FARE — Shock Doctrine in Action

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by Steve Horn

In her famous book The Shock Doctrine​: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, author and activist Naomi Klein quotes the Godfather of free market capitalism, Milton Friedman, whom she credits with mainstreaming the “shock doctrine.” Friedman stated:

“Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real changes. When the crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.”

Under a textbook “shock doctrine” scenario as it pertains to the ongoing and escalating Solyndra Corporation hoopla, two U.S. Senators, sponsor David Vitter (R-LA) and co-sponsor Ron Johnson (R-WI), have introduced U.S. Senate Bill 1556, the Federal Accounting of Renewable Energy Act of 2011 (FARE) [PDF], or “FARE” as a direct response to the Solyndra saga — “ideas that are lying around,” to quote Friedman.

The bill dictates that,

“Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the head of each Federal agency shall submit to Congress an accounting for all financial support (including grants, loans, loan guarantees,and direct payments) made by the agency during fiscal years 2009 through 2011 to promote the production or use of renewable energy.”

It further mandates that:

“If a recipient company received financial support to carry out a project…and the recipient company is no longer in existence or is unlikely to substantially achieve the purpose of the financial support the Inspector General of the Federal agency that provided the financial support shall conduct a preliminary investigation of the documents submitted by the company and executives of the company to determine whether the company or executives potentially committed fraud in obtaining the financial support.”

As I noted in a previous DeSmogBlog article, the real story is not being told — that is, thevast government subsidy discrepancy and favors bestowed on the dirty fossil fuel industry compared to the modest public funding for the clean, renewable energy sector. As alluded to in that article, it is as if Solyndra was set up to fail all along, and then was set up as a scapegoat to shame the renewable energy industry at-large.

Even if Solyndra’s demise was unintentional, the company’s downfall is providing the perfect scapegoat for the introduction of the Vitter-Johnson FARE Act.

This “shock doctrine” bill, which has conceivably been gathering dust in some fossil fuel industry lobbyist’s “ideas lying around” drawer until the opportune “crisis,” uses Congressional audit power as a weapon to hold the renewable energy industry to a far different standard than that of the fossil fuel industry — all by design, at that.

The FARE Act, by any reasonable standard, is utterly unfair when placed within a broader context of public support for energy companies. The hypothetical question must be asked: Would these same standards ever be applied to the public funding of the fossil fuel industry? Have they ever before? The answer to both of these questions is obviously no.

Will other Senators and the public see through the charade? Or will the shock doctrine once again derail American progress towards a safe, climate-friendly energy supply?

Read the Federal Accounting of Renewable Energy (FARE) Act [PDF], provided here for the first time publicly by DeSmogBlog.

This post was originally published on DeSmogBlog.


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