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They're state legislators, and they're here to help?

If it seems that Mississippi is making much greater headway in recovering from 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, one reason would be our policy-makers have learned the wrong lessons and do not understand the problems facing Louisiana, if an interview with northwest Louisiana state legislators is any guide.

Perhaps I overstate the difference because the Shreveport Times’ editorial board only reported remarks from three black Democrats, a good-old-boy white Democrat, and a liberal Republican – a group of plodders representing groups that have caused the state much misery. Much sharper and more aware legislators, such as state Rep. Mike Powell and state Sen. Max Malone, were not included, so maybe things aren’t as bad as we think. Still, four of these gave us plenty to worry about.

State Sen. Sherri Smith Cheek observed that regarding “elder indigent care, people will just move north because they know that their parents are aging and they're going to need care and they're not going to want to fight for it down in south Louisiana.” Astutely, state Sen. Robert Adley then pointed out that “[t]he federal government has told the state of Louisiana, you have an opportunity now, and this is their wording, you have the opportunity to restructure health care differently than anybody else has ever done it before, and if you will do it, we will fund you.”

Since Cheek is the vice chair of the Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee, you would think she’s right on the spot to help lead the reform Adley mentions that will help areas outside of the Orleans metropolitan area to handle elder care, indigent care, and any other kind needed. Think again: Cheek consistently has allied herself with interests that promote less efficiency in spending health care dollars and oppose such reforms. One only hopes the light finally has come on in her head and she’ll start doing the right thing.

But nor does Adley really seem to understand some of the challenges ahead. He remarks that a problem is too many out-of-state workers and employers are being used in reconstruction, and so his solution is “to pass a law to levy heavy taxes on companies doing work from outside Louisiana to pay taxes in Louisiana, and the only way to get around the tax is to hire people in Louisiana to do it.”

Presumably, the reason why the out-of-state interests win these bids is because they can do the best job at the lowest price to the taxpayer. So what Adley argues for here is to use state tax policy to make us pay more for less service. Why doesn’t he instead look to change the reasons why Louisiana concerns may be less capable or competitive, which in part go back to government interference in the free market?

And it seems state Rep. Cedric Glover also labors in ignorance in understanding the root causes of problems resulting from the disaster, which would make him less likely to make correct decisions about how to deal with them. Glover asserts that, in reference contributing factors to flooding in the Orleans metropolitan area, “the truth of the matter is, the United States government and the Corps of Engineers and all the testimony we've heard from both sides, they are the responsible party.”

Perhaps Glover slept through the relevant testimony and didn’t bother to read the reports or at least the media articles associated with them, but flooding occurred because government at all levels failed. While the latest theory about the Army Corps of Engineers argues transcription errors are at fault, also the record indisputably shows that were Louisiana’s fragmented levee governance system not so dysfunctional infused by so much politics and allowed to be come this way by the inattentiveness of state politicians (most sharing his Democrat party label), such problems may well have been detected; instead, negligence of state and local governments and of their representatives in the federal government institutionalized the weaknesses that contributed to flooding.

Such monumental vapidity makes state Rep. Rick Gallot’s oversight seem trivial, but it must be noted: when Gallot said, referring to government consolidation, “there are approximately 45 different judges in Orleans Parish alone, versus Jefferson which has, well I guess no population now, but pre-hurricane about 29 judges,” he seems totally unaware that Jefferson Parish’s population is almost back to pre-storm levels. Then again, he’s only vice chair of the House and Governmental Affairs Committee which will deal with the consolidation matter, so what does he know?

With attitudes like these, is it any wonder Louisiana is so far behind in everything?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

cheek will vote only the way that Hines tells her to vote. This assures her that the medical contributions keep coming her way. She's a "RINO" and anyone who disputes this needs only look up her voting record and list of contributors.