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7.6.12

Ft. Polk social experiment risks negative consequences

Who would have thought that Ft. Polk would appear on the cutting edge of societal evolution? But, as with many other changes wrought in recent decades, perhaps bringing decidedly negative consequences that policy must try to prevent.

Last month, there on base a military chaplain of the Disciples of Christ performed for two service females who practice homosexuality what is known as a “commitment ceremony.” In some religious faiths, this mimics exactly a sacrament of marriage. Louisiana constitutionally permits only a marriage between one man and one woman, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act does not recognize anything but this kind of union for administrative purposes, such as filing status of federal income taxes or for survivor benefits. This is the first known instance of such an event occurring, and its timing may have reflected association with Pres. Barack Obama’s campaign-related recanting of opposition to same-sex marriage.

Word of this event leaking out perturbed several Members of Congress, including Louisiana’s Rep. John Fleming, in whose district resides Ft. Polk. Fleming, who with a House majority at one time had backed an effort to amend into law a clarification that would allow any ceremony similar to one of marriage employing military grounds and personnel to have to comport to the federal legal definition of marriage, spoke of concern that the event contravened DOMA and what impact it would have on combat readiness.

6.6.12

Money conspiracy theories hamper analyzing politics

What do illegal donations intentionally given but unwittingly received, a former presidential candidate preaching jeremiads, and a crushing defeat to the political left all have in common? All together, they underscore the ignorance, from tinfoil-hat-wearing liberals all the way to an ex-officeholder in search of relevance, that many have in understanding the role money plays in electoral politics.

Yesterday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker won, easily, a recall election perpetrated by the left, especially facilitated through one of its core constituencies, unions, in an attempt to punish Walker for successful reform efforts that have reduced its power and privilege and as an attempt to intimidate others who may try the reform route in the future. Walker expanded upon his 2010 victory margins that would set the stage for implementation of these and thereby send the left into hysteria.

Naturally, the left refuses to acknowledge it lost because it is wrong on the issues, and instead lapsed into what is called in psychology “displacement,” where the mind redirects an unpalatable conclusion, i.e. losing in the marketplace of ideas, to one that has less to do with reality but psychologically reduces anxiety. In this case, it is the narrative that, because pro-Walker forces raised and spent much more money than did the recall forces, somehow money and money alone made enough people dullards enough to vote against what was best for them.

5.6.12

Long shot suits set to become Democrat campaign staple

There’s nothing like folks who can’t stand losing, especially when one has started campaigning for higher office over three years out, to bring controversy over nothing to the last day of the Louisiana Legislature’s 2012 regular session.

The issue concerned SCR 99, the formula for the Minimum Foundation Program, a mind-numbing exercise in accounting that spits out the state’s allocation to each school district and a few other state schools and charter operators. It creates a base amount that then for most districts is increased, some dramatically, while some are given less because, frankly, they support themselves much better than the typical district. Constitutionally, the MFP formula is concocted by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and shipped to the Legislature, which may only approve or disapprove of it.

Normally approved in a perfunctory fashion, this year the House amended it initially over something called the Early High School Graduation Scholarship Program that would fund high school students who graduated early heading to college with MFP dollars. State Rep. John Bel Edwards, the Old Faithful of lawsuit threats – every time a high-profile but perfectly democratic vote goes against his preferences, he threatens one will pop up – objected to the use of such funds. For good measure, state Rep. Joe Lopinto got passed another to enable the return of the instrument to BESE in order to comply with the Constitution, as it could not be passed in its amended form.

4.6.12

Budget progress possible only if false narratives jettisoned


All is sort of well as ends sort of well: the Louisiana Legislature coughed up a fiscal year 2013 budget after a lot of tugging back and forth that didn’t really go anywhere. It accomplished important objectives insofar as it did not abscond with more of the peoples’ resources yet made reductions in ways that will have little or no impact on the quality of service provision and maintains all but the expenditures of lowest necessity. But in the process of getting there, in no way did it bring clarity or resolution to the largest questions of all: what is the appropriate size of Louisiana state government and how best to fund it?

While elements of both the left and right attempted to ask this question, unusually they came into communion with each other by asking it the wrong way, confusing symptom with disease. Both identified lack of revenues as a problem. Both conceptually err by doing so.

From the antediluvian left, it claims too many tax exclusions and exemptions and too little progressive taxation sap the state of revenues that could pay for stuff, requiring that policy increase them through the excising of exceptions and transfer of wealth from those that disproportionately create it. This myopic view discounts the fact that, on the whole, among the states the state’s tax burden is no better than average, perhaps even a bit on the high end, and also completely ignores the spending side of the equation. It assumes that current spending levels are absolutely legitimate and justifiable, even low, without any thoughtful critical analysis of that assertion. Such an attitude it akin to coming up with a cure, i.e. reduce exceptions and raise taxes, to symptoms, lack of revenues, without understanding the disease, excessive spending which defines revenues as lacking, behind them.