Some wondered why Louisiana needed a commission to sort out cost savings measures, created under law this past legislative session and set to expire at the end of the year, and just didn’t go ahead and do it. Gov. Bobby Jindal
’s introductory remarks to the new commission gave us the answer that at least provides the potential for a welcome, wholly-new philosophy to be introduced into state government.
All the publicity seems to have centered on that Jindal emphasized the commission should seek ways to privatize and outsource functions of state government. Certainly that is desirable but it does not really change the worldview under which government operates. Savings would be realized in terms of total resources consumed by government, but its scope would remain the same. The same things would be done, just more efficiently.
This will bring some controversy for die-hard liberals in state government will not want to surrender any direct government control even if it retains indirect control in a principal-agent relationship. The real wailing and gnashing of teeth will come from several other requests given by Jindal, namely to define what an agency’s actual mission is, the core activities around it, and how closely matched is what the agency does to these. While it may be true some activities may be found to be neglected and thus should be added, chances are many more will be discovered to be peripheral, duplicative, and/or outdated, and thereby targeted for elimination.
In other words, this alters the worldview. Under this regime, the scope of government would be addressed, and almost certainly resulting in the shrinking of scope. Those who believe government’s primary mission is to transform society and redistribute wealth because of some perceived and assumed inequities erroneously present in society, will not abide by such determinations, as they threaten the very basis of their power. This threat they will fight tooth and nail, depending what gets forwarded by Jindal from the commission’s deliberations.
This kind of impact Jindal presumably desires from the commission, and points to why the whole exercise should be gone through. By having an official body recommend such things, it strengthens Jindal’s hand in carrying them forward to the Legislature (and don’t think that some of the items won’t already have been discovered by the Jindal Administration but were not acted upon because of the strength of the political constituencies behind them, but now will have the imprimatur of the commission to aid in their quest for passage). Even having the commission mention them, if it lacks the stomach, will, or the avoidance of enough revanchist sentiment fully to recommend them, will provide some political capital for Jindal to push for them if he wants this. If this is his wont, surely he recognizes the additional tool in his arsenal to encourage him to go for it – impending budget deficits that create no better political time to remake government into a smaller, less inefficient enterprise.
Or, it could be all just a big public relations exercise. Proof will come at the end of the year when summing all that was discussed and recommended. If these things include shrinkage both of government’s resource usage and scope and Jindal’s subsequent willingness to fight for these, the ideal purpose of the commission will have been realized, possibly dramatically and with long term positive implications. If they simply address marginal aspects, the grand opportunity will have been wasted, and one will wonder whether the commission was worth it.