Louisiana: The State We’re In
Taxing to fund government bureaucracy is unsustainable
Watching Gov. John Bel Edwards last week during the Louisiana gubernatorial debate reminded me, as the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman said many years ago, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”
Yes, Governor, you can expand Medicaid coverage (where the state auditor recently discovered we spent almost $100 million to provide health-care coverage for people who didn’t even qualify for the Medicaid program in the first place).
You can also raise the minimum wage (even when the Congressional Budget Office says it will actually cause thousands in Louisiana to lose their jobs). You can also increase revenue by taxing businesses so much that they move to Texas or never come here to begin with (case in point – Louisiana currently ranks 49th in economic growth and has nearly the highest cost of doing business in the country, plus is ranked dead last for where to find a job).
Yes, you can raise the gas tax and the state income tax, threaten to evict the elderly from nursing homes, and not fund TOPS, just so you can “fund” our everexpanding state government bureaucracy, but it doesn’t mean folks will sit and take it (as 27,914 Louisianans have packed their bags and moved to other states – in just the last year).
And of course, you can sell more bonds, and borrow all the money you want, to your heart’s content (even as Louisiana’s per capita debt load already is above the national average, while our state’s credit rating remains the lowest in the country).
You can bypass the regulatory route and just sue the oil and gas companies directly (like you’re doing) for their possible role in the erosion of our coastal lands (even though they have drilled for years along the coast, with state permits, by the way, and as we’re losing oil and gas jobs, left and right – 1,100 jobs lost in the oil industry just last year).
You can do these things, Governor, but at the end of the day, like so many other Democrats, you just can’t help yourself in wanting to do good with other people’s money – regardless of the cost.
I get it. But the fallacy of doing good with other people’s money is that very few people spend other people’s money as carefully as they spend their own, and you certainly haven’t as governor. It’s not entirely your fault, though. It’s human nature in that we all tend to squander what is seemingly gained easily (like when you have raised our taxes over and over again).
Meanwhile, your continued spending means our debt problem grows worse each year because too many in Baton Rouge simply won’t count the costs. They aren’t willing to put off correcting the course we’re on, and like a man addicted to his credit card, your administration keeps spending and spending, even though it must know, deep down, it’s only making things worse.
As U.S. Sen. John Kennedy once said, “I know my colleagues. Their mantra (is): ‘We’re just one tax increase away from prosperity.’ I’m not buying it.”
And you know what? We shouldn’t either. It’s easy to spend other people’s money, but you eventually run out of other people’s money, as Margaret Thatcher once so famously explained it.
In fact, there will be a time where there is no more money to borrow and not enough taxes to keep up with our spending.
At some point, no matter how much politicians say they care, they are no better than the compulsive shopper who thinks the solution to his or her issue is simply more income, or the gambler who just wants to play one more hand to make it all back.
And considering the hand so many of our politicians have dealt us for far too long, isn’t it time we really shuffle the deck in Baton Rouge, before we get cleaned out for good?
Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.