With barely a mention of Solyndra or other White House scandals at last night’s debate, it’s easy to see why the president assumed he’d be able to practice crony capitalism unchecked by the media or even his GOP rivals — and practice it he has. The federal government hasn’t been the only governmental entity to stuff money in the pipe dream of affordable and efficient solar energy, though.  Today brings news of an Ohio-state-government-subsidized solar company laying off most of its workforce:

Willard & Kelsey Solar Group LLC laid off about 40 people indefinitely at the beginning of January until changes to its production line are completed, a company official said Monday.

Michael Cicak, the company’s chief executive officer and chairman of the board, would not say when the changes would be completed or when the laid-off employees could return to work.

“We have some technical people in here improving the efficiency of the assembly line,” Mr. Cicak said, adding that the Perrysburg-based facility still has about 30 employees. …

The start-up company has been plagued by a series of production and staffing delays since it was formed in 2008. It has received millions of dollars in government loans and tax breaks and has been toured by high-profile officials such as Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

Funding for research of any sort is tricky: Researchers need the freedom to fail and also the freedom to honestly report results. But what big fans of government-funded research forget is that the private sector has the incentive to fund research, too — and does. As has been oft-repeated, it’s not the government’s role to “pick winners and losers” or, more accurately, to willingly prop up losing enterprises.