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Solyndra and double-standards about double-standards

December 26, 2011 - Mike Maneval
A report by David Baker, at the San Francisco Chronicle, looks again at the allegations of cronyism swirling around Solyndra, defunct manufacturer of solar-energy components, and the White House that approved $528 million in lending to the manufacturer. While the article observes that charges of "cronyism ... remain unproven, ... the public documents do provide support for some of the accusations."

The largest private investor in Solyndra was Argonaut Ventures, a subsidiary, practically speaking, of the George Kaiser Family Foundation. George Kaiser sat next to President Barack Obama at a Las Vegas fundraising dinner a day before he sent an email to an associate acknowledging he spoke to the president about "how Chinese government subsidies for solar firms were hurting U.S. solar manufacturers. "I never mentioned Solyndra directly,' he wrote," the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Other emails exchanged between Energy Department officials demonstrate apprehension about how rapidly Solyndra was moving through the loan-procurement process.

The article also addresses a chief response by defenders of the Solyndra loan with more nuanced facts: The support given to Solyndra by the previous administration, that of President George W. Bush. While the loan program was developed under the Bush administration, and officials within the Bush administration considered the manufacturer the most likely recipient of the first loan, no decisions yet had been made. It is also a defense that invite a question: Does one consider the Bush administration, which hammered through an education bill requiring school districts to spend more on standardized testing after taking campaign contributions from leading standardized-test manufacturer McGraw-Hill, to be the best arbiter of the sensibility and sound ethics of any given federal appropriation or loan? While such defenders may revel in the sort of double-standard under which government-bestowed privilege only is cronyism when the presidency bestowing it stops being Republican, they risk guilt of some double-standards of their own.


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