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Free Market Minute – A123

A battery maker runs out of juice

I’m Jason Gillman, and this is your free market minute

A123 Systems, a Michigan manufacturer of batteries for electric vehicles has said it may be selling an 80 percent stake to a Chinese firm, in order to remain viable.

Normally, this would be simply a story of a business that risked, yet failed to profit enough to survive. Risking capital to seek reward is a function of free and open markets, and has been the foundation of the freest civilization on the planet.

In 2009, A123 received millions in federal and state funds, for the creation of jobs for Michiganders. Taxpayers  unwillingly, or unwittingly saw their paychecks shrink for promises never realized, and now they may have ultimately subsidized a technology transfer to a competing world power.

As the picking of winners and losers continues in Lansing, Should we wonder what opportunities have been missed? What if money taken by Lansing would have been left in the registers of Michigan jobs creators who need no incentives?

For business seeing its pockets being picked, the answer is clear.

Government is not an energizer.

I’m Jason Gillman, and this has been your free market minute.