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December 20 2011

President Fixit

Charlotte Hays

An excellent article in Reason magazine hits the nail on the head as to why so many Obama administration green energy projects—from Solyndra to electric cars—have been duds:   

No one, no matter how bright, can possibly know what is in the best interest of everybody.

Electric cars and solar energy panels, both beloved of the Obama administration, may turn out to be boons for mankind—one day.

But,when this happens, it will be because hundreds, thousands, of individual inventors and investors, had ideas and were willing to take a risk. Some will fail and some will succeed. But what none of them will be is centrally-planned.

The central planner purports to know what is in the best interest of everybody. Energy Secretary Steven Chu undoubtedly thought he knew what was best when he made the disastrous decision to invest more than half billion taxpayer dollars in Solyndra, which went under taking our money with it.

The Reason piece, by A. Barton Hinkle, a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, notes that billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent pushing electric cars, including $400 million to 123 Systems, a battery maker, that “recently announced layoffs ‘instead of up to 3,000 new Michigan jobs as Obama and the company had predicted,’” according to a newspaper story.

In projects such as these, President Obama “is using political power to reallocate economic resources to make people adopt an inferior technology that nobody wants.” But he thinks it is for our good. No matter that the public steadily rejects these plans:

Obama is less concerned with what the public wants than what he thinks is best for it. This is modern liberalism’s chief project: empowering a cognitive elite to correct what it sees as the poor choices of the stupid, venal masses. The trouble is, he doesn’t think so.

And the harder Washington tries to run everything, the more likely it will bollix everything up. The pages of history are littered with case studies, which now include Solyndra and (probably) electric cars.

The process of invention is messy and rarely runs in a straight line. But unless we have leaders who trust the public to sort through options, we will continue to pay for centrally-planned Solyndras.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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