APPEL: A Poverty Of Vision Is What Afflicts Louisiana

Vision, strategy, priority; irrevocably linked principles that are compulsory for success in leadership. When evaluating success in governance, a breakdown of this relationship guarantees a failed state.

Our governor constantly reminds us that his inability to inspire Louisiana to its potential comes from the supposed fact we are just a poor state. As anyone who reads my writing knows, I categorically disagree. My fundamental belief is that Louisiana is a state rich in assets but full of poor people.

The difference between the governor’s position and mine is light years apart. His belief is that Louisiana citizens are perpetually locked into poverty because they are victims of outside forces beyond their control. Based upon his actions he sees his job as to wrap the people in the smothering embrace of government dependency. On the other hand, I view our state as rich in assets that offer the potential to exchange so much of our poverty for prosperity. Mine is a vision of a state that has rejected the governor’s futile beliefs and instead, like many other southern states, has become focused on citizen prosperity and successful state outcomes.

So where does “priority” fit into this discussion? The dictionary defines priority as “to designate or treat (something) as more important than other things.” This seems a simple concept to grasp but when it comes into conflict with populist politics and is not constrained by vision and strategy it is almost always abandoned. The result is extraordinarily bad results for the citizens as scarce resources are wasted.

Like all states, our state is constrained by limited financial resources within which it must execute a vision through defined strategies. Clearly our governor has offered nothing that would give one any belief that he has any vision that ending dependency through prosperity is a better way than simply placing the bandage of government dependency over a festering sore of bad policies. And without a vision there can be no strategies.

Because the governor has broken this linkage, a path has been left open for tax-and-spend politicians to run wild with proposals to spend money without any regard to priority. By not demonstrating leadership that emphasizes the linkage of the principles of good government, the governor has in effect endorsed spending for political purposes at the expense of spending on an actual strategy.



Case in point was the much-ballyhooed effort in the Senate to exclude diapers and feminine products from sales taxes. The savings to individuals would literally be pennies a month, but in aggregate the cost to the general fund would be at least $10 million a year. Now, saving a few cents is a great talking point when trying to convince voters that a politician cares for people – but the offset can be devastating.

Had the governor had a vision of increased prosperity through the strategy of strong education he would have prioritized that $10 million a year to fund strategic programs such as early childhood education. The impact of such a priority would mean that hundreds of poor children would receive a head start on a positive future. A future in which prosperity rules over government dependency; a future in which our state has fewer poor people.

The people of Louisiana should be outraged that a lack of vision resulting in a lack of priorities is the defining quality of a governor who with one phone call could have demanded that his Senate allies redirect that $10 million to actually help poor children instead of playing populist politics. Interestingly since this bill is headed to the House the future will tell if the governor ever takes a position favorable toward poor children and against wasteful spending.

Unlike the governor I have a vision. My vision is within the next decade we can achieve a dramatic reduction of poverty for our people. This vision also entails the end of the exploitation of poor people for the comfort and welfare of politicians who use poverty as a tool to ensconce themselves in power.

Priority, vision, strategy; simple but invaluable principles of good government. Ask yourselves why these attributes are not in the political lexicon of the governor nor his allies?

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