Roseanne Roseannadanna summed it up pretty well in trying to make sense out of the trials and tribulations of Louisiana. “Well, it just goes to show you, it’s always something,” she said. We are hearing cries that Louisiana is unable to take care of its problems, and should be treated differently than other states. Some even say, OK, then -- make it a protectorate of the federal government. And you know what? Maybe that ain’t too bad of an idea.
The proposal took legs recently when Froma Harrop, a nationally syndicated columnist and editor for the Providence Journal, broached the idea in print. “Louisiana has had more than its share of tragedies in recent years, and some, such as hurricane Katrina, could be deemed an act of nature. But whatever the cause, every calamity that befalls Louisiana is made worse by a corrupt civic nature. A protectorate could provide the structure of government people need.”
CNN travel editor Chuck Thompson drove the dagger in deeper in his recently released book, Better Off without ‘Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Succession.” He summed up his, and purportedly other Yankee feelings, by calling the leadership down here in the deep South, “a coalition of bought-and-paid for political swamp scum from the most uneducated, morbidly obese, racist, morally indigent, xenophobic, socially stunted, and generally ass-backwards part of the country.”
So if that is a growing northern attitude towards us poor lost souls in the Bayou state, maybe we should consider succeeding and let the U.S. make us a protectorate like Harrop and others above the Mason-Dixon line suggest. Anyone who does a bit of research will find that, right now, Louisiana is contributing much more to the national economy than the federal dollars the state is getting back. As a general rule, so-called protectorates receive much more in financial aid from their respective overseers than the country or state being protected contributes. Not so in Louisiana. Yes, you will read about all the federal dollars that have been flowing into the Bayou State, particularly post Katrina. But whatever federal sums have been allocated is a drop in the bucket when you add up the massive mineral resources that have been drained from Louisiana.
And when it comes to receiving federal dollars in other areas, Louisiana often gets the short end of the stick there as well. Louisiana taxpayers subsidize numerous programs that proportionately benefit other parts of the country significantly more than they do at home. Here are a few examples:
Federal highway funds. A federal gas tax is charged on every gallon of gasoline that goes into a national highway fund to build highways. For years, a formula has been used to distribute the money that has worked against Louisiana. For every dollar we send to Washington, Louisiana taxpayers are getting only a little more than ninety cents back. California receives $1.30 back for every dollar they send in, as do most of the states along the east coast. Louisiana taxpayers are subsidizing roads and bicycle trails throughout California, New York and many other states. A recently released report pointed out that Louisiana is tremendously underfunded in its effort to improve its roads. One big reason is that the state is paying substantially more into the federal pot that it’s getting out.
Louisiana receives federal reimbursement to nursing homes that take care of the poor under the Medicaid program. But the formula works dramatically against Louisiana nursing homes. Where patients in New York nursing homes receive reimbursement of up to 300.00 a day, the same patient in Louisiana receives, on average, some $150.00 a day. Some states are receiving four times what Louisiana gets. Alaska, for example, receives $500.00 per day. Louisiana has one of the lowest reimbursement amounts in the country.
So maybe those east coast columnists are right. Louisiana might be much better off if it did become a protectorate. There is ample support throughout the country for states considering the option of becoming independent. Recently, a national Rasmussen poll found that 28% of Americans believe it is at least somewhat likely that some states will try to leave the United States and form an independent country over the next 25 years or so.
How about this! Louisiana becomes an independent protectorate of the U.S., with Washington providing all the international protection like they do for Canada and Mexico. Sure the U.S. can continue to use the port of New Orleans (largest port in the nation), as well as Baton Rouge (third largest in tonnage) and Lake Charles (5th largest in tonnage), but of course there would be fees similar to those charged in other international ports. The oil and gas would continue to flow to the rest of the country, but with adequate severance and processing fees for the quite reasonable sum of $7 billion to $10 billion. This is much less than the importation charges that the U.S. is paying OPEC countries now. No more groveling for a small share of offshore oil payouts.
Mississippi might also want to join in the protectorate effort. The two states might even agree to create a “coastal nation of Louisissippi.” The French would be appalled, but who cares.
So who is going to run this new protectorate? The test? Who knows how to get results. Walking the walk rather than talking the talk. There really are only two candidates for the job. One is former Army General Russell Honoré. He’s the “John Wayne dude” who blew into New Orleans post Katrina and took charge of the disastrous recovery efforts. He lives in Baton Rouge and seems to be well rested and ready. And right there in contention is New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton. Now he does know how to get a job done.
The Ambassador to Washington? The “Ragin Cajun,” James Carville is the man to demand fair respect for the Bayou State in the nation’s capitol. Also an easy choice is the treasury secretary. New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson is, hands down, the best guy to go after the foreign aid. He is Louisiana’s greatest robber baron, having talked the Louisiana Legislature out of $500 million dollars. Remember that no other NFL team has received a penny from their respective states. He’s definitely the man to go after to get the money.
The state flag would be a combination of black, purple and gold. And of course native-born Randy Newman (Louisiana-They’re Going toWash Us Away.”) should write the national anthem.
Maybe the columnist is right, and we should give it a try. Let the feds protect Louisiana’s borders and let us keep all our minerals. If you look at the numbers, I have a hunch that any redneck or Cajun would jump at such a deal.