They got these grants because the Obama administration wants to see a certain technology developed. This sort of thing is nothing new, but does reflect the culture of government/private “partnership” that runs deep through this administration.
At least they shoveled money to companies unlikely to go belly up anytime soon. Dow is unlikely to because it makes lots of useful chemicals (and weapons). GM is unlikely to because undead companies don’t go belly up. They just suck blood from the economy.
I question why it is that these grants, and they are grants, not loans even, exist in the first place. If the market wants something it will find a way to make it happen. What is wrong with relying on the market to signal what makes sense and what does not?
A quaint idea I know.
This is a little story about relatively small amounts of money. But it reflects a big problem. Business increasingly looks to the state to augment bottom lines when things are relatively good, and then when times go bad business (at least big business) looks for a bailout. This is not the way to run a market economy.
But then again maybe that’s the point.