Solyndra Boondoggle

What is a boondoggle?

Boondoggle – a wasteful or impractical project or activity

The Obama Administration loaned Solyndra $535 million as part of the 2009 stimulus package. Obama visited Solyndra in California in May 2010.

He said: “It is here that companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter, more prosperous future.” Praising the green jobs loan guarantee program, he went on: “We can see the positive impacts right here at Solyndra.”

Solyndra recently filed for bankruptcy. Auditors found afterwards that Solyndra has suffered recurring losses from operations and negative cash flows since inception. They had concerns about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.

If the government, when loaning the money, had audited the company like an investment banker or venture capitalist would have done, it is likely they would have come to this conclusion and stayed away. As it was, Solyndra and its management were strong contributors to Obama’s campaign.

None of  this means that there is any wrongdoing by Obama. There was nothing illegal or unethical. As a matter of fact, there were, and still are, other green energy loan guarantees ongoing right now, some of which may also eventually fail.

The stimulus didn’t work here. The government may lose all of its $535 million. I can only suspect that some of it may have ended up in the CEO’s pocket before the ship sank. The government did search his home, if that’s an indication.

In contrast, the bailout package worked with General Motors. The money has been paid back and the company is roaring forward now. As a result, we have an auto industry in America now – thank goodness.

But make no mistake, Solyndra was a boondoggle, a very large one with $535 million of taxpayer money lost.

Or was it?

In the Sierra Magazine of Jan/Feb 2012, Paul Rauber puts things into perspective for us on page 20, showing the Solyndra affair and comparing it, in size, to what the New York Times calls “the Pentagon’s biggest boondoggles.”

Make your judgment.

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