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September 23rd, 2011 3:54 pm
The Solyndra-Moneyball Connection

Today marks the release of Moneyball, a movie based on a book based on the true story of how the Oakland Athletics baseball team overcame a chintzy payroll to compete with high-dollar teams.  The book revolutionized the way many people think about baseball (and management in general) because of the A’s innovative use of player’s statistical data.

Today also saw top executives from Solyndra stonewalling Congress over how the company went from $535 million in federal subsidies to bankruptcy in less than three years.

Nine years after Moneyball was published – and eight years after Major League Baseball started testing for steroids – the A’s success tapered off in relation to falling production of steroid using players like Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, and others.  (National Review’s Neil Minkoff has the details here.)

So, despite the A’s perceived use of a superior technology, it looks more and more like they benefited from their proximity to the steroid capital of baseball: the San Francisco Bay Area (remember the Giants’ Barry Bonds?)

Something similar happened with Solyndra.  When the company’s solar technology was new it looked like the magic bullet for the “green economy,” so much so that investors and the Obama Administration threw caution to the wind, funded a fantasy, and put taxpayers on the hook for half a billion dollars.

The A’s only lost games and perhaps some credibility after their more-than-meets-the-eye initial success.  American taxpayers are losing their collective shirt with bad bets on Keynesian stimulus and market-distorting subsidies.  A’s fans might want to get new management.  Americans should demand it.

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