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.