Two times in one week I find myself at least partially aligned with editorial content from The Advocate. This newest editorial highlighted that Louisiana has been hit harder than most or all other states by the COVID disaster. There will be no large influx of capital such as occurred after Katrina/Rita or the BP spill. No question we are on our own this time, but the Advocate really should delve a little deeper into why we are entering a frightening economic time.
For decades a few of us have been warning that since the early 1980s Louisiana has lost too much of its economic base to a resurgent New South. The fundamental problem has been that we just assumed that if we had had ample oil and gas resources, we would not have to correct a political/economic climate that was always an anathema to business. In New Orleans we watched for decades as business departed, to be replaced by tourism. But anyone with any business sense always knew that tourism was highly susceptible to the whims of the national economy and now we see the fruition of the folly of placing all our eggs in one basket.
And that folly was as business left Louisiana and New Orleans, we did nothing to diversify our economy or to abandon long standing political policies that held us back as other states grew. I have told this story many times, when I started my civic career in the 1980s Atlanta was roughly the size of NOLA, today it is five times as big! No more need be said.
So, now The Advocate is coming to the realization that we are in deep trouble. Well, we are, and recovery will at best be protracted and, once the nation takes off again maybe as soon as late Fall, it will probably result in accelerating out-migration of our best and brightest. In the meantime, our governor, good as he perhaps is at managing medical or natural disasters, shows no aptitude whatsoever to comprehend what has happened to our economy or how it will affect millions of Louisianans, far more than COVID. In fact, his reticence to go along with the State Senate’s move to set aside some reserve funds and his insistence on using those funds for pay raises fully demonstrates either his naivete or his lack of caring about the future of our people.
There is nothing we can do to correct our past mistakes and we will pay dearly for the folly of believing politicians who told us that we could just keep doing the same things we have always done without making the sacrifices needed to alter our destiny. But clearly, we can redirect our future, if we want to.
We have a window of opportunity. We have three years until we have the chance to alter our future by electing bold, new (and I mean bold and new) leadership and embracing pro-growth policies. Three years to evaluate what we need to do to reshape our future. Three years to identify and cultivate a candidate for governor who like President Trump, whether you like his personality or not, is willing to take on the Baton Rouge Swamp. Someone who can demonstrate to the people the benefits of what their own courage to push into the unknown portends, and the economic misery that current and historic leadership and policy has left in its wake.
If my advice is accepted, three years from now and after eight years of reform governance, Louisiana and New Orleans can look like wholly different places. Places where poverty is the exception and not the rule. Places where education really means something, and just because some politicians do not want to risk their political careers on innovation, we do not settle for mediocrity or reliance on government for our sustenance.
Hopefully, The Advocate will continue to write editorials that debunk the folly that has been Louisiana’s policies and leadership for as long as anyone can remember. Hopefully, they will listen to those who understand places where prosperity is the goal and government is only the underpinning that supports the individual’s freedom to excel, and they will listen to those who want to import that philosophy to Louisiana. Hopefully, they will abandon their allegiance to the belief that liberal government policies and not the opportunities presented by free market capitalism is the only path to our collective prosperity. Hopefully …………….!