APPEL: John Bel Edwards And Louisiana’s Own Government Swamp

Let me try to make clear how the John Bel Edwards administration and many other areas of government and the bureaucracy operate.

It goes something like this; we need $1.2 billion, no $960 million, no $650 million in new taxes or government will collapse and we fall off of a cliff. We will have to end LSU football, close down hospitals, stop funding district attorneys, end care for the disabled, throw grandma out of the nursing home, release 10,000 felons, and on and on and on. Hyperbole reigns supreme.

And now we find out from the newspaper that the judiciary, the one element of government that we always believed that we could have the most faith in, is sitting on a “reserve” of $58 million. That in itself is not bad, but it was made clear in the Advocate story that everyone knew this factoid EXCEPT the Finance and Appropriations Committees. I guess that it would have been inconvenient to explain how they could have so much socked away even while telling legislators, those who are charged with financial management, that the entire system of justice will collapse if they didn’t increase funding.

Is this entire government so dysfunctional that hiding significant facts is just accepted as a standard operating procedure? Is political hyperbole the language that we are willing to accept?

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. In my recent experience one thing comes through very clearly. Since the Administration cannot convince legislators to follow its big government lead, it will use fear tactics to scare the people in an effort to gain influence over those legislators. The way it works is to use the power of a friendly media to sell a message that reticent legislators are the stumbling block to a social utopia based upon increasing spending without the messy work of a reform of government. In other words scare the devil out of everyone, especially the most vulnerable people, by threatening to end state support and services.

And, as a result of the “leadership” of this Administration, the use of hyperbole, cover up, and fear has now become the norm and not the exception throughout government. Even our judiciary, that element of government that we expect to be based upon truth and faith in government, has adopted the Administration’s policies. This all makes me sick.

So here is how I see it. Because of ill-conceived practices such as these the people have little faith in government. As a result they have elected, and will elect even more, legislators who will not accept such tactics and consistently vote one way – limiting revenue UNTIL the state government is honest and open to reform.

On the other hand this Administration will never accept reform based upon efficiency and effectiveness as standard practice, preferring instead to use fear to try to build upon a state government that has left us last in most measures. So if this governor is re-elected my expectation would be a state, desperate for transformation, in which there is a total divide between a governor who wants much more of the same and a legislature that refuses to go along. DEADLOCK and STAGNATION – those sound about right to me.

As we approach the final session of this term I also expect to see an Administration in retreat from important issues, as it seeks to cover up its past practices. After all re-election is approaching and having an electorate angry over how it has been disrespected by half-truths and fear would not serve re-election expectations very well. So next session I don’t expect any controversial issues from the Administration. I do expect plenty of pretty images and a deeper continuation of the do nothing that we have already seen.

On the other hand the next session, the one before re-election, will see an increasingly outraged legislature emerge; a legislature whose ire has been ignited by those fear tactics and whose trust has diminished. Cover-ups and an understood tactic among the bureaucracy to “wait out the legislature” have really incensed legislators.

Further, a year from this fall I expect to see an inspired electorate that will put in place a new legislature, one that comes in with a deeper set of conservative values. To borrow from Lincoln,

“You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

The people will clearly connect our failed state with an Administration that has delivered nothing except a massive growth of government based upon phony messaging. And sadly the people will see that the concept that such practices are acceptable clearly has infected all of government.

It is far past time to “drain the swamp” and to place the people’s faith in government as the highest pinnacle of our expectations. There is no honor in deception and trickery and our people know it.

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