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A Schilling Pitch that Went Awry

Rhode Island experiments with Solyndranomics.

Sep 17, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 01 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
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Including interest on the bonds that Rhode Island sold to guarantee the loans, the state’s taxpayers are now on the hook for an estimated $112 million. Rhode Island is attempting to claw back some of that money—late last month, it announced the formation of a “litigation subcommittee” to determine whether any third-party liability exists.

Schilling, for his part, has lashed out at Chafee for holding that news conference, saying it scared away potential private investors. He labeled the governor a “dunce of epic proportions” and a “buffoon.” (Chafee, with characteristic flaccidity, replied that Schilling’s words were “regretful.”) Schilling is seemingly unwilling to admit that, as a baseball player, he was ill-qualified to run a multi­million-dollar technology business. Nonetheless, the state’s ­hiring requirements helped to doom the enterprise. Indeed, as some have pointed out, it was 38 Studios’s success in meeting the employment targets set out by the state that sowed the seeds of its demise. Kole says, “All I know is that, by the time things fell apart, we were far from lean.”

It’s all too easy to see why Rhode Island—a rust-belt economy sandwiched between white-collar and far wealthier Connecticut and Massachusetts—would be eager to land a high-tech company. Throw in the state’s inferiority complex vis-à-vis the Bay State, and it becomes abundantly plain why Rhode Island was so eager to capture the startup of a former Red Sox superstar, even if he had no executive experience. What is less clear is why the voters of Rhode Island—or, for that matter, the nation—would elect politicians so ignorant of economics, and so promiscuous with other people’s money.

Ethan Epstein is an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.

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