Future Budget Woes Are An Opportunity To Right-Size Higher Education…

…and based on the putrid performance and rapid decline of Louisiana’s flagship university in protecting the civil rights of its students, Louisiana’s legislators would be doing a service for our taxpayers if LSU and the other higher education institutions in the state took a massive hit on the chin.

Let’s preface this by having everyone understand that because Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Legislature have agreed, for lack of energy as much as anything else (you could say there isn’t the political will to have a budgetary Ragnarok coming so soon after the COVID-19 epidemic), to essentially use CARES Act funds from the federal government to patch Louisiana’s budget, there won’t be a necessity to slash the state budget this year. The plan moving toward the governor’s desk in this current session will likely be something he’s fine with, and there will be only minor disagreements between Edwards and the Legislature. Nobody really wants to have the war yet.

But it’s coming, for lots of reasons. First, Louisiana’s oil and gas industry is dead, and no one knows when it’s coming back. Oil prices are beginning to recover, but the oil companies who have been run out of Louisiana over the years don’t really have any incentive to come back here when there’s enough oil in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, North Dakota and other places to keep them busy. Louisiana’s severance tax, regulatory and legal structures are all hideously uncompetitive with those states, and as a result we’ll be the last of the oil-producing states to get the industry going again. Nothing much that would change that equation happened in the regular session, so practically all of the state’s expected severance tax revenues are likely to be absent for the 2022 fiscal year.

Furthermore, the state’s tourist economy is currently dead, at least for the rest of 2020, and while the shortfall in tax revenues for the 2021 fiscal year will be patched by CARES Act dollars (which by the way isn’t exactly legal), it’s highly unlikely tourism revenues will rebound to anything like their pre-Wuhan virus levels. So that’s a giant budgetary hit to come.

And it’s almost certain that the 400,000 Louisianans who lost their jobs due to the virus shutdown will, in too many instances not to have a significant effect on the state’s economy, pick up and move to greener pastures. Outmigration was a frighteningly prevalent phenomenon in Louisiana even before COVID-19, as some 100,000 more people left Louisiana than moved in during John Bel Edwards’ first four years in office. But with Louisiana trailing behind its neighbors in reopening and the major industry drivers of the state’s economy over the last several years – those being oil and gas, tourism and industrial construction – all vanishing, there will be a level of hopelessness hitting many of those people which will lead to their simply packing up and getting out of dodge. You’re seeing that in New York, California, New Jersey, Michigan and other states which are laggards in reopening, particularly with those states being governed by Democrats; there is no reason not to expect it in Louisiana.

So a year out from now, you can expect Louisiana to have a significant fiscal cliff it’s by no means certain the feds will bail the state out of.

Where to find the money?

Higher education is the most obvious candidate. Particularly if this is how the flagship university is going to operate…

Louisiana State University is taking action to define its stance as firmly in opposition of hate speech as videos featuring students and incoming freshman using racial slurs begin to circulate on social media.

Over the weekend, an incoming freshman was called out for using an offensive word in reference to African Americans.

Actress Skai Jackson, known for using her social media accounts to call out racist behavior, tweeted the video of the freshman.

The alleged behavior of the young man featured in the video sparked outrage online, motivating many users to tweet LSU, requesting that something be done about the incoming student’s offensive speech.

The university responded by issuing a statement that emphasized its stance on hateful speech, saying that while the constitution allows free speech, which includes negative and offensive words, “LSU denounces racist speech” and “conduct by a member of the LSU community that is found in violation of our policies will be addressed.”

Here was the tweet thread…

Obviously we’re not fans of stupid kids posting the N-word on their Instagram. That’s impolite to say the least, and it isn’t the kind of behavior that reflects well on Louisiana, LSU or anywhere.

But that isn’t the point, because probably better than half of the things posted on social media across the board don’t reflect well on the people posting them. Social media is a cesspool of stupidity and narcissism which has cheapened our culture; we can probably all agree on that. The question is whether, given that fact, we’re going to deny someone a college education based on how impolite they are on Instagram or Twitter.

LSU’s official position wasn’t all that bad. Here was the statement the university put out…

In recent days, we have been made aware of derogatory and racist social media posts by current students, incoming freshman or other members of the campus community.

To be clear, we at LSU condemn hate and bigotry in any form, including racially incendiary remarks. As a state university, however, we are subject to constitutional limitation on our ability to take action in response to free speech. That means the freedoms that allow for the current meaningful and poignant protest also protect speech that we may find repulsive and offensive.

But just because people have the right to say something doesn’t mean they should. Racist statements are hateful, inflammatory and harmful to everyone. They only serve to tear down the bridges that the overwhelming majority of us in society want to build.

Although we can’t comment on individual complaints, let it be known that conduct by a member of the LSU community that is found in violation of our policies will be addressed. Let it also be known that LSU denounces racist speech. We stand together for equality and justice, and we condemn racism in any form.

But then came this…

And this…

Alyssa Johnson ended up deleting her Twitter account after the backlash from people horrified at her suggestion she would refuse to accept a student who tweeted things she doesn’t like. So far William Doerrler is still around.

Chilling enough as that is, LSU was shortly put upon by the Twitter mob who demanded that this Drew Dollar, who isn’t even a student at LSU yet, be denied admission to the university. Nobody has suggested what Drew Dollar is supposed to do for a college education once he’s out of the picture at LSU – it’s a decent bet Skal Jackson and the rest of the Twitter mob will cause trouble for UL-Monroe, LSU-Alexandria or whatever other institution of higher education at which he might end up if LSU bounces him, and the effect of that would be that he’s blackballed from campus everywhere.

For a social media post that wasn’t even illegal. Think about how amazingly awful this is.

Nobody’s defending the kid’s racist Instagram. He probably gets the hell beaten out of him the first day he’s on LSU’s campus, and maybe he’ll learn better manners from that fistic education. But the idea that he’s not allowed to attain an education his academic credentials say he’s qualified for because he said something on social media that the Twitter mob doesn’t like?

We thought the whole point of college was to broaden students’ horizons and expose them to all kinds of people so they would emerge more worldly and have a better grasp on citizenship and leadership. Why wouldn’t people expect that Drew Dollar The 18-Year Old Idiot might become Drew Dollar The 21-Year Old Solid Citizen Who Learned His Lesson? If LSU is any good in its stated mission of promoting tolerance and racial harmony, people ought to have faith that Drew Dollar’s college experience will improve him.

Obviously the Twitter mob have never been guilty of anything its members might regret.

The pressure clearly got to LSU, because in no time flat there was this…

And this…

And this…

And then this…

Even that wasn’t enough for the Twitter mob, so it’s a matter of time before LSU does what some of these other “woke” universities have done and bounces Dollar out of the school before he even shows up.

Let’s make very clear that we’re not for anybody dropping N-bombs on their social media. You ought to be a lot more polite to other people than that, and it’s the kind of thing which will invalidate anything else you might say.

But you also have the First Amendment right to say things which are impolite, crude and stupid, including the N-word which by the way is commonly said. It feels more than a little ridiculous to be advocating for the right of white people to say that word if black people can, but we’re either going to have a colorblind society, which LSU has said for a long time that they want, or we aren’t, and you can’t openly sanction giving freedom to some people and denying it to others and still say you’re colorblind. What you do is convince them not to engage in that kind of behavior. That’s what education is for.

Kicking somebody out of school for an Instagram post, or denying them admission to a biology class, is not something worthy of our tax dollars. That isn’t education, it’s politics. And we pay too much for politics in this state as it is.

So while all this is going on and LSU’s interim chancellor Tom Galligan goes to the Legislature begging for money…

…you’ll forgive us for saying it rings hollow.

Particularly when LSU, and many of the state’s other colleges and universities, has contributed to the student loan mess which has not only enslaved so many of the millennial generation but actually turned them against capitalism because they think they’ve gotten scammed (and rightly so, though ironically that perception has been enforced by the hootings of their socialist college professors). Couple that with a runaway leftist mob on the Baton Rouge campus and others, and add to that LSU’s long insistence it couldn’t convert its services to a digital product right up to the time COVID-19 made that mandatory in which case LSU pulled it off in a week, and what you have is a hog ready for budgetary slaughter.

There is no value to the taxpayer in sending billions of dollars to higher education if all we’re doing is providing tenured salaries to exclusionary leftist academics and university administrators lacking the sand to stand up for free speech rights against the Twitter mob. If that’s all LSU has to offer anymore, it’s time to defund it and force it to live more cheaply. Perhaps if LSU’s budget gets cut enough, the Alyssa Johnsons of the world will be packed off somewhere else and the university will be left with a core of quality people committed to education and improvement for all of their students. Or perhaps not.

But if LSU is going to be one more failed leftist institution contributing to the further intolerance and coarseness of our culture, then it has no rightful claim on our tax dollars. Let’s hope Louisiana’s legislators see that and have the fortitude to enforce it when the lean times come next year.



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