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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

When I found him this morning in the booth in the back in the corner in the dark at John Wayne Culpepper’s Lip-Smackin’ Bar-B-Que House and Used Lightbulb Emporium in Watson, Louisiana, Harley Purvis was in his usual mood, i.e. nasty.

The Greater Livingston Parish All-American Redneck Male Chauvinist Spittin’, Belchin’, and Cussin’ Society and Literary Club (LPAARMCSBCSLC) had scheduled an emergency meeting for 10 a.m. and only two of the six members (that would be Harley and me) had arrived. As president, Harley was not one to brook tardiness.

But there was something else on his mind today as I slid into the booth opposite him. I can always tell the degree of his consternation by the amount of coffee he’d consumed and the condition of the day’s newspaper. Today, I could tell he was on at least his fourth cup and the Baton Rouge Advocate looked as though a squirrel had chosen today’s edition for a nest.

You don’t rush Harley when something is weighing on his mind. He will speak when he’s ready, so I ordered a cup of John Wayne’s high-octane coffee brewed from yesterday’s leftover grounds that went down more like Number Two West Texas Crude. And I waited.

Finally he spoke.

“If you want to sum up the complete worthlessness of Congress, I can do it in two sentences,” he said.

“Based on my current income, if I retire at 65, I will qualify for about $3,500 per month in social security.”

That surprised me because I never knew Harley made that kind of income, let alone reported it to Uncle Sam. He went on.

“My wife, Wanda Bob, is a school teacher and a damn good-‘un but if I die before her, she will get maybe a couple hundred bucks a month in Social Security spousal benefits.”

“Wait, what?” I managed to stammer. Two sentences and I was floored.

“That’s right. Because Louisiana is one of 15 states in which have their own retirement systems and in which public employees do not participate in social security, there’s this thing called the Government Pension Offset (GPO) passed way back in the Carter administration.”

“Government Pension Offset?”

“Yeah. Stay with me. It was passed in 1977 and it’s called the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). It was passed ostensibly to prevent double dipping but as usual, it was passed without any real consideration of the consequences and it turned out to be a penalty for public service like the teaching profession.”

“A penalty? How so?”

“Simple. If she’d worked in the private sector at something like banking or a CPA, she would be entitled to my full Social Security benefits if I died first. Hell, even if she didn’t work at all and was a stay-at-home mom and housewife, she’d still be entitled to my full benefits. But because she chose to work as a teacher, she will penalized if I die first. Does that seem fair to you?”

I had to admit it didn’t. I asked him why something hadn’t been done to correct this egregious injustice. I should have known better than to ask.

“Hell, I can give you 535 reasons right up front!” he exploded. “That’s the 435 House members and the 100 Senators. They don’t give a rat’s patooty about us. Never have, never will. It’s like everything else they do: they give lip service but never follow through. Every member of Congress, with the possible exception of Clay Higgins and Ted Cruz is fully aware of this but they continue to sit on their butts and do zero about it. And they wonder why they have such low approval ratings.

“They’ve had bills introduced for years to do away with the WEP and enough members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors because it looks great to the folks back home. The problem is, they won’t bring it up for a vote. That’s their way to come back home when they run for re-election and to tell the good voters that they tried to help them but couldn’t get other members to go along. That’s crap but it works and they can then concentrate on raising campaign funds and catering to the special interest. Meanwhile, we’re left holding the bag.”

“What can we do about it?” I naively asked.

“Not a damned thing! You think Garrett Graves or Mike Johnson or John Kennedy or Bill Cassidy has ever given a thought to this? Hell no, there’s no campaign contributions to go with it. And Clay Higgins is such a dumbass he wouldn’t know unless it was an NRA issue. He thinks GPO stands for Guns and Preemptive Ops and WEP stands for Weapons of Extreme Prejudice.”

“That’s pretty strong,” I said, taking a sip of my now-cold coffee.

“Well, I stand by it. There are 46,000 public school teachers in Louisiana and some 60,000 other state employees and the same rules apply each one whose spouse works in the private sector and pays into Social Security. I’d guess at least 75,000 or 80,000 are adversely impacted by this B.S.

“You tell me if you think it’s fair for me to pay into Social Security all my working life, die a few months after retirement and my widow get nothing? That’s money I paid into the system and because she chose to become a teacher and worked to enrich the minds of children by teaching them to think and reason, she’s entitled to nothing. Meanwhile, my next door neighbor’s wife who chose to stay home and not work is entitled to her husband’s benefits after he dies. Is that fair?”

I had to admit it wasn’t. And he was correct: he had summed up the complete worthlessness of Congress in two sentences.

I wanted to ask more questions but two more members of LPAARMCSBCSLC had arrived, giving us a quorum. Harvey, as president, pounded his gavel, bringing the meeting to order.

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Legislators continue to whistle past the fiscal graveyard as the state’s highways and bridges are crumbling, public education is starving, state workers are looking at yet another year without a raise, the unfunded liabilities of the state’s retirement systems continue to grow and colleges and universities are looking at the hopeless abyss of $1.7 billion in deferred maintenance of physical plant. (A school-by-school breakdown of that deferred maintenance at the state’s higher education institutions can be found HERE in the latest post of ulyankee.)

Like a spoiled child who refuses to listen to parents who are equally reluctant to discipline him, the Legislature continues to play the artful dodger in meeting its fiduciary responsibilities. As pitiful a governor as Bobby Jindal was, he only did what the House and Senate allowed him to do. And while all those corporate tax breaks looked great to LABI, ALEC, lobbyists, and the generous corporate campaign contributors, they did little to prop up the economic structure of the state or to meet the responsibilities for education, roads, services for the mentally ill, children’s services, state employees, teachers, the sick and the state’s low-income citizens.

And now, with a real opportunity to do something about the myriad of problems, it appears legislators will again punt by categorically rejecting any progressive legislation while rolling over for their corporate donors.

It would be one thing to resist the administration’s less than confidence-inspiring proposals if an alternative, workable plan were offered up. But when is the last time anyone has seen that coming from either chamber? (Hint: Never.)

When a baseball or football team performs as miserably, it’s always the coach who’s fired—because it’s impractical to fire the entire team. When the legislature fails to do its job, it’s the governor who’s thrown under the bus for the failure to accomplish anything toward solving the problems.

But that’s not to say the legislature has been standing idly by. For from it. The 2017 legislative session has thus far turned in a bona fide commend performance for Louisiana’s senators and representatives who apparently never saw someone or something to commend they didn’t like or, lacking that, to seize the opportunity to designate some special day.

Here’s a partial example of what your elected representatives and senators have accomplished 17 days into the 60-day session:

  • SB 29 (ALARIO): Recognizes April 19, 2017, as University of Louisiana System Day at the Louisiana Legislature.
  • SB 23 (ALARIO): Designates the new bridge across Goose Bayou on LA 45 in Jefferson Parish as the “Jules Nunez Bridge”
  • HCR 44 (AMADEE): Commends the Louisiana State University at Alexandria men’s basketball team for its outstanding achievements in its first three seasons
  • HR 32 (BARRAS): Designates Tuesday, April 18, 2017, as LSU Day at the state capitol
  • HR 48 (BARRAS): Recognizes Wednesday, April 19, 2017, as University of Louisiana System day at the state capitol (Sorry, dude, Alario beat you to it.)
  • HR 60 (BARRAS):  Designates Wednesday, April 26, 2017, as Liquefied Natural Gas Day at the state capitol (We already have too much hot air at the Capitol, why do we need gas, too?)
  • SCR 6 (BARROW): Designates Tuesday, April 11, 2017, as AKA Day at the capitol.
  • SR 11 (BARROW): Commends Tiffany Dickerson on her reign as Mrs. Baton Rouge 2016.
  • SR 12 (BARROW): Commends Tanya Crowe on her reign as Miss Baton Rouge USA 2016
  • SR 13 (BARROW): Commends Kimberly Maria Ducote on her reign as Miss Teen Baton Rouge USA 2016.
  • SR 14 (BARROW): Commends Brittany Arbor Shipp on winning the 2016 Mrs. Louisiana America Pageant.
  • SR 16 (BARROW): Commends Stacey Richard on her accomplishments and contributions as executive director of the Mrs. Louisiana Pageant, the Miss Baton Rouge Pageant, and the Miss Capital City Pageant.
  • HCR 39 (BERTHELOT): Designates Wednesday, May 3, 2017, as LMA Municipal Day at the state capitol
  • SR 47 (WESLEY BISHIP):  Commends XS Martial Arts Dojo and Save One Now for presenting the 10th Annual Crescent City Kumite being held on May 20, 2017. (Whatever.)
  • SCRs 21-24 (BOUDREAUX): Commends Marion Overton White, Clifton Lemelle Sr., Gloria Nye, PhD, and Patrick Fontenot for their induction into the St. Landry Parish Democratic Party Hall of Fame.
  • HR 22 (BROADWATER): Commends the Louisiana Athletic Trainers Association and designates Wednesday, April 19, 2017, as LATA Day at the state capitol
  • HCR 50 (CARMODY): Recognizes May 2017 as Building Safety Month
  • HR 29, 30 (CARPENTER): Recognizes Tuesday, April 18, 2017, asPhi Beta Sigma & Zeta Phi Beta Day at the state capitol
  • HCR 41 (GARY CARTER): Commends several Tulane University students upon winning NASA’s BIG Idea Challenge competition (is that the way the commendation reads: “several Tulane students”?)
  • HB 297 (ROBBY CARTER):  Provides relative to membership on the Sweet Potato Advertising and Development Commission (More proof we have too damn many board and commissions.)
  • SR 26 (TROY CARTER): Recognizes April 23, 2017, as International Children’s Day.
  • SR 59 (CHABERT): Recognizes April 27, 2017, as Louisiana Society of Professional Surveyors Day at the Louisiana State Capitol.
  • SR 9 (CLAITOR): Designates April 17, 2017, as Kappa Beta Delta Day.
  • SCR 44 (COLOMB): Commends the Public Administration Institute Student Association (PAISA) at Louisiana State University and recognizes April 13, 2017, as the 19th annual PAISA Day at the Louisiana Legislature.
  • HCR 22 (COUSSAN): Commends the St. Thomas More Catholic High School football team on winning the 2016 Division II state championship
  • HR 37 (COX): Commends William Hymes on his significant accomplishments
  • HR 33 (DAVIS): Commends LSU Physicist Gabriela Gonzalez for her work in a groundbreaking scientific discovery (again: does the commendation say simply for “a groundbreaking scientific discovery”?)
  • HR 31 (DEVILLIER): Commends Louisiana State University Eunice for its efforts to offer more educational opportunities for the state’s residents (Isn’t that why it exists? So we commend institutions for doing their job now?)
  • HCR 23 (DWIGHT): Commends the South Beauregard girls’ basketball team upon winning the 2017 Class 3A state championship
  • HCR 5 (EMERSON): Amends and repeals administrative licensing requirements relative to alternative hair and alternative hair design (Your guess is as good as ours).
  • HR 27 (FOIL): Designates Monday, April 17, 2017, as DASH Diet Day at the state capitol (If this will help rid the capitol of all those fat cats down there, I’m all for it.)
  • HR 34 (FRANKLIN): Commends Shelton Dunaway for his musical achievements and recognizes him as a southwest La. cultural treasure (For those who might not know, he was a member of Cookie and the Cupcakes that had the wonder song Matilda.)
  • HB 612 (GLOVER): Provides for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment (This from a man who, while mayor of Shreveport, told a person that once an officer pulls him over, he has no rights.)
  • HB 191 (GUINN): Changes the name of the “Quail Unlimited” prestige license plate to the “Quail Forever” prestige license plate (Sigh.)
  • HB 243 (HALL): Changes “school bus driver” to “school bus operator” in Title 17 (Please tell us this is a joke.)
  • HCR 40 (HALL): Commends Peabody Magnet High School boys’ basketball team upon winning the 2017 Class 3A state championship
  • HCR 20 (HENSGENS): Commends the Gueydan High School girls’ basketball team upon winning the 2017 Class A state championship
  • SCR 17 (HEWITT): Commends the Slidell Republican Women’s Club on its 50th anniversary.
  • SCR 20 (HEWITT): Designates the first week of December as Shop Local Artists Week in Louisiana.
  • SR 37 (HEWITT): Recognizes the Junior Auxiliary of Slidell and designates April 2-8, 2017, as “Junior Auxiliary Week” at the Louisiana Senate.
  • HR 4 (HOFFMAN): Recognizes April 11, 2017, as Louisiana Society of Anesthesiologists Day at the state capitol
  • HB 214 (HORTON):  Prohibits the roadside sale of domestic rabbits (Seriously?)
  • HR 56 (HUNTER): Recognizes Wednesday, May 3, 2017, as Omega Psi Phi Day at the state capitol
  • HR 21 (HUVAL): Recognizes Monday, May 15, 2017, as I-49 South Day at the state capitol
  • HR 67 (HUVAL): Commends the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival and designates Thursday, April 27, 2017, as Crawfish Festival Day at the state capitol
  • HR 9 (JAMES): Commends Kimberly Maria Ducote of Mansura on being named Miss Teen Baton Rouge USA
  • HR 10 (JAMES): Commends Tanya Crowe of Amite on being named Miss Baton Rouge USA
  • HR 11 (JAMES):  Commends Tiffany Dickerson on being named Mrs. Baton Rouge
  • HR 12 (JAMES): Commends Brittany Arbor Shipp on being named Mrs. Louisiana America of Baton Rouge
  • HR 13 (JAMES): Commends Stacey Richard, executive director for the Miss Baton Rouge and the Mrs. Louisiana America pageant organizations
  • HR 44 (JEFFERSON): Commends Coach Eric Dooley of Grambling State University for being named the American Football Coaches Association Football Championship Subdivision Assistant Coach of the Year
  • HR 52 (JEFFERSON): Commends Grambling State University for winning the 2016 Southwestern Athletic Conference Football Championship and the 2016 Historically Black College and University National Football Championship
  • HCR 33 (JENKINS): Commends Dr. G. E. Ghali for his leadership as chancellor of LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport
  • SCR 10 (JOHNS): Recognizes May 3, 2017, as Purple and Teal Day in the state of Louisiana.
  • SR 44 (JOHNS): Recognizes Wednesday, April 26, 2017, as the fifth annual Liquefied Natural Gas Day at the state capitol
  • HR 28 (JORDAN): Commends ExxonMobil and recognizes April 17, 2017, as ExxonMobil Day at the Louisiana State Capitol
  • SR 42 (LAFLEUR): Designates Monday, April 24, 2017, as Tourism Day at the state capitol.
  • HCR 42 (TERRY LANDRY): Commends Mt. Calvary Baptist Church of New Iberia on its one hundred forty-second anniversary
  • HR 36 (LEBAS): Commends the Louisiana Physical Therapy Association and designates Tuesday, April 18, 2017, as Louisiana Physical Therapy Association Day at the state capitol
  • HCR 25 (LEGER): Recognizes Wednesday, April 19, 2017, as Louisiana A+ Schools Day at the state capitol
  • HCR 29 (LEGER): Designates Wednesday, April 19, 2017, as New Orleans Day at the legislature
  • HR 17 (LEOPOLD): Designates Wednesday, April 19, 2017, as Plaquemines Parish Day at the state capitol
  • HR 50 (LEOPOLD): Commends the organizers and volunteers of the 2017 Plaquemines Parish Fair and Orange Festival, Orange Queen, and Teen Orange Queen
  • HR 51 (LEOPOLD): Commends the organizers and volunteers of the 2017 Plaquemines Parish Heritage and Seafood Festival and its Seafood Queen (Oranges and seafood; what a combination!)
  • HR 61 (MAGEE): Designates Thursday, April 27, 2017, as Louisiana Society of Professional Surveyors Day at the state capitol
  • HCR 43 (DUSTIN MILLER): Recognizes the week of May 6 through 12, 2017, as National Nurses Week in Louisiana
  • SR 4 (MILLS): Recognizes April 11, 2017, as Louisiana Society of Anesthesiologists Day at the state capitol. (Didn’t Hoffman already that, too? You guys really should communicate more.)
  • SR 25 (MILLS):  Commends the Louisiana Physical Therapy Association for its outstanding achievements and recognizes Tuesday, April 18, 2017, as Louisiana Physical Therapy Association Day.
  • SCR 23 (MIZELL): Declares May 26, 2017, as John Wayne Day at the Legislature. (Well, pilgrim…..I’m mighty obliged to ya.)
  • SR 19 (MIZELL): Commends the Loranger High School cheerleading team on winning the National Championship.
  • HR 58 (MORENO): Designates Monday, April 24, 2017, as Tourism Day at the state capitol
  • HR 71 (JIM MORRIS): Commends Vivian United Methodist Church upon the celebration of its one hundred thirteenth anniversary (and next year, we’ll commend it on its 114th.)
  • SR 10 (MORRISH): Designates November 2017 as School Psychologist Awareness Month.
  • SCR 7 (PEACOCK): Commends Fairfield Elementary Magnet School of Shreveport on receipt of the 2016-2018 National Parent Teacher Association School of Excellence Award.
  • SCR 33 (PEACOCK): Designates May 17, 2017, as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) Awareness Day. (If ANYONE knows what DIPG is….don’t tell us. We’ll wait until May 17.)
  • HR 66 (PRICE): Commends the White Castle High School boys’ basketball team upon winning the Class 1A State Championship
  • HR 20 (PUGH):  Designates Tuesday, May 23, 2017, as Elmer’s Candy Day
  • HR 8 (SCHEXNAYDER): Commends the athletes and coaches of the Lutcher High School girls’ powerlifting team upon winning the 2017 Division III state championship
  • HR 42 (SCHEXNAYDER): Commends the Riverside Academy football team upon winning the 2016 Division III state championship
  • HR 49 (SCHEXNAYDER):  Commends the Lutcher High School Bulldogs football team upon winning the 2016 Class 3A state championship
  • SCR 28 (GARY SMITH): Commends Cara Ursin on winning the Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year award for Girls’ Basketball three times.
  • SCR 29 (GARY SMITH): Commends the Destrehan High School Lady Cats on winning the LHSAA Class 5A state girls’ basketball championship.
  • HR 2 (PATRICIA SMITH HAYNES): Designates Tuesday, April 11, 2017, as AKA day at the state capitol
  • SR 18 (THOMPSON): Designates April 27, 2017, as FFA Day at the Louisiana State Capitol and commends the state officers of the Louisiana FFA Association.
  • SR 6 (WALSWORTH):  Designates April 12, 2017, as Y Day in Louisiana. (Why Y?)

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A question for Public Service Commissioner Mike Francis:

How much is enough?

And that’s not a rhetorical question. We really want to know what your limits are.

According to Francis, a wealthy man in his own right, he should be entitled to a free lunch.

Literally.

You see, the political campaigns of Public Service Commission (PSC) members, the Louisiana Insurance Commissioner and judges at every level are financed in large part by the very ones they regulate or do business with on a daily basis.

But apparently that association is not cozy enough for Francis, who wants to remove all restrictions on accepting free meals from representatives of utilities, motor carriers, and others regulated by the PSC.

Granted, the PSC purports to hold itself to a higher standard than actual ethics rules allow. Legally, elected officials are allowed to accept up to $60 per day in food and beverage under the guise of “business” lunches or dinners. But, as Baton Rouge Advocate columnist and resident curmudgeon JAMES GILL writes, the PSC, at the urging of members Foster Campbell and Lambert Boissiere, rammed through a rule barring all freeloading.

That didn’t sit well with Francis, who is financially solvent enough to daily feed the entire commission out of his petty cash account.

Saying he wanted the commission to be run like a business, he sniffed that a working lunch is “pretty standard procedure in the real work world.”

Our question to Francis then is this: since when is government run like a business? Businesses are run to make a profit; government is run to provide services for its citizens. The two concepts are like the rails on a railroad track: they never cross though they often do appear to converge.

And then there is our follow up question to Mr. Francis: isn’t it enough that you manage to extract huge sums of money from the industries you regulate in the form of campaign contributions? Why would you need a free lunch on top of that?

After all, your campaign finance reports indicate you received $5,000 from AT&T, $5,000 from ENPAC (Entergy’s political action committee), $5,000 from Atmos Energy Corp. PAC, $2,500 from the Louisiana Rural Electric Cooperative, $2,500 from Dynamic Environmental Services, $2,500 from ADR Electric, $2,500 from carbon producing company Rain CII, $2,500 from Davis Oil principal William Mills, III, $2,500 each from Jones Walker and the Long law firms, each of whom represents oil and energy interests. There are plenty others but those are the primary purchasers of the Francis Free Lunch.

LouisianaVoice would like to offer a substitute motion to the Francis Free Lunch proposal. It will never be approved, but here goes:

Let’s enact a law, strictly enforced, that will prohibit campaign contributions from any entity that is governed, regulated, or otherwise overseen by those elected to the Public Service Commission, the Louisiana Insurance Commission, judgeships at all levels, Attorney General, and Agriculture Commissioner.

  • No electric or gas companies, oil and gas transmission companies, or trucking and bus companies or rail companies could give a dime to Public Service Commission candidates.
  • Lawyers would be prohibited from contributing to candidates for judge or Attorney General.
  • Insurance companies would not be allowed to make contributions to candidates for Insurance Commissioner.
  • Likewise, companies like Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, Syngenta, Bayer and BASF, who control 75% of the world pesticides market, and Factory farms like Tyson and Cargill, which account for 72 percent of poultry production, 43 percent of egg production, and 55 percent of pork production worldwide, could no longer attempt to influence legislation through contributions to candidates for Agriculture Commissioner.
  • Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) could no longer accept contributions from individuals or companies affiliated in any way, shape or form with education.

While we’re at it, the Lieutenant Governor’s office oversees tourism in the state. In fact, that’s about all that office does. So why should we allow candidates for Lieutenant Governor to accept campaign contributions from hotels, convention centers, and the like?

This concept could be taken even further to bar contributions from special interests to legislators who sit on committee that consider bills that affect those interests. Education Committee members, like BESE members, could not accept funds from Bill Gates or from any charter, voucher or online school operators, for example.

Like we said, it’ll never happen. That would be meaningful campaign reform. This is Louisiana. And never the twain shall meet. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) would see to that.

But wouldn’t it be fun to watch candidates scramble for campaign funds if such restrictions were to be implemented?

We might even see a return of the campaign sound trucks of the Earl Long era rolling up and down the main streets of our cities and towns after all the TV advertising money dries up.

Ah, nostalgia.

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In the nearly six-year history of LouisianaVoice, I have written more than 1,600 posts averaging about 1,500 words each (about two million words total).

This will likely be the shortest post ever.

U.S. Sens. John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy VOTED in favor of confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, a post for which she is totally and completely unqualified. This is the woman who favors guns in schools to protect against grizzly bears.

We expected no less of Cassidy after his fawning all over her during the confirmation hearings. I mean, the man embarrassed himself with his unbridled admiration of incompetence.

With Kennedy, we held onto the slim chance that he would show a spark of independence and/or intelligence (though in his TV ads during the campaign, he professed to having backed Donald Trump “from the beginning”).

But in the end, it appears that he’d “rather drink weed killer” than show that he had a spine or a shred of integrity. (On the other hand, in another of his tasteless ads he did say, “You oughta have a gun,” so maybe it was the grizzly bear comment that compelled him to vote in favor of confirmation.)

Whatever.

Just remember that one vote if you don’t remember anything else about John Kennedy.

 

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All those rabid LSU fans who find themselves in the unusual position of backing a team virtually buried in the 19th position among AP’s football elite can take heart; at least the Tigers aren’t 44th.

And those equally insane ‘Bama fans looking to secure another crystal football for their school’s trophy case can be glad the Tide isn’t ranked 46th.

As both teams head into their respective post-season games, 24/7 Wall St., a research firm that publishes some 30 ARTICLES per day on economy, finances, and government, has come out with its rankings of the best- and worst-run states in the country.

And it ain’t pretty.

Alabama is no. 46 out of 50 states but that’s okay. Never mind that it is one of the poorest states in the nation with 18.5 (5th highest) of its citizens living in poverty). The Tide is in the playoffs for the national championship.

Don’t worry about the state’s unemployment rate of 6.1 percent, which is tied for 8th highest in the country. Alabama, which proclaims itself to be the Heart of Dixie, pays the coaches of its two major college football teams, ‘Bama and Auburn, combined SALARIES of $11.67 million—$4.73 for Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and $6.94 million for ol’ Nicky Boy.

(Les Miles, before being unceremoniously cut loose by LSU’s Athletic Director Joe Alleva, himself the possessor of somewhat dubious talent, was pulling down a cool $4.3 million per annum. But all of these salaries pale in comparison to Jim Harbaugh’s $9.004 million salary at Michigan.)

LSU, meanwhile, is headed to this Friday’s Citrus Bowl in Orlando to take on the juggernaut Cardinals of Louisville—without the services of Leonard Fournette who has played his last game for the Tigers. (On that note, now that Fournette has declared himself draft eligible, retained an agent and opted not to participate in Friday’s game, has he, or any other player deciding to go pro, also opted out of attending classes for the remainder of the semester as well? If not, are any of them continuing to reside in free housing, enjoying free meals or using school training equipment for workouts? Just a thought.)

Meanwhile, back home, Louisiana ranks as the 44th best-run (or the seventh worst-run) state, just two notches ahead of Alabama. The two are sandwiched around Kentucky in the rankings while the state geographically wedged between them, Mississippi, is ranked 47th best, or fourth-worst with the fifth-highest unemployment rate at 6.5 percent and the highest poverty rate at 22.0 percent.

Louisiana’s unemployment rate of 6.3 percent (sixth-highest, right behind Mississippi) and its third-highest poverty rate of 19.6 percent (New Mexico’s 20.4 percent is second-highest) are nothing to brag about. Nor is its $4,067 debt per capital (16th highest).

The question, at least in Louisiana’s case, is: Why?

  • Louisiana has some of the highest crude oil and natural gas reserves in the nations;
  • Louisiana is one of the top crude oil producers in the country;
  • More crude oil is shipped to the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) than to any other U.S. port;
  • Louisiana has several of the nation’s largest ports with exports totaling $10,530 per capita in 2015, second highest of all states, behind only Washington;

So with this abundance of natural resources, why is it that Louisiana continues to struggle with high poverty, low educational attainment and high violent crime.

Well, for starters, you can tie the first two of those to the third: high poverty and low education rates equal high crime. Every time.

All that notwithstanding, however, the overriding question is how can a state with such an abundance of the world’s most valuable commodity fail to profit?

Market news has been replete with stories lately about how the poor oil companies are taking hits with some reporting net profits down by as much as 37 percent. Still, even with lower earnings, some, like SHELL, reported net profits of a paltry $2.24 billion for the second quarter of 2016. That’s three months’ profits, folk. Three months.

Yet, Louisiana continues to give away the store to big oil through more than generous tax breaks while allowing them to walk away from the ravages they have inflicted on our coastal marshes.

With so much revenue derived by the oil and chemical industries through these tax breaks, there is no reason why this state’s citizenry continues to wallow in the depths of financial despair and desperation.

With a more reasonable tax structure in which big oil, big chemical plants, and their related industries (ports, trucking, and rail) could be asked to bear more responsibility for wrecking our coastline, polluting our air and water, and tearing up our highways, Louisiana could forge ahead of most of those states ranked ahead of them.

Yet we continue to place the greatest burden on the backs of those who can least afford it: the middle and low income groups through the most inequitable form of taxes. Louisiana has the third-highest average (9.01 percent) in state and local SALES TAXES in the nation.

Ever wonder why that is? For starters, the average taxpayer doesn’t have the time or resources or a PAC to generate organized opposition to this rigged tax structure or to purchase legislators’ votes. Big oil, Big Pharma, and Big Banks do.

Do you think it was sheer coincidence that former State Sen. Robert Adley was appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards as Executive Director, Louisiana Offshore Terminal Authority? http://gov.louisiana.gov/news/governorelect-edwards-announces-cabinet-executive-staff-bese-board-appointments

Think again. Here is LouisianaVoice’s overview on why Big Oil has the influence it exercises in this state: https://louisianavoice.com/2016/08/28/ag-jeff-landry-joins-jindal-legislators-in-protecting-big-oil-from-cleanup-responsibility-follow-the-money-for-motives/

(Be sure to click on Copy of Campaign Contributions)

But at least the NCAA playoffs and the Citrus Bowl—and national signing day—will keep the natives content for a while longer.

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