Sunday, September 18, 2011

Best and brightest

I have now experienced two "best and brightest" Presidential administrations.  JFK's administration prompted David Halberstam to give us that apt phrase, but assassination and myth-making blurred the lesson for most people.  Some people fall in love with the idea that the "best and the brightest" are in office and "run the country."  Falling in love has some well known risks.

The second "best and brightest" episode is the one that began sometime in 2008.  The second episode also included many voters falling in love with the candidate. 

There is not much left to say about Solyndra.  Industrial policy has the twin Achilles' heels (either one would be bad enough) of inevitable politicization and ignoring the knowledge problem.  Knowledge is much too dispersed for top-down wisdom to replace market vetting.  But "green jobs" and "stimulus" were just too much temptation.   Paul Gregory summarizes all of this very clearly. 

There is every reason to believe that the Bushies would have gone forward with the Solyndra deal (or others like it) but they would never have been as slick or effective in their staging and presentation as the news conference now being played by all the TV news shows of Obama's 2010 unveiling speech at the Solyndra facility.

So what is there left to say?  We can be surprised that people are surpised by the whole episode.  And we can be disappointed that the lesson that many choose to take from the episode is that it was just a matter of moving too fast and "inadequate vetting."  I have not yet heard "the law of unintended consequences" being invoked, but that one is always within reach.  


"Ex-Solyndra Employees Now Applying for Trade Adjustment Assistance"  H/T Carpe Diem.