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Stick it to Beaver – A True Story

Our Boomer-In-Charge at BBHQ, Hershel Chicowitz, writes about boomer memories and current events... from a boomer’s perspective. He is sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, some-
times a little of each. We hope you get a kick out of our Boomer Essays.

So. why would Eddie Haskell try to swindle Wally out of five grand? And why would Wally set up the Beav to lose it all when he knew it was a bad deal? And why would Lumpy Rutherford let Eddie get away with it? What’s happened to our classic, lovable “Leave it to Beaver” family?

This essay is available in its entirety to all visitors. Enjoy!

September, 2011 -

I think it is the USA Cable Network station that uses the tag lines "characters welcome" and "story matters." Well, I saw a show on USA Network last week with characters and a story so real and so disturbing that it has made me unable to sleep well since. It was an update to the 50s-60s classic family sitcom, "Leave it to Beaver."

Act 1:

In this modern-day episode of our favorite boomer family, the entire cast has grown up. He's a venture capitalist; that is, he looks for opportunities to spend other people's money. Wally's long-time best bud, Eddie Haskell, has started a high-tech, green jobs company making LED (liquid-emitting diode) light bulbs. Eddie needs five thousand dollars to keep the company going. But he can't get a break from any investors, so he comes to Wally. (Yeah, that's Eddie; you can see that, can't you?)

Wally doesn't know a thing about LED lights, or green jobs, or business, for that matter. So he sends his second best friend, Lumpy Rutherford, to check things out at Landers Thousand Points of Lights (Landers TPL), Eddie's company. (Yeah, it's part George Bush, part Miss Landers, favorite teacher of Wally, Eddie, Lumpy, and Beaver.)

The report is not encouraging, Lumpy says that Eddie's costs are way too high, and that, on its present course, there is a serious question as to whether Eddie's company can stay afloat.

The gloomy report makes Wally nervous. Of course, Lumpy was always a dork. But still, it is not a bright picture.

Eddie puts on the pressure. He nudges him with his elbow and says, "OK, Wally; then hit up your kid brother. He'll go for it."

"Golly, Eddie; I donno'."

"Come on, chump; you got nothin' to lose."

So Wally meets with Theodore -- Beav, to those of us who know him well -- and talks Beaver into loaning Eddie the money.

"Gee, Wally. Do you think it'll work?" Beaver asks.

"Aw, don't worry about that, Beav. Lumpy doesn't know what he is talking about. It's a good thing to do. Dad would have been proud of you for doing this."

Beaver gets out his checkbook; Wally hands him a pen. As the curtain comes down on the first act, Beaver asks, "If it's such a good deal, Wally, how come you don't loan Eddie the money yourself?"

Fade to black.

Act 2:

It's a year later. Wally has been talking up Eddie's company to anyone who will listen. Eddie's company employees 1,100 people in a fancy, high-tech plant, funded, in part, by the Beaver.

Then, one bright and sunny morning, employees reporting to work at Landers TPL find the lights out and the doors padlocked. Without warning, the company has closed down and declared bankruptcy. Eddie Haskell is nowhere to be found, and Beaver is out his five thousand dollars. It's a shock to everyone... everyone except Lumpy, who knew all along that it was a losing deal -- and to Wally, who had received timely reports from Lumpy. But what did Wally care? It was not his money; it was the Beav's.

So, why would Eddie Haskell try to swindle Wally out of five grand? And why would Wally set up the Beav to lose it all when he knew it was a bad deal? And why would Lumpy Rutherford let Eddie get away with it? What's happened to our classic, lovable "Leave it to Beaver" family? This is not how every episode of one of our favorite sitcoms ended.

The Real Deal

Well, this is not the land of happy-ending sitcoms; this is the 21st century. And it's not even television. It's the real thing -- a true story, without a happy ending. Let me explain:

Landers Thousand Points of Lights is actually Solyndra, a high tech company that was supposed to create at least 4,000 high-paying, green jobs. Solyndra went belly-up in August, 2011.

Eddie Haskell is really George Kaiser, a wealthy investor and supporter of Barack Obama. Kaiser has some of his own money invested in Solyndra. He pulled the financial strings behind the company, and when he could not get more funding anywhere else, went to his buddy, the president, for a $525 million loan guarantee. (Actually, Solyndra had been trying for several years to get federal loan guarantees. The Bush administration dragged its feet and never came through.)

In my story, Lumpy Rutherford plays a dual role. First, he represents the accounting/consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), which reported in April, 2010 that "Solyndra's recurring operating losses, negative cash flows, $532.3 million stockholder deficit and other factors raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern." Hello!?

Lumpy also represents the federal energy department, which studied and watched Solyndra closely. Energy department officials were present at board meetings of Solyndra. After the company closed down, department officials shrugged their shoulders and just said that it was an investment that did not turn out well. Half a billion... down the drain.

Wally, everybody's favorite, clean cut nice guy, is President Barack Obama. The president spoke glowingly of Kaiser's company: "The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra."

"Always"? Say it ain't so.

"And, the U.S. taxpayer, as the Beaver." Yep; in my story, impressionable, naive, and submissive Beaver is the U.S. taxpayer -- that's you and me -- who in real life, gets stuck holding the bill for half a billion dollars. Only, in reality, the president (Wally) did not ask the taxpayer (Beaver) to get out the checkbook. He just made a phone call to the treasury department; that was it. It was all "below the radar." The press, generally, ignored it. Whatever money may be left when the dust settles, will go first to George Kaiser; the taxpayer gets sloppy seconds. Our energy department allowed the deal to be structured that way.

Apologies to the USA Network folks. By now, you should realize that this TV show did not appear on the USA Network. I made that up just to get your attention. The reality here is far too fanciful for them.


So, here's the story in a nutshell. Most high-tech startups get money from venture capitalists, who perform "due diligence" before shelling out money. Having done due diligence, no real investor was willing to fork over half a billion dollars to Solyndra. The PWC report was the "writing on the wall." There was no way that the company was going to make it. Enter Barack Obama and the federal government.

George Kaiser raised a boatload of money for Barack Obama's presidential campaign. Despite warnings from the energy department, the Obama administration fast-tracked the loan guarantee to Solyndra. Politically, it was exactly what Barack Obama wanted: green jobs, high tech, stick it to the oil industry.

Solyndra produced solar panels for about $6 a piece. China was selling the same thing for about half that. It was just a matter of time.

But then, it was not Barack Obama's money; it was the taxpayers.' Barack Obama figured it was worth the shot, if only for the good publicity. Maybe Solyndra would hold on until after the 2012 election.

Or maybe not.

The Last Word

So what have we learned from this? Is Barack Obama a bad man? No. Paraphrasing another boomer favorite, "He's actually a very good man; he's just a very bad wizard." He doesn't know squat about business. And it's not just him -- it's the entire federal government.

The federal government is very bad when it comes to business. (Just look at the U.S. Post Office. Hello!?) The federal government should not pick winners and losers in the free marketplace. And it surely should not put taxpayer dollars on the line for a risky business proposition -- or any business proposition. That is not the role of the government.

OK, Wally, Eddie, Lumpy, and the Beaver have learned their lesson.

Has Barack Obama?

Have you?


The "Leave it to Beaver" takeoff. That's all me.

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