As the chill settled in over Louisiana last week a more subtle chill was not reported in the media. The news seemed on the surface to be good and the Administration, as all do, quickly heralded it as such. Louisiana was finally crawling out of the long night of economic recession and seeing state revenues increase because the recession was always the fundamental factor of the budget shortfall.
The foundation of this news was supported on the marshy soil so prevalent here. First, unspoken by the governor, was the outcome of bad decisions, many made long before he ascended to the mansion. In his first years of his term nearly thirty thousand citizens decamped from our state and moved to more prosperous states. We know that they left for economic reasons because in the last years of the Jindal governorship during a much stronger economy we had seen a net positive gain in population.
The reason for the current decline is simple. We assumed that the oil industry would always provide high paying jobs to the under-educated and it would send unlimited petro-dollars to Baton Rouge for politicians to spend without any long term strategy. In the past few decades these misplaced beliefs have economically decimated us at least twice and yet our leaders have refused to face the truth – we must have a robust and diverse economy.
The second chill that wasn’t highlighted was that very many of the jobs that have buoyed our employment for two years were due to the construction of massive industrial plants that were lured to Louisiana by Governor Jindal. The problem is that these facilities are, as all manufacturing in the 21st century is, highly automated. So once the very strong construction cycle employment ends, large numbers of jobs will be lost as there are many less permanent operations jobs to replace them. Couple that with a lull in construction thanks to less successful economic development efforts by Jindal’s successor, and unemployment and outmigration result.
Ominously even as the governor takes credit for the Jindal era jobs, the real chill looms. The people of Louisiana must ask themselves, what has this Administration offered to create a growing economy that holds out the hope to lift all of our people?
The unspoken answer to that is obviously that the Administration has resigned itself to long term poverty and all the social ills resulting from it.
How can I make such a bold conclusion? Well it is very clear, in the last two years our leadership has focused solely upon putting a social bandage over the festering sore of poverty and has made no effort to tackle the underlying fundamental causes of economic malaise. It’s pretty clear to me that either there is no interest or no understanding of what it takes to support a strong economy.
So as we move toward upcoming meetings of the Legislature, expect evermore rhetoric from the governor and his supporters who accept a belief that the people, due to invisible forces, are unable to rise above despair and must be supported by government largesse. This is the very same logic adopted by Democrats in their attempts to address the 1929 stock market collapse. History is settled that in those days the “progressive” tampering by liberal government actually drove the country into a depression so deep that it took more than a decade to fully recover. Repeating history is prologue to repeating the outcomes!
Do not be deceived by shallow media reporting. The conflicts that loom in the legislature this year are not over a “fiscal cliff.” No, they are over the fundamental philosophy of government and economy in our state. Simply put, the governor has asked to be granted a dependable funding stream to support his anachronistic government approach, an approach that he wants to double down on. On the opposite side are legislators who demand that we re-direct this state away from American socialism and toward a pro-economic growth philosophy. Modern history has told us that the governor’s path leads to decline even as the other path provides a direction that has helped so many other southern states to prosper.
The people must understand that we are not in a struggle just over a relatively minor revenue issue. We are in a very deep struggle to fend off the governor’s philosophy of government that has traditionally and will inevitably lead to further long term decline in the prospects of the people.
No this is not hyperbole, we know that our competing states succeed and we know that we don’t. So ask yourself, following the governor by only addressing symptoms instead of addressing underlying problems is sure to succeed? If you believe that please call me as I have a whole bunch of that marshy land to sell you!