Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Green Energy, Corrupt to the Core



Those in the built industry who advocate green energy and green building solutions must focus on market based solutions.  Subsidized business fails unless the business sufficiently intertwines itself with the government.  Selling the soul of one's enterprise to the government 

Big business, like Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland, GE, etc. spend a great deal on lobbyists to ensure a slanted playing field.  Suckling at the federal teat of farm subsidies and more recently so-called "green energy" subsidies, these entities, and others like them, deprive small businesses of real opportunities.

The article excerpted and linked below describes the Mafia's involvement in green energy projects in Italy, but the tale, sadly, is repeated in the US, Spain, the UK, Ireland, Australia and elsewhere around the globe.  Granted, the stakeholders gaming the system are not ALWAYS the Mafia - in the US such stakeholders also contributed vast sums to President Obama's campaign - but in Chicago and similar environs the wiff of organized crime is strong.  

The still-emerging links of the mafia to the once-booming wind and solar sector here are raising fresh questions about the use of government subsidies to fuel a shift toward cleaner energies, with critics claiming huge state incentives created excessive profits for companies and a market bubble ripe for fraud. 
***
According to court documents, wiretap transcripts and interviews with officials familiar with the investigations, mafia involvement in the renewables sector followed a familiar path. Crime families and businessmen would target land suitable for wind or solar plants, sometimes pressuring landowners to sell or offer long-term leases. Corrupt local officials were enlisted to speed through application processes that could otherwise take three to six years. After receiving approval, they would approach foreign investors eager to tap the Italian government’s green subsidies program. 
***
Indeed, the mafia has targeted legitimate businesses in Sicily beyond renewable energy, with a 2008 probe revealing the island’s largest supermarket chain to be a front for mafia cash. Sicily’s former governor Raffaele Lombardo stepped down last July after being charged with mafia ties. His predecessor, Salvatore “Toto” Cuffaro, is serving a seven-year jail sentence after being convicted on organized crime charges. 
Citing its poor finances and a mountain of debt, the Italian government is now curbing new subsidies for renewable energies. A nationwide program has also been rolled out requiring developers to sign affidavits proving they have no links to organized crime.

It's hard to read the foregoing without thinking of the parade of Governors and Mayors from Illinois, Chicago and New Orleans - to name just three - who went from the penthouse to the pen.  At lease prosecutors are taking the corruption seriously.  But advocates of green energy, green buildings and the green cause generally need to view the role of government subsidies with a more jaundiced eye.  My preference is to compete on the the basis of "green" Ben Franklins rather than through government subsidies.


No kidding?  Who'd have ever thought THAT would happen?  There's no money behind the trillions of dollars of "green solutions" to global warming right?  It's only the evil oil companies that pay for science right?  There's no money in grants or government subsidies right?  And Mafia cannot smell money, right?  

Of course, nothing even remotely similar could ever happen here in the US with a Chicago style politician operating as our Lord and Savior from a Hunger Games style Capitol in Washington D.C right?


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James L. Salmon, Esq.
Collaborative Construction
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3 comments:

Michael Bordenaro said...

James,

I frequently don't agree with your political positions, but on this one, either you are so far right, you are left or I am so far left I am right.

Either way, I agree that Green Energy subsidies should not be sucked up by big companies, but made available to innovators of all-sizes.

Mike

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