Sunday, November 4, 2007

Can Reform Occur In Louisiana?

Electing a governor possessing both integrity and competence is only the first step. The Governor-elect has said he alone cannot change the political culture. His 31 points on ethics reform must still be shaped into legislation.

Anyone familiar with the current ethics laws in Louisiana realizes they were designed to fail. They serve as a "fig leaf." The ethics system is capable only of catching jay walkers, not thieves. Changing the existing, badly drafted legislation into an effective legal regime poses quite a challenge. If the reforms prove not to be effective, however, Louisiana's citizens will eventually conclude that good state government is unattainable.

Even a good governor and good ethics laws will not reduce corruption much. Those who study third-world countries have noted that corruption is directly proportional to the percentage of the economy controlled by government. That observation more than anything else explains the level of corruption in Louisiana. Ever since Huey Long's governorship, Louisiana government has been the state's largest employer.

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