On several occasions in the not-too-distant past we’ve commended The Garnet Spy to your attention. It’s a blog written by former National Security Agency (NSA) analyst Charie Speight (a good friend of ours) and nine times out of ten it hits the nail on the head by articulating the same sort of common sense fiscal conservatism that we’re all about advancing here at FITS.
Not so much this time, though …
In an article encouraging the University of South Carolina to revisit its plans for “Innovista” – a botched $300 million “research campus” in downtown Columbia – the Spy argues that USC should engage in a new line of speculative ( taxpayer-funded) “economic development” for the costly boondoggle.
I believe USC could use Innovista to institute a cyber development center, incorporating digital research, defense, network integrity, broadband and wi-fi, etc. Not only would it contribute to resolving a critical national security problem, but it would create jobs and a high tech workforce.
Ahh … another government-run effort to create a “high tech workforce.” What could possibly go wrong?
Let’s recap shall we?
Innovista has been a spectacular failure in fulfilling its original mission – which was to create thousands of high-paying jobs by ushering in the “hydrogen economy of the future.” Despite the abandonment of hydrogen fuel cell technology by the federal government, Innovista is still receiving beaucoup money from South Carolina taxpayers. In fact, with a $150 million bailout coming from the cash-strapped City of Columbia (and a steady stream of state revenue courtesy of House Speaker Bobby Harrell), the project is no longer even actively soliciting private investment.
As we said in May, “like the $140 million already poured down the drain on this unmitigated disaster, Innovista is going to continue robbing us of our tax dollars until we kill it.”
Accordingly, the only “new mission” we support for this research campus involves salting the earth over its ashes. Only then can the University of South Carolina stop pouring money into this sinkhole and return to its core educational mission.