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Politics still reigns in Edwards virus policy

Need still another confirmation that politics, rather than science, drives the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic policy-making of Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards? Just check out confirmation of the worst kept secret – that he would issue relaxations to rules issued about the virus prior to Sep. 11.

Today, Edwards signaled that the state would move into Phase 3. According to federal government guidelines – which in the past Edwards claims he follows along with closed-door advice he asserts he receives from the White House Coronavirus Task Force –the only restriction left for individuals in lower-risk populations is they “should consider minimizing time spent in crowded environments.” As for businesses, they can resume “unrestricted staffing of worksites,” but specifically for places such sit-down dining restaurants, movie theaters, sporting venues, and places of worship these can operate under “limited” physical distancing protocols (as opposed to “moderate” or “strict” requirements in Phase 2). Even more specifically, gyms can remain open if they adhere to standard sanitation protocols and bars may operate with increased standing room occupancy, where applicable.

At the very least, this means every kind of business can open, although with mild capacity restrictions, including bars which Edwards has kept shut unless they served more food than drinks and/or had a video poker license. Whether Edwards will match action to words remains doubtful, indicated by his announcement saying tomorrow details would be forthcoming – as well they should since his orders expire tomorrow – except that the face covering requirement in public would continue.


Large, redistributive LA govt harms poor

More evidence has surfaced that shows Louisiana’s Robin Hood and excessive tax policies continue to punish its poorest citizens.

The notion of improving the lives of the poor through hefty and progressive taxation has become an article of faith of the political left – the more and taken from the wealthier, the more that can be shoveled to the poorer regardless of the very imperfect mechanisms in place to ensure that this redistribution creates long-term increased wealth among its recipients. However, while America’s federal government as a whole has the most progressive income tax regime of all economically developed countries, and thus the most progressive system since unlike most other countries it doesn’t have a national sales tax – which unless manipulated by exceptions is very regressive – its states typically are the opposite. The leftist Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy ranks only a few states as having progressive state tax codes, with Louisiana ranked 14th least progressive in its latest study on the topic.

In fact, unusually when compared to other economically developed countries where progressive taxation typically varies inversely with the size of government (measured by the proportion of wealth taken in taxes), among U.S. states it’s the opposite. A study from the conservative American Enterprise Institute argues that economic issue preferences among elected policy-makers cause this; even though more progressivity creates additional economic costs such as reduced development and population loss, in states which elect more officials with more liberal economic preferences they are willing to countenance this tradeoff.


Change LA disaster laws to improve response

A report and a lawsuit bring up a trenchant question for Louisiana policy-makers: how does government best protect both the health and safety of the public and yet prevent itself from encroaching on their liberties or unjustifiably interfering with their lives and livelihoods?

The Pelican Institute recently reviewed how Louisiana government deals with public health crises. Undoubtedly prompted by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ policies addressing the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, the effort evaluates state law governing the issue and makes suggestions for improvement.

Edwards has faced criticism for policy on this that seems to rely more on arbitrariness than science that has led the state to ring up some of the worst indicators related to the pandemic while having some of the most restrictive rules. But, as the report notes, the reigning jurisprudence on government police powers gives officials wide latitude over restrictions placed upon commercial activity and personal behavior as long as those rules don’t interfere with individual liberties, where a much more stringent standard applies.


Data invalidate LA police racism insinuation

Louisianans, don’t be fooled by the latest attempt to mutate fiction into fact in a long-running battle to shape public policy around a presumption of “systemic racism.”

Especially this being an election year, mainstream media and their liberal political allies have intensified their old habit of flogging this idea when able to find an incident they can shape to support it. Recently, this has come in the form of black crime suspects dying incident to arrests with white police officers involved. Reporting that has sensationalized such events in Louisiana spurred policy-makers invested in the narrative to succeed in formation of a legislative panel to address policing.

Meeting last week, legislators heard from proponents of the narrative. A functionary from the Louisiana branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, Advocacy Director Chris Klein, testified that in state blacks represent 53 percent of those killed by police even though they comprise 32 percent of the state's population. “There are some trends that are not in dispute," he said. “There are very real trends that create stark disparities in Louisiana.”


Confessions of a conservative LA columnist

At The Hayride, Dan Fagan posted a piece about his reasons for quitting his columnist spot at the Baton Rouge Advocate. In it, he brings up issues about writing conservative pieces in today’s mainstream media, and more specifically at the Advocate, which deserve fuller investigation and explanation.

I preceded and overlapped Fagan there, writing a column from 2015-19, and observed some of what he did. In general, Dan (with whom I’ve never had a chance to correspond, although at one point one of my pieces made reference to one of his) recounts that he felt suppressed, had to edit columns to tone down their conservative content, and even had some outright rejected. He further perceives the Advocate editorial staff (past and present) as having an unreflective liberal bias largely with a readership to match.

Since the later 1990s, I have served as a paid opinion columnist for a number of Louisiana newspapers, both large and small, and that experience along with knowledge of the industry through my academic studies has led to some conclusions that should interest anybody who wants to understand why the stuff that appears on opinion pages does, especially as it relates to conservative content. My experience with the Advocate largely reflects these.