Arthur C. Schaper: 2013 So Far–38 Studios, Babysitters, and Guns

Friday, July 12, 2013


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The long view of the RI General Assembly's latest session: 38 Studios, Babysitters, and Guns.

Speaker Gordon Fox christened 2013 "The Year of Economic Development." He should have declared it "The Year of Spending Recklessly" or "The Year of Disappointing Voters", but surely those titles were taken years ago. So, what has the Rhode Island General Assembly done this year, besides spending money that the state does not have on plans and projects which will prosper no one, to please people who may or may not have much to show for with the results?

First, there's the bad news. I said "first", because there was some good news (Some!)

Gay marriage

Gay marriage is "all gay" in Rhode Island in 2013. Teary-eyed Speaker Gordon Fox finally got his wish, and now he can tie the knot on paper with his partner of fourteen years. He's still a good Catholic, even though the Church recognizes the institution of man and woman "from the beginning", but we have all heard hypocrisy and religiosity say "I do!" in statehouses before. If two men can marry, then why stop there? Fox might want to reconsider my earlier proposals, since Independent-turned-Democratic Governor Lincoln Chafee is likely running out of friends (or mates?) as he contemplates his reelection campaign for Governor, and I would like to have some kind of tax shelter should I ever decide to move to Rhode Island.

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity attempted to advance the phasing out of the state sales tax. If New Hampshire can go without, why not Rhode Island? Why? Because taxes are to Rhode Island what cells are to cancers–endemic and essential (so it seems). There was a meeting or two about scrapping the tax. Taxing indeed, the GA said "No!" Brian Newberry and his Republican caucus talked about getting rid of corporate taxes, too, making it easier for people to do business (instead of "screw consumers") in Rhode Island. Takers will still be taken, and Makers will still be making an exit. Met Life decided "It doesn't pay to do business in Rhode Island."

Let's talk about 38 Studios LLC. (Player One, Start)

Phil Collins sang a song about such a debacle: "Stu–Stu–Studios!" Something like that, but I could be wrong. Really, I'm thinking of "Syl-, Syl-, Sylvia!" but Collin's songs do not all roll along, and neither does the General Assembly. How it all started: a pro-baseball player wanted out of the roughness of the diamond, and so he stepped in to a different diamond in the rough: computer entertainment, and keep it clean for the kids! Sounds like an easy game. Make computer joy-fests into a cartridge, as long as Rhode Island foots the loan ($75 million) from the state's EDC (Economic Development Corporation -- Please! Stop laughing!) to bring the business to the Ocean State, and let the games begin.

State leaders thought the business loan would power up Rhode Island's economy, like Mario and Luigi getting bigger and stronger with the right mushroom. The whole affair was a mushroom, all right: poisoned through and through. The business failed, the employees laid off. "Game Over" for 38 Studios. And what about that loan? Sorry, Rhode Islanders, but your princess (rather, "Prince" Curt Schilling) is in another castle, and you have to pay the rest of it all the way. No bonus, no superpowers, just a lot of bad debt, like losing points in Pacman.

The GA budget provided massive payouts for the bonds on 38 Studios. Frankly, it's time to "86" any more "Invincible Star" schemes from the only people playing games in Rhode Island: The General Assembly.

Cars + Babysitting

Rhode Islanders still have to settle with driving beat-up jalopies, since they will still have to pay a car tax based on the mint condition price of the vehicle. Yugo-A-Gogo, anyone? I hear that horses and buggies are all the rage (no "road" about it) in Pennsylvania Dutch country. A new horse has less horsepower, but has a lower sticker price.

With "the Quality Family Child Care Act" (I'm not kidding!), babysitters will be allowed to organize through the state Department of Health and Human Services. Rhode Island has no health, and the GA only serves the (inhuman) Democratic Hypermajority. Government is like a baby, said Ronald Reagan: two holes, an alimentary canal, and no responsibility in the front or back. Maybe the legislators need babysitting. No wonder the GA will let them organize as public employees (Good luck with pension reform, Gina Raimondo!)

Now the good news. Despite the bleeding-heart protests about the Newtown Connecticut massacre, and protestations that gun violence is Rhode Island's greatest threat, the GA's state-wide assault weapons ban failed. Republicans take note: concentrated activism works every time. "Choose Life" will be a featured license plate in Rhode Island, even though Independent-Democrat Lincoln Chafee and his "nouveau" Democratic peers are pro-choice (for abortion, but not anything else).

For the bluest of blue states to endorse "Choose Life" license plates should bring hope to the state whose motto is "Hope." Not a "Year of Economic Development", but "A Yearning for Limiting Government" may break out soon enough in Rhode Island.


Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at [email protected], and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.


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