Editoral Comment


State of the State: Let's all be Louisianians now

As Louisiana's newly installed Governor John Bel Edwards, his staff, and members of the Louisiana Legislature settle down to business for the next few months, let us hope that they all remember the words that many of them--including the Governor--spoke when campaigning and preparing to take office; We're neither Democrats or Republicans now, we are all Louisianians.

The Governor, of course, ran and was elected as a Democrat, a feat that was thought impossible by many in the present political climate, where the often brutal animosity of "Us against Them" seems to rule. He faces Republican majorities in both Houses of the Legislature, a situation which virtually guarantees there will be tough sledding on implementing several of the initiatives the Governor will wish to take, and which he pledged in his campaign.

This mimics the national situation in Washington, and we all know how that's turning out. It sort of reminds us of the old yarn told to great effect by the Mississippi humorist Jerry Clower a generation ago, of Marcell Ledbetter caught up a tree on a raccoon hunt one moonlit night, to discover it wasn't a raccoon at all but a very aggravated wildcat--and he pleaded with his confused partners on the ground, "Just shoot up here among us and give one of us some relief."

Whatever actions are taken to keep the Ship of State afloat financially and sailing in the right directions will require steady and even-handed adjustments to avoid anymore sudden and dangerous lurches in passing through the rough waters.

An old and wise associate that we once served with as an apprentice had a saying about financial management in the business that we both loved, but sometimes disagreed about over details. His words were, "If your costs are too high, you don't break them down suddenly, you bend them down gradually." That proved to be good advice in a small business operation, and somehow we believe that violating that principle is in large measure a reason the State is now facing such dire shortfalls. And the only reason to remark on the last eight years is to suggest that my old associate's theory was proved by its violation. Too much too fast left our heads spinning, as legacy institutions that were part and parcel of our way of life were overtured and repurposed with an alacrity and determination that was both confusing and alarming.

How to proceed? Wish we knew. But we do have one suggestion as the Administration and the Legislature dig into the messy details: Where possible and practical, take your time. Take several deep breaths. Get some sleep. Get it right. Give an honest listen to some opinions you don't agree with. Stay in session another week, another month, another three months if necessary, to hear all sides, consider all needs, balance the pluses and the minuses. Don't be desperate to Do Someting Right Now Even if You Do It Wrong. Unless it's immediately life threatening, we out here at the crossroads and on the creekbanks can wait a reasonable time, if you can be open minded honest Louisianians, and not Democrats or Republicans, like many of you promised, and build a structure of government that will survive and serve for years ahead.\par }{\plain As Audrey Hepburn sang so appealingly in the musical "My Fair Lady," Wouldn't It Be Loverly . . ."