Celebrating the Most Recent 5-Year Plan

This sort of thing drives me crazy:

Before 2009, the U.S. was supplying less than 2% of a tiny global market in advanced batteries. When the stimulus-funded factories are all complete, they’ll have the capacity to supply 40% of a rapidly growing global market, about 500,000 batteries a year. The stimulus will also boost our supply of electric-vehicle charging stations by more than 3,000%. And the Obama administration has provided loans to help Tesla, Fisker and Nissan build electric-car factories in the U.S., all part of Obama’s pledge to put 1 million plug-ins on the road by 2015. That is what change looks like, even if the President doesn’t beat his chest and call for mass beheadings on Wall Street while it happens

A few random thoughts

  1. Doesn't this sound like an old Soviet press release about the highlights of their last 5-year plan?
  2. This is a kind of weird economic nationalism that drove a lot of the bad behaviors in the 19th century.  Who cares what percentage of world battery output our country controls?  Don't we just care that there is an adequate supply at good cost from somewhere?  This sounds like chest-thumping for the American Raj.
  3. Left unquestioned is why we should care or be excited.  Consider it this way -- a guy with no business experience is making major investments of our money in companies that were not able to get private investment.  Did you really elect Obama to be venture-capitalist-in-chief?  And if that were truly the President's job descriptions, how many tens of millions of people would you consider more qualified for the job than Obama?  Would you let Obama manage your retirement portfolio for you?
  4. No government investment is at all interesting to me unless I am told what private use of the money was foregone.   All such public investments use money that is taken from private actors and would have been used for some private function.  How many jobs, and what market outcomes, would have occurred if the money had remained in private hands?
  5. Let's see how many Democrats are claiming these successes in a few years when these ventures start going bankrupt.  I expect a lot of this stuff to mysteriously disappear from poloitician's web sites in a few years.
  6. This is the corporate state in spades.  The government creates an industry, and in the future will create protectionist laws for it, and customer subsidies, and bail it out when necessary.  In return, all of its employees and managers know they owe their jobs to the party that sponsored the industry, rather than to any competitive prowess.


  1. GoneWithTheWind:

    This is a loser. The batteries are too expensive, they are an environmental disaster to make, use and dispose of. The actual efficiency of these cars is much less then the hype and even based on the hype they are too expensive to drive. The government is throwing money down the hobbit hole.

  2. John Moore:


    I care what percentage of top ranked military systems our country produces. But batteries?

    Furthermore, it's a heck of a risky bet for anyone, and seems to be based on the environmental religion more than anything else.

  3. Mark:

    I have been saying for some time, the Democratic Party is modeled on organized crime.

    First, you take money from other people.
    Next, you give it to people who will "vote" for you.
    Then, they "kick up" money to keep the cycle going.

    And, if you Libertarians want to do the "Coke-Pepsi routine, the biggest difference is that the Republicans do not do the first step. They may get contributions, but for the most part it is from the direct earnings of the individual.

  4. steve:

    "they’ll have the capacity to supply 40% of a rapidly growing global market, about 500,000 batteries a year."

    So, the global market is like 1,250,000 batteries a year? Or, is the supply 200,000 batteries of a 500,000 battery market? Either way, this seems like a fairly puny market.

  5. gofer:

    I understand the Leaf battery is around $32,000....and once the battery goes.....worthless for trade-in. Another giant govt. boondoggle. Only the rich can afford such toys and we little taxpayers are subsidizing Leo DiCaprio for his "green fanatical front image.

  6. Samrobb:

    "When the stimulus-funded factories are all complete..."

    "The stimulus will also boost..."

    "...loans to help Tesla, Fisker and Nissan build electric-car factories..."

    "...all part of Obama’s pledge..."

    "That is what change looks like..."

    No. That's what a good *con* looks like. Promise them the world tomorrow, while taking them for everything they have today,.

  7. marco73:

    "The stimulus will also boost our supply of electric-vehicle charging stations by more than 3,000%."
    Where is all that electric power going to come from, unicorn farts?

    Amazingly, there are plans for new nuclear power plants in the US; however, it will be decades before much of that capacity comes on line.

    We will be burning dirty coal to provide clean electric power until the cows come home.

  8. Another guy named Dan:

    Step 7 - 20 years from now villify all of the battery manufacturers for the heavy metals introduced into the environment from battery production and reprocessing. Hold congressional hearings into why they allowed their workers to be exposed to cadmium when it was known to be toxic. Trial lawyers develop an A-Z listing of diseases and disorders caused by exposure to batteries and low frequency electromagnetic fields.

  9. Sam L.:

    Kinda like ethanol, eh? Without all the heavy metals, of course.

  10. Fred from Canuckistan:

    And Chevy sols 125 Volts last month.

  11. Dr. T:

    "This is the corporate state in spades."

    It also resembles fascism: privately owned businesses with strict government regulations that exist only with the permission of government.

    Obama has supported three economic systems: corporatism (GE, "green" industries, nudie scanner makers), socialism (GM, mortgages, student loans, health care insurance), and fascism (banking & financial companies, drugs & health care, oil drilling & energy generation). The economic system he works at eliminating is capitalism.

  12. blokeinfrance:

    There's a pile up on Highway XX. A truck carrying environmentally friendly light bulbs has collided with a Pious.

    Two lanes closed for weeks while the environmentalists clean up the mess.

  13. MikeinAppalachia:

    But the clean-up will produce or save jobs, right?

  14. IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society:

    >> Would you let Obama manage your retirement portfolio for you?

    Considering the number of people living off Social Security, isn't that what's happening?

  15. IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society:

    >> No. That’s what a good *con* looks like. Promise them the world tomorrow, while taking them for everything they have today

    Volkswagons for EVERYBODY!! Seig Heil!!

  16. CBT696:

    Too early to tell.
    There are still two avenues of development open to the government battery strategy:
    1) increase the subsidized buyer's incentive for the Volt
    2) mandate all that Americans buy an electric car

    Obama care becomes Obama car.