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11.8.12

Nod to Ryan may push Jindal to challenge Landrieu

If Gov. Bobby Jindal does envision a career ahead of him in extremely high national office, potentially the Republican vice presidential candidate pick of former Gov. Mitt Romney of Rep. Paul Ryan presents the most problems possible for that to come to fruition and directly affects his next steps relative to service to the state of Louisiana.

Ryan went a bit against type in becoming (presumptively) only the fourth nominee in the past century from a major party from the House that did not serve in the Senate or as a governor (and the only winner, John Nance Garner who became vice president in 1933, had served as both House Speaker and Minority Leader). In fact, one must go back over a century to find the closest parallel to a choice like Ryan’s: the GOP’s James Sherman who won in 1908 and, like Ryan, was famous for sweeping policy preferences but, like Ryan, was not in the highest leadership positions in the House and/or his party.

But give Ryan a good tan and magically add gubernatorial experience to his résumé and you’ve got Jindal. They are about the same age, both have House service, both are considered bright but not that exciting (at least not in the Prisoner #03128-095 sense), both are Catholic with three children, and both have fierce reputations as opposing tax increases while wanting government to live within its means.

9.8.12

Complicit acts regarding illegal aliens erode rule of law

One the one hand, a Louisiana Member of Congress is taking action against what almost certainly is fraudulent transfer of taxpayer money to illegal aliens. On the other hand, state government inaction and local government and special interest actions in the New Orleans area do nothing to discourage, if not actually aid and abet, the very activities that lead to this taxpayer fraud in the billions of dollars – all against the backdrop of illegal behavior encouraged by the strange bedfellows of business and “social justice” special interests that threatens the rule of law.

As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight, Rep. Charles Boustany contacted the Internal Revenue Service concerning a disturbing report issued by the Inspector General’s Office of the Department of the Treasury (which oversees the IRS). It revealed just in 2011 a series of suspicious requests for Taxpayer Identification Numbers, which may be used to receive benefits and refunds from the federal and some state governments, as well as suspicious tax refund requests that were paid out. Worse, the information was easily noticeable and, worst of all, procedures that could have spotted it were deliberately discouraged by some IRS employees for a decade.

While the TIN program has a legitimate rationale, to aid people not in the Social Security system with financial transactions with the federal government, the deliberate laxity in its operation probably has resulted in a large number of illegal aliens allowed to exploit the system and obtain taxpayer dollars illegally. The agency claims new procedures will prevent this, but what of the potentially millions of illegal aliens already allowed into the system?

8.8.12

Charter school can find way to teach character legally

I understand what Delhi Charter School is trying to do, and maybe there’s a way for it to do it.

The school in rural Richland Parish, an above-average performer and one of the highest performers in its area despite having a disproportionate number of below-average households among its students, is a charter school, meaning it is exempt from some standards applying to traditional public schools, may impose additional ones, and is open enrollment in the parish. As one of its rules, pregnant students must study at home, and students suspected of pregnancy either must have that disconfirmed or must study at home as well. If a suspected pregnant girl rejects home study, “the student will be counseled to seek other educational opportunities.”

Its policy manual identifies why this rule: “Delhi Charter School has established an environment whereby the conduct of its students must be in keeping with the school’s goals and objectives relative to character development …. [and] will maintain an environment in which all students will learn and exhibit acceptable character traits ….” While laudable in intent, it’s potentially dangerous when schools overseen by the state try to teach “character,” for who wants to have Big Brother defining what is character? That is the province of the family, often through the form of religious education, neither of which are part of the state.

7.8.12

To preserve liberty, LA must intervene in Court dispute

If you don’t have the rule of law, then no liberty is secure. This is why the state of Louisiana needs to continue to contest a unilateral premature curtailment of sorting out selection of the chief justice of its Supreme Court that not only will sort out a legal puzzle, but also may which have far-reaching constitutional implications for the entire country.

Controversy about this has ensued as with the upcoming retirement of Chief Justice Kitty Kimball at the end of the year, the longest serving member of the Court who becomes chief justice is not the same person who has sat with and decided for the longest period. Associate Justice Bernette Johnson began to decide with the Court in late 1994, but was not elected to it until 2000, after two other members. She was able to because of a consent decree entered into by the state to settle a suit that claimed the state had gerrymandered judicial districts on racial considerations.

But rather than redistricting or amending the Constitution to add a new seat, for political reasons the state assigned in the decree a circuit court spot to sit with the Court, the position won by Johnson. Later, the state passed a law that mandated, among others things, that the holder of that position get counted years prior to getting elected to the Court to count for Court seniority. This declaration was amended into the consent decree later.

6.8.12

Jindal policy begs his reassessment of new Big Charity

Yet another reason has emerged to reevaluate again the size of the new Medical Center of Louisiana – New Orleans, or “Big Charity.” Scheduled for completion in 2015 but with no building of it having begun, just site preparation, there’s still time to take into account the changing policy landscape that reinforces the need to scale back on the facility.

After the hurricane disasters of 2005 damaged the aging former facility, then Gov. Kathleen Blanco came up with a grandiose replacement version firmly wedded to the idea that Louisiana should stay in the business of direct health care provision to the indigent. Even though the actual needs of the state as far as medical training and usage suggested that the old structure could be rehabilitated for much less than a price tag well over $1 billion, Blanco started forging ahead.

When Gov. Bobby Jindal came on the scene, after review wisely he scaled back the size, but still kept a facility larger than what the demographics suggested despite that his policy direction argued for a smaller facility still. The original Blanco plan was to increase the non-state-paid use of it (unrealistically in an over-bedded market) and Jindal throughout his terms has worked to increase private provision.

5.8.12

Don't change LA prison doctor system if not broken

The soon-to-be thrice-weekly-printed New Orleans Times-Picayune recently got exercised over the quality of medical care provided to Louisiana state prisoners. Too exercised, in fact, to make anything but an overwrought case.

It turns out that over half of all physicians for prisoners, that is those who have committed some injury to society, themselves have been sanctioned by the state board that regulates physician behavior and some of these have been convicted of crimes associated with that. The high incidence of doctors with questionable pasts in the profession working in the prison system partly has to do with the fact that part of their penalties is that they can get hired only in institutional settings like prisons if they wish to continue to work in the medical profession. This leads the Times-Picayune to assert, via its headline, that inmates are not getting “good doctors.”

This complaint raises both normative and process questions. Regarding the former, is it necessary that the state provide “good” care for those who damaged it? Should not the moral obligation of society be to provide only “adequate” care to prisoners? Why must taxpayers be called upon to fund anything beyond competence in care to those who declared war on it? Especially when money is tight and other law-abiding, ethical members of society who may depend upon state resources for health care should have first call on scarce state resources?