When our nation adopted the Constitution, the Founders discussed what they should call the leader of our new government. They settled on the “President.” Even today, the term does not suggest a being with extraordinary powers.
- (often initial capital letter) the highest executive officer of a modern republic, as the Chief Executive of the United States.
- an officer appointed or elected to preside over an organized body of persons.
- the chief officer of a college, university, society, corporation, etc.
- a person who presides.
The Founders envisioned a limited government headed by a competent administrator, someone who could serve as our nation’s Commander-in-Chief in time of war. They hoped we would always be led by someone humble and wise, but they knew better than to expect such a thing. So we have a Constitution chock full of checks and balances, including those they put on the President. Unfortunately, time has taken its toll upon the structure of our government. So we now put unreasonably high expectations upon the President.
Consider this example.
President Barack Obama used the growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to renew his pitch for alternative energy Wednesday, arguing that the unfolding environmental disaster “gives you a sense of where we’re going” without comprehensive reform.
The federal government is “going to bring every resource necessary to put a stop” to the spill, the president said during a visit to a solar panel manufacturing facility in Fremont, California. “We will not rest until this well is shut, the environment is repaired, and the cleanup is complete.” (from here)
Our Federal Government does not drill for oil, and Obama has zero expertise as a oilman. Nonetheless, Obama promises he can clean up the mess and prevent any and all future problems with “alternative fuel sources” (see here). Yet it is BP, not the Federal Government, that is doing all it can to plug the leak (Gulf of Mexico response). Moreover, it is private industry that has the skilled people and resources needed to develop new sources of energy. In fact, just as it would be with any other inept meddler, the more the Federal Government government gets involved in areas beyond its expertise (and charter), the more likely it is to screw things up.
What does King Obama propose to do? Here is an example of how he proposes to invest our money.
Last year, the Department of Energy gave Solyndra a $535 million loan guarantee funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Five-year-old Solyndra was the first company to receive a loan guarantee, and it has become a poster child for the success of federal stimulus spending and its ripple effects on the economy.
Solyndra is one of several companies in Silicon Valley making solar panels that use non-silicon materials known in the industry as “thin film.” Solyndra’s panels are largely designed for flat, commercial rooftops and are installed in 200 locations around the world. (from here)
At first blush, our “$535 million loan guarantee” sounds like a great idea. We are making alternative energy possible! Wrong. We are just setting up conditions for mob rule. What we are doing is letting politicians arbitrarily pick winners and losers. Instead of allowing profit and losses to decide who wins and who loses in the market place, we are letting politics decide which company’s efforts are rewarded.
When the Federal Government “invests” our money, how do we know the politicians will do a good job? We can trust these people to invest “other people’s money.” Why should we believe politicians will not use our money to seek a personal advantage?
How do we even know Solyndra’s panels are worth our investment? Everything has a downside. Consider this article in the Washington Post.
The first time Li Gengxuan saw the dump trucks from the nearby factory pull into his village, he couldn’t believe what happened. Stopping between the cornfields and the primary school playground, the workers dumped buckets of bubbling white liquid onto the ground. Then they turned around and drove right back through the gates of their compound without a word.
This ritual has been going on almost every day for nine months, Li and other villagers said.
In China, a country buckling with the breakneck pace of its industrial growth, such stories of environmental pollution are not uncommon. But the Luoyang Zhonggui High-Technology Co., here in the central plains of Henan Province near the Yellow River, stands out for one reason: It’s a green energy company, producing polysilicon destined for solar energy panels sold around the world. But the byproduct of polysilicon production — silicon tetrachloride — is a highly toxic substance that poses environmental hazards. (continued here)
How much pollution will result from the production of Solyndra’s solar panels? I do not know (Note that Solyndra makes thin-film panels.), but I do know the production of any such sophisticated product must result in pollutants. I also know I want our government to focus on regulating pollution, not investing my money. I do not need that kind of help.
If instead of doing its job our government gets into the business of investing (picking winners and losers), our public officials must then have a conflict of interest. Then our government officials will lose sight of their job. Instead of regulating against pollution, our government will pollute us.
To avoid such conflicts of interests, we must reconsider why the Founders wrote the Constitution. They knew the problems of a king. They knew that unchecked power corrupts. Obama and Congress cannot produce clean energy, and they cannot be trusted to invest our money. At best, politicians can discourage private industry from recklessly polluting us. If we want Obama and Congress to do the job they are suppose to do, we must insist Obama and Congress stay within the bounds of their authority.