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THE OCCIDENTAL WEEKLY

- October 5, 2011

OPINIONS

Is Obama Gambling Too Much in the Name of Green? Alex Zeldin

Solyndra’s financial woes may soon become the President’s

P

resident Obama will soon have to defend what may be the first scandal in his administration. Solyndra, a manufacturer of solar energy panels based in Fremont, California, received $535 million of federal loans, only to file for bankruptcy in September of this year. Politics aside, the Obama administration should learn the appropriate lessons from this incident and move forward knowing that any loan involving tax payer dollars should be subject to intense scrutiny, as it appears the Obama administration’s lack of due-diligence allowed the scandal to happen. Some may wonder what the big deal is regarding Solyndra’s fall from grace. This certainly isn’t the first time a company received a loan only to later file for bankruptcy. Banks have experienced this phenomenon for years. $535

million is spent every two days to fund the war in Afghanistan. When compared to other government expenses, losing that much money is not unprecedented or uncommon. But the fact that billionaire George Kaiser, a top Obama fundraiser, had a large stake in the company poses the question whether the loan was a politically motivated move and not subjected to the same scrutiny and fact-checking as it should have been. David Freddoso, of the “Washington Examiner,” reported that in 2008, before the loan was granted and Obama was sworn into office, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) audit showed that Solyndra suffered losses of $558 million in its five years of existence. The audit further revealed that Solyndra “has suffered recurring losses from operations, negative cash flows since inception and has a net stockholders’ deficit that, among other factors, raises substantial doubt about

its ability to continue as a going concern.” Nevertheless, a loan was granted. President Obama made this a part of his Green Jobs Initiative and the company created 1,100 jobs as a result. But fast-forward two years and all 1,100 workers have been laid off and are collectively suing Solyndra for losses. This appears to be the Obama Administration’s fault. In July 2005, The Bush Administration signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 into law. Part of this bi-partisan act created the Department of Energy’s Section 1703 loan guarantee program for green energy companies. Solyndra filed for a federal loan in December of 2006 and was put through the due-diligence process thereafter. During the last days of the Bush Administration in January of 2009, this loan was put on hold. ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross discovered during this time that numerous advisers raised caution

flags and told the president that they needed more time to review Solyndra, as they had numerous concerns. Despite the prior administration’s concerns, when President Obama was sworn into office, the new administration fast-tracked the loan. This certainly smells political in nature. President Obama wanted to assure Americans he was committed to a green economy, and loaning money to a solar company is certainly a way to do so. But given PricewaterhouseCoopers’ audit and the Bush Administration’s hesitation to grant a loan, fast-tracking that loan was certainly a poor idea. In the coming months as the FBI continues to investigate the situation, many things will become clear about what happened at Solyndra. More light will be shed on who is responsible for issuing a loan to Solyndra given its red flags. President Obama will try to deflect, say-

ing this wasn’t him, that it’s the guys below him, and that his responsibility was to find Bin Laden, pass Health Care Reform, and lead a nation through two wars. Whether this will hold water is to be seen. Those who lost the most in this situation were the taxpayers and the workers at Solyndra. Both will decide whether it will impact the coming election next November. The fact that Solyndra received a huge loan where other solar companies did not raises concern that the administration wanted to support one of its top fundraisers. If this is the case, then President Obama will have a very hard time defending his actions unless his administration can provide a good reason for why Solyndra was fit to receive a loan. Until then critics will be right to question him for it. Alex Zeldin is a senior AHVA major. He can be reached at zeldin@oxy.edu

American T.V. Media Delivers a Junk Food Diet Riley Kimball

“Every news broadcast is censored. It’s just that in China, we’re very aware of it.” So said my host brother in China. Like most who read this, I rejected the idea immediately. After all, American journalists have broken stories that could never withstand the PRC’s infamous manipulation of the press, such as Watergate or the Pentagon Papers. But upon reflection, it seems that lately, the industry is failing its audiences when it comes to the quantity, and quality, of investigative stories in mainstream media sources. In the last few years, the public has increasingly become aware of the lack of transparency permeating many aspects of American life. The banking sector nearly buckled under the weight of dubious, unregulated trading, the Citizens United ruling enabled corporations to make unlimited campaign contributions, and WikiLeaks revealed a surreal volume of previously hidden foreign policy information. And instead of launching investigations of their own into this disarray, most news companies have commercialized and shallowed up their coverage. Now, the lack of depth in a story here is as notable as CCTV’s, a Chinese news program, blatant omissions. In four months of Arab Spring uprisings and revolts, CCTV’s only mention of the events was a discussion of the U.S.’s, not NATO’s—the U.S.’s, intrusive foreign policy in bombing Libya. There was no mention of the reasons for the airstrikes nor any discussion of democratic revolutions. In spite of its headlining story telling people to sell their old iPhones before the iPhone 5 announcement, CNN failed to report

“If you’re not at the table, then you’re on the menu...”

Mike Kralovich

on the Occupy Wall Street protest for 10 days after its inception, even though most other outlets picked the story up within two days. The story only “broke” on CNN when Michael Moore brought up the protests on Piers Morgan’s program. This raises questions of filtering content. During the News of the World scandal, News Corp-owned Fox News famously featured program hosts candidly discussing “the subject we’re not talking about today.” CNN’s parent company Time Warner has a similar interest in not bringing further attention to the Wall Street protests. The first legitimate coverage of the protests, outside of Michael

Moore’s support of the protesters, was entitled, “Protesters unsure how to fix Wall Street.” The article ran the same day that pilots joined the protests and shortly before the 200,000 strong New York Transit Workers Union voted to participate. The real issue at stake is the failure of audiences to realize that news broadcasts are services delivered by companies. These companies exist to satisfy a demand and make money. If the market no longer demands accuracy, thoroughness or investigation into institutions as it once did, the companies need not work toward these goals. Instead, the 24-hour news cycle fills its time with popular issues

stuffed with vapid speculation. News Corporation’s horrific deeds were a firebrand for a short window, but when compared to the attention that the Casey Anthony trial received, the coverage was laughably superficial. Audiences have become accustomed to streaming updates, whether through Twitter, Facebook, blogs or the like. As a result, news companies have sacrificed depth for breadth, touching on every story as it happens, regardless of the relative weight a story deserves. Stories no longer “develop.” They emerge, and then fade into noise. To use a rhetorical crutch, if you’re not part of the solution,

you’re part of the problem. Every time a debt ceiling approaches, CNN airs hours of mindless political punditry discussing the “Possible Imminent Collapse of the U.S.” But this will not happen anytime soon. Ina Garten has some great tips on how to make tasty hors d’oeuvres during lime season. Do not support the growing manufacturing of the news. Whether in your own home or in the gym, change the channel. Demand a return to the caliber of journalism that used to characterize American democracy. Riley Kimball is a senior DWA major. He can be reached at Kimball at oxy.edu.

The Occidental Weekly, Volume 132, Issue 4  

The Occidental Weekly, Volume 132, Issue 4

The Occidental Weekly, Volume 132, Issue 4  

The Occidental Weekly, Volume 132, Issue 4

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