About this time of year, I start getting a little antsy. You see, college football is approaching, and I love college football. Always have. There is something about Saturdays in the fall that just seems right. The brisk weather, the smell of a grill working a delicious meal, the pre-game excitement, the environment of the stadium, and the joy in victory or the agony of defeat. All of these things go into a perfect Saturday in the fall.
*nothing like The Flats in the fall
I opine that American football is the perfect sport. I can safely say this because I have played, in a competitive arena, just about all the major sports. So I have firsthand experience. Baseball is long durations of boredom interrupted by a few seconds of excitement. Basketball is a game of thugs and soccer a game of whiners. Hockey is at least entertaining, but the season goes on way too long and no one cares until the playoffs start. NASCAR, well don’t get me started on NASCAR… Just don’t.
Football is a chess game. In chess you have a lot of different, unique pieces and each has an integral role on the board. There is only one king, but many pawns. A couple of knights, rooks, and bishops, all with varying capabilities. A good chess player thinks several moves ahead, all the while dealing with the moves from his opponent. .
If you look at a team photo of a soccer, baseball, or basketball team, they all look alike. Nothing is different on a soccer team photo from the goalie to the striker. They look the same. As it is in baseball. Look at a team photo of a football team and you see 350 lb men towering 6’-8” standing right next to the 5’-6” 150 lb player.
*nothing but clones
And each one is just as important to the success of the team. Just ask Morten Andersen. Andersen played 24 years in the NFL and is the all time leader in points scored and games played. And he’s a kicker. Every player on a football team brings a unique talent that fills a crucial role. If you think that quarterbacks are more important than kickers, go find a Buffalo Bills fan and watch as they implode in self rage at the mention of the name Scott Norwood. It’s actually pretty funny.
*in his defense, it was a 47 yard field goal… attempt…
As I said, college football is almost upon us. Summers mean an endless supply of experts ranking and re-ranking teams. Choosing the pre-season favorite for this and favorite to win this game is a national pastime in and of itself. Which team will have the best defense, while which team will win it all.
Every college football fan is an expert, by the way. Myself included. I love talking to anyone who has a passion for college football. I love talking about how I think my team will fare in the upcoming year. I love talking about past games and past plays that changed a season. I love the buildup until toe finally meets leather and the season starts.
*the original “toe meets leather”
This is similar to how the government works. There is nothing but talk until a bill, plan, or initiative is passed. Everybody has his/her own ideas, thoughts, and pontifications. Everybody makes his best guess as to how things will turn out. Often times the rules are tweaked based on the previous season’s results. Herein lies the difference.
In college football, the teams actually play the games and the season goes on until there is an end result. Eventually one team is number one and deemed the best team in college football. More often than not, the team that wins it all is not the team picked by the pre-season polls. In fact, that almost never happens.
This is where government is different. Once they pick a favorite based on the pre-season polling and endless talking, the season is suspended and the winner proclaimed without a single snap of the ball. You see, the government picks a winner and that’s final. End of game.
When the government picks the winner, tons of money flow their way in the form of subsidies, tax breaks, and secured government loans. Just like in college football, the predicted winner seldom turns out to be successful. Eventually the selected winner fails and every penny spent is gone. Never to be seen again. A giant waste.
In this specific case, I want to spotlight two government winners that ended up costing the American taxpayers a lot of money. Solyndra and Fisker Automotive.
The game in question is energy. The players, both “green” companies.
*yes, it’s green, just not the green I mean
For Solyndra the money flow started in September, 2009, and ended when the company declared bankruptcy in August, 2011. They blew through over half a billion dollars in less than two years. And that’s just the government money. I don’t know how much private money was lost on the gamble.
*this image has absolutely nothing to do with the surrounding context
Every excuse in the book, except for one, was given. China was killing them price wise, raw materials have gotten too expensive, labor was too hard to find and expensive when it was found, global supply was too great and demand too low, blah blah blah. Only thing missing from the excuse list is the truth. Truth being Solyndra developed an inferior product that cost too much and built a business model based more on hope and pipedreams.
$529 million gone. Never to be seen again. Just the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl… But I digress….
In Other News of the Ironic, Solyndra lobbied really hard for this money during the Bush administration. The Bush Department of Energy deemed the Solyndra product inferior and business model faulty and rejected the application for loan guarantees. Interestingly enough, George Kaiser, the top investor in Solyndra, visited the Obama White House 16 times between March 2009, and July 2011, including three times in one day when it appeared that the Obama Department of Energy was arriving at the same conclusion as the Bush administration. Solyndra got the money.
In Other News of the Not So Ironic, George Kaiser donated at least $50,000 to the Obama campaign.
Next up is Fisker Automotive.
In April 2010, they were given an open line of credit from the US Department of Energy much like Solyndra. The loan guarantee amount was a paltry $529 million. The goal? To design and manufacture two lines of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. I guess it is impossible to develop a hybrid vehicle without a huge influx of government money. Oh, except for Toyota and Honda…
Fisker used $169 million to bring the $100,000 hybrid vehicle, Karma, to market. Of course it is manufactured in Finland and only 1,000 have been sold. Oh, and when Consumer Reports did a study of the Karma, it crapped out. The car died during testing and Fisker Automotive blamed it on a faulty battery. You know, the core of the car. The thing that makes it go. That part…. Insert joke about having bad Karma.
*quite possibly the worst karma of all time
And shouldn’t that be Carma?
And if Karma was lost without their friend Diego, would you say, “Where in the world is Karma sans Diego?”
Just curious. And no, I’m not buying.
*not on boat
So where is Fisker Automotive and the 2,000 promised jobs at the Maryland manufacturing plant? Gone. Somewhere else. Not building a manufacturing plant in Maryland. At least the Imperial Government did one thing right and halted any more withdrawals on the $529 million. Of course, over $200 million had been spent and the American taxpayer has nothing to show for the investment other that the privilege to purchase a $100,000 Karma hybrid electric vehicle. But I thought people bought hybrids to save money?
So….. The IG picks winners. They spend $735 million. Almost a full billion on two projected winners. Both lose. And in reality, the biggest loser is the American taxpayer.
What would you do with $735 million?