by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If you want to understand how liberals view the relationship between individuals and the government, compare their reactions to the Solyndra scandal to their statements on Social Security reform.
Earlier this month, Solyndra, the solar panel maker that received $535 million in federal loan guarantees and was touted as the symbol of President Obama’s “green jobs” initiative, declared bankruptcy and had its offices raided by the FBI.
The failure of a company Obama described as “a true engine of economic growth” has raised obvious questions about the advisability of squandering taxpayer money on such endeavors. But Obama’s surrogates have countered by arguing that failure is merely a natural byproduct of progress.
“The reason why fledgling, cutting-edge industries need this kind of assistance is because they can be high risk as well as high reward,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said. He also observed that “what happened here is an investment did not pan out.” …
… Yet back in 2005, when Obama was in the U.S. Senate fighting President Bush’s efforts to reform Social Security in the Senate, he offered a much different perspective on risk.
“Part of what the president calls an ownership society is really a society in which we do not have social insurance and each of us are on our own, managing risks and returns in the free marketplace,” Obama explained at an appearance at the National Press Club. “There’s a proud lineage to such thinking. I just happen to think it’s wrong.”