline from a defunct power plant, then spend years pumping billions of dollars into a black hole. Along with some CO2. You know — the stuff that comes out of our mouths every time we breath.
So, if you understand that our government’s primary activities these days involve wasting money, distorting markets, and suppressing real entrepreneurship, you have to agree that Solyndra was a total bargain for taxpayers.
As a bonus for my green friends, since Solyndra stopped burning taxpayer money, that should count as reducing our carbon footprint.