10/22/2012 Update: The Tonopah Solar Company in Harry Reid's Nevada is getting a $737 million loan from Obama's Department of Energy. The project will produce a 110 megawatt power plant that will employ 45 permanent workers (if it does not go bankrupt). That's only costing taxpayers $16 million per job! One of the investment partners in this endeavor is Pacific Corporate Group (PCG). The PCG executive director is Ron Pelosi, the brother of Nancy Pelosi's husband.
Based on the lies of Global Warming/Climate Change, the Obama Administration has handed out huge sums of money during the so-called "Stimulus" programs and other grants to all kinds of "green" "renewable" energy companies. The favorite boondoggles were in solar and wind power pipe dreams. But the government largesse with taxpayers' money extended to poorly conceived electric cars and the batteries for them.Obama and his fellow cronies liked to call these throwaways "investments". He liked to portray these sham ventures as "research and development" into "tomorrow's technologies". Truth is, for anyone who takes the time to research it, electric cars are older technology than gasoline powered vehicles. They came first. And in spite of all the improvements in motor, battery, and materials technology, the range, speed, reliability, and durability has not increased at all since the early 1900's.And the overall efficiency when you consider the multiple power conversions (first at the power plant, then to battery storage, then to battery drain, then to mechanical power, then to kinetic motion) is far, far worse than using gasoline or natural gas. Thus, the pollution is greater. And the toxic wastes produced in the battery production and vehicle manufacture are greater than those for more familiar vehicles. It's a boondoggle.Same with solar. No matter how much the solar cell technology improves, solar will never be viable for more than small portable power needs. There is simply not enough energy in sunlight falling on a given area to ever be economically viable for power production. And then, to be useful, once again you have to store the energy in banks of batteries -- and you're back to the efficiency problems and technology limitations of batteries. Not to mention again that to manufacture solar cells generates far more pollution and toxic waste than batteries.But the worst part of all this foolishness was that Obama's green energy program was really much more about rewarding crony supporters than anything else. All of the companies upon which he has squandered our money were headed by friends, campaign bundlers, major contributors or political allies. This was another redistributionist scheme, but this one benefitted his friends.The following list is of the 34 "green energy" companies that were subsidized with Federal money and have either gone out of business, or are in bankruptcy and likely to go out of business. Together, they represent a cool $80B of our money -- all for NOTHING! No new techology. No new jobs. No progress toward energy independence. No new products. Only more national debt. Only more deficit spending. Only more squandered money. Only more enriched crooks.Over 1900 investigations have been launched, but nothing will come from them. The political subterfuge is too deep. The only thing we can do now is get more people to awaken and demand a stop to the lies and deceptions. Demand a stop to the wasteful
schemes. Demand real and substantial cuts in real spending. Demand government policies which encourage all forms of inexpensive energy without government interventions. We can do it!
Today's edition of The Pilot featured a wonderful editorial,"'Impact Statement' Seems Unnecessary"
. The editors state clearly and rationally why the downtown merchants who signed the petition
demanding that our Town Council order an "Economic Impact Statement" as a condition to approval of Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning on the Bell Family's Knollwood tract are misguided. I couldn't have stated the case better myself -- although I did state it myself, making all the salient points that the good editors at The Pilot have made.I often find myself in disagreement with the overall editorial policies and positions of The Pilot. However, in this instance, I find we are in complete agreement. And that is as it should be. Our unified positions are on the side of right. On the side of lawful, limited government. On the side of equal justice under the law. On the side of fair competition. On the side of common sense.
In contrast to the responses I received on my initial blog article on this matter, "What Kind of Businessmen"
, which were all positive, the responses I received to my second, more specific article, "Southern Pines Merchants Hall of Shame"
, were much more negative. I understand.... People always get more upset when you criticize their behavior by name. I get it.... But if the merchants who decided on their own volition to add their names to that misguided and despicable document cannot defend their decision and behavior with reasoned and convincing arguments, they should think about their decisions and actions more carefully.Kudos to The Pilot for speaking the Truth and for having the courage to stand against these merchants' demands. As I have seen here, some of them do not hesitate to belittle and insult in return, and The Pilot is, indeed, courageous to take this stand, possibly risking advertising revenues from these businesses. However, since The Pilot did not "name names", perhaps the merchants will overcome their ire. Maybe these merchants will even withdraw their petition...... Well.... we can hope, can't we?
Nah....probably won't happen!Bill Cochrane
Don't let him do it!
Established businesses often resort to using sympathetic or beholden government officials to shield themselves from unwanted competition. There are many approaches:
● Use of restrictive licensing requirements which are so expensive or time consuming that they prohibit new entrants.
● Use of zoning and development ordinances to place onerous and expensive regulations or restrictions on new entrants.
● Arbitrary limitations on the number of licenses or applications permitted.
● Product or service regulations which favor protected businesses and discourage unwanted competitors.
● Grants, subsidies, favored business positions whereby government can pick the winners and losers in the marketplace.So, there are all sorts of favors and protections that crony capitalists will seek from governmental authorities at all levels. Crony capitalism doesn't just arise at the national level with large corporations like General Electric, General Motors, etc. It also occurs extensively at state levels with "public-private partnerships
", lobbying, and "tit for tat" politics. And, as I've pointed out here, it can certainly happen at the local level.Just to illustrate, one of the most infamous current examples is occurring in Washington D.C. You see, Washington D.C. was the last major city in the United States where the taxi/limosine/bus/van point-to-point hired transport business was not a "closed shop". As a result, the number of taxi services has been growing, and even independent taxi drivers have been thriving there. Because of this growing unwanted competition, the large established taxi companies banded together to propose new regulations on their business sector.Two primary tactics are in play in Washington D.C. First, the companies convinced the Washington D.C. city government to implement new licensing requirements. They proposed, and the city has now adopted, the same "medallion" requirements that have been implemented in all other major cities. To operate lawfully, a vehicle must obtain and display a city medallion on the vehicle. To obtain the medallion costs a weekly "rental" of $800 to $1000. This obviously is out of reach for independent operators all by itself. But moreover, the requirements include expensive inspection fees, training requirements, and service monitoring requirements which only the largest concerns can afford to carry. Finally, to completely lockout unwanted competition and help to justify higher fares to support the additional costs and fees, the city will limit the number of medallions which are issued to no more than 4,000 -- in spite of the fact that, at the time the new regulations were passed, there were over 8,600 transport vehicles operating in the city.Are you getting the picture?
But that wasn't enough. Next, the taxi companies convinced the city to establish minimum fares
which will keep the new "sedan-class" taxis from competing successfully with the traditional taxi businesses. Consequently, the larger established businesses have locked new entrants out of the market and, through government-imposed pricing, they have guaranteed their continued success as a government-sponsored monopoly. Talk about crony capitalism! This is the extreme.Back to Southern Pines.... We cherish the way of life here, yes. We value the overall environment here in all its aspects, including the business environment. We want continued prosperity for the Town, including employment opportunities and good careers for our graduates so that the young folks remain here. We want a wide variety of choices, and we want the convenience of being able to purchase the goods and services we want and need at reasonable prices.So, most of us do not want the crony capitalism and corrupt collusion between business and government that we see growing elsewhere. We don't want to be like Washington D.C. or Atlanta or Charlotte. So, I will again say "Cease!" to those who try to use our Town Council to delay and restrict new competition and development for their own selfish reasons. I urge the Council to resist efforts of crony capitalists here to manipulate the process. Town Ordinances and development permits must be lawful, consistent, reasonable, and business-friendly in order for the Town and its people to prosper.Bill Cochrane
The other day I sent a copy of my blog article, "What Kind of Businessmen?"
, to a list of Southern Pines downtown businesses' email addresses. This list came to me on a multi-forwarded public email which originally distributed a missive on this same subject among the downtown business community. Knowing that most of these businesses do not follow this blog, I saw it as a good opportunity to put the message in front of the folks to whom it was addressed.I wanted the article to cause a reaction, and it certainly did! And a wonderful thing happened! Of course we know that not all of our Southern Pines business leaders fit the description of the above blog article. Any rational, reasoned person realizes that most business leaders completely understand and support the free market. These are entrepreneurs and risk takers who have invested themselves and their treasure in building their business. They want to compete, and they fully believe they can "beat the socks off their competition". Otherwise, they wouldn't even be in the business. Most only want government to get out of their way and to stick to the most essential public services.I immediately began getting feedback and responses. I'd like to hold up one of the responses as an example of a highly principled businessman and his enterprise, who definitely wanted to proclaim that not all of our Southern Pines businesses play at the sour game of crony capitalism. This man's response and exchange with me is a wonderful example of the best in business and how our businessmen should think and behave.I do not believe that Mr. Warren will object to my sharing our exchange (which occurred by email and not as blog comments) with the readership. I would urge that the Southern Pines community support and patronize this man's business and other businesses who clearly demonstrate that they are of like mind and principles.
Thank you, Don Warren and the Cabin Branch Tack Shop for speaking out!Bill Cochrane________________________________________
Cabin Branch Tack Shop
On Jul 10, 2012, at 10:14 AM, Bill Cochrane wrote:
Dear Downtown Southern Pines Businesses,
I have been following your “collective” actions now with great interest for some time. I thought you might be interested in the following article. I believe it describes what’s really going on here. The article is posted on my blog and on the Moore TEA blog.
From: Cabin Branch
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 3:17 PM
To: William P. Cochrane, Jr.
Subject: Re: West Knollwood Precinct - Cochrane on News and Views
May I correct your notion that you have been following the "collective actions of the Southern Pines business community". You have instead been following the concerns of some individuals within the business community that have been communicated to the entire business community. Being on an email list does not imply consensus, nor does it imply agreement. By doing so you have portrayed the entire business community in an extremely negative and particularly unfair and unkind way. I would certainly not denigrate you on the basis of your receiving unsolicited emails. Please be advised that I do not appreciate your attitude that we all believe what you have decided we believe.
Cabin Branch Tack Shop
From: William P. Cochrane, Jr.
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 3:39 PM
To: Cabin Branch
Subject: Re: West Knollwood Precinct - Cochrane on News and Views
Mr. Warren, I was not making the statement solely on the basis of the email distribution list.... I obtained that list from receiving a forwarded copy of a forwarded copy of a forwarded copy of a prior email on the same subject. It seemed like a good opportunity to put the article in the hands of those to whom it was directed. Most do not regularly read my blog or the Moore TEA blog – if they follow those blogs at all.
I made the statements based on news articles, public statements, and presentations in past town meetings that I have attended. It is the overall perception which I have developed. And I am not alone in my perceptions.
I am overjoyed to learn that you are not in concert with whatever faction is described in my blog article. I certainly hope that there are many others like you and that those who are behaving in this manner do not represent the entire business community.
It is very, very difficult indeed for those of us in the rest of the community to know just who is and who is not in the faction my article describes. I am not an investigative reporter with the time or resources to go interview all downtown businesses. Before you get too angry at me, perhaps you should caution the rest of the downtown business community about the way their actions reflect on all of you. Those folks are the ones who are painting you with their own brush – not me. If you remain angry with me, I am sorry for that, but I do not regret my article whatsoever. It needed to be said, it needs to be discussed, and it should be considered by the downtown business community.
If most of you in the downtown business community do not like this impression, then please do something to change it. I do thank you for your response, and I will be happy to pass the word that you and the Cabin Branch Tack Shop share free market principles and deserve our full support.
From: Cabin Branch
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 7:01 PM
To: William P. Cochrane, Jr.
Subject: Re: West Knollwood Precinct - Cochrane on News and Views
Thanks for your reply. The Broad Street Merchants Association is not an official group. As I understand it, it was set up to alert local businesses to such things as parking problems, shoplifting, and other items that may affect business. As far as I know, it doesn't meet, collect dues or actively participate in anything. It's just individuals who email others to alert them to current events. If anyone participates in any activity, it is on their own and not as an organization that speaks for anyone else. Our business, having been around for almost 60 years does not belong to any local organization because we believe in speaking for ourselves and not have any group take a position on our behalf.
No I am not mad at you, I just want to set the record straight.
I'm getting more than tired of the "businessmen" of downtown Southern Pines. I've been watching these business "champions", these "pillars of the marketplace", these proud providers of the best of Southern Pines. Time after time they run scared when new competitors seek to locate in and around the Town of Southern Pines. They wail that such competition will "threaten" their serene and beautiful historically preserved pristine small town environment of downtown Southern Pines.They run to Town Hall in fear and indignation, demanding that the town council shield them from "unfair" development and unwanted competition. They're at it again with the tentatively proposed new Planned Unit Development on the tract where once Pine Needles was proposed. Our stalwart knights of business helped to slay that feared dragon, too. And they're playing the same game all over again.A recent article in The Pilot on the tentative development proposal included this tidbit of insight on the type of downtown merchants and businessmen we have in Southern Pines: "A group of downtown merchants have expressed an interest in having Miller conduct an economic impact study to determine how a large retail component might affect downtown retail stores."Well, let me get this straight....A. The downtown business community is so very proud of itself as presenting a unique small town shopping and dining experience. They feel that they have preserved, with the aid of the Appearance Commission and the Historic District Commission, an environment and experience that everyone in the community simply LOVES and simply cannot do without. OK....B. The downtown business community believe that they are an invaluable and cherished part of the community -- the backbone of the prosperity and success of the Town of Southern Pines. They are one of the prime reasons for attracting so many tourists, visitors, etc. to the area. OK....C. The downtown business community claim to be champions of business ethics and the best business practices. They provide what this community needs, expects, and wants. OK.....If they are so good and if they are so popular and if the downtown shopping experience is so much what this community wants and wants to preserve, then what do they fear? Why, the community would never abandon our cherished downtown shopping experience for competitors who locate along the highways or in new PUDs -- would they?Our stalwart downtown businessmen must not be so confident after all.... The fact that they hide behind Town Hall every time they feel threatened by new competitors reveals the truth about their myths and bravado facades. They are cowards in disguise.Let me elucidate for the downtown businesses:1. It is NOT the job of government -- and that includes the Town Council -- to protect you from your competition!2. It is NOT the responsibility of your COMPETITION to figure out if they are going to hurt your business and then refrain from so doing!3. If you cannot compete, then you are NOT providing what your customers, clients, and community really want. You have only been fooling yourselves.
Stop it.4. Not only have you been fooling yourselves, but you have been enlisting the aid of governmental agencies to waste money on your follies and myths.
Stop it.5. If your preservation and small town shopping/dining experience is really so gosh-darned popular and so valued by your customers and the community, then you have nothing to fear. Your customers will choose you over any new competitors who locate in less desirable environments and who offer a different shopping experience, and the community will support you as a matter of choice.6. You really can't have it both ways!7. In a free market, customers are free to choose, and it is YOUR job to compete for our business.Running to the Town Co
uncil for protection is misguided and pathetic. Man up! Compete or get out of the business!There are well-defined words to describe businesses who hide behind Town Hall -- who conspire with government officials to protect them from their competition and to grant them special favors. The polite term these days for such corrupt businessmen is "crony capitalists". The name for their government benefactors is corrupt
officials. The name for the system of government where business and government partner in mutually protective central planning is fascism. We fought a war against the worst of that form of government back in the 1940s. It seems to be coming back into fashion locally as well as on the national stage.Is that what you are? Crony capitalists? Corrupt businessmen and weak competitors? Fascists?No? Then mind how you behave!Bill Cochrane
Today's edition of The Pilot
contained an article lauding efforts by the Moore County Partners in Progress board to introduce a new "small business incubation" initiative into our local municipalities and county. The print version of this article was entitled "Bull City Initiative Advances".
Interestingly enough, the online version of this article (which has a much longer lasting presence) was changed to "Bully City Initiative Advances
". Was there a reason for this change? Perhaps.
The initiative is to be "conducted in partnership with Forward Communities
" and spearheaded by Bull City Forward
, a non-profit organization based in Durham which "seeks to advance...Social Enterprises".Now, the first red flag to any thinking reader should be the emphasis on the
slogan, "Forward" which is incorporated into both of these entities' names. Remember, the new slogan of the Obama Campaign is "Forward
". And it didn't take long for everyone to notice that the slogan had been a long-time favorite of Marxist, Fascist, and Communist totalitarian states
. Just as with Obama, is the use of this slogan by these entities a coincidence
? I think not.First, if you look at the list of "Bull City Startup Stampede" startups in Durham, you will find a predominance of "green" companies and social
enterprises. If you look into the initiative, you will find that they advocate
for "Social Enterprises" "to advance the Greater Good". These are code words of the socialistic left. You will see that they push for "social entrepreneurs" with a "triple bottom line approach"
to business. Informed people will recognize this as code words for what was called B-Corporations
-- a new version of what is often called "public-private partnerships".Public-private partnerships are a way to leech off governments to subsidize social enterprises which cannot stand on their own in the free market. These initiatives seek to gain grant monies, subsidies, favors, and regulatory support from governments to make their favored "enterprises" feasible. Without government support, these sham "startups" would promptly fail.Once again, Moore County Partners In Progress
has revealed its true colors. This is a left-wing, pseudo-business, faux pro-development initiative which seeks to foster public-private partnerships. The PiP board seeks to draw in unsuspecting local government officials with its siren song of "promoting business" and "supporting economic development" when, in reality, it seeks to bleed dollars from taxpayers for dubious or outright nefarious left-wing business enterprises.Partners In Progress is a stealth organization which subtly advocates the Agenda for the 21st Century. All these factors: social enterprises, green energy initiatives, public-private partnerships, triple-bottom line approach
, forward -- all are used by the left-wing and all are found in the Agenda documents and programs. Moore County does not need social justice, environmental justice, and economic justice. Moore County does not need to experiment with social enterprises largely funded or subsidized by the taxpayer.Beware of municipal or county officials who become involved with Partners In Progress and their Bull City Forward partner.Bill Cochrane
When we think of the Chamber of Commerce, we normally perceive a pro-business advocate of free markets and fiscal responsibility. We tend to believe that since it represents business -- a majority of whose members are small businesses -- and, thus, the "capitalist" system, that we can always count on the Chamber to favor conservative policies and to serve as one of our "watchmen on the wall" of Big Government.Well, it just isn't so, unfortunately. As proven by the issue addressed below by the Heritage Foundation, the Chamber can also be corrupted and tempted by Big Money. It is on the wrong side of the Highway Subsidy bill -- read that "mass public transportation" or "high speed rail" bill. Given that some of its largest members (think G.E. and GM) are in bed, fascism-style, with the Federal Government -- and given that many of its members (think "green" "alternative" heavily subsidized businesses) are feeding at the government trough -- and given that there are huge sums of Federal and State expenditures at stake, the Chamber has been bought and is being used again.The Chamber is going to be running media ads here in North Carolina promoting more government largesse, even in the face of crushing National Debt and a collapsing currency due to out of control Federal Deficits. We simply cannot afford more stimulus and advocating more stimulus will not serve the longer term interests of the Chamber of Commerce, its membership, or the rest of us. Nevertheless, the Chamber is selling out for short term Government Candy regardless of the long term consequences.This is not how most businesses operate. But it's obviously how the Chamber now operates. So, people, beware of the Chamber and recognize its motives for what they really are. We can no longer trust this institution like we used to do.
It is losing its way because it apparently has compromised on its core principles. Sad.Bill Cochrane_________________________________
Thanks to steadfast conservative opposition, Congress delayed consideration of the House and Senate transportation bills until they return from their week long recess. Unfortunately, bad ideas never die
in Washington, which means conservatives must remain vigilant. We are winning, but we have not won.
Next week, lawmakers are scheduled to take up the issue again. As is often the case, the Senate is a lost cause. They are simply negotiating how to make a bad bill worse. In the House, however, they face a choice: dramatically reduce the cost of the bill and further empower states in an attempt to appeal more to conservatives, or try to shore up more support from moderates and Democrats – The Establishment – by increasing spending even further.
We need to keep up the pressure and continue our push for cutting spending and moving towards returning control of transportation spending back to the states where it belongs.
Conservatives must stay vigilant and hold Congress accountable. Even in an election year, we cannot allow conservative principles to succumb to the big-government priorities of the Washington Establishment.
Michael A. Needham
Chief Executive Officer
Heritage Action for America
Green Energy Fallacy
Earlier this week, Stimulus beneficiary Evergreen Energy
bit the dust. Then, Ener1
, a manufacturer of batteries for electric vehicles and recipient of Stimulus largesse, filed for bankruptcy
. And today, the Las Vegas Sun reports that Amonix, Inc
., a manufacturer of solar panels that received $5.9 million from the Porkulus, will cut two-thirds of its workforce, about 200 employees, only seven months after opening a factory in Nevada.
I foresaw this spate of bad news last November. As I explained yesterday,
In a previous article
, I compared renewable energy spending in the 2009 Stimulus to a green albatross burdening the President. I argued that Stimulus spending was inherently wasteful, because politics invariably corrupts government’s investment decisions. The result is taxpayers' losses on bankrupt companies that existed only by the grace of political favoritism, a la Solyndra
. I predicted the green stimulus would haunt the President, in the form of a slow drip public relations nightmare, as a litany of bad investments go belly-up in the run up to the 2012 elections.
Mr. President, are you still sure you want to “double down
” on renewable energy giveaways?
Ener 1 Bankruptcy
The Obama Administration has been involved in scandal after scandal, dumping billions of taxpayer dollars into "favored" businesses which cannot survive without constant massive infusions of government monies. But this sickness is endemic at all levels of government these days.
It's just that it's so much bigger and more epic in scope at the federal level.A "green" "new energy" battery company, Ener 1, received huge subsidies from the Obama Administration.
Ener 1 made a fatal mistake of investing heavily in electric vehicles, which it obviously believed would be its future since the misguided federal government is trying to prop up that industry as well. And, of course, electric vehicles need batteries...right? So...bingo! Synergy! Or so they believed. But by August of last year,
the shine was already coming off, and big trouble loomed.By October of last year, after getting another $118 million grant from the Department of Energy, it was already obvious that Ener 1 was headed for bankruptcy when it was kicked off the NASDA
Q market index. Yet, President Obama had the unmitigated gall to extol the failed company as a looming success story in his State of the Union speech on January 24, 2012. Barry Soetoro knew he was lying, but as usual, he didn't care a whit about lying. He does it constantly. So, after bald-faced lying in his State of the Union to crony applause by the despicable Democrats in the audience, Ener 1 "instantly" declares bankruptcy
. What a surprise....NOT!Will the gullible public rush once again to elect Barry Soetoro to the highest office in the land? Will the Moore County governments fall prey to the same kind of public-private partnership scams? We're watching.... Moore County is populated with wiser stock. I know this won't happen here....right?Bill Cochrane
There is a push across the country to implement more Crony Capitalism. Those pushing this taxpayer scam call it by various sweet-sounding names such as "public-private partnerships", "Benefit Corporations" (a.k.a. "B Corporations), "Fourth Sector companies
", and "not for profit entrepreneurship". All this is to pull the wool over unsuspecting eyes.The scammers have managed to pass B-Corporation bills in seven states so far. And legislation is pending in another four states, including North Carolina. Currently, the NC bill, which was first introduced while the Democrats controlled the state legislature, is "stuck in committee" -- and hopefully it will die there!But that doesn't keep people from trying to push it forward -- even here in Moore County. The Partners in Progress Board has promoted the concept recently, and will undoubtedly try to foist it upon our county and municipal governments.
This is nothing more than Crony Capitalism
of the same type practiced so blatantly by the Obama Administration."What?"!, you say.... "How can this be when we have prominent Moore County businessmen, community leaders, and local elected officials -- Republicans at that! -- supporting this initiative?" Listen: All Republicans are not conservative and not all elected officials have the best interests of their communities and taxpayers at heart. Many community leaders are very focused on personal gain and power -- and not on you, not on the taxpayer.Oh, come on, Bill.... These are actually defined as Benefit Corporations! They're supposed to be good! They're supposed to be working for good causes like social justice, environmental justice, and sustainable development! What are you talking about!?These "public-private partnerships", "B Corporations", "Fourth Sector companies" are actually about
merging business and government in such a way that the specially-favored businesses who “partner” with the government entity to do its bidding receive special favors in return – either subsidies, grants, tax favors, special immunities, special permitting allowances....whatever. It’s about businesses making money off the taxpayer and using the government to impede their competition. It’s about government, favoring inside supporters and increasing its power and influence through crony businesses. It's about elected officials and government bureaucrats networking with companies and prominent businessmen to increase their own individual and collective power and financial gain.It's a scam, and it's a travesty! Do not be fooled.
Speak up and oppose these chicane guises. Do not allow these unscrupulous dealers to rip off the taxpayers!Bill Cochrane