The Watermelon Regime's Pay-to-Play Way

The recent domino-like downfall of a slew of solar energy companies is shedding light on both the failure and corruption inherent in green politics.

Most prominently in the news was the bankruptcy of Solyndra LLC, a Fremont, California-based manufacturer of solar panels.  The company's demise meant the loss of 1,100 jobs.  Solyndra said that it could not compete with overseas (read: Chinese) competitors and will therefore look to a sale of its business and the leasing out of key technology.

What's hilarious -- unless you are a taxpayer! -- is that Solyndra was a pet of the Obama regime (the "Watermelon Regime" -- green on the outside, red on the inside).  The regime not long back gave Solyndra a $535-million loan guarantee, which now means the taxpayer is in for a major hosing.  (This was the first loan guarantee from the Department of Energy under its "clean energy program.")

And did the Watermelon Regime tout the company!  Even during groundbreaking ceremonies for Solyndra's plant, Veep Biden -- one of the regime's soaring geniuses -- spoke encouraging remarks by CCTV.  The Obama Himself, in one of his swagger-tours touting his incredibly successful record on job-creation, spoke at the now-shuttered factory back in May 2011, during which he heaped narcissistic praise on the company.  He prophesied (he is a prophet, remember!) that "[t]he true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra."

Now it is defunct -- sic transit Gloria mundi!

Solyndra's demise falls hard upon the heels of the bankruptcy of another green giant and regime favorite, Evergreen Solar.  Evergreen Solar had received extensive subsidies from both local and state governments. The company was located in Massachusetts, whose governor is Duval Patrick, an Obama pal and another grotesque green dreamer.

Also recently in the news is the news about Solar Trust of America, which back in June broke ground on a plant in Blythe, California -- the Watermelon State! -- that was prophesied to produce 1,000 jobs and a $460-million cash inflow into the desert community.  Watermelon leaders ("melon heads") like Ken Salazar and Jerry Brown were at the ceremony.  But now the project is being delayed at least a year, as the company is making a major technological switch (it will use photovoltaic solar panels instead of solar thermal troughs).  As the local mayor puts it ruefully, it is all "at a standstill."  Solar Trust is clearly a candidate for the poster boy of corporate planning!

It appears that Solar Trust may have failed to get the necessary funding, even though it, too, received a federal loan guarantee of $2.1 billion earlier this year.

None of this is of the slightest importance to the deeply delusional Department of Energy, aka the watermelon patch, which just gave yet another loan guarantee to SoloPower Inc., yet another solar panel maker.  This new loan guarantee -- for a tidy $197 million -- is on top of other, prior loan guarantees to the company.  And the DoE has announced two additional huge loan guarantees -- totaling $425 million -- to two other solar energy companies.

All of this money comes from the ridiculous 2009 stimulus bill Obama rammed through Congress -- you remember, the bill that was guaranteed to end unemployment in our time?  That bill put aside funds to cover about $60 billion in loans for green energy projects, though Congress has taken back about $35 billion of it.  The DoE has until the end of this month to spend it, and spend it they will, comrades.  As DoE spokesman Damien LaVera puts it, "[w]hile not every company will succeed on this competitive industry, we believe that solar generation and manufacturing play a vital role in helping America win the clean energy race."

Translation: we don't care a watermelon rind that all these solar companies are failing, because they are propped up by your tax dollars, and we couldn't care less about your tax dollars.

Now, one might wonder how people could be so stupendously stupid in the first place to imagine that moving to solar power is the ticket to job growth.  You would have to have the brains of a watermelon not to see that to begin with, solar panels are expensive to manufacture, and they use expensive rare-earth minerals.  Both those factors favor China, where labor is cheap and where the majority of known rare-earth mineral reserves lies.  And solar power requires subsidies about two orders of magnitude greater than those that go into natural gas, in which the United States is awash.  So in producing solar power, scarce money is wasted because the power could more cheaply be produced by conventional domestic sources, thus creating American jobs.  Moreover, using conventional domestic sources would allow the remainder of the tax dollars to be spent domestically, which would create even more American jobs.

In sum, the switch from conventional energy to solar is the switch from American jobs to Chinese ones.

But the problem here is not the stupidity, but the cupidity of the melon-heads in Washington.  Another recent report explores the corrupt crony capitalist angle of the green schemes of the Watermelon Regime.

It just so happens that key players for Solyndra were lavish supporters of Obama during his election.  For example, one George Kaiser, a billionaire who donated over $50,000 to Obama's campaign and helped raise tens of thousands more, just by pure random chance happens to be one of the biggest investors in...Solyndra!  Kaiser chipped in fifty lousy grand of his own money to help elect a regime that then chipped in half a billion bucks to his now-failed business.  This is just too precious for words!

Moreover, Kaiser wasn't the only Obamanista executive at Solyndra.  VP of operations Ben Bierman gave the Big O a divine 35 grand, and VP of marketing Karen Alter contributed a tidy 23 large.  Other board members are on record as donating mega-bucks to various campaigns by the Democratic Party.  Not surprisingly, Solyndra spent over a million bucks on lobbying for green energy bills (such as the "Solar Manufacturing Jobs Act" -- a richly ironic name, considering recent developments!).

Isn't it funny that nobody in the Democratic Party -- the selfsame party that has named a million special prosecutors in the past -- has called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into the reeking cesspool that is the funding for failed solar energy projects?  I'm sure that at least some Republicans would support such a move!

The sun finally may be setting on the Watermelon vision of using the environmentalist ideology to advance the cause of neo-socialism.  But not before it has corrupted and helped bankrupt the nation.

Gary Jason is an academic philosopher and a contributing editor to Liberty. He is the author of the forthcoming book, Dangerous Thoughts.

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