White House pal Warren Buffett didn't become a gazillionaire by not knowing how to work the angles. And he's not above using government power or the taxpayers' pocket to pump-up his profit margins. With this purchase Buffett not only reveals himself as a run-of-the-mill subsidy chaser, but he's betting that taxpayer support for these not-ready-for-primetime energy technologies will continue, despite the scandals that have rocked these programs.
He's a crony capitalist who trusts that taxpayers will hedge this bet on solar.
The Los Angeles Times speculates that Buffett's investment in solar will help "boost" the industry. But by what means? Will his involvement increase the likelihood of technical breakthroughs in solar technology, open new markets for solar power or magically make solar power cost-competitive with conventional alternatives? Probably not. The "boost" he'll give the industry stems not from his influence in the free market, or his excellence as a businessman, or his track record as an innovator, but from his influence in Washington and Sacramento, where his lobbying power will be used to keep the government propping-up companies that can't survive without mandates or subsidies.
Buffett, like all good crony capitalists, is a parasite who wants to keep feeding off the body politic. And his deeper investment in these government-protected industries means he will do everything in his considerable power to keep the protection racket going -- to keep profiteering at our expense.