21 Oct
2011
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ABC News: Car Company Gets U.S. Loan, Builds Cars In Finland

ABC News reported yesterday that Fisker, a “green” car company funded by the Obama Administration’s Department of Energy, has outsourced manufacturing to Finland.  To quote CEO Henrik Fisker,

We’re not in the business of failing; we’re in the business of winning. So we make the right decision for the business. That’s why we went to Finland.

Clearly Mr. Fisker does not know how to speak to taxpayers.  In addition to founding a flailing company with public funds, he implies that Finland is a better place to do business than the United States.  Also, he sounds like Charlie Sheen.

Let’s further consider some of the facts.

  • According to SEC filings, Fisker has lost money every quarter.  A GAO report states “DOE cannot be assured that the projects are on track to deliver the vehicles as agreed… It also means that U.S. taxpayers do not know whether they are getting what they paid for through the loans.”
  • Along with Fisker, the Obama loaned another $465 million to Tesla Motors.  Thus far, Tesla has developed an exclusive $97,000 electric sports car.  Among the current owners of this vehicle are movie star, Leonard DiCaprio.  After spending the better part of two and a half years screeching about the rich, the Obama administration has effectively developed a $97,000 electric sports car that is purchased by millionaires.
  • According to a “20-year veteran of the electric car movement” Chelsea Sexton, “None of us with any experience in the industry think there’s any sort of guarantee they’ll make it.”
  • Al Gore, Mr. Global Warming himself, is a partner in the venture capital firm behind Fisker.  Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two Obama supporters, are investors in Tesla.  Can you say “crony capitalism?”

This story comes on the heals of the scandal that is Solyndra, the now infamous solar company that squandered $535 million in government loans.  In the stimulus alone, $60 billion were intended for “green jobs.”  Fisker, Tesla, and Solyndra account for just 2.5% of that $60 billion, yet the commonalities are apparent.

In all three instances there appears to be elements of politically incentivized loans that benefited connected Democrats (Gore, Brin and Page, and George Kaiser).  Each of the three companies is not, or at minimum not yet, financially viable.  It appears that oversight by government is in the hyperminimalist tradition, seeing as how Solyndra was a known flop, Tesla as of yet only produces high end sports cars that cannot reasonably be said to benefit the average American, and Fisker took its taxpayer loans and outsourced manufacturing overseas.  “Green” “investment” by government, we were told, were going to create green jobs.  How were we supposed to know that the workers would speak Finnish?

On a less snarky note, one wonders if such a massive series of scandals will remind the American people of government’s terrible record as a commercial investor.  Most Americans can accept a role for government in supporting basic, non-commercial research.  And even in this limited capacity, politics tends to corrupt (cf. global warming).  This aside, commercial ventures underwritten by government produce companies that are financial failures.  Although connected investors can make a profit by fleecing the taxpayer, when describing the activity of directing public funds to private companies, the words “graft,” “fraud,” and “laundering” are far more appropriate than “investment.”

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