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26.9.21

Bring virus policy sanity, emulate Scandinavia

The political left of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards often points to the more-taxing, freer-spending, greater-regulated Scandinavian states as worth emulating. In Louisiana, Edwards needs to put his money where his fellow ideologues mouths are by following Scandinavia on Wuhan coronavirus pandemic policy.

Last week, Norway joined Denmark in stripping just about every restriction placed on their societies and economies designed to combat the virus. Over the past 18 months, each varied tremendously in response where at some points they had so few as to emulate almost entirely restriction-less Sweden and then at other times (briefly) clamped down as hard as the current vaccine passport regime in New Orleans. But now just about all restraints are gone, unless a future huge spike in cases occurs. For its part, Sweden already has announced it will join them in ridding its few at the end of the month.

Health officials in these countries noted higher vaccination rates, such as having at least half of people over age 50 with complete immunization, led them to begin dispensing with restrictions over a month ago. Most notably, Norway’s official in charge in assessing the danger presented by the virus has proposed terming it a as one of several respiratory illnesses with seasonal variation, much like influenza.

23.9.21

LA should vote aye on three crucial amendments

Had Louisiana’s fall elections remained at their original dates, early voting for the general election would be in the offing. That has been kicked back over a month because of the change necessitated by Hurricane Ida, but mail-in voting has been open for about a month, so now’s as good as any time to review the four constitutional amendments on the ballot now scheduled for Nov. 13. Regardless of when, these offer some easy decisions.

Amendment #1 – creates a commission consolidating two existing overseers of the state’s highly decentralized sales tax collection system that would permit centralized filing of sales taxes then distributed to state and local entities, after implementing legislation passes. This would ease greatly business compliance costs, both in administrative submissions and in dealing with multiple taxing agency jurisdictions, such as with audits. It’s a slam dunk. Yes.

Amendment #2 – sets the stage to engineer a tax swap of lower income taxes for inability to deduct federal income taxes from those. The amendment itself sets the individual rate ceiling at 4.75 percent, down from 6, and jettisons required deductibility, but a whole raft of companion legislation triggers on its passage. Under this legislation, the statutory deductibility disappears; individual rate brackets go from 6 to 4.25, 4 to 3.5, and 2 to 1.85 and could go lower the higher the growth rate of state revenues; excess itemized deductions for them disappear except for medical expenses; corporate rate brackets go from five to three by eliminating the highest ones and the rest diminish by a half point; and the corporate franchise tax goes away for the majority of filers and for those remaining still paying can go down further depending upon future state revenue growth.

22.9.21

Enlightened MS choice makes LA seem like joke

The punchline often quoted, out of relief, by Louisianans about Mississippi has gone flat as far as higher education goes.

Conscious of their place as one of the least economically and socially backwards among the states, Louisianans traditionally have reverted to gallows humor to commemorate that distinction. The joke takes a variety of forms, but it always invokes Mississippi as a foil as to a worse place to be. For example, it might take the form of “We might be among the nation’s leaders in unemployment, poverty, and overall health, but at least we’re not Mississippi where they’re just now getting indoor plumbing.”

But recently the Board of Trustees for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning decided the state’s eight public universities can’t mandate a Wuhan coronavirus vaccine for enrollment or employment at these institutions. It actually stipulated the policy in August, but some confusion over the motion to do so and the language of the measure in its minutes prompted a restatement. It allows an exception for health care-related employees and students.

21.9.21

Cassidy pleads to let him evade responsibility

When Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy voices concern over his party’s messaging for the 2024 elections, he really is delivering his relying on misdirection to promote a 2026 reelection attempt.

Since voting for conviction on impeachment of GOP former Pres. Donald Trump earlier this year, amplified recently by his acceptance of a demonstrably bad spending bill, Cassidy has won Strange New Respect from America’s leftist mainstream media, opening the doors for television appearances from networks in need of a pet conservative who will debase the principles he supposedly holds dear on air when needed. Such an opportunity arose for Cassidy this week on controversy about the fidelity of the 2020 election.

That came up on NBC’s Meet the Press, in the context of Ohio Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez’s retirement in the face of a difficult intraparty battle to retain his seat. As did Cassidy, Gonzalez essentially voted to remove Trump from office – after, of course, Trump already had left office – in voting to send forward the impeachment.

20.9.21

CAGW hysteria advantages LA comparatively

And here’s another trend Louisiana can take advantage of regarding the climate alarmism sweeping the Luddites of the world.

Highlighted recently, Louisiana enjoys an economic comparative advantage in mining cryptocurrency. This opportunity magnified recently when red China, perturbed that the process used so much energy, essentially kicked miners out of the country.

Now another opportunity to reap economic and quality-of-life benefits continues to grow, courtesy of a related development. Elite- and media-driven hype over the most recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report – built upon confirmation bias – has ratcheted up fear and panic among the overwhelmingly uninformed public or those of it in denial about the actual science behind climate study. So much among some, in fact, that they despair their current living situations as they envision fires, floods, gales, and possibly hordes of insects as part of their futures promised by their faith in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.

19.9.21

Stuck on stupid woke NO causing own problems

If there’s a textbook example of Louisiana elected officials stuck on stupid, look no further than Democrat New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and her lapdog City Council whose mistakes point to the city’s bleak future.

Cantrell has caught more heat than usual in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida’s blustery attack. The storm plunged the city into darkness for days, an aftermath which itself serves as an indicator of Cantrell’s idiocy because she and the all-Democrat Council have steered deliberately away from provision of reliable power by their fixation on renewable energy.

Yet as this problem became slowly and haltingly resolved, another began to pile up. Trash, and lots of it, some from the storm but also the normal output from households and businesses began accumulating because the city wouldn’t pick it up. Worse, the problem began days prior to Ida’s landfall.

16.9.21

Right-size, hike tuition before squeezing public

University administrations change, but the misleading narratives remain the same.

New Louisiana State University System Pres. William Tate has slipped seamlessly into the mode of recent such heads by poormouthing finances provided by taxpayers. Asked about why the flagship campus continues to descend in the magazine U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of universities, he stated “LSU’s overall rank fell largely because of two categories: financial and faculty resources, both of which are tied to funding.” He also alleged that “To improve will require significant state and philanthropic investments in students and faculty members.”

I’ll take his word about the mechanics of the scoring, since the magazine hides many of the details behind a paywall. But the implication that pumping wholesale higher taxpayer dollars into the school to compensate for a dearth of funding doesn’t bear any relationship to reality.

15.9.21

Aggrandizement to blame for hurting LA burgs

Some different players, but same old story: desire by elites for prestige and remuneration hampering solutions to struggling Louisiana municipalities.

In 2019, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor began publicizing distressed municipalities, or those that risked having to come under outside fiscal administration. Although some have crawled out from under their problems, sometimes spectacularly so, several since have degraded into administrative receivership, with the state’s Fiscal Review Committee in its meeting last month having added Powhatan to that category.

That leaves 18 others on the distressed list compiled earlier this year. Eleven in fact repeat from two years ago, including Powhatan. Each has its own reasons for making the list, but one commonality is this desire, mostly strongly rooted among mayors, to retain control over resources that could be allocated more efficiently, manifested in two ways.

14.9.21

Date change to affect LA fall election results

Rescheduling of Louisiana’s 2021 general election date will help certain candidates but especially hurt the chances of a couple of constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Last week, Republican Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin initiated and Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards completed the process of kicking back Oct. 9 elections to Nov. 13, and any runoffs needed from Nov. 13 to Dec. 11, due to the impact of Hurricane Ida. That move became even more necessary with the pile-on of Hurricane Nicolas, with the storms wrecking some polling places, displacing voters temporarily, and perhaps even delaying past the original date the restoration of power at some precincts.

To some degree, Louisiana elections in year after a presidential election retain some participation fragility. Without high profile state or national contests on the fall ballot compared to all other years in the quadrennial cycle, turnout tends on the low side. As a point of reference, the typical October general election in the 21st century has drawn, working backwards from 2017, 14.27, 13.22, 10.88, 13.2, and 21 percent of the electorate.

13.9.21

DOJ LSP review bad idea, politically moot

All of the chief of the Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, and the state’s only Democrat elected to federal office all are open to, if not asking for, a U.S. Department of Justice “pattern or practice” review of the LSP. Bad idea, the data show, and politics may torpedo it in any event.

In July, the Caucus put in a formal request for DOJ to perform this, where the agency looks for a “pattern or practice” of action by a law enforcement agency that violates either constitutional protections or federal laws. It comprehensively evaluates the law enforcement agency’s written policies and actual practices, including its systems for training, equipping, and supervising officers; how it collects and uses data to identify and address problems; its systems for holding officers accountable for misconduct; and the degree of accountability to community voices and democratic government.

The request was spurred by media revelations of highly questionable LSP officer conduct in the traffic stop of Ronald Greene, a black motorist on the road in northeast Louisiana, that appears to have contributed to his death incident to an arrest. Other internal LSP documents also obtained through information requests revealed additional sketchy incidents over the past decade where allegedly excessive force was used.