It’s easy to sit back and take pot shots at those in charge so when I recently said Gov. Bobby Jindal was out of touch, perhaps I was remiss in not offering solutions as to how he could regain the connection with the average working people of the state he purports to govern, often from the New York studios of Faux News or the latest conclave of Republican governors.
You know the people I’m talking about: those who congregate each Sunday in the Protestant churches of north Louisiana—those same churches that Jindal used to visit during his first term of office but hasn’t since—and who returned to the drudgery of their workaday jobs on Monday morning while Jindal basked in the glowing praise of the usual cast of sycophants.
My neglect in offering suggestions for Jindal and Co. to overcome their respective psychopathic behavior was brought home to me by Robert Mann in his recent blog Something Like the Truth about Jindal’s “Poverty of Compassion,” in which he said he has often wondered why Jindal “is so apathetic about the plight of the working poor.”
Mann said Jindal, speaking at the Republican Governors Association (RGA) during its “American Comeback” project, said when he was born his dad had no medical insurance and paid for little Bobby’s delivery on the installment plan. “And the doctor was willing to do that,” he said in explaining why Daddy did not need health insurance. “He didn’t want help from the government,” he told his fellow GOP governors, to what almost certainly was enthusiastic applause.
So the obvious lesson here is if you need a heart, lung, or kidney transplant or if neurosurgery is necessary, you don’t need insurance. All you need is an understanding surgeon, team of nurses, anesthesiologist and other OR personnel who are willing to tote the note for a few decades—or longer.
Well, that little episode certainly sheds a glaring light on Jindal’s psyche. Perhaps he was taking his cue from Texas Republican Congressman Steve Stockman’s aide Donny Ferguson, who in June boasted that he took the challenge of trying to feed himself on the $31.50 per week level of SNAP food stamp benefits under the Farm Bill—and actually got by on $27.58.
Anyone can pull that off—for one week, as this clown did. A gallon of milk, peanut butter, crackers a few canned biscuits, sardines, bologna and bread, and anyone can get by for a week.
But why doesn’t Ferguson try that little ploy for a year or longer? Why doesn’t he do it permanently, the way the real people on SNAP do? The Spam might lose some of its appeal as a publicity stunt. He might switch the peanut butter for a package of those Kraft American Cheese slices—you know the ones that used to advertise five ounces of milk in ever two-thirds-ounce slice (I actually called the Kraft advertising agency once to ask how they did that. There was a long pause on the other end of the line before the Madison Avenue shill declared, “Oh, you want American; I’m in cheddar.”). But even those cheese slices will get old before too long.
So, after making that suggestion to Ferguson, I’ve decided to offer the same solution to Jindal and his minions. All he and his cadre of confidants have to do is get back to the roots they never knew: the hardscrabble life of long hours and low pay of 19.9 percent of Louisiana citizens living in poverty (second highest in the nation), many of whom do work but at minimum wage jobs with no benefits.
Here are some choice jobs I’ve found for Jindal and select members of his cabinet:
- Superintendent of Education John White: Since Wal-Mart is out front in bankrolling pseudo education reform, White seems the ideal candidate for a Wal-Mart greeter as he forgoes his $275,000-a-year salary;
- Jindal’s Assistant Chief of Staff Kyle Plotkin: Pizza delivery boy for Domino’s because he already carries Jindal’s water for him and the Domino’s pay would be closer to his actual worth instead of the $110,000 he now makes;
- Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols: Her $162,700 salary is completely disproportionate to her actual worth at her new job as a hostess for a Cracker Barrel Restaurant.
- Dr. Christopher Rich approves workers compensation claims at a pathetically low rate of 14 percent—at $225,000 per year. He appears more qualified to transport claimants as a passenger van driver for a cut-rate chiropractor’s office;
- Jimmy Faircloth has raked in more than a million dollars while losing court cases for the state, making him more realistically suited to run cheesy TV ads as a personal injury lawyer in Paincourtville (that’s a real town in Assumption Parish, by the way—and aptly named);
- Jan Kosofsky, Executive Director and Deputy Director Carol Nacoste of the Capital Area Human Services District have received raises of $21,000 and $15,000, to bump their salaries up to $189,500 and $142,000, respectively, since 2011 while the remaining 200 agency employees received no salary increases. For that little indiscretion, they are infinitely more qualified to work as worm counters in a bait stand on Bayou Corne (site of that expanding sinkhole in Assumption Parish). My first job as a 12-year-old growing up in Ruston, LA., was counting worms at a bait stand out on Cooktown Road. Clarence Cooley paid me five cents per each 100-count carton filled (He sold them for 50 cents each) and my standing instructions were to always throw in a few extra to keep the customers happy. I generally made about $5 per Saturday;
- Public Service Commission (PSC) member Scott Angelle, who resigned his $129,000-a-year job as Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in the wake of that sinkhole at Bayou Corne to run for the PSC rather than stay and address the problem. He is hereby reassigned to clean porta-potties at construction sites around Baton Rouge;
- Joe Namath once called sportswriters “$125 a week jerks.” That seems a tad inflated for Timmy Teepell, but he can be the sports editor of the Grand Coteau Weekly World News Guardian Tribune Shopper.
- And saving the best for last, Gov. Bobby Jindal hereby relinquishes his $130,000-a-year job in favor of plucking chickens at that Foster Farms poultry processing plant in Farmerville in Union Parish—the one for whom Jindal orchestrated a $50 million infusion of state money as repayment for a generous campaign contribution so that 65 percent of the plant’s 950 employees can drive the few miles from Arkansas to Farmerville to work in the Louisiana taxpayer-supported plant.
I haven’t attempted to assign all of Jindal’s cabinet members with special employment because jobs are scarce and not everyone can find employment. Accordingly, those who are not assigned jobs are going to have to accept meager unemployment benefits—and apply for food stamps.
These new assignments should put officials of this administration in touch with those who put them in office—the people who thought Jindal represented a new day in Louisiana politics only to find that the man they elected cares first and foremost for his own political fortunes and little for those who elected him.
Jindal has forgotten those who believed in him—if he ever thought of them in the first place. Perhaps living their lives—for more than a week the way Donny Ferguson did—might make him more appreciative of the great unwashed.
Or perhaps not.