Saturday, May 19, 2012

Government Small Enough to Fit in their Pockets

If you see these anti-government crusaders coming, hold on to your wallets!
This one is almost too easy. Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, rather than just being grateful that he could make millions of dollars playing a game he enjoyed, has spent much of his retirement railing against government and blaming the poor for the problems of the middle class.

It was unseemly, then, that he took his video-game company out of Massachusetts (so long, loyal fans!) in pursuit of publicly-financed incentives from Rhode Island. Rich guys do this sort of thing all the time, so the backlash did not fully ensue until recent days, when he defaulted on a $1.1 million payment toward on the $75 million loan he had been given with very generous terms. For the moment, he has managed to patch together payment of his own, but the future is bleak for the taxpayers who fronted the money, those who lost their jobs in Massachusetts, and those who never did get the promised jobs in Rhode Island.

Anti-government Schilling has now put Rhode Island taxpayers on the hook for his poor business decisions, and he is now diverting the attention of Governor Lincoln Chafee, who opposed this deal in the first place.

The timing of this fiasco coincides with several other items in the news. This week Mitt Romney's surrogates are complaining about the Obama campaign's scrutiny of his business practices, even though his business experience has always been the only thing he cites as a qualification for office. It also comes at a time that Red Sox fans are finally realizing that they have been paying too much for tickets, implying that even some of Schilling's private sector "earnings" were a bit inflated.

The greatest coincidence, however, is Schilling's failure and the loss of $2,000,000,000 by JP Morgan, whose CEO Jamie Dimon has gladly received government bailout money (to the tune of $25,000,000,000) while railing against government regulation. As is so often the case, Boston Globe writer Brian McGrory makes the connections between these stories crystal clear in his column Curt Schilling a hypocrite about smaller government.

By the way, I cannot take credit for this article's title, which former Globe sports writer Charlie Pierce uttered on today's installment of the WBUR program Only a Game.

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