Free Markets, Free People

batteries


Government picks another loser

I don’t know how many times we have to point these out or how many ways we have to illustrate that government has no business trying to pick winners and losers, because usually, as with most centralized planning organizations, they get it wrong.  Why?  Because they’re absolutely blind to signals from the market.  Government’s picks are founded more in preference than reality:

Obama touted it in 2010 as evidence “manufacturing jobs are coming back to the United States,” but two years later, a Michigan hybrid battery plant built with $150 million in taxpayer funds is putting workers on furlough before a single battery has been produced.

Workers at the Compact Power manufacturing facilities in Holland, Mich., run by LG Chem, have been placed on rotating furloughs, working only three weeks per month based on lack of demand for lithium-ion cells.

The facility, which was opened in July 2010 with a groundbreaking attended by Obama, has yet to produce a single battery for the Chevrolet Volt, the troubled electric car from General Motors. The plant’s batteries also were intended to be used in Ford’s electric Focus.

Instead:

The 650,000-square-foot, $300 million facility was slated to produce 15,000 batteries per year, while creating hundreds of new jobs. But to date, only 200 workers are employed at the plant by by the South Korean company. Batteries for the Chevy Volts that have been produced have been made by an LG plant in South Korea.

Talk about outsourcing.

Workers are furloughed for one week every month.  And guess who pays for that week?

Boileau pointed out the workers who are on furloughs one week a month are eligible to collect unemployment for that week, and he said the company covers the contributions to their individual benefits during the period.

Reality check commonly ignored when it comes to government:

“Had it been private investors rather than government bureaucrats making the decision, there either would have been a reality check about the industry, or only those who made individual decisions to invest would have lost their money, not taxpayers.”

Instead, government has “socialized” the loss.

The market has moved on – natural gas is cheap and plentiful.  It is the future, at least the near future.  That’s where everything is going.

Meanwhile, the government continues its near unbroken string of picking losers … not that anyone who knows a thing about economics and markets should be the least surprised.  Unlike many other things, this is not “unexpected”.

~McQ