On Friday, Sept. 23, executives from bankrupt solar firm Solyndra pleaded the Fifth in front of a Congressional oversight committee. The committee sought to probe how the company squandered a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy right before imploding. The episode has been one big embarrassment for President Barack Obama, as last year he touted Solyndra as a perfect example of a clean energy firm capable of creating high-tech, high-paying “green jobs.”
The Solyndra incident is a perfect example of government support for a company and/or industry gone wrong. It also clearly shows the damage that can be levied on taxpayers when the government tries to pick winners and fails. But perhaps more pernicious than the consequences of government support for a loser is when the government seemingly carries out a crusade against specific sectors of the economy, and even against specific companies.
Reviled and vilified industries such as big oil, tobacco and even restaurants all have come under scrutiny by the government in recent months, despite the fact that they sell legal products that consumers demand. Read