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Spain’s Zapatero Seeks More U.S. Money for His ‘Green’ Firms — Will We Fall for It Again?

At the G20, Zapatero pushed nations towards "green" energy as a way out of the economic crisis. He didn't mention that Spain's "green" firms are broke and need the foreign infusion.

by
Christopher Horner

Bio

November 12, 2010 - 10:05 am

The socialist prime minister of Spain, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, proposed at the G20 meeting that nations agree to create green jobs as a way out of the current economic crisis. Zapatero says he will create a million jobs in the green sector — and we should follow him.

Yet this happens to be the same thing Zapatero proposed a few years ago, and which when implemented, caused Spain’s unemployment to double to 20% from a binge of debt-financed, job-killing mandates for “green” electricity. (For which Spain is now the “world leader.” Help!)

Among Zapatero’s previous converts was President Barack Obama, who formerly, and frequently, mentioned Spain as his model for a “green” program in the U.S. Obama no longer says this.

So — is Zapatero just remarkably stubborn, or a poor economic student? Actually, neither. He’s crafty.

Zapatero knows Spain’s “green” economic woes are even worse than exposed. He’s now hoping others will play the role of dunce and finance Spain’s failing “green” energy firms. The Obama administration seems willing to go along, despite also knowing the truth.

Solyndra is a  solar panel company bailed out by the U.S. taxpayer with no strings attached — hundreds of millions borrowed by the Obama administration from China, spent in your name, and immediately squandered as Solyndra flounders.

Viable firms get their money from the capital markets. “Green” firms, however, must turn to politicians, as no investor will bank on a firm with no model for future profit. If “green” firms don’t get a government infusion, it’s curtains. Somehow, they end up getting the infusion. Markets work at picking winners. Picking losers? Follow who the government wants to invest in.

There are many Spanish companies that ran this game on the Obama administration. From an American University investigative assessment titled “Blown Away“:

Overseas firms collecting most green energy money. One of the major selling points of President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan was that it would put the economy back on track partly by investing in renewable energy industries, like wind and solar.

The president and many other advocates of alternative energy argue that an investment in green energy would lessen the nation’s reliance on foreign oil, cut greenhouse gases, and most importantly, create thousands of new jobs for out-of-work Americans.But of the $1.05 billion in clean-energy grants handed out by the government since Sept. 1, 84 percent — a total of $849 million — has gone to foreign wind companies. Spanish utility company, Iberdrola S.A., alone has collected $545 million through its American subsidiary.

Even more striking is the fact that there are few restrictions on the how the grants can be used, according to a transcript of a Treasury Department briefing. In fact, more than $800 million has been given to firms for wind farms that were already producing electricity before they received the grants, according to a review of the records by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University.

So Zapatero’s push looks a little less inane, and more cunning. He doesn’t think much of us, but he’ll take our money to keep his teetering economy from becoming the next Greece. Said the Economist in 2009:

Big in America? Spanish firms hope to benefit from America’s stimulus plan. American companies are not the only ones hoping for a boost from Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan. Spanish firms are also positioning themselves to benefit from what they call el Plan Obama. Other foreign companies are jostling for some of the $317 billion of intended spending, but Spain is the only country to have built a campaign around it.

You see, Zapatero created (with the assistance of his Popular Party predecessors/accomplices) a bubble of a phony industry, which killed real and prospective jobs, and was sustained only by a continued infusion of taxpayer debt and increased energy prices (further killing jobs). This bubble burst when that debt was admitted to be unsustainable.

As Madrid economics professor Dr. Gabriel Calzada exposed, the “green” industry in Spain saw their only hope in the U.S. (Uncle Sucker?) coming to the rescue, keeping the bubble filled with transferred billions. Calzada was decried as “unpatriotic” by Spain’s renewables industry and communist-affiliated trade union — not for being wrong, but for letting the cat out of the bag.

Zapatero has on his hands a bunch of rent-seeking welfare firms who exist and prosper not by performance or economic advantage, but solely due to politicians directing billions their way. Spanish companies have already received billions from the indebted U.S. taxpayer.

Zapatero is the ambulance-chasing lawyer, the huckster who argues the facially absurd and gets a jury to award his client millions for spilling scalding coffee over his crotch. We are that jury if we fall for this again.

Christopher Horner is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and author of the recently-published The Liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information "Criminal".
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