The Magazine

Solyndracracy

Oct 10, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 04 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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No, of course it shouldn’t—unless you believe, as we do, that the “clean-energy jobs” canard is more a euphemism for handouts to the green lobby and politically connected business elites than a serious approach to environmental stewardship and economic growth. If private investors risk capital in an enterprise that fails, they are the only ones who lose; if government risks the public’s money in a company that flops, we all lose.

Contrary to the collective wisdom of the Democratic party and many in the GOP, the law of comparative advantage still applies: If China produces solar panels more cheaply than America, all the better; China benefits from our dollars, we benefit from the lower price. That’s how markets work. Talk of international “competition” and soon professional politicians will be using the law to reward friends and punish enemies.

All this cronyism says nothing good about the state of American politics, either. Nor does the fact that, if you went through every paper published in the last month and replaced “Solyndra” with “Enron” and “Obama” with “Bush,” the media would be howling like a pack of rabid wolves. “The truth,” Paul Krugman wrote in January 2002, “is that key institutions that underpin our economic system have been corrupted. The only question that remains is how far and how high the corruption extends.” Right you are, professor. Right you are.

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