We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The idea that we need more entrepreneurs to help improve the economy (a theme I've been thumping) is not lost on the government. However, their solution is to use taxpayer money to invest in areas they deem worthy. Most venture capitalists look for profitable businesses with a high potential return. Or at least some kind of return. The government has the luxury of being able to borrow as much as it wants from the Fed, or taxing the citizenry to death to pursue its dreams of a greener world...and is not seeking any return.
This is not entrepreneurial behavior. This is not venture capitalist behavior. It is the kind of behavior we should all be wary of - the government picking winners and losers. It's a precarious game, particularly if you choose a market that is so small your money isn't likely to have any kind of decent return. This administration claims the GM and Chrysler bailouts "made money" (though I am sure a careful accounting will prove otherwise). Assuming this is true, and politicians are astute enough to put taxpayer money to a profitable end - why the hell are we investing in this?
At its very core, it's just wealth redistribution. They just slapped a different label on it.
Ed: A quote from that piece:
Politicians write the press releases first and worry about the taxpayer losses later.
"This is not entrepreneurial behavior. This is not venture capitalist behavior."
Correct. It is far more reminiscent of the largesse a dictator spreads to his friends, or a city political machine uses to pay off supporters.
Assistant VIllage Idiot
Did you want to use the term "thug" or "mob" somewhere in your description?
As one who has worked with entrepeneurs and their need for venture capitalists, Obama has not the foggiest what the term means and recognizing that there is no place for government unless you want that entity to artificially boost products that couldn't make it in the real world. I have seen plenty of that with the steel, auto, sugar, plastics... industries.
Being either an entrepeneur or a venture capitalist requires many hours devoted to projecting costs and needs for equipment and manpower, analyzing risk and potential market fluctuations, etc. Having to anticipate a government that basically is at odds with you -- works against you -- by manipulating interest rates, trade agreements, mandatory healthcare or payroll taxes (I could go on) racks havoc on planning. Diminishing the role of the community banks that know their market and their community is a HUGE mistake.
@David, I used that term in a letter published in "Forbes" in 2006. I was referring to Vinod Khosla's efforts to get government to tax others which would guarantee a return on his investment in alternative energy. I tried to put a link in this comment but I don't seem to have a handle on the proper formatting. Unformatted:
The problem is, of course, the liberal faith that the smart people who went to the same schools they did and worked for the same foundations, or taught at the same universities, are most suited to not only govern, but to help the ignorant masses live better lives. Of course they think they can pick winners. After all, we must stop global warming to save the planet, and alternative energy is the wave of the future— a real 21st century technology. The ordinary bitter clinging folk don't appreciate yet that America will lead the world to a brighter future, illuminated by twisty light bulbs.
There will, of course be a few setbacks, but we must expect that. But when these brave investments in the future are deemed too risky by ordinary venture capitalists, then the federal government must step forward and invest government money in the future. Or something like that.
The Elephant's Child
We all know that the so-called bailout of the auto industry was in reality a bailout of the labor unions. There was nothing entrepreneurial about it in any way. The action was neither venture capitalism nor venture socialism since it was labor rather than the companies that benefited by the government's intervention. And we also know that the loans have not been paid back in full and are resigned to the fact that they never will be paid back in full, so the taxpayer---an unwilling investor---has lost up to $60 billion on the bailout, depending on how you do the full costing of the bailout.
They aren't picking winners ... at least not in the way most people think about picking winners at a track. The mere fact that they decide to throw tax money at someone creates the winner, and those they don't lend to lose out in the great cronyism wheel of fortune.
And as Solyndra so aptly illustrates, "winning" doesn't make the business successful, it just enriches certain folks who can then recycle some of those tax dollars to the appropriate politician. You'd think Obama could have simplified the whole thing by just pocketing a bunch of the money before it went out to Solyndra. It's a campaign money laundering scheme, with a cast of public and private conspirators.
Yes, the idea that a 'winner' receives taxpayer money, as opposed to developing a winning concept that is profitable isn't clear. But you nailed the issue. In the politician's mind, the 'winner' who receives tax money is a 'winner' by default. Even if the company is a loser.