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All-star in one field can strike out in another

Stick with what you know. Don’t assume

that expertise in one field conveys to another.

Those old and hard lessons are being inflicted on Curt Schilling and the state of Rhode Island.

Schilling, a Boston Red Sox icon remembered best for his gutty, “bloody-sock” pitching performance in the 2004 American League Championship Series, thought his second act would be as a major-league entrepreneur. He started a video gaming company, investing a lot of money, some of it his. Rhode Island, about as hard-pressed as any state by the economic collapse, loaned him $75 million so he would bring his company and jobs there.

In April, the wheels started to fall off. Schilling’s company missed a loan repayment, and it subsequently turned out that the company and an affiliate had about $272 million in debts and $22 million in assets. Oops.

So now Rhode Island is trying to get back what it can and Schilling says he’s “tapped out,” having run through more than $50 million of his baseball savings.

It’s painful to see a great athlete run through his money, and it’s tough to see a state that’s broke go farther into the red.

Schilling has the confidence any great athlete must have. Rhode Island saw a chance to create jobs.

Sometimes, though, it takes more than guts and good intentions.

HEALTH CARE

The Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect. In a better world, with less partisan politics, it would have been implemented sooner and better. In the next few years, people will rant about bureaucratic inefficiency and, probably, higher costs.

Could we have done nothing, though? Many who want to scuttle it legislatively—now that all three branches of the federal government have validated it—had their chances, many of them, in the past. They did nothing. What we have seems to be the best thing a mighty nation could come up with to ensure that the greatest number of Americans have basic health care.

It’s repeating the obvious, but one more time:

The United States has a lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and double or more the per-capita medial expenses of Canada, Japan and Great Britain, three nations that have nowhere near our resources.

In our system, employers are the gateway to much of our health care. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Americans under 65 with employer-sponsored health care fell from 69.2 percent to 58.6 percent, largely because of the Great Recession.

If forcing people to have health insurance is such a bad idea, why don’t we get rid of Social Security and stop making drivers carry liability insurance?

Business Editor Howard Owen writes this biweekly column on business and the economy. He can be reached at 540/374-5539 or howen@freelance star.com.

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