Let me make something clear. The Louisiana Hayride, our century old political philosophy, is over! Defined by the twin early 20th century socialist principles “a chicken in every pot” and “don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax the man behind the tree,” it is a philosophy that cannot exist without a free flowing supply of other people’s money. In our case that supply had been petro-dollars and those dollars have dried up.
Perhaps the beginning of the end of the Hayride came in the dual 1970’s Arab Oil calamities. Since then Louisiana’s once-dependable free flow of revenue and jobs has bounced its way to today’s much diminished status. Though still a vital industry, government cannot look to this sector to support the lavish social spending programs that it once did.
But this reality hasn’t sunk in. It is as if we still cling to the notion that our downturn is intermittent and if we just keep doing the same things sooner or later energy production will bounce back and make everything OK. To borrow an old expression, we continue to spend like drunken sailors!
Well, the boom times are not coming back. It just isn’t going to happen and we better wake up to that reality before we become just another failed Rust Belt-style state. It is time to align spending with predictable revenue. It is time to actually establish long term priorities and invest in them. It is time to shift local revenue procurement to the locals so that the people will hold their local politicians responsible for good government. It is time to abandon the Huey Long Hayride philosophy and move into the 21st century.
Here is the alternative; if we follow the current path that we are on we will soon look like a southern state version of Detroit or Venezuela. We will be a state whose economy is basically irrelevant. A state in a death spiral because its diminishing productive sector will be called to transfer evermore of its declining wealth to a growing dependent sector. As that accelerates the productive sector simply votes with its feet and leaves. We are seeing growing signs of that now.
Sadly, in what is one of the most asset rich states in the country, we are well on way to becoming the sickest state in the south, in the nation. But there is hope. The current legislative struggle reflects the death throes of the Huey Long Hayride. The majority of legislators seem to finally recognize that maintaining the status quo of massive social spending while ignoring economic realities is unsustainable. The governor, a champion of the old Hayride philosophy, is the first in modern history who cannot command a majority of members who support his belief in the old tax and spend ways. The majority of legislators are slowly coming to the realization that change will be hard but that unless we undertake change, we will not be able to arrest our death spiral.
The fight is worth fighting, the people are our people. They deserve a better life, they deserve to be able to expect that their children will be able to make a life in Louisiana. All is possible but only if the people understand what is at stake. Be assured that the governor and his allies will do everything within their power to keep the people under the veil of ignorance. They know well that their time is running out, but they want to hold on the old ways as long as possible.
The first opportunity for Louisiana to demand its place in the sun will come with the 2019 elections. Election of leaders who understand the economy and the demands it makes upon a state will assure that the process will begin sooner rather than later.
But rest assured change is coming. Our people will get their turn at the American Dream as I am convinced that they will finally bury the Huey Long Hayride and all of the political hangers on that benefit from it at the expense of our people.
Change is coming and change will be amazing!