This morning, solar panel maker Solyndra suddenly closes in Fremont, and 1100 people are on the beach. This is a business President Obama visited and touted last year. With the housing market like it is, this shouldn’t be a shocker. It does, however, raise an issue.
The Chinese are kicking our tails in solar production. The government there subsidizes both the production and purchase, to get wide distribution of them. Back in the early days of solar, 40 years ago, our government had nice tax subsidies for solar panels…I know…I had 8 of them on my roof! We’ve seen this show before…in the 60’s and 70’s, the Japanese sold cars over here for less than they cost in Japan to take US market share. At that time, US cars were considered superior by almost everyone (remember THAT?), but they vastly increased market share by selling cheaper ones. As one who was in the auto business selling against them, I have a pretty good frame of reference on this issue!
I can see the theoretical benefit of free trade, but it’s never happened, and never going to. Other countries always cheat, and we let them get away with it. As long as other countries play us like a violin, free trade is a myth!
The past week, with family from out of state in town, I played tour guide and took them around to lots of tourist destinations– a number of which I hadn’t visited myself in something like 20 years. They had a great time, the weather was cooperative, and that’s all great.
On the motorized cable car tour of San Francisco, there was a fellow from the East Bay who was taking the tour for his 50th birthday. He was born in the Bay Area, and commutes into San Francisco daily (something a lot of us can relate to!) Much of what was on the tour he’d never seen before, despite being a Bay Area native. As we rolled across the Golden Gate Bridge, he remarked that he’d never been on it before. It was a great time to do so, as it was totally clear…one of probably 10 days a year where you could see the Farallon Islands if you had a telescope or binoculars.
Here’s a point worth making, wherever you may live. Take the time to see some of the great local sites before you turn 50, or if you’re already past 50, see them soon! Don’t put it off like the birthday boy on the cable car tour. In fact, as a shameless plug…come to the Bay Area, see the marvelous sites, and DO cross the Golden Gate Bridge, for Heaven’s sake! It’s well worth your time!