Government-Subsidized Alternative Energy Madness

It is our contention that without government subsidies, most of the so-called “alternative energy” industry would not exist. In fact, as you will see in the addendum further below, it barely manages to hang on with subsidies. This follows quite simply from the fact that anything that can be done profitably and is economically viable doesn’t need government subsidies in the first place – it will simply be done voluntarily by the private sector.



President Obama announces his latest green energy boondoggle

Photo credit: AP


It is thus a very good bet that most alternative energy projects are not viable, and have recently become even less so due to sharp price declines in all sorts of fossil fuels, from natural gas to coal to crude oil. Normally no-one would even think of erecting terrible eyesores such as windmill farms all over the show. Possibly there would be a solar industry, but it would likely be very small. No doubt the private sector would be interested in doing some R&D in this area to see if viability might be achievable, but by and large the whole shebang is just another way of feeding political cronies under the pretext of “saving the planet”.

As the late George Carlin pointed out, the planet is actually fine, and the self-appointed world improvers who worry about nigh everything are essentially kittle more than arrogant meddlers. Actually, we hereby re-post the video of Carlin’s rant below, as it withstands repeat viewings quite well:


George Carlin on the conceited idiots who think they have nothing better to do than to “save the planet”.


President Obama should perhaps focus a bit more on doing deals like the one that is currently in the works with Iran. Now that is actually a worthy endeavor for a change, as it furthers the cause of peace and will enhance global security. It is pretty much the opposite of US Middle East policy of the past several decades, and hence truly a breath of fresh air.

What he should definitely refrain from doing is trying to save us from the mythical “global warming” threat by launching all sorts of economic boondoggles and scams-in-waiting in the “green energy” field. Apparently, the infamous Solyndra case hasn’t sufficiently deterred him. Once upon a time, he threatened to inundate the economy with “shovel-ready jobs” at what turned out to be truly mind-boggling costs. Now he is announcing his plan to create “75,000 solar-ready Veterans”. No, we are not kidding.


“President Barack Obama on Friday unveiled an expansion of U.S. government efforts to train military veterans for jobs in the solar power industry during a visit to Utah.

The administration announced a new goal of training 75,000 people to enter the solar work force by 2020. That is an increase from a goal announced last year of training 50,000 workers by the same deadline. Many of those workers would be veterans, administration officials said.

The Department of Defense plans to have “Solar Ready Vets” programs at 10 bases across the country to train military members who are returning to civilian life for solar jobs.

“It’s going to train transitioning military personnel for careers in this growing industry,” Obama said of the program during remarks at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, standing near a set of solar panel installations. Officials declined to provide a figure for what the programs would cost.”


(emphasis added)




It is no surprise that “officials denied to provide a figure for what the programs would cost”. That is because they don’t know, and as a matter of fact, cannot ever know their true cost. They may well draw up some nifty spreadsheets in Excel one of these days, but this won’t be tantamount to actually knowing. Government bureaucrats are essentially always faced with a variant of the socialist calculation problem. Since they are not producing for profit, it is simply not possible for them to calculate whether the opportunity costs of their actions exceed the potential benefits they are ostensibly aiming for.

In fact, the only thing they really know for sure is that they will use other people’s money, so costs don’t matter to them anyway. The only reason such projects are undertaken are political: the president hopes to score points with citizens who pretend to care about environmentalist causes so as to assuage their consciences, while the door is thrown wide open to rewarding assorted cronies and campaign contributors. Some well-connected private sector companies will be given a place at the trough – after all, someone needs to make all these vets “solar-ready”.



This project is just another creative way of wasting taxpayer funds and consuming scarce capital. Most so-called “green energy” projects ultimately cost more energy than they will ever produce – after all, energy is also required in the process of producing the windmills, solar panels, etc. that are then used to provide energy in turn. We actually know this indirectly from the fact that these projects need to be subsidized, as economic calculation appears to show that they are producing a negative return.

Regarding veterans in need of job training: Surely there are a great many jobs that would be far more promising than jobs that are only useful for an industry that depends on subsidies. US businesses continually complain about a shortage of skilled workers in a variety of fields (to name one example, there is a shortage of skilled welders). We are not aware of any solar panel manufacturers complaining that they lack skilled personnel, as subsidization of this industry all over the world has left behind a huge glut of utterly useless manufacturing capacity.


Cartoon - Did Not Build That


Addendum: Solar Panel Manufacturer Death List

Readers should take a look at the site of Greentech Solar, which has published a list of solar companies that have either gone bankrupt, have been acquired or have otherwise become extinct (by e.g. simply closing down) between 2009 to mid 2014 – in spite of being part of a heavily government subsidized industry all over the world. The list is unlikely to be complete, but it is definitely likely to grow now that fossil fuel prices have declined and several cash-strapped governments in the EU have cut back their subsidies for such boondoggles considerably (while trying to protect the industry by mercantilist measures such as imposing tariffs on the products of competing companies in China – there is apparently no way they will consider to simply refrain from meddling).




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5 Responses to “Obama’s Solar-Ready Vets”

  • Mark Humphrey:

    Seen splashed across the tail gate of a pickup in Lethbridge, Alberta: “Save the Planet, kill yourself”.

  • zerobs:

    The fastest way to make “solar industry Vets” would be from Department of Defense solar energy projects. You know, like the DoD took the lead on nuclear energy in the 40’s. Perhaps there’s a good reason why the DoD isn’t creating many solar industry Vets.

  • worldend666:

    I also wonder about the airline industry. Both Boeing and Airbus are flush with government subsidies. When these companies offer billions in vendor financing to the likes of Ryanair, Easyjet to buy new fleets over 20 years at preferential interest rates, aren’t we just seeing indirect subsidies to the airlines?

    I always wondered how flights could be so cheap.

  • Kreditanstalt:

    About time that industry got off their asses, did their legwork, sought out, interviewed and shrewdly chose some UNSKILLED but promising young people and trained them as welders THEMSELVES…instead of whining all the time for taxpayer funds…

  • rodney:

    What kind of world are we living in? Have bureaucrats and politicians all over the world collectively lost their minds?

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