LSU professor and ex-aide to former Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco Robert Mann has a regular column that appears in the Crescent City’s kinda sorta daily, the Times Picayune.
Mann provides the “left side” of the story as a foil to ex-sports writer James Varney, who was drafted as the voice of the right in the newspaper’s reshuffling.
Recently Mann penned a column titled “State-sanctioned intolerance isn’t business friendly,” a reference to Louisiana’s constitutional amendment that exclusively defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman.
Most of the column is a tirade about the economic policies of his former boss’ successor, Republican Bobby Jindal.
In fact you have to go to the third paragraph on the second page to find the part where he begins to make the absurd argument that gay marriage is more of a economic tool than lower business taxes.
Perhaps a few exceptional companies that embrace liberal social policies and produce novel products or specialize in cutting edge services take into account a state’s political culture when it comes to doing business.
And that’s their right to voluntarily put their social agenda before their profit margin, though when a Christian florist in Washington State tried operating in a similar vein, she received unwanted interest from that state’s attorney general.
However for companies operating off of an apolitical business model, what matters isn’t whether a state has gay marriage but regulatory agencies that are user friendly, honest government, a skilled workforce and, wait for it, low taxes.
Hence conservative, Republican-led states like Texas and Florida have been popular destinations for companies escaping business-hostile yet socially progressive states such as California and those in the northeast.
Politicians can lie but the direction the turnstiles turn don’t. And they are spinning toward states with pro-business climates.
Governor Bobby Jindal and the GOP-led legislature have made great strides in changing Louisiana’s image and making the tax code competitive with other southern states.
Instead of dealing with a government led by confidence men, entrepreneurs now have confidence in the integrity of the men and women who lead Louisiana.
Admittedly the state still lags in terms of a skilled workforce, though the growth of the community college system has helped supplement this deficiency producing a more inviting environment for businesses looking to expand or relocate here.
His non-traditional take on economic development aside, the biggest issue I have with Mann’s column is his broad “indictment” of Louisianans as “relatively intolerant.”
The Times Picayune, whose own interesting business model has been in a state of flux as of late, now includes paying someone to libel its customers as bigots (as if there is such a thing as “nice intolerant”) just because they refuse to ditch their sincere religious beliefs for more fashionable views on morality.
To think the braintrust at Howard Avenue ran off a trained reporter and experienced columnist (albeit one who was decidedly liberal) in Stephanie Grace and replaced her with a Democrat career political staffer…What’s their next move, dedicating the Sports page to Atlanta Falcons coverage?
Barack Obama had not endorsed same sex marriage when he first sought the presidency in 2008; yet we are expected to disregard the teachings of the Bible, which for centuries has acted as a guide to American society, just because the president and a a bare majority of the Supreme Court said so?
Mr. Mann cites a poll (the results of which may or may not be accurate) that 56% of the state oppose same sex marriage while 39% support the redefinition of what for millennia was considered marriage.
It should be noted that when voters in the state went to the polls in 2004 to have their say on the matter via the adoption of a constitutional amendment, 78% supported the measure, which carried all of Louisiana’s 64 parishes, including the state’s academic hub (East Baton Rouge) and liberal Orleans.
Aside from love of the Black and Gold, traditional marriage may be the one thing Louisianans of all races and party affiliations agree on.
Louisiana isn’t exactly an outlier in this as only eleven states allow same sex marriage. California voters had adopted a similar amendment to Louisiana’s on the day Obama handily carried their state though the Supreme Court indirectly threw it out on a technical ruling that was irrelevant to the issue of gay marriage.
Last Sunday Mr. Mann argued that there would be benefits if Louisiana legalized same-sex marriage.
I cannot help but wonder how many years (or months) we are away when Mr. Mann shifts from “encouragement” to shouting “amen” to those threatening to call for a tourist boycott of Louisiana and push for a Super Bowl relocation if Louisianans “don’t get with it” and legalize same-sex marriage (at least before the judiciary does this for us).
Mr. Mann nor the out-of-town-owned publication with which he is affiliated cannot be considered good advocates for this state, our interests, our people or our shared values.