The investment that’s Left

Last week the president took time off from golf and fundraising to brag about what a great thing he did in bailing out the UAW General Motors:

“Now, I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry.”
Barack Obama, Pueblo, Colorado – Thursday Aug 9

“I want to say what we did with the auto industry, we can do it in manufacturing across America.”
Barack Obama, Colorado Springs, Colorado – Thursday Aug 9

That’s what we’re all afraid of.

The president should have waited to comment on the wonderfulness of Government Motors, as these stories from Forbes and Investors Business Daily show:

General Motors Is Headed For Bankruptcy — Again
Obama’s $25 Billion Government Motors Lemon

Any competent CEO/CFO would insist on knowing these facts, certainly he would do so before wishing GM’s fate on every other US manufacturer. I’m sure Mr. Obama did know these things. Think about it. Unlike every other CEO/CFO, he has the CIA, the NSA, the CBO, the GAO, the FBI, Tim Geithner, Harry Reid and John Corzine to help him out with industrial intelligence.

The president failed to mention his accomplishment in trashing the contracts for GM bondholders. Nor did he speak of raping Delphi salaried pensioners. Recognizing those acts as counter to the rule of law would involve ideas, not intentions.

At the moment, the GM bailout is just barely a better investment than A123 and Solyndra, two “green” initiatives the president has funded. He is at least consistent. The president dumped $500 million into A123 for batteries, and $500 million into Solyndra for solar electricity to charge the batteries.

What’s the return on investment from that? A bunch of temporary jobs in China, a taxpayer funded bankruptcy and the Chevy Volt.

And the winner the statists picked is… China

China just bought the battery manufacturing darling of the US DoE and the Granholm adminstration.

A company that two years ago was one of the most promising U.S. innovators in the clean-fuel auto industry was rescued from collapse Wednesday. Its buyer: A Chinese auto-parts company.

Wanxiang Group Corp., one of China’s biggest parts makers, offered a $450 million lifeline to A123 Systems Inc., a maker of advanced batteries for electric vehicles that received U.S.-government backing. The deal would put the firm’s lithium-ion technology and its U.S.-funded manufacturing plant into the hands of a company that has slowly acquired a passel of auto assets across the Midwest.

A123 has ripped off the American taxpayer for $249 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy. It was one of former governor Granholm’s favorite picks, to the tune of $100 million. The Chinese are grateful, I suppose, for taxpayer assistance while A123’s stock dropped from $26.00 to $0.82. Without said assistance, A123 might have been gone before they could buy it. Worse yet, from Obama’s point of view, Bain Capital might have turned it around.

TOC has mentioned A123 as an excellent example of government “investment” failure.

So. Is anyone wondering why the Chinese didn’t buy Solyndra? My guess is that they, unlike the Obama administration, sometimes know a hopeless investment when they see one. And the fact that Obama himself deigned to appear at, and specifically cite Solyndra, while leaving A123 to the likes of Debbie Stabenow, does tell you that the more money government uses to tilt the market the higher the political profile, and the worse the results. A123’s jobs may be going to China now, but at least there are still jobs.

Harry Reid and the Burning Yellow ap-Peril.

The US Olympic Team is outfitted in uniforms made in China. This has some people upset. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for example:

I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, “You’d think they’d [The US Olympic Committee] know better.” It’s John and Harry who should know better.

My first thought was to put all the Senators and Congressman in a big pile. But I couldn’t figure out if Barney Frank would be on the top or on the bottom, and I quickly stopped thinking about it.

But what’s the problem? The president and Congress gave a loan guarantee of $529 million to a foreign competitor of US automobile manufacturers. The president and Congress spent at least a billion and a half taxpayer dollars to create jobs overseas, sending a lot of it to places who don’t do much for us at all. The Chinese, at least, have lent about a trillion dollars to the US. And whose fault is that?

In any case, the US Olympic Committee is privately funded, so it isn’t even taxpayer dollars Harry wants to burn. It’s private funds, like the more than $40,000 Ralph Lauren has donated to Democrats since 2008.

What’s Ralph Lauren got to do with it? He is the guy who outsourced the uniform production. Harry should raise his objections with Ralph about this, give back the money, and then get in the pile.

Update 4:16PM. Similar thoughts at Cafe Hayek and RealClearMarkets.

Update 5:01PM Jul 15. More thoughts at FutureOfCapitalism.


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

This photo of President Obama speaking with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the Climate Change conference in Copenhagen is interesting for the body language and for the fact that this is how the White House wishes to portray Obama’s latest effort in “smart” diplomacy.

What’s the caption?
“Jeez, Dad, I know I’m overdrawn on my allowance already, but I really need the money.”
“The time for talk is over. My teleprompter just crashed.”
“I’m this close to socializing medicine and a de facto one child policy. Can’t you help me out?”

The photo is even more interesting in the context of this article from Die Welt.

I hope Obama makes a third trip to Copenhagen soon.


Useful idiot or fellow traveler? You decide.

I quote from his Op-Ed in the NYT yesterday:

Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today. [Well, we tried to warn you, but you won’t listen.]

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened [The infanticide programs, Tibet, internet censorship, incarceration for political opinion and coddling of North Korea aside.] group of people, as China is today, [If China is led by such paragons, what’s Obama and his crowd, then, unenlightened? Is that possible for a Harvard graduate?] it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult [as may Democrats, if they absorb the courage of their lobbyists] but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. [It is also not an accident that all those examples involve electricity, that China is building a coal fired power plant every 2 weeks or that we’re not building any nuclear plants at all.] China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry [So why, again, did we finance nationalizing our auto industry and defunct banks by selling T-bills to China?] and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down. [Good, let them lower their demand.]

Our one-party democracy is worse. [I did not make that last sentence up.] The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying “no.” [Thank you.] Many of them just want President Obama to fail. [Another way to say this is that we don’t want him to succeed in the way of a Chinese totalitarian oligarchy.] Such a waste. Mr. Obama is not a socialist; he’s a centrist. [The President would be a centrist in China, it’s true.] But if he’s forced to depend entirely on his own party to pass legislation, he will be whipsawed by its different factions. [Obama’s own party is not even as cohesive as China’s totalitariat, and America is poorer for it, go figure.]

Not since Walter Duranty fawned over Josef Stalin, ignoring the show trails and denying the Soviet government created famine in the Ukraine where 20 million were deliberately starved to death, have we seen such disingenuous praise of totalitarianism on the pages of the Gray Lady. Aside from Hugo Chavez, of course, but he’s a piker.

Comparisons – Obama unplugged

Barack Obama considers the liberation of Iraq equivalent to the rape of Georgia.

“We’ve got to send a clear message to Russia and unify our allies,” Obama told a crowd of supporters in Virginia. “They can’t charge into other countries. Of course it helps if we are leading by example on that point.”

In that last bit, he can only be referring to his signature issue, the Surrender Battle of Iraq.

This is more Obama “without a teleprompter” tripe. Not only is the Russian invasion of Georgia not comparable to the UN sanctioned deposing of a Stalinist mass-murderer (an operation, moreover, where the US was accompanied by dozens of unified allies*) who had plotted to assassinate a US President; it is not comparable to Kosovo, whatever Vladimir Putin may say. Christopher Hitchens explodes that bit of Russian posturing here.

This is relevant because, if Obama’s right about setting an example for the Russians, he would pretty much have to buy into Putin’s Kosovo payback argument since that is the example Putin choose as a partial rationalization for invading Georgia.

But, Barack’s not content to be furbishing his foreign policy credentials by excusing Russian aggression because of the actions of a multi-national coalition under completely different conditions, nor is he finished when he implies that Mikheil Saakashvili’s Georgia is equivalent to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. He’s apparently ignorant of the fact that our ally Georgia had to pull troops out of Iraq in response to the Russian invasion.

No, ignorance and insult are not enough, Obama also has to demonstrate that he’s clueless about China. He is convinced Chinese infrastructure is “vastly superior” to our own.

“Everybody’s watching what’s going on in Beijing right now with the Olympics , Think about the amount of money that China has spent on infrastructure. Their ports, their train systems, their airports are vastly the superior to us now, which means if you are a corporation deciding where to do business, you’re starting to think, ‘Beijing looks like a pretty good option.'”

Earth to Obama, China’s infrastructure is not only not superior, but it’s built on the blood of millions in a country where 120 million children suffer from malnutrition, where Christians are enslaved in factory conditions that would have appalled Charles Dickens, where air-pollution that’s far worse than anything in Coketown is a feature of daily life and where organs are harvested from executed prisoners without their permission.

The death penalty, by the way, is something China carries out more often than the rest of the world combined. One crime that attracts many death sentences is tax evasion. Maybe Obama is confusing the moral equivalency of China and Russia. Or maybe moral infrastructure isn’t important to him as long as the airports are painted and the trains run on time when there’s no snow.

Here’s a visual analogy for China’s superior infrastructure as set up for the Olympics. Can you say facade?

H/T The QandO Blog, where you will find a couple of other pictures worth viewing.

It does put me in mind of the substance behind Obama’s facade.

Do you remember in February that more than half-a-million people were stranded for a week in the Guangzhou Train Station? That thousands of Chinese houses collapsed from snow? Obama apparently doesn’t.

H/T Supernaut where you’ll find more pics of this event.

That picture of stranded Chinese being herded by police nicely combines the totalitarian aspects of China with a peek at actual infrastructure robustness.

At a hospital in the Buyi and Miao autonomous prefecture of Qiannan in the remote south of Guizhou, snow and sleet have cut electricity and tap water since Jan. 15. A hospital had to save power by canceling surgery to light up the emergency ward.

…The price of charcoal had climbed from eight yuan to 14 yuan a kilo…

In the central Hunan Province, one of the worst hit areas, seven people have died and snow is affecting the lives of 25.22 million people in 14 cities and 112 counties across the province.

…Heavy snow has also blanketed Diqing, a Tibetan autonomous prefecture in the southwestern Yunnan Province, starting from Jan.19. As of Sunday morning, Shangri-La had reported 35 centimeters of snow.

That’s about 13 inches. It was a 50-year occurrence natural disaster that included areas unaccustomed to heavy snow. A reasonable question then, vastly inferior infrastructure-wise: How would we cope?

Well, we have an answer: the Blizzard of ’93, the “Storm of the Century” affecting 26 states and most of eastern Canada.

Cities that usually receive little snowfall, such as Chattanooga, Tennessee, received anywhere from 2 to 4 feet (1.2 m) of snow, causing some municipalities to adopt at least an emergency winter-weather plan for the future where one may not have existed before. Birmingham, Alabama, which normally receives 1-inch (25 mm) in a year, received 17 inches (430 mm) shattering the records for most snow in a single storm, a single month, and even a single season.

8 inches fell on Atlanta. 18 to 24 inches fell at the Georgia-Alabama border.

Yet, tens of thousands of North American houses didn’t fall down, hospitals weren’t rationing backup power for a month and nobody thought to mention the rising price of charcoal. That was 15 years ago, and I suspect US infrastructure has improved since. China’s seems still somewhat brittle behind the whitewash. More at NRO.

From an infrastructure standpoint let’s also consider Chinese censorship of information, particularly the Internet, and the fact they’re building a coal-fired generator every week: An infrastructure initiative anyone who believes in man-made global warming should condemn in China at least as vigorously as they do here.

The coal, by the way, is supplied by 5 million miners who are 117 times more likely to die in a mining accident than are American miners. The working conditions are

…not much better than those at the dawn of the industrial age in the 19th century.

The miners’ days are filled with degradations. They share soiled sheets and hard beds in dormitory rooms. They work without union representation for bosses they never meet. Yet theirs is also a culture of dependency. Though they rarely make more than $150 a month, they do better than peasants who work the surface of the land. If mining kills or injures a family member, the healthy need extra income to pay medical bills and support dependents.

The Daily Mail notes “Four out of every five mining-related deaths in the world are in China; ten Chinese miners die every day.”

They’re paid about $150 a month. Health care for those seriously injured is practically non-existent. Both of which circumstances Obama’s Maoist and Weather Underground terrorist friend, Bill Ayers (According to Obama a “respectable fixture of the mainstream in Chicago.”), should be required to defend on principle.

Barack Obama might want to consider where business is less likely to be disrupted by weather or state interference, and where it depends a bit less on human and environmental exploitation, before he starts urging any outsourcing to China.

*This list varies over time, but at least all of the following have supported the Iraq mission in theater:
Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji,
Georgia, Hungary, Iceland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

The Chinese are afraid II

Aside from this being a good example of why I have not seen 1 second of the Olympics, it again shows how needy are the Chinese.

China has orchestrated some of the most subtle cheats in sports history, from refusing to allow obviously qualified US gymnasts visas, to using event organizers to break the US girls’ concentration, to sneaking in underage competitors, they’ve managed to show how desperate they really are to compete on the world stage.

Indeed. RTWT

The Chinese are afraid

OK, what does it say about China that some bureaucrat thinks televising a 7-year-old whose voice is perfect, even if her teeth aren’t quite, might be more damaging to China’s image than being caught throwing her off camera and having a “cuter” child lip-sync? Have they never heard of Milli-Vanilli?

Given China’s one-child policy and a history of female infanticide, this little whiff of wistfulness for either a eugenics program or increased mandatory sub-teen cosmetic dentistry is no surprise. Either might have saved some Mao-mandarin from having to make the decision.

From each – this little girl, according to her ability; to each – this faceless bureaucrat, according to his neediness.

Totalitarianism and fear. That’s what it says.