It never ceases to amaze me how adept politicians have become at shaping reality by shaping perception. If a politician repeats a falsehood often enough, it somehow becomes true, just by merit of having been uttered enough. President Obama and his allies in the liberal media paint the narrative of a president working hard to revitalize a failing economy. Meanwhile, we hear that the rich fat-cat Romney made his money in the much-reviled financial sector, screwing over poor businesses and lining his pockets. The Obama administration would have us believe that if Romney were elected he would just aid his corporate cronies at the expense of America. But such accusations and insinuations are really the pot calling the kettle black.
We are all familiar with the Solyndra debacle, and since then we have been seeing a running theme of cronyism that pulses throughout the Obama administration. With the cover of the stimulus, the federal government has been able to afford funds to many firms of dubious origins and obvious social agendas.
The scam works several different ways, but has the same goal: those who support the Democratic Party are given opportunities, cash or both. Those who do not are held to strict standards that makes legitimate competition impossible. Solyndra is the standard for discussing the cronyism in Washington because it was so blatant, it made it into the public spotlight. However, like the tip of an iceberg, there is plenty more we do not see.
For example, earlier this month, the United States Air Force purchased 11,000 gallons of alcohol-to-jet fuel from Gevo, Inc. The only problem is that the government paid just over $58 a gallon for the fuel while the national average was $3.60 per gallon. While that seems odd at first, the reason seems fairly clear once one takes into account that Vinod Khosla owns 27% of Gevo, Inc. Khosla has made $474,534 in campaign contributions, 86% of which went to Democratic candidates. It seems one hand washes the other.
However, Khosla has been around the block and this isn’t his first scam. While the chief backer of Range Fuels, a biofuel company, he helped secure a government-guaranteed loan of $64 million, only to go bankrupt a short time later, leaving taxpayers to pay the price.
“Green technology”, while possibly holding real promise and benefit to our country, has operated as a means of robbery by government cronies. In an effort to promote it’s “green agenda”, the U.S. Navy recently purchased millions in biofuels to promote a “greener” Navy that can run on biofuels. However, in a blatant conflict of interest, the company that secured the massive windfall is owned by Richard Blum, the husband of Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein.
Scamming money from the deep-pockets of government has become almost a career in and of itself. Jonathan Read, the CEO of Ecotality, an electric car charger company that has secured $125 million from the Department of Energy arrogantly explained,
“I’m a political beast and playing the political card is something that when the time is right we’re going to play very hard… You call in your chips when you have a specific project you want to go after.”
You heard the man. It pays to be a “political beast.” I honestly don’t know what is more ridiculous, the fact that this idiot calls himself a “political beast” or that he is actually able to scam the government at the expense of the taxpayer.
In a country where hard work and sound business practices were once enough to succeed, it is sad to see the state of industry today. Billions of dollars are being shoveled to companies headed by government cronies, companies that aim to use industry to promote a social agenda or both.
Don’t worry, the Obama administration is not all “carrot”, sometimes it uses the “stick”. In 2009 and 2011, Gibson Guitar, the famous manufacturer of the Gibson Les Paul, was raided. Under flimsy pretenses on both occasions, armed agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Homeland Security raided the plant that manufactures guitars and seized millions of dollars worth of imported wood used to make the high-quality guitars. The reason was claimed that the wood was illegally exported from Madagascar and India in 2009 and 2011, respectively. However, authorities in both countries claim that the exportation and importation of the wood was perfectly legal. So, what’s the problem?
Gibson Guitars, which employs almost 2,000 people, is proud to say their iconic guitars are made in America. However, the government says that the real problem is that they imported the wood, and not the finished, manufactured product. However, in a country with over 8% unemployment, it would be ridiculous to effectively shut down a guitar company, confiscate millions of dollars worth of wood and force the laying off of many workers under such faulty pretenses. By the government’s logic, it is illegal to produce guitars in America. So, what’s the real problem?
Gibson Guitars makes their guitar with a unique style, but with identical materials found in other high-end guitars. While no other guitar manufacturers have been raided, much less twice, it seems Gibson is being singled out. Henry Juszkiewicz, Gibson’s CEO is a Republican and has been active in contributing to Republican campaigns. Considering no other company has had their materials confiscated, it appears government has adopted the strong-arm tactics found in successful criminal organizations: play ball, and get rewarded. Or refuse, and suffer consequences.
However, let’s be fair. With the state of modern politics, can we really know whether or not Romney would engage in crony capitalism? I can certainly believe that he might scratch a few backs with favors, but unlike Obama, the media is certain to scrutinize his every move, and thus, I do not see Romney doing what Obama does now, raiding the coffers for his cronies like a benevolent pirate.
Still, while Romney takes the hard line on the campaign trail, we must have a collective, national memory that extends beyond the election rhetoric. Romney has pulled out all the stops, outlining the corruption in the Obama administration, but he has conspicuously refrained by offering specifics as to what he would do as president to put an end to the policy of crony capitalism. Based on his well-founded criticisms of the Obama administration, I am willing to believe a Romney administration would do things differently. However, while I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt, I think America needs to hear specifics as to what, exactly, he would do to provide greater transparency and to stop the flood of money government hemorrhages to donors and bundlers. As they say, “Trust but verify.”
Would Romney be the embodiment of ethical government? I don’t know. But what I do know with a certainty, however, is that the Obama administration has perfected the scam of skimming off the government and compelling cooperation by businesses with a level of efficiency and covertness the Gambinos would envy.