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Monday, April 10, 2017

OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS

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Dancing around the right words when four-letter words say it best

Incompetence is a four-letter word.

And for those of us who are totally fed up with incompetence in our elected officials, we probably sound like the most foul-mouthed, cussing sailor you have ever met. And you know what? It’s just gotten to that point.

There’s simply no polite way to say it anymore. After all, if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll keep getting what we’re getting, and frankly, and I don’t want any more of “it.”

From the Caddo Parish superintendent of schools, to the mayor of Shreveport, to the “accidental” governor of Louisiana, they tell us how much they are “working for us,” that “now is our time,” and that “our children deserve better.” They tell us how our streets will be safer, our schools will be better, garbage pickup will be on time, our water bills will be accurate, and our future will be brighter, all because of their ideas (and the higher and higher taxes to pay for them).

But their ideas aren’t enough — good ideas don’t have wings. They don’t just take off. They require leadership abilities to bring them into fruition, and far too many of our elected officials simply don’t have it in them, despite their arguably good intentions.

They don’t have the temperament needed to concentrate on large-scale, organizational change. They aren’t secure enough in their own beliefs to deliver the changes needed because they capitulate when faced with almost any political resistance to those changes.

But look, leadership is not for everyone, and that’s okay, but we don’t have to elect them into office, either. According to Fortune magazine, 70 percent of CEOs fail because they cannot execute. They don’t get things done, they are indecisive, and don’t follow through. And yet, we keep electing these same type of folks to lead our communities and nation, year after year.

As voters, we must be in the “people” business in every election, every year, every time. As Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric said, “We spend all our time on people,” he says. “The day we screw up the people thing, this company is over.”

The same is true for our government, from City Hall to the White House, and I’ll say it — we’ve screwed up the people thing. Just look at the “ideas” being floated around in Baton Rouge right now to “fix” our state’s economy.

"What our “accidental” governor doesn’t understand is there is no such thing as a “free lunch,” even if you think you are soaking the rich, or making business pay their “fair share.” At some point, we, the people, end up footing the bill, no matter what you make it look like today.”

Although Louisiana already has the highest average combined state and local sales tax rates in America, Gov. Edwards wants to raise taxes in Louisiana even more – this time with a “gross receipts tax” – even though our proposed state budget is already $4 billion larger than it was last year.

This “gross receipts tax” is an additional tax that will be levied on all businesses that sell more than $1.5 million of “stuff.” That’s a tax that is due whether a business is earning a profit or not. There’s not enough room here to discuss the details, but the next time you call a plumber to unclog a drain, or buy a car, or even go to the doctor, you’ll be paying for Gov. Edwards’ “gross receipts tax,” and you’ll be funding higher and higher government spending for stuff that you probably wouldn’t approve of in the first place.

What our “accidental” governor doesn’t understand is there is no such thing as a “free lunch,” even if you think you are soaking the rich, or making business pay their “fair share.” At some point, we, the people, end up footing the bill, no matter what you make it look like today.

Raising taxes is the path of least resistance. It’s much easier to keep on spending than cutting back and disappointing a constituency. Just like it’s much easier to keep smoking than to quit. Or to sit in front of the television, or scroll through Facebook posts, than to spend time with your kids. Or to be more concerned with your own well-being than those who are less fortunate and could use your help.

So yes, I am using a lot of four-letter words these days. For some of our elected officials, they just may be the only ones they can understand.

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman and attorney. He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com.

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