Thursday, March 17, 2005

Louisiana's priorities...

Emily Metzgar, in the Shreveport Times, reports on a ranking of the states on livability. My thanks to C.B. Forgotston for bringing our attention to this article as he tracks what he calls the “misery index.” We try to stay positive about Louisiana, but when there is substantive information from a presumably objective source we have to bring it in to the equation:

For the second year in a row, New Hampshire is ranked the nation's "most livable" state. For the fifth year in a row, Louisiana is ranked the nation's second-least livable state. Sorry to say, the rankings are based on objective numbers and can't be blamed on some sort of perverse bias against Louisiana.

When Morgan Quitno Press began releasing its national rankings in 1991, Louisiana was ranked the least livable state. If it weren't for Mississippi, that's where Louisiana would still be today. But states aren't permanently condemned to their rankings with only small opportunities for change.

Consider these improvements in performance between 1991 and 2005: New Jersey improved from 34th most livable to 8th, Virginia from 15th to 5th, Wyoming from 18th to 4th. But for Louisiana it was a move from 50th to 49th. That's not much to brag about.

Why the continued poor performance for the Bayou State? It's how the numbers -- regularly referenced, statistically legitimate, officially collected numbers -- stack up. On 10 of the 44 indicators considered for the rankings, Louisiana's performance is among the nation's four worst.

That includes things like median household income, percentage of population not covered by health insurance, low birth weight babies as a percentage of total births, and percentage of population that has graduated from high school. The state's most favorable ranking comes in the category of warmest daily mean temperature -- fourth behind Hawaii, Arizona and Florida. And by August that won't seem like a good thing after all.

In some categories, Louisiana's performance is the worst in the nation. It has the country's highest infant mortality rate -- more than double that of the overall "most livable" state, New Hampshire. Louisiana also has the highest percentage of its population receiving food stamps. At 16.4 percent that's approaching twice the national average.

One of the most startling rankings highlighted by Morgan Quitno is Louisiana's distinction as the state with the highest state prisoner incarceration rate -- nearly double the national average -- and this without the accompanying nation-leading crime rate. The national incarceration rate is 430 state prisoners per 100,000 people. But Louisiana's rate is 801 per 100,000. This raises serious questions about crime and punishment in Louisiana, issues which get too little attention in public policy discussions and media coverage and which certainly can't be separated from the state's troubled indigent defense system and growing record of overturned capital cases.

The bottom line is that while Louisiana leadership deems construction of reservoirs, hotels, and sugar mills responsible use of taxpayer money, the state remains deeply troubled in both relative and absolute terms. Increased opportunities to fish, to house phantom conventioneers and to process the product of an already struggling industry aren't likely to improve Louisiana's performance on the things that really matter.


jbv's Competitive Edge 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In reference to the article about Louisiana's "livibility index", the writer seemed confused that while we have the highest incarceration rate in the country, our crime rate is low.
There seems to me to be an obvious correlation: lock up the criminals and the crime rate drops.

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Louisiana, a fifth world country drowning in water and Political corruption, residents are praying the Federal government will step in and investigate.

While citizens statewide are fighting building 14 more new Reservoirs, Hurricane Katrina breached a levee, and a man made reservoir flooded and destroyed New Orleans.

Residents are fighting corrupt Politicians, and campaign contributors of Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s transition team, and their family members each earning more than the president.

Political payback in Louisiana consists of an appointment to a board, or Commission.
The Politicians are also in business with members of these appointed commissions.

Commissions with the power to take property do any and all things, consisting of friends, family members, and politically connected, as a means of Political Payback seems to be politics as usual in Louisiana.

The residents have no input, and are at the mercy of these appointed, not elected boards.

Self Serving Legislators are abusing Eminent Domain by creating Legislation, and using tax money to build Reservoirs to enrich themselves by selling the lakefront lots.

There is 14 new reservoirs in 2005 with a Legislator’s brother receiving $100,000 a year per lake consulting fee, and his business partner the Lake builder.

A group of citizens statewide have exposed this political corruption, but the money continues to flow like water.

We pray the Federal Government will step in, and investigate Political Corruption in

To learn more about this Louisiana Political Corruption visit our website.

Community Preservation Alliance
Preservation Alliance

James Moore

11:48 PM  
Blogger Christopher Williams said...

Louisiana is obviously one of the most colorful states. Our culture, people, and yes our politics. I have always loved the state in which I lived in all of my life, but for the last month I am seeing the real picture. There is no way to justify our corrupt state. The more I think about it I feel cheated. Cheated out of a higher quality of life.

I want to see a change and if the same system continues to govern our state I feel I will be better off moving elsewhere. I worked in local government for two years and to see what goes on is actually upsetting. Local and state government in Louisiana has destroyed out state. Whatever happened to "We the People"?

10:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jalon Pittman Beech speaks at
Bond Commission Meeting Thursday, October 20, 2005
At the July 22nd Bond Commission meeting, my father, Nevels Pittman and I testified before you regarding our objections to the funding of the proposed Washington Parish Reservoir.

My dad and I told you about our historic family home, the Oak Grove Community and cemeteries that would be taken and destroyed by the Washington Parish Reservoir Commission.

Yet you proceeded to approve funding that will wash away everything but my memory of where I grew up, and where I call home.

Again, I request that you reconsider your decision to fund pork barrel projects such as the Washington Parish Reservoir, especially when our state is overwhelmed with crisis and debt.

It is my understanding that you have the power to rescind any funds that are allocated to the reservoir projects. I respectfully ask that you rescind and void any funds for unneeded and unwanted reservoirs in our state, and in particular, Washington Parish.

The reservoir projects in this state have become clouded with controversy. The Washington Parish Reservoir is to be modeled after the Poverty Point Reservoir.

This week, it has been reported that the Poverty Point Reservoir Commission is under investigation, and the secretary for the commission was arrested.

The same people who have promoted the Poverty Point Reservoir are involved in the Washington Parish Reservoir project as well as every other reservoir project in Louisiana.

I ask you to please look into this matter before you proceed with allowing funds for the Washington Parish Reservoir.

I don’t believe that this commission fully understands what is involved with the reservoir projects that it is funding.

At present, there are approximately 14 reservoir projects that have been sanctioned by the governor’s office. Each parish has their own handpicked commission to oversee these projects.

Combined, these projects will cost the taxpayers of Louisiana over 1 billion dollars. These reservoirs are touted for economic development and recreation, and for potable water of which no proven need exists.

To obtain property for the reservoir, the reservoir commission has the authority to expropriate, or take without asking, the private property of the citizens who reside on the proposed reservoir site.

For the state of Louisiana to seize private property for economic and recreational development is the epitome of the abuse of the eminent domain law. Eminent Domain was put in place to obtain property for public use such as roads and bridges.

You are approving money for reservoirs that is designated for our Department of Transportation projects. I don’t believe that the average taxpaying citizen of this state would appreciate DOTD funds being diverted from our roads, bridges, and other much needed infrastructure to unneeded reservoirs so that a select few can make some huge deposits in their bank accounts.

This commission has the opportunity and obligation to rescind funding for controversial and unneeded reservoir projects that send our state spiraling into debt.

The state of Louisiana has to accept the charity of other states and the federal government just to pay our basic necessities.

If you tightened Louisiana’s purse strings and put a stop to the self-serving legislators who have been wooed by cunning real estate developers to go along with reservoir projects, our state could stand on its on.

You would at the very least, have another billion dollars to budget to worthwhile projects such as infrastructure, levee systems for our coast line, pay raises for state employees, hospitals, and I could go on and on.

Louisiana is wealthy with resources, but these resources are commonly exploited and misused. Louisiana consistently proves to the world that we are incapable of handling business without the appearance of impropriety.

The buck literally can be stopped here today, and what a proud day this would be for the citizens of Louisiana.

Again, I respectfully ask that you rescind any funds that have been designated for the Washington Parish Reservoir, and stop the waste of any future monies that would be allocated to this harmful and wasteful project.

Jalon Pittman Beech

Washington Parish Community Preservation Alliance
Washington Parish Community Preservation Alliance

Click to listen to complete 10 minute recording of Jalon Pittman Beech OPPOSE RESERVOIRS
Listen to Jalon Pittman

10:27 AM  

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