Louisiana’s Commissioner of Administration got the ball rolling on this theme last month when he moaned about all the other members of the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference not following revenue recommendations from either of the two economists making forecasts. The net effect disallowed increased spending by state government.
Dardenne claimed this meant “politics” interfered with the prediction process, to be avoided in his view only when policy-makers elected and appointed unquestioningly ratified the estimates. This idea, of course, misses the obvious desire by policy-makers and the people to include political judgment in the process; otherwise, they wouldn’t have amended into the Constitution the need for unanimous policy-maker concurrence over the Dardenne doctrine of convenience regarding government by unelected experts.
Last week, Dardenne found another chance to moan on this subject when the Bond Commission, on which he also sits plus other representatives of statewide elected officials and the Legislature, backed a motion to create a preferred list of bidders for underwriting. The final product excluded Citigroup, which in its lending practices discriminates against potential borrowers with connections to firearms.
Once again, he called this a product of “politics” and insinuated it had no place in creating the pool. Once again, he showed that, despite over four decades in politics, apparently he hadn’t grasped what students in introductory courses in public administration learn in the first week of the class – that you cannot separate politics from administration, and therefore any and all administrative actions, by commission or omission, are political.
The Commission decision could have the impact of slightly higher borrowing costs, assuming that on some future deal where only preferred bids competed Citigroup could have come in with a lower bid. Balancing this, making Citigroup a second-class bidder sends the statement that if the company shuns firms involved with legal exercise of Second Amendment rights, then it doesn’t deserve taxpayer dollars in its coffers.
Dardenne would have us believe that it’s illegitimate to bring public policy concerns into the frame on this matter, that lowest price should win out regardless of the political positions a bidder may inject into the market, regardless whether such positions have deleterious effects on the people’s exercise of rights. Trying to cut off firearms-related firms from capital because their merchant practices don’t conform to a peculiar vision of gun rights ultimately threatens the robust practice of that liberty.
Thus, to condone and reward such a lender by treating it the same as others who don’t restrict borrowing according to a set of political criteria itself infuses politics into the issue, despite feints trying to distract from that truth, as conveys tacit approval of that agenda. Again, on this or any other administrative action – and most evidently when it involves spending the people’s money coercively taken from them – you cannot cordon off such actions from political implications and consequences.
And Dardenne knows this. He knows that policy-maker agreement with a higher forecast means he can pursue a political agenda of expanding government. He knows that not penalizing Citigroup gives aid and comfort to the political agenda of limiting constitutional ownership and usage of firearms. But, in the minority, he either recklessly disregards the implications (likely in the latter case) or actively wants to propagate the consequences (certainly in the former case) of these agendas by denying that his preferred positions carry political implications, asserting some false neutrality inherent to his view makes it superior to that of his opponents.
Nonsense. Politics lie behind Dardenne’s protestations on these issues, and his implicit denials of such fuel an increasing dishonesty inherent to his service as vanguard to Edwards.