Apr
11
2013

Terry McAuliffe’s GreenTech involved in pay-for-play visa shenanigans?

Jim Geraghty over at NRO has an absolutely must-read story about a really problematic – for Terry McAuliffe, current* Democratic nominee for governor in Virginia – story about GreenTech Automotive.  For those who don’t remember, GreenTech is the electric glorified golf cart car company that McAuliffe loudly trumpeted as being part of his job-creation record… and quietly divested from, without telling anybody thad he had.  This was a bit interesting, given that McAuliffe’s candidacy is based around his business experience; so there was an expectation that another shoe was due to drop.

And it has.  Let me introduce all y’all to a phrase with connotations: “visa for sale.”  Although I personally would call it “pay-for-play visas.”  Rolls off of the tongue better.

It all comes back to the EB-5 visa program (mentioned earlier here): for those who don’t remember, this is a program that basically sells green cards to people with lots of spare cash – and who are willing to spend some of it investing in the USA .  The problem is that nobody’s really supposed to be that blunt about it**; an added wrinkle is that the program tends to attract investors whose money might perhaps be a bit, ah, problematical.  Which is a polite way of saying “we’re selling visas to people who largely have made their money off of Chinese sweatshops.”  And before you accuse me of being a partisan hack… yeah, I am.  I’m the worst kind, in fact: the kind who happens to be right.  Jim quotes Liz Povar, business director of the Virginia Economic Development Corporation under Tim Kaine:

Even if [GreenTech] has investors “lined up”, I maintain serious concerns about the establishment of an EB-5 center in general, and most specifically based on this company. Not only based on (lack of) management expertise, (lack of) market preparation, etc. but also still can’t get my head around this being anything other than a visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications that we have no way to confirm or discount.

It’s a legitimate take on the situation.  GreenTech doesn’t actually make cars in either Virginia or Mississippi; it’s talked up making cars, but never actually produces any in significant numbers.  Which is a problem, if you’re in the car-making business.  But if you’re in the green card business… well.  I admit to wondering how much of this Terry McAuliffe really understood about the true nature of the business he was in; I suppose that he could have been simply profoundly, deeply, and nigh-terminally obtuse about the entire thing.  That’s… better, right?  Better to be an idiot than a money launderer, after all.

Let me finish this up by noting: if you’re wondering why ‘green’ industries always seem to be involved in stories about government waste and corruption, there’s a really good reason for it: green industries need government largesse in order to operate. “State-run” has been a synonym for “inefficient” and “corrupt” for generations for a reason, after all; it’s hardly surprising that a government’s pet client industries would quickly acquire those particular flavors.  Couple that with the minor detail that a truly beneficial innovation generally does not have to be subsidized in a free market*** and you get… well, Terry McAuliffe and his crony capitalist record.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Not “beleaguered” – yet.  Not “endangered” – yet.  Not yet “embattled” – although that might change, now that sites like National Journal (via @TheRickWilson) are actively calling into question McAuliffe’s business qualifications.  But Terry McAuliffe’s raison d’être is business experience.  “Giving them the business” is not the same thing.

**Personally, I’d sell green cards for ten grand a shot, with a 50% discount to everybody already in line legally and a 100% markup to anybody we’ve ever deported for non-violent immigration violations (commit a violent crime and, of course, you don’t get a green card at all). But I don’t run federal immigration policy, no doubt to the profound relief of everybody reading this.

***This is, by the way, why you can safely assume that the legendary ‘100 mile per gallon carburetor’ was just that: a legend.  If there ever had been one the auto companies would have hired mercenary armies to get their hands on it, if for no other reason than the guaranteed sales to every Western military organization on the planet.  Tripling one’s operating range is generally considered a laudatory military objective, after all.

4 Comments

  • sicsemperstolidissimum says:

    Regarding miles per gallon. Thermodynamic limits of this can be estimated.
    .
    Step one, on a flat surface, set your car in neutral. Get out and push. Estimate how many pounds of force it takes to keep the sucker moving. (Or maybe there is a table for this.)
    .
    Step two: Force times distance, IIRC, is work. Using the right units, energy costs to travel a given distance can be found.
    .
    Step three: Grab a couple of plausible temperatures, and calculate Carnot efficiency. Actual efficiency will be less than this, but it would be unreasonable to expect random people to mess with more appropriate, fancier formulas, that would still be giving a upper bound for efficiency.
    .
    Step four: Gas has really high energy density. There is a table somewhere with this value. Find it, and calculate the amount of energy in a gallon of gas.
    .
    Step five: If efficiency from three times energy in four is less than energy cost per hundred miles from two, slap yourself on the head if you had originally vastly overestimated potential mileage.
    .
    Step six: Note that a) I haven’t run the numbers yet myself b) disregarding guessing error, I dunno if step one underestimates rolling friction of the vehicle c) these naturally vary from vehicle to vehicle d) the temperatures you plug into Carnot matter, and even with conservative selection, I can’t say how wild of an overestimate this is.
    .
    Anyone else remember the PSA with the Helium emitting vehicles? Really does not give a good impression of Greens who think they know better how to make and power vehicles.

    • acat says:

      Regarding step 4, Wikipedia (yeah, spare me) has a decent article on the subject including energy for gallons, liters, cubic something-or-others, etc.
      .
      Significantly higher energy density than we can get into any modern battery, anyway, and that’s likely to remain the status quo.
      .
      Mew

      • sicsemperstolidissimum says:

        Well, I used wiki to look up Disgaea Dimension 2 again just a bit ago, so I can’t complain about one of the other legitimate uses for it.
        .
        Hindsight says I also neglected power train efficiency. Also, Googling ‘lb-miles in joules’ should save some messing with conversion factors.
        .
        What I remembered about gas energy density was ‘significantly high’ and ‘ten times gunpowder’. John Clark’s Ignition! makes me think there might be higher density options, just likely not ones I would wish to see in a consumer vehicle.
        .
        Anyway, definitely needs more work for teaching kids with, beyond removing the slap-your-head thing.

  • acat says:

    The only thing in this article I question is the headline, and the only reason I question that is it has a question mark. Is it really a *question*?
    .
    Mew

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