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23.2.12

Call limit bill does not restrict speech nor empower govt

Rep. Cameron Henry triggered an interesting debate about political speech with his prefiled HB 151, one which may present the politicians called upon to enact it and to enforce it a false dilemma.

The bill would make political campaigns subject to the state’s Do Not Call requirement, where almost all unsolicited telephone calls are prohibited. Calls from campaigns currently are exempt, but the bill would remove that and allow households to opt out through the registry that is kept and violations of enforced by the Public Service Commission, initiated by the household.

Its practical impact would be to chill slightly political speech. Having to police their lists, political marketing firms will raise the price of voter contact, pricing some campaigns out of this tool. But government has done this for years, with local authorities empowered to restrict campaign signage, for example.

22.2.12

Roemer divorces GOP, plans binging with new mate

Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer today announced he’s getting a divorce for the second time, citing lack of spousal affection despite the fact he’s such a great catch, but also partly to blame for the situation by his infatuation with another.

Roemer, who divorced Democrats over two decades ago, said goodbye to the Republican Party, whining that he should have gotten more support from Republicans because he’s a former Member of Congress and governor. So what; at least another Republican ex-governor, Harold Stassen, kept running and losing nominations for the presidency without being taken seriously – even when he had comedian Pat Paulsen as a competitor – and didn’t blame everybody else but himself for his lackluster showing.

He now formally confirmed he would seek the quasi-party Americans Elect pseudo-nomination, as well as that of what’s left of the Reform Party. Neither looks promising to promote the Roemer brand. With AE, he has his own comedian problem, as the way this organization works – its leaders vet prospective candidates for what they see as congruity with its message, then present finalists to be chosen by Internet voting to represent the group in whatever states it was able to secure a ballot place on – he might end up having trouble making the cut when he can’t get more people excited over his candidacy than non-candidate funnyman Stephen Colbert.

21.2.12

Regents must take holistic view in evaluating study

Next week, the Louisiana Board of Regents will undertake a review of a recent report issued concerning possible scenarios dealing with my institution, Louisiana State University Shreveport. It members would do wise to look at the question in a holistic manner, rather than an insular view of what would serve individual campuses.

The report, while encouraged by local leaders and the Board, was resisted by the Louisiana State University System. Its primary recommendation was to merge LSUS with Louisiana Tech, creating two equal campuses in one system, with LSUS administration subsumed into Tech’s and the University of Louisiana System.  It secondarily recommended separate institutions but LSUS transferring into the UL System.

At the micro-level, the conclusions make sense, and provide a reasonable path for improving higher education access in the state’s third-largest metropolitan area. It would be good for both institutions. Unfortunately, at the macro-level, its recommendations do not make sense, relegating larger questions about statewide delivery of higher education and, with the merger concept, ignore the fundamental question about whether clients and taxpayers are getting their money’s worth from what is spent on higher education, and whether this is the best tactic for improving provision of higher education statewide.

20.2.12

Argument for less efficient government debases debate

From the tone of a recent piece about the slow but steady sloughing off of jobs from Louisiana state government, one might get the impression that an important policy objective of government ought to be ensuring that taxpayer money gets used as inefficiently as possible.

In an opinion piece, Associated Press reporter Melinda Deslatte notes the reduction discussion addresses little the fact that when the state eliminates jobs, whether through outright ending or scaling back of the service or through privatization, people become, at least temporarily, unemployed. In it, she writes, this “has forced thousands of people from their jobs, a consequence the [Gov. Bobby] Jindal administration tends to gloss over as it touts the lowest number of state workers in decades.”

And: “the administration seems to dislike acknowledging the side effect of privatization in a down economy: hundreds upon hundreds of workers given pink slips.” And, “Jindal doesn’t want to offer the detail that by getting to the lowest number of state employees in more than 20 years, he’s also added people to state unemployment rolls in the already poverty-ridden state.

19.2.12

Union protects self-interest in criticizing budget impact

Dog bites man: a huckster who makes his living off of transferring as much of the taxpayers’ wealth as he can to members of his special interest group complained that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget plans will make for potentially, well, fewer members of his group that will make it harder for him to justify his salary – in the process, ignoring completely the factors that have encouraged right-sizing of state government, and proffering counterproductive approaches to solving for them.

Leonal Hardman, president of the Louisiana Council of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a public employee union, moans about how the plan will eliminate some 6,400 jobs – although less than half currently actually are filled. He further bemoans that a large portion of those ticketed for layoff are in the classified civil service; naturally enough, since almost nobody in the unclassified service would be expected to be in a union. He justifies an approach to lay off a higher proportion from the latter because their salaries are higher.