Self-Interest Wins Every Time

Incentives work. Because people are self-interested.

Even the seemingly altruistic protagonist played by Kevin Costner in the movie Field of Dreams exclaims, “I haven’t once asked what’s in it for me,” only to then ask, “What’s in it for me?”

That line comes to mind when I hear politicians and business folks talk about private-public partnerships, from subsidies for ethanol to billions in government loans to supposedly spur “green” technology.

The bankruptcy of the solar panel maker Solyndra cost taxpayers more than half a billion dollars. But it’s not merely that government is less than stellar at picking investment winners; it’s that the interests of politicians and businesspeople aren’t “the public interest.”

Never will be.

Sure, Energy Secretary Steven Chu told Congress yesterday, “I did not make any decision based on political considerations.” But internal company emails feature complaints about pressure from the Obama Administration to delay announcing layoffs until after the 2010 elections.

Whose interest did that serve?

Documents also uncover Solyndra executives hiding bad news the better to win additional federal funds and, alternatively, threatening that the company was about to go under hoping the potential bad press for Obama might shake down additional bucks.

Companies have an interest in the big money the federal government dangles before them. Politicians have an interest in appearing to be economic wizards creating jobs and spurring a new world with bright green hues.

Neither incentive promotes sound business behavior nor equates with the public interest.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

5 Comments so far ↓

  1. Nov
    18
    8:53
    AM
    Drik

    The government is doing an EXCELLENT job of picking investment winners. Just absolutely EXCELLENT!!!!

    The problem is that the winners are not the taxpayers(aka job producers) whose funds are being treated so shabbily and cavalierly. Instead the winners are the billionaire democrat donors who had sunk money into these ratholes and then get all of their loses bailed out by the democrat politicians, unquestionably being driven by Presbo. (old Chicago Mafia saying “fish stinks from the head”).

  2. Nov
    18
    9:39
    AM
    Dagney

    Solyndra was and is an out and out fraud. If the bums are not all thrown out and THEN, in the next few years, prosecuted for their theft of the American people’s money, then there really may be no hope for this country.

    The people are more awake than they have ever been. However, will it be enough?

  3. Nov
    18
    9:57
    AM
    Brian Richard Allen

    …. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told the house yesterday he did not make any decision based on political considerations ….

    So some little nonentity no-hoper from the back of Bumfug, Egypt, gets the energy gig, pulls on Hazel O’Leary’s old I Sold Los Alamos’ Secrtets For Fractions of a Cent on the Dollar’ Guernsey — and gets to make Billion Dollar deals with our money?

    What happened to the united States’ Constitution that the Peking predators’ pick for energy suddenly morphs into a full-blown venture capitalist and takes over the House’s fiscal responsibilities?

  4. Nov
    18
    11:48
    AM
    Tj

    What’s happening? It’s the politicians!! When will this country take its government back!! We need a national Initiative that creates a law (because congress will not)that demands politicians “shall” be subject to the same laws as the rest of us. Whether or not it is “insider trading” or pissing away our tax dollars on stupidity. Politicians need to be accountable for raping the United States. The law would be simple: No person holding public office shall profit from said position beyond their appointed salary. Ever.

    If they want to be in the stock market they shall use a blind trust. A holder of public office shall surrender all rights, real or implied, to lobby for or support any company or corporation that has ever received any assistance from any government funds or legislation.

    See how easy. No if’s and’s or but’s.

    This is the only way the elite mob in D.C. will ever be reigned in. Otherwise just expect more of the same.

  5. Nov
    18
    10:25
    PM
    Drik

    Politicains are no more than normal people put in to this no longer even close to normal situation that the government of our republic has warped into being. No longer is the Senate accountable to the states, or the people. No longer is the House acoountable to a number of people where there is any hope of the activity being relevent to the numbers of people that a real republic would have in order to work, say between 10 and 30,000 people per represetative. Our 750,000 people per representative is just a joke.

    There is no class of people that can be put into that kind of lack of accountablility without having it corrupt most of them.

    Our system is broken.

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