Friday, November 18, 2011

Chu on This

Poor US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize winner is characterized as a brilliant academic but his lax management style makes him too incompetent for even the hapless Obama Administration. Sadly, the Obama Administration is, indeed, so hapless that they haven't yet accepted the fact that Chu is not an able or even competent administrator.

Official portrait of United States Secretary o...
Energy Secretary Steven Chu
Image via Wikipedia
I'm being kind in that assessment, because if Chu isn't incompetent then it means that he participated, with or without specific knowledge, in routing taxpayer money to benefit the billionaire buddy of our current President. Of course, there is still the alternative that both things are true. It's also telling that Solyndra was the very first loan Chu approved.

Chu says that he accepts responsibility for the Solyndra debacle, but that's not quite accurate is it? Accepting responsibility doesn't stop at making excuses for why you made the wrong decision despite evidence to the contrary. It means making amends. If Secretary Chu wants to be responsible, then he should actually be responsible. We'll even allow him to finance the $535 million dollars as long as he pays it back to the taxpayers. That would be taking full responsibility.

One of Chu's excuses is that the Department of Energy did not anticipate the drop in prices of solar panels. So, we have a scientist who is surprised at plummeting prices on new technology. It's not as though it's never happened before now, is it? In fact, a new technology whose price does not drop is remarkable. Would a private investor have refused to assume that prices would remain the same? In a word, yes.

Chu also blames the price drop in solar panels for the restructuring of the loan that put taxpayers on the hook for everything by putting them dead last in the ability to recover any assets from the long-doomed company. I guess they don't teach the concept of sunk funds in physics classes; or as everyday people call it, "putting good money after bad."

Meanwhile Chu is still under the illusion that everything is peachy keen at the Department of Energy. He says he was completely unaware that there were concerns about Solyndra's ability to stay afloat, though there were reports to the contrary from within his own department.

If we believe Chu, then no one showed him those reports. Yet Chu apparently has not investigated why he was shielded from the truth. One would think Chu would have some concerns about the failure of his department but apparently that concern does not extend to taking any action.

Now, it appears that someone in the Department of Energy did contact Solyndra and request that layoffs be delayed until November 3, 2010, one day after the most recent midterm elections. Chu denies any knowledge of this, as well. One wonders if Chu has actually spent any time in his own office. Sadly, he has.

Taxpayers would have been much better off if Chu had spent his days receiving his federal salary while playing Angry Birds and reading Scientific American. Unfortunately, he actually spent his time loaning money and proving that a Nobel Prize does not convey the ability to be a decent steward of the people's money.

There are still many questions about Solyndra. Did the "nearly orgasmic people" in the Vice President's office contact and possibly influence the approval of Solyndra's loan? If billionaire George Kaiser was hanging out in the West Wing of the White House, what was he doing? Are we to believe that he was the one playing Angry Birds and reading Scientific American? If so, why wasn't he doing it at Starbucks like everyone else?

What we have is a very successful Obama bundler who was attempting to ensure the loan for his company was approved by an administration that is very, very good to its friends. Kind people will assume that Chu is incompetent. I think there are still questions to be answered and Chu's appearance before a Congressional committee is a preview of things to come.

President Obama pardoned two turkeys yesterday. Within a year, Steven Chu could be the third.

by Ken Carroll

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