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Solyndra Not Sole Firm to Hit Rock Bottom Despite Stimulus Funding September 15, 2011

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

Solyndra, the solar panel company whose highly publicized failure and consequent investigation by federal authorities has flashed across headlines recently, isn’t the only business to go belly up after benefiting from a piece of the $800 billion economic stimulus package passed in 2009.

At least four other companies have received stimulus funding only to later file for bankruptcy, and two of those were working on alternative energy.

Evergreen Solar Inc., indirectly received $5.3 million through a state grant to open a $450 million facility in 2007 that employed roughly 800 people. The company, once a rock star in the solar industry, filed for bankruptcy protection last month, saying it couldn’t compete with Chinese rivals without reorganizing. The company intends to focus on building up its manufacturing facility in China.
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SpectraWatt, based in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., is also a solar cell company that was spun out of Intel in 2008. In June 2009, SpectraWatt received a $500,000 grant from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as part of the stimulus package. SpectraWatt was one of 13 companies to receive the money to help develop ways to improve solar cells without changing current manufacturing processes.

The company filed for bankruptcy last month, saying it could not compete with its Chinese competitors, which receive “considerable government and financial support.”

On Tuesday, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman wrote an editorial for “USA Today” in which he blamed China in part for the failure of U.S. solar energy manufacturers to compete.

“Winning will require substantial investments. Last year, for example, the China Development Bank offered more than $30 billion in financing to Chinese solar manufacturers, about 20 times more than U.S.-backed loans to solar manufacturers,” Poneman wrote.

“Unfortunately, expanding production has coincided with short-term softening demand, a product of the banking crisis in Europe and its wider economic effects. The combination has had a dramatic effect on the price of solar cells, which has plummeted 42 percent in the past nine months. This has taken a serious toll on solar manufacturers everywhere, including the U.S,” he continued.

On Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney noted that the U.S. is on track to double its renewable energy production in 2012, but it will require commitment in the U.S. to grow.

“We have a choice to make as a nation, because we will be buying renewable energy products, you know, whether it’s wind, biofuel, solar, whether alternative — rather, you know, advanced battery technology, we’re going to be buying that stuff. Do we want to buy it with a stamp on it that says ‘Made in America’ or are we going to buy it from the Chinese or from other countries?” Carney asked.

“We have to be aggressive in competing in the global economy. And, you know, high-tech clean-energy industries are going to be key to winning this century economically.”

But Republicans balk at claims that the Obama administration can decide which companies are winners or losers, and questioned a plan to approve $10 billion more in loans before the stimulus program expires.

“Solar panels have been subsidized by the federal government. States’ governments are also subsidizing or giving taxpayers write-off on their tax return. And yet, these solar panels cannot make it in the competitive world without all these subsidies. And even with them, China is flooding the market with this cheap labor and the solar panels just don’t make sense,” House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns R-Fla., told Fox News.

“So I think the administration is on this fervent religion of green jobs and clinging to the idea that solar panel is the answer and it is not the answer,” he said.

Another winner of stimulus who ultimately lost is Mountain Plaza Inc. Despite declaring bankruptcy in 2003, the company received $424,000 from the Tennessee Department of Transportation as part of a grant aimed at installing “truck stop electrification” systems that allow idling truckers to plug-in during extended stops and turn off their exhaust-belching, environment polluting diesel engines.

Mountain Plaza had filed for bankruptcy protection again in June 2010. TDOT, which received a $2 million stimulus grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for the project, said it didn’t learn about the bankruptcy until October, but it is closely monitoring the project.

Elsewhere, Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsen’s Mills Acquisition Co. also failed despite Olsen’s Mills receiving $10 million to increase employment, add equipment and machinery, refinance existing debts and work capital for operations and acquire land. The payout — part of a $64 million package to nine rural businesses in Wisconsin for economic development loan assistance — was delivered in January 2010, after Olsen’s Mills filed for bankruptcy protection for defaulting on a $60 million bank loan.

The Union Myth of Representing ‘Working People’ September 15, 2011

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

Unions and their mouthpieces continually bombard us with the catch phrases about standing for “working people,” “working families,” and the poor, oppressed and exploited “working” classes. Truth is, unions represent a privileged minority, a politically connected class, the aristocrats of middle-class workers. And the mainstream of American workers, the real working people agree; it’s why only 6.9% of private sector workers are in unions and union membership overall has decreased from nearly one-third of all workers in the 1940s.

People understand that unions are about everything but work, because unions generally mean less work for everybody else. When unions go on strike, work stops, even for non-union workers. By demanding higher wages for less work they drive down productivity and the possibility of business growth and more jobs for everyone. Companies move to get out from under union pay scales that kill business – look at Detroit, the scene of Mr. Hoffa’s Labor Day rant and sadly, also the scene of the union movement’s greatest catastrophe, the dismantling of the American auto industry. Unions’ proclivities for killing jobs are illustrated their “concerns” that are holding up free trade agreements and could add 250,000 jobs to the economy. Additionally, Unions and their accomplices at the National Labor Relations Board are trying to kill thousands of  jobs under the dubious charges that Boeing broken the law by building non-union production lines in South Carolina.

Unions’ comfortable pay, sweet pensions, and gold-plated health plans are paid for by people – taxpayers in the case of public sector unions and consumers in the case of private sector unions – who in many cases do not enjoy the same pay and benefits that the union workers receive. Many true “working people” labor at two or sometimes three jobs, pay their own benefits, and get no pay for taking days off to protest or demonstrate.

Union members are in conflict with everyone and represent a narrow special interest that flourishes at the expenses of other workers and the economy at large. They are a monopolistic enterprise. They are adversaries to business-owners, other workers, consumers and taxpayers. Look at what has happened in states with traditions of strong unions and union support – Wisconsin voters have said enough to funding public-sector union workers who have better pay and benefits than their employers. Voters intuitively understand that unions are a drag on the economy and taxes; they benefit only themselves at everyone else’s expense.

Unions and Crony Capitalists: Joined at the Hip

It is particularly galling to hear union leaders like Hoffa and Trumka berating the so-called “Tea Party,” as enemies of the working class. As far as I understand the goals of people who call themselves Tea Party supporters are lower taxes, less government spending, less regulation and less government overall. How are these principles anti-middle class and anti-worker? There is also a rhetorical theme in the blustering of these union leaders that the Tea Party is somehow joined at the hip with Wall Street and corporate interests. This is a ridiculous assertion. If anything, the Tea Party is a movement empowered by populist, main street, small business and blue collar types that have nothing but disdain for the crony capitalists and the Wall Street firms who support and benefit from their allegiance to the unions’ best friend forever – President Obama. In fact, Democrats are the ones in bed with corporations. According to Rich Lowry,

in the 2008 election campaign, “Democrats garnered 73 percent of the political donations of Goldman Sachs, as well as the majority of donations from other financial giants such as UBS and Citigroup.”

When you look at unions and their political power structure, don’t they have a lot more in common with the crony capitalists than they do with the unrepresented working guy from whom the Tea Party gets its support? Union bosses Hoffa and Trumka have similar goals and the same political patrons as CEOs of Obama-friendly corporations. All have a vested interest in using government to regulate or tax their competitors (non-union labor and smaller businesses) into oblivion. All are strong supporters of the Democratic Party that enacts these policies. All benefit from government largesse in the form of stimulus packages, waivers from onerous regulations (Obamacare), bailouts, sweet tax breaks, and other political perks. I haven’t heard of a Tea Party guy with a dry cleaning business getting any stimulus funds or being exempted from Obamacare regulations like the some unions and their soul mates in corporate America.

The Tea Party and Republicans could make a lot of political points by positioning the unions and corporations as the bookend cronies of the Democrat power base, all united in their special interests in enriching a themselves at the expense of the real “working people.”

Source by Chris Gregor