Latest PJ Media Column (‘Obama’s Broken Window Company — And His Larger, More Serious Damage’) Is Up
It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Friday (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.
The main (but far from the only) point of the column is that, as I feared when it happened in December 2008, President-elect Barack Obama’s expressed solidarity with the workers who occupied Republic Windows — without calling out their lawlessness and demanding that they leave — sent a chilling message to the business community which has been confirmed time and time again since he has taken office, namely that hiring full-time employees is something to be avoided. When the country’s chief executive-in-waiting condones lawlessness (and then engages in it himself once installed), it brings — and has brought — terrible consequences for the entire nation.
The news which drove the column occurred in late February, when California-based Serious Energy, which bought the moribund Republic Windows plant a few months after the plant’s occupation, announced that it would close the Chicago plant once and for all. Naturally, workers — this time only about 60 instead of over 200 — occupied the plant again, and Serious promised to keep the plant open for 90 days and to try to find a buyer (I don’t wish them ill, but good luck with that). The few news accounts which were filed usually mentioned Joe Biden’s visit to the plant in April 2009, but none I read or saw mentioned Barack Obama’s chilling “I think they’re absolutely right” December 2008 statement, which was a clearly far more relevant turning point.
There is so much more to the Republic Windows/Serious Energy story than I could possibly have squeezed into an already overstuffed column that I will get to some of it here.
The Pigford Effect
As the column notes, the administration’s $5 billion weatherization program “has been an epic fail, accurately characterized as a “a complete cesspool of waste” by the conservative fiscal watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste.”
An emailer made a very pertinent point about this, which ties back to the Pigford debacle, where a few probably valid claims of discrimination against black farmers decades ago turned into a class action lawsuit with more far more participants than ever engaged in farming, really on two levels.
The emailer noted that “Pigford attracted fraudulent claims because the government opened their checkbook. So fake black farmers came out of the wood work and claimed they had been wronged.”
The emailer, upon learning that the Federal Trade Commission obtained a consent agreement in February from Serious and four other window makers for making wildly exaggerated claims of energy savings from installing their windows (up to 40%-50% vs. a reality of 7%-15%), noted that “Green energy window companies made up fraudulent claims of green energy savings to the consumer because they knew the government was footing the bill,” and that “Private investors or venture capital folks would have tested the claims by Serious and others.”
True enough. Another aspect to this, borne out in the massive complaints about the quality of the work done under the program in several states which likely barely scratch the surface, is that the weatherization program also attracted fly-by-night and crooked contractors who either didn’t know what they were doing or deliberately cut corners and did shoddy work knowing that the government was footing the bill. The charitable and not-for-profit groups who were given the money for the program were in many cases woefully inexperienced to manage such an enterprise.
Serious’s Chairman Kevin Surace was named Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009; based on the related write-up, the selection looks comes off as a suck-up to the Obama regime. Though he has received other, less tainted accolades, the FTC complaint certainly mars Surace and his company’s reputation. I should also note that Serious has been refashioning itself as a “developer of cloud-based energy management software” and de-emphasizing its manufacturing (though plants in PA and CA remain open).
Surace gave $5,000 to Obama for America in September 2011. I didn’t find evidence of other political contributions by Serious execs.
The company’s board has at least one obvious Democrat ringer: Reed Hundt, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who habitually imagines that there must be a “right-wing power grab” going on whenever the topic of deregulation comes up.
Lots of hype, little in results results
The company definitely over-promised what it would do for the Chicago plant’s workers; as the column notes, it “never hired back more than 75″ of the plant’s 200-250 workers. That certainly isn’t the impression Joe Biden had in 2009:
Wow. In retrospect, the horse manure in Biden’s speech was neck-deep. “600 workers on three shifts”?