This column publishes every Monday through Friday around noon U.S. Central Time (maybe even after sundown on busy days, or maybe before noon if things work out, or even sometimes on the weekend if there's big news) except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Monday through Friday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year's Day when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, in addition to these are also Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.
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This week, again letting politics take precedence over science, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards continued until Jan. 13 an unproductive and intrusive set of government restrictions on public behavior to address the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. To understand why he and many on the political left persist in promoting and imposing this erroneous policy, an understanding of their ideology illuminates their mistaken actions.
Because the data show they clearly are mistaken. After many months, data have accumulated about the consequences of economic and behavioral restrictions, to the point from a public policy perspective we can draw certain conclusions: (1) degree of restrictiveness doesn’t vary with deaths caused by the virus (established through quasi-experimental methods), (2) as a corollary, excess deaths not attributed to the virus rose more the more restrictions existed (3) the relative ineffectiveness of wearing face coverings makes their mandatory use effective only in environments where inside recommended physical distancing for longer lengths of time cannot be established or for high-risk medical facilities, (4) in this pandemic hospital system capacity has not been significantly more strained compared to recent influenza seasons and the last (2009 swine flu) pandemic, and (5) deaths and hospitalizations for those under age 20 are almost nonexistent and extremely few occur among adults under 65 who don’t have some underlying co-morbidity factor.
To put it in public policy terms, nearly universal restrictions reaching far that match what Edwards has promulgated have produced essentially no additional societal benefits than policies with much less restrictiveness. As a point of departure, these restrictions include a statewide mask mandate when in public indoor and some outdoor locations; restaurants, gyms, salons, casinos, malls and other nonessential businesses must limit customer numbers to 50 percent of their occupancy rate; churches are restricted to 75 percent of occupancy; and venues like outdoor sports stadiums are set at 50 percent; bars are limited to takeout, delivery and outside seating, if parishes don’t meet the low percentages of coronavirus tests returning positive required to allow indoor drinking at bars; and indoor gatherings for weddings and events are restricted to 75 people or a maximum of 25 percent occupancy, whichever is less.
As red ink prepares to wash over Louisiana as a result of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Wuhan coronavirus restrictions, the low-hanging fruit to help ameliorate that would be reversal of Medicaid expansion, but at the very least establishment of realistic protocols to vet the waste-ridden program.
Louisiana’s taxpayers now pay (according to the latest fiscal year 2019 data) an extra $312 million annually to foot the bill for expansion, where roughly a third to half of these recipients used to pay their own way. Worse, a fair amount of it involves dollars wasted through inept government administration if not paying outright fraudulent premiums and claims.
Since 2014, nationally the improper payment rate to Medicaid clients has soared from just under 7 to nearly 22 percent. Analysis of the difference in large part attributes this to expansion, particularly in the vetting of initial applicants and periodic review. In a report, Louisiana was singled out as one of the more egregious violators in this regard.
After all its efforts to survive, Shreveport’s Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl may have received its death knell at the hands of a microscopic organism doing its things and the politics and vanities of the humans it lives in.
This week, game officials announced that, after a run of 44 years, the contest would not occur this year. Initially scheduled just after Christmas, the cancellation came when the Pac 12 football conference declared it “couldn’t” fulfill its obligation to produce a bowl-eligible team to face off against Army. For the next few years, the bowl follows a schedule where in alternating years where Army (if eligible) faces a Pac 12 team or independent Brigham Young University (if eligible) squares off against a Conference USA squad (that has several schools within 400 miles including Louisiana Tech just down the road).
In reality, this is one of the poorest potential sets of matchups in the existing bowl system, but despite this being the case throughout most of its history, the I-Bowl has a remarkable record of longevity. Except for the six most prominent bowls that alternate as sites for the College Football Playoff, only four other games have lasted longer.
Because they will determine the next Louisiana Second Congressional District representative with the resignation of Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond, conservatives must choose carefully – if they have any real choice at all.
In that district that spans from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, demographics work against any conservative from winning, barring unusual circumstances. Those actually arose in 2008, when GOP former Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao defeated the indicted incumbent Democrat former Rep. Bill Jefferson, but the district then confined itself to the general New Orleans area. At present, its voter base is 63 percent Democrat and 61 percent black, practically meaning that a liberal black Democrat likely will emerge as the winner.
Maybe. Already two black New Orleans-based Democrat state senators, Troy Carter and Karen Peterson, have said they’ll run. Probable to jump in as well are Democrat New Orleans City Council member Helena Moreno, who’s Hispanic, and far-left black activist Gary Chambers from Baton Rouge. No Republican has indicated a willingness to throw his hat into the ring.