One must marvel at the audacity of the editorial page of the Baton Rouge Advocate when it tries to intimate there is any principle at all to its screeds, as a recent example demonstrates.
On this occasion, the editorialist fulminates against the partial solution provided by the recently-enacted HB 1407, a bill that removes the subjective licensure portion for florists. The measure started out to eliminate any licensing requirements at all, just like in every other state, but the compromise that passed just got rid of the subjective portion of the test, as state officials like Sec. of Agriculture Mike Strain successfully argued that portion could increase confidence that florists would avoid spreading plant diseases and the like.
In doing so, a fee form the license was maintained. As no other state does this, there’s a good case to be made we need no such requirement and thereby no such fee – as some have been arguing from a principled perspective for years. But suddenly The Advocate decided, after years of silence, to jump in editorially on the matter, as a defender against big government not only criticizing the fee but also a conservative public law interest group and those in the legislature who, respectively, dropped a law suit and allowed this half-measure to become law.
If by now you’re laughing at the idea of The Advocate claiming to oppose bigger government, preaching that there needs to be faith in markets, go with it, because its editorial page consistently has favored measures that would pump more money into government at the expense of the people betraying a lack of faith in the marketplace justly distributing resources. In dollar terms, the most important and recent example was its support for the so-called “Stelly Plan,” and then its subsequent opposition to its repeal. The idea was touted because it could raise greater revenues for government, but on the backs of the households with greatest productivity – this redistributive aspect being the real reason the political leftism that infuses The Advocate’s editorials preferred this method to grow government.
Another (recent) example has been its consistent support for raising other taxes like “sin” taxes while disparaging the general idea of tax cuts, yet endorsing at the same time other reductions in state spending and even calling the state the “funder of first resort.” It can’t have it both ways: either you genuinely desire smaller government by cutting out its spending or you deny any real interest in that by saying it should get (or retain) more (of the people’s) money. The two are incompatible; principled guardians of the people’s resources and of smaller government would argue for cuts without government’s taking of more of the citizenry’s hard-earned money, and would do it consistently over time and not when it can be an excuse to bash those who actually do believe in this policy.
So readers may be pardoned if they wonder where the consistency has been in the concern for size of government over the years, or if editorial page is changing its stripes for an opportunity to feign any real concern over big government in order to charge with hypocrisy certain interests who consistently have shown that concern. Rather, the real hypocrisy seems to be coming from the editorialists of The Advocate.