Interventions Beget Interventions

by | Jan 29, 2013

It has long been noted that government intervention seldom, if ever, accomplishes the stated purpose. When the failure of some regulation, subsidy, or program becomes clear, legislators respond with further interventions. As an example, consider the solar panel industry. Solyndra, which received more than $500 billion in federal loan guarantees, is only one of many […]

It has long been noted that government intervention seldom, if ever, accomplishes the stated purpose. When the failure of some regulation, subsidy, or program becomes clear, legislators respond with further interventions. As an example, consider the solar panel industry.

Solyndra, which received more than $500 billion in federal loan guarantees, is only one of many “green energy” companies to gorge itself at the public trough and then go bankrupt. While many have decried this waste of taxpayer money, few have identified a more fundamental injustice.

Private investors were unwilling to risk their money, correctly believing that Solyndra was not a good investment. However, federal loan guarantees forced these investors, along with all taxpayers, to “invest” in Solyndra regardless of their own judgment. In other words, the government declared the judgment of investors to be null and void. And this attack on independent judgment is not limited to investors.

Solar panel manufacturers, who are unable to compete with Chinese imports, are now asking the government to slap a hefty tariff on imported solar panels. The tariffs could double the price of imported panels. This means that American consumers would be forced to buy American made solar panels, regardless of their own judgment.

American manufacturers claim that the Chinese are subsidizing their solar panels. If this is true, then the Chinese are making those panels cheaper for American consumers. As another example of government intervention begetting further intervention, the American government is considering interventions because the Chinese are intervening.

Interventions are always wrong and immoral. And they are always counter-productive.

If government officials want to encourage “green energy,” then they should protect freedom in the energy industry. When consumers and investors judge “green energy” to be worthwhile, their decisions will be reflected in the market. Until that time, the attempts to promote “green energy” are nothing more than usurpations of the judgments of millions of Americans.

Brian Phillips is the founder of the Texas Institute for Property Rights. Brian has been defending property rights for nearly thirty years. He played a key role in defeating zoning in Houston, Texas, and in Hobbs, New Mexico. He is the author of three books: Individual Rights and Government Wrongs, The Innovator Versus the Collective, and Principles and Property Rights. Visit his website at texasipr.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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