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Crony capitalists predictably help fund Edwards

Is it really news in Louisiana when those who benefit from big government and/or with lengthy service in it support a tax-and-spend governor?

A recent article in the Baton Rouge Advocate listed a few nominal Republicans said to back Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards (I write a column on Sundays for that outlet). It included someone who has worked in high-ranking capacities for governors of both parties; a former Gov. Bobby Jindal cabinet appointee who now shills for an engineering firm with extensive state contracts; a nonprofit head who received tens of millions of taxpayer dollars for the building that houses his organization and has hustled throughout its history for government assistance; a former elected official whose tenure in that position spawned approbation for ethical lapses; and some businessmen whose livelihoods are shaped considerably by government policies and spending decisions (and a few of them have received plum appointments by Edwards to government panels).

That these people have a history of working for election of Republicans or giving generously to Republican candidates have pledged support for Edwards in his reelection efforts might at first glance seem surprising. Then again, most also historically supported Democrats at times, as their crony capitalism makes them swoon for anybody think can deliver the goods.

As the incumbent, Edwards has proven ability to do that. Further, with GOP Sen. John Kennedy passing up a chance to challenge him, Edwards has gone from underdog to even-money in retaining his post. It’s not imprudent to place a bet in this circumstance.

Keep in mind as well that most will end up giving to Republican candidates in the contest as well. Again, they will use their wealth and stature to try to buy influence in any gubernatorial regime.

Because that’s how they make their money. Unless more selflessly motivated, they could care less about issues, for example, like sales tax increases to fund bigger government or imposition of a sick tax to pay for Medicaid expansion. They’re wealthy enough so that they can afford without batting an eye the extra costs, as long as they think something comes back through increased business opportunities for them – and only them.

Meanwhile, the middle class and below foot the bill and suffer the reduced chance to prosper from what they pay out in a bid by the crony capitalists to feather their own nests. Note how this differs from traditional conservatism that asks for smaller government and lower taxes so that all people can keep more of what they earn and expands opportunities for their life prospects. Lip service about how government should stay out of the way of business then using it for their own ends to feed at the trough displays a rank hypocrisy.

Support of Edwards exposes these people as uninterested in trying to move Louisiana out of the cellar in so many quality of life rankings. When you hear them praise Edwards using phrases such as he “has been willing to talk and compromise,” that means as long as they can bargain with him to gets theirs they don’t care if the devil takes everybody else.

As much as Edwards’ philosophy that turns back the clock to a Louisiana where government primarily was seen as an agent of taking from some to give to others, it’s this kind of cavalier attitude that aids and abets that retrograde approach. All political jurisdictions suffer from people like this, but they exist in disproportionate numbers in the Bayou State and explains why it lags the rest of the country.

And even if cynicism rules the day – these supplicants may believe that what Edwards says publicly and what he’ll do behind closed doors differs enough so that where clear conflicts exist, for example in his wishing to treat oil exploration companies as piñatas to dredge up money, actual policy made won’t treat them poorly – this benign neglect still disserves Louisiana. By acting complicit in this arrangement, by looking out only for themselves, by their refusal to oppose it this forfeits a chance for implementing policy that will move the state forward for all.

Selfish greed and government intersecting should surprise no one. That Louisiana hasn’t moved farther beyond this is disappointing.

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