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Blanco creates another impediment to recovery

The lesson for today: if Gov. Kathleen Blanco and a handful of state legislators can’t produce legislation to give the shaft to Louisiana taxpayers, there are other ways for them to confiscate the people’s money.

The example here is the decision by the State Civil Service Commission to raise the minimum wage paid to state employees by a buck an hour, even as legislation to do so failed in the past legislative session, and despite the well-known reasons why any hike in a minimum wage, or even the very existence of it, is a bad thing for the entire economy. Incredibly, even so the decision was unanimous.

You might think the members would know better (especially this one). But, then again, they were put there by Blanco (from a list of three nominees by each private university leader in the state), so they pretty much have to vote the way she tells them if they wish to remain. The only exception is the state employee electee, who houses prisoners for a living.

Not only will this inane decision cost almost an extra million dollars a year to the taxpayers (or about 50 cents per individual filer), it will be a drag on the economy. With these wages going up, that will force some wage hikes in the private sector to keep up. Keep in mind these increases will come not because the value of the work being performed has gone up or increased productivity will occur (which would price the jobs’ actual contribution to society at below the current minimum wage), but simply by political fiat. That’s a good message to send to the business world as the state struggles to recover: “Come to Louisiana where we’ll artificially drive up your labor costs.”

Of course, that concerns neither Blanco nor dunderhead legislators such as one of the sponsor of the failed minimum wage bills, state Sen. Charles Jones. His view on the matter: “He who gives to the poor gives to the Lord.” Besides the obvious fact that a good chunk of people receiving a minimum wage aren’t poor (many are teenagers from families fairly well off), Jones considers the raise a gift, meaning people don’t earn it and that policymakers like him are the ones who abscond with the peoples’ money to use to shower this “gift” on a very select few who have done nothing to earn it. That’s the business Jones is in, not legislating on behalf of the entire polity, but in redistributing wealth according to how he sees fit.

This action is yet another example of why Louisiana needs a new governor and lots of new legislators in 2007.

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