APPEL: Louisiana’s Poverty, And What Causes It

Over the years I have tried to convey my frustration over why our people are suffering under the scourge of poverty brought on by lost opportunity for prosperity. I agree that without doubt our predicament is caused by poverty, but it is a poverty of the spirit resultant from a political establishment at all levels that has mastered the art of operating under a philosophy of government that dates to Huey Long.

This is a philosophy crafted out of late 19th century principles and one that remains embedded in the Louisiana political psyche nearly 100 years on. Over and over we have allowed ourselves to be manipulated by politicians and lobbyists skilled at this art. Over and over again we hear the braying that we are a poor state and that we must follow the same failed political way because……, well, just because there has been no other pathway offered. It has worked for the political class but not so much for the citizens of what should otherwise be a prosperous state.

My thinking is simple; if it doesn’t work, quit doing it. I know that I am naïve; I know that the forces of the status quo have refined the use of fear and envy to an extent that they believe it themselves or are at least cynical enough to act as if they do. I know that the people have zero trust in government and would rather just play it safe by disparaging the political class and by maintaining a firm no for tax increases. These things are abundantly clear to me but let me try once more to present an alternative outcome.

My vision would take Louisiana from last in almost all measures of success by creating a government that would engage the people and do whatever is necessary to ASSIST the people on their road to prosperity, a road based upon unleashing their free enterprise, that natural right guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

In order to accomplish my vision we must have a new fundamental law, a constitution that explodes the myth that in the 21st century our 100 year old guiding principles are worth the paper they are written on. A constitution based upon breaking the stranglehold of the disproven retort that only government can solve the peoples’ problems and that a legal system designed to help trial lawyers at great cost to the people should be sustained. A constitution that clears the way for Louisiana’s engagement in American enterprise, encouraging economic welfare not detrimental to it; a constitution that protects the vulnerable through effective and efficient strategic policies; a constitution that places the highest priority on 21st century education for all, even at the expense of the comfort of politicians and unions; a constitution that defines the role of government to be limited and the role of the people to be superior. A constitution that is built upon an underlying belief that planning, strategy, and priority are the key elements of good governemnt.

Louisiana can be a bright shining star in the American constellation but only if we abandon the way we think and act!


But we have a problem. Our governor has paid limited lip service to those who recognize our need for a new constitution. He has announced that he would support a constitutional convention but if it only addresses fiscal matters and nothing more. People of Louisiana, wake up! This position makes clear that he is deep in the swamp of the status quo. It says that he doesn’t care about changing direction for Louisiana because all he wants is more money to spend on prolonging Huey Long’s legacy and securing support from those who profit from it.

It is the essence of contempt for the prosperity of the people to suggest that a philosophy of government that has left us dead last and poverty stricken should be sustained by simply rewriting the fiscal sections of our outdated constitution. No, we need hope and direction and that resides in a vision manifested in a new fundamental law for our state. We must have a completely new constitution that once and for all puts to rest the notion that failure is acceptable.

Our new constitution has to be all encompassing, integrated, and aggressively modern. It must address all the organization that is the government of Louisiana so that we root out the vestiges of a hundred years of failure. We must not be led astray by the governor or anyone else who would promote a piecemeal change to our current flawed statement of principle in order to enshrine a political philosophy that has been successful at protecting an entitled few at the expense of the many for so long.

We are a great people with amazing untapped ability. We must have a fundamental law that unshackles us and allows us to blossom. Anything else will assure that we are imprisoned in walls of poverty of our own making. Walls that will stand until sometime in the distant future another generation may have the courage to strike them down.



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