But the real scandal is the loan guarantee program itself. The United States needs alternatives to oil, for reasons ranging from climate change to national security. Shoveling taxpayer dollars into profit-seeking manufacturing companies is not the way to develop them.
You can call it crony capitalism or venture socialism — but by whatever name, the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program privatizes profits and socializes losses. It’s an especially risky approach in the alternative-energy space, where solar energy is many years from being cost-competitive with fossil fuels for most uses — and history is littered with failed government attempts to back the next big thing.