Legislators double down on hypocrisy, idiocy, illogic
Generally, when you’ve already made yourself look like an idiot, you need to stop flapping your gums because you’ll only compound that mistake. But when you’re trying to salvage political standing, going all in on stupid may be your best bet.
That’s the situation state Reps. Chris Hazel and Robert Johnson find themselves in over a political blow they suffered at the hands of Gov. Bobby Jindal. The governor outflanked Hazel when the representative tried to slip money into the state’s operating budget to keep open a prison up for closure that will save a few million dollars, when excess capacity exists across the state. Jindal thwarted the attempt that would allow Hazel to take credit for what he seems to think is the purpose of government, directly employing individuals in his district at the expense of taxpayers, by casting a line item veto to defeat the end-run.
When that veto first got announced, Hazel ranted about it with all of the intellectual persuasiveness of a moron. Not content with looking like a fool once, when contacted recently Hazel decided to burnish his credentials with another helping of asinine, if not hypocritical, comments. He said with this the governor was “paying back campaign contributions from private prisons,” and that by vetoing the line item he was ignoring the will of the chambers of the Legislature that had approved of the entire appropriations bill that it had been in.
I’ll leave it to Hazel to go through the reams of pages of Jindal’s campaign finance reports to figure out what contributions came from what interests, but I’ll bet it will be a much more useful exercise to go through his reports to determine how much money he got from prison employees, their families, and other interests connected with keeping the prison in question open who profited off of that. That he lives in a glass house, accusing with no proof that Jindal was swayed by special interests in this decision when the evidence probably is far more overwhelming that he was or at least a much higher proportion of his contributions came from these interests on this issue than Jindal had from the opposite side on the issue, seems not to deter him from casting stones.
But he more or less has to for political reasons. Having been routed by Jindal, bawling about it is the only way he can save face in front of those special interests who wanted the prison kept open, lest they become tempted to conclude that somebody else in 2015 will do a better job at bringing home the bacon. Which might be great for the special interests he protects, but not for the Louisiana taxpayer of whom Jindal represents. So while Hazel gets all worked about the will of the Legislature, he holds up his index, middle, and ring fingers to the state’s citizens and tells them to read between the lines. If it’s will that matters, it’s the people’s that matters more in this instance, and if the Legislature reflected that more than the governor overwhelmingly elected by all of the people, a majority of the Legislature would meet in veto override session and cancel that veto.
Of course, in defense of his wackiness Hazel might try to adopt the assertion forwarded by another prisons-are-here-primarily-to-employ-constituents sap, Johnson, that consolidating functions actually costs the state more. As is his style of offering a not a shred of proof to back up what on the surface appears to be ludicrous charges, Johnson says the state, despite being able to lay off dozens of employees and being able to reduce prisoner per diem costs, will end up paying much more by consolidation because the state will lose revenues from offenders performing work. And how can we believe this ridiculous assertion when, for example, in Bossier Parish a comparable number of prisoners work the fields and save the sheriff all of a few tens of thousands of dollars a year as a result?
Besides the obvious benefits from greater efficiency (and the statistics from the Department of Corrections to back it up), note the entire lack of logic here. The state is desperate to cut costs, so why elevate them? And what’s to prevent those prisoners transferred to their new locations from working for the state? And if you try to apply logic to this line of thinking, you get the absurd: according to Johnson, the state gains net revenue from prisoners, so if by having fewer you have less money rolling in, you should be in the business of getting more. Maybe Johnson would feel more comfortable living in and ideologically more compatible with the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, where prisoners are created for thought crimes and put to work as virtual slaves?
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 16:40