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Landry sizzling, Caldwell fizzling towards showdown

Louisiana’s Treasurer John Kennedy found a tough decision of his made somewhat harder by impressive fundraising totals by attorney general candidate former Rep. Jeff Landry, while the incumbent Atty. Gen. Buddy Caldwell by his totals shows he faces a tough road to reelection, increasing the odds of just he and Landry facing off.

Caldwell raised only around $39,000 for 2014 while Landry scooped up nearly three-quarters of a million bucks. Landry also loaned himself almost $100,000 more than the roughly $300,000 Caldwell has in his entire account. His contribution haul topped that of the unannounced candidate Kennedy’s – who obviously ponders entering the contest since he went to the trouble of polling it with his name in it – by some thousands, although Kennedy’s many years in his current office have allowed him the chance to build a campaign warchest three times the size of Landry’s and over 10 times larger than Caldwell’s.

Two points of significance emerge from these numbers posted by these Republicans. One is that, while no means uncompetitive, Caldwell shows surprising weakness. An incumbent should do better in fundraising without having to depend upon most of his meager total coming from one side of one case on which his department’s actions favor. This reflects Kennedy’s polling, where Caldwell pulled just one-sixth of the intended vote while Kennedy topped it at almost a quarter of the electorate. Some 300 grand is nothing to sneeze at, but that Landry has lapped him almost four times indicates not a lot of faith at this point in Caldwell.


Jindal record bruised by bucking LA political culture

Naturally, Republican conservative Gov. Bobby Jindal has faced a constant barrage from the liberals and their mainstream media handmaidens for the last dozen years (the latest such, exemplifying both valid points but selectivity, is here), and over the course of his governorship from the less ideologically principled political right as well. Yet more recently some principled conservatives have begun to criticize him, even if more on instrumental rather than on ideological grounds. It’s an outcome less a consequence of executional shortcomings and more concessions to the fundamental challenge his state stewardship has brought to its political culture.

Over several decades the notion that some group out there, usually conceptualized as anybody out of state and within it anybody who had made a success of themselves outside of the fields of sports or politics constituted bogeymen that deprived Louisianans of things that government could redress, ingrained itself into the state’s collective psyche (and, if you were black for the first half of this period, that was true with most whites in that class and actually against you). Reduction of the degree of the native-born population, increasing educational attainment and (more recently) its quality, and wider exposure to information all have eroded this populist fancy, but it will take decades of continued societal evolution for it to mutate into an inert form.

Principled conservatism rejects populism, even as the two can coexist with the bogeyman becoming government controlled by outgroup forces, as a genuine conservatism posits a government minimized in size and reach to maximize liberty lacks the power to pursue populist schemes. Nonetheless, in an environment where populism has burrowed in like a tick on a hound, to create conservative policy it’s difficult not to make some kind of accommodation to populism that ends up producing half-measures that bring disenchantment to conservatives because the neither fish nor fowl quality of them brings a host of implementation issues.


Make curbing LA licensing run amok election issue

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, as Pres. Barack Obama surely is with a call Louisiana policy-makers particularly should heed to get rid of useless, special-interest-serving licensing requirements.

Actually, Obama didn’t go quite that far in his budgetary call to apportion $15 million to states to study ways of achieving this, declaring only that barriers impeded market entry or mobility. But that’s the practical effect of licensing, which only occasionally and for skilled professional, important work should be necessary. For all others, licensing is a way of limiting the supply of workers in a field, allowing those in the club to charge higher fees and thereby unfairly extract more wealth from consumers with lesser incentive to deliver quality from this market distortion sanctioned by government.

The idea has special trenchancy for Louisiana as it abuses licensing in this fashion more than any other state, according to the perspicacious Institute for Justice. It was this organization that pressured successfully the state at least to tone down its ridiculous florist licensing through removal of the absurd arrangement quiz and won in court the overturning of the state’s asinine regulation that to sell caskets one had to have a funeral director’s license. Among the sillier requirements still on the books are licensing for interior designers (the people who spend other people’s money), pest control workers (the guys with the spray cans who spend 5 minutes spraying corners and baseboards), and home entertainment installers (who wrangle with rolls of cables that don’t get sorted out until the fifth try); most states don’t require any licensing for these jobs. Other over-regulated occupations require surrealistic effort – barbers and cosmetologists must have 350 training days, greater than eight times that required of emergency medical technicians.


Socialized medicine system claims BR hospital ER

Predictably, critics who call the closure of the emergency room for Baton Rouge General Medical Center a failure of public policy show the real failure comes in their unwillingness to grasp of the laws of economics, especially as it related to health care.

For months, the expenses of its emergency room had been outstripping its revenues, especially after the old Earl K. Long Medical Center closed due its deteriorating and outmoded condition, with most of its services done with state money now performed at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. This is as BRG Mid City’s was the only ER left near the north Baton Rouge area, the lowest socioeconomic status area in town, and many patients that used EKL for primary care instead of taking the longer trip to OLOL started heading to Mid City.

More business usually is good and helps the bottom line – unless you are in the health care business with its perverse incentives due to extensive subsidization of some people’s health care by others. In fact, business was so good at Mid City that its statistics show the typical wait in the ER was twice the national and Louisiana averages and typical treatment time half again longer, with the federal government’s indicator of hospital quality defining its ER volume as “very high,” or a minimum of a visit every 8 minutes.


Vitter, Boustany choose poorly on Jones Act support

Sen. David Vitter’s ability to graft conservatism onto Louisiana’s populist political culture has made him a force in the state’s politics and an early favorite to win the governor’s race next year. That doesn’t always translate into the best policy, with him and a fellow member of the state’s Congressional delegation running afoul of this error recently.

With new power as a committee chairman, Sen. John McCain has pledged to increase pressure to eliminate requirements of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, better known as the Jones Act. Passed in the heady, protectionist-oriented days after World War I, this law prohibits foreign-built, foreign-registered vessels with foreign crews and without substantial domestic ownership from journeys transporting cargo from one U.S. port to another directly. Both Vitter and Rep. Charles Boustany, whose constituencies contain a significant minority of shipbuilding activity in the country, have voiced opposition to their fellow Republican’s idea. Not surprisingly, generally supporters in Congress come from the majority of states that have no intracoastal shipping interests, while the opponents cluster from coastal states.

McCain, with considerable evidence backing him, says the much higher building and operating costs of these vessels cheat American consumers, for the overpricing get shoved down the supply chain and ultimately down the throats of the buyers of the shipped products. While Boustany, Vitter, and others argue that this prevents foreign competition, whose pricing can be a third or even quarter of what gets paid in America for building and staffing, from eliminating a large number of jobs, they conveniently forget the jobs being cost to the country as a whole by redistributing economic wealth towards favored but less inefficient industries, depriving this input from activities that would use these kinds of resources more efficiently and thereby create greater wealth, more jobs, and better ones.