Friday, September 16, 2011

Don't Attribute To Malice What Can Be Explained By Naïveté

So Solyndra got a $500B+ loan guarantee from the Obama Administration and then went bankrupt. Touted as a shining example of the Green Jobs at Good Wages, it turned out to be a fantasy. Now lots of folks are piling on and suggesting something evil might be at work here. B-Daddy says this.
(T)he whole Solyndra unfolding scandal shows the extent to which the administration supports crony capitalism.
Dean says this.
And as for that "active interest", that just might be George Kaiser, an Oklahoma billionaire and 2008 Obama campaign bundler who owned 39% of Solyndra's parent company.
Here's my take on what happened. The Obama Administration is filled with True Believers in two propositions:
  • Government investments can lead to wondrous growth in certain industries.

  • Global Warming / Climate Change is an existential threat to our way of life.
Solyndra bundled these two things together in a beautiful way. How could it lose?

It lost because the people doing the investing were childlike in their innocence of real business. Cash flows and balance sheets and marketing and sales and labor costs - all of this was alien to them except as a theoretical construct. This administration has less private sector experience than any other in history, by a long shot. All of this free market stuff is unpleasant and mysterious.

In short, the folks who did this investment had no idea what they were doing. There was no skullduggery, just a lot of naïveté and a firm belief that they were doing what was right and good.

Update: Peggy Noonan, our Holy Ambassador to the Court of the Mainstream Media, is thinking along similar lines.
History will write of this era when history has the time and the distance. The president would have been helped by wise old aides with wise old heads, people who somewhere along the line had had to meet a payroll. Instead he was surrounded by bright, committed, energetic naïfs who didn't know what they didn't know. They knew Democratic Party politics.


B-Daddy said...

To be fair, I said that Obama appears to be sinister, not that he actually is sinister. That his administration supports crony capitalism is undeniable.

ligneus said...

Naive, incompetent, but also unethical. Can you imagine the gov. of say 1780 supporting some private enterprise with taxpayer's money? They'd have had another Revolution on their hands. [And a Tea Party complete with pitch forks.]

K T Cat said...

ligneus, you and I and B-Daddy have fixed sets of values. The folks in the Obama Administration do not. For them, the Constitution is a "living document" so it's not clear that they consider their actions unethical in any way. I agree with you, but I'm trying to find the most likely explanation for what happened and I just can't bring myself to attribute it to evil motives.

K T Cat said...

B-Daddy, I quite agree. I believe Obama is a Peronist, which is to say a fascist. Crony capitalism is a feature of fascist economics.

ligneus said...

Calling it unethical is being kind. Chicago style shakedown might be nearer the mark. Reminds me of how GM and Chrysler investors were shafted for the benefit of the unions.

Dean said...

Are sinister and being naive exclusive of one another?

Link forthcoming.

Dean said...

Oh, thanks for the link, KT.

ligneus said...

Andrew McCarthey calls it fraud, that some of those involved should end up in prison.

The Solyndra debacle is not just Obama-style crony socialism as usual. It is a criminal fraud. That is the theory that would be guiding any competent prosecutor’s office in the investigation of a scheme that cost victims — in this case, American taxpayers — a fortune.

'not having a fixed set of principles' is just another way of saying they don't respect the law or other people's money, aka as criminal activity.
No excuses.
And it's notable that the Bush admin turned Solyndra down for a loan just before Obama took over. Watch Obama try to at least partially blame Bush in some way.

K T Cat said...

ligneus, there may have been fraud committed, but I don't think the desire the defraud the government is pervasive throughout the Administration, nor do I think there was a conspiracy to do so. If it happened, I would bet it was pretty localized.

ligneus said...

I'm leaning towards deliberate fraud.

Their arrogance is such that they thought they could get away with it. Like all criminals if you think about it.

ligneud said...

PS. Let me qualify that a little, I don't mean I think they set out to commit fraud, but I think it was inherent in their general way of doing things and once it came to it, with restructuring the loan for instance, it was deliberate.
And what about Fast and Furious? That could only have been deliberate from the get go.
Another reason they thought they could get away with it is Eric Holder.

ligneus said...

Then there's Lightsquared.

So much of it and who knows what else is out there.

K T Cat said...

ligneus, everything you're pointing out is quite true. Don't you feel it's what you'd expect from a fascist, Peronist government? I'd expect endless interventions in the economy by learned scholars to make sure the ignorant peasants are doing the Right Things, in this case green energy and clean tech.

It's fraud, but only in the legal sense. They're not doing it to make a buck, they're doing it because they think you're stupid.

ligneus said...

It's fraud, but only in the legal sense.

Don't get that, if it's criminal fraud what other sense could there be? Intent or motivation is irrelevant, fraud is fraud.

If no one ends up in jail, further crimes will have been committed.

K T Cat said...

Agreed. Whoever did this needs to face the consequences of their actions.

lligneus said...

It's all a bit scary.

Kind of explains the viciousness of the attacks on Sarah Palin if not the involvement of the MSM in those attacks.