22 March 2009

Shrinking the state

Some thoughts on government reorganization in Louisiana.

Of course, the best 'reorganization' which can be accomplished by government is for it to simply disappear, or at least shrink to a size where, in the immortal words of Grover Norquist, it can be drowned in a bathtub. And does Louisiana state government have a lot of pruning to attend to!

While the 1974 Constitution reorganized state government into a more rational and co-ordinated structure, the thorny problems of:

a) centralization of power in the hands of the bureaucrats in Capital City and
b) the State aggregating powers unto itself that should be managed by either local entities or, better yet, the private sector

remain major issues which constitute a massive collective impingment on our freedoms, or at least what is left of them.

Let us consider each state department, one by one, and judge their worthiness of survival in this day and age of scarcity.

The Department of Agriculture, a department serving under the commissioner of agriculture, an elected official, is responsible for the development and growth of markets for Louisiana agricultural products. It provides agricultural and environmental services, pesticide waste control, agro-consumer services, animal health services, and forestry programs. LDAF is also given the responsibility for promotion, protection, and advancement of agriculture, except research and educational functions expressly allocated to other departments.

I have no idea why any of the above should be a State concern. Also, history has proven that the agriculture department is a veritable bottomless pit of pork barrel projects and pandering to the farm lobby and associated special interests. Not to mention the boundless corruption of a commissioner's office that is one of the few elected agriculture-related cabinet members in the USA.
Verdict: ABOLISH

The Department of Culture, Tourism, and Recreation, a department directly under the governor and civil service, is responsible for state parks and recreation and tourism development. It also sponsors the arts, historical and archaeological preservation, and cultural programs. State museums, the state library, and the depository for state public documents are also housed by DCRT.

Nothing that couldn't be handled, far better, by private interests. The CRT, additionally, is the major excuse why we have preserved the useless and superfluous position of lieutenant governor, who for some reason is provided influence over this minor department.

Verdict: ABOLISH (along with the lt. governorship)

The Department of Economic Development, a department directly under the governor and civil service, is charged with the overall improvement of Louisiana’s economy. It seeks industrial and commercial development, provides oversight for industrial tax exemptions, and funds research to support economic development. LED encourages the state's economic diversification, including technology-driven economic development strategies. It separately provides development services to small and medium sized businesses, job training assistance, and helps to develop export markets for Louisiana products.

See, entities such as this, which claim State intervention in what should fully be a private sector matter, are what hold our state's economy back. An entitlement fund set up by dickheads, for dickheads. To wit, the ED secretary is one of the highest paid cabinet members, because he is a friend of Piyush the Boy Wonder and a dickhead par excellence to boot (his former position being chair of the BR Area Chamber of Commerce). His "salary requirements" were much groused over by legislators during his appointment process.

Verdict: ABOLISH

The Department of Education, a department serves under the governor-appointed superintendent of education. The BESE Board of Elementary and Secondary Education was also established as a constitutionally-responsible body. DOE administers primary and secondary education, whereas the Board of Regents maintains governance of higher education. The Department of Education provides school and community programs, including student, school and community health and nutrition programs, transportation, community adult programs, and postsecondary and workforce development programs. The Department of Education is responsible for student and school performance records, comprising of student and school standards, assessment, accountability, and assistance (including exceptional children). DOE provides functions relating to teachers and administrators, including assessment and evaluation, certification, and staff development. Financial assistance and scholarship programs are funded through DOE's budget.

I need not repeat here how much of a miserable failure State education on all levels has been for the people of this state, having produced a generation of ignorant, entitlement seeking, subsidy grubbing failures with few marketable skills, little ambition or striving, and a fatal lack of intelligence, and doomed to a life of minimal economic contribution and domestic chaos.

Verdict: ABOLISH - this includes all school boards and State institutions of higher and special education

Department of Enviromental Quality, a department directly under the governor and civil service, is charged with the administration and and enforcement of environmental laws to ensure a healthful and safe environment. This includes air quality, water quality, the regulation of solid and hazardous waste, and the regulation of radiation.

And yet with all its efforts, environmental degradation is a way of life here. A more rational approach would be to take a property rights view to environmental quality, as espoused by Ron Paul and other intelligent thinkers.

Verdict: ABOLISH

The Department of Health and Hospitals, a department directly under the governor and civil service, maintains health and medical services for disease prevention. It provides health and medical services for uninsured and medically indigent persons and maintains a coordination of services with the LSU Health Sciences Center, local health departments, and federally qualified centers. DHH supervises, coordinates and provides facilities for mental health, addictive disorder, and public health services, services for developmentally disabled, persons with mental retardation, and Medicaid services.

Unlike most states, Louisiana directly operates a massive system of State run hospitals and clinics, which primarily serve the indigent and other economic parasites. Also, federal programs such as Medicaid are quite popular here due to our large population of subsidy feeders. In many ways, it is similar to what health care would look like throughout Amerika in a Hillarycare world.

Of course you know my position here. Health care should never be a state concern. See how far State health care has benefited the Canadians and Europeans.

Verdict: ABOLISH

The Department of Insurance, a department serving under the commissioner of insurance, an elected official, regulates insurance rates. It also provides administration of state insurance code and health insurance research and development.

Insurance regulation is stupid, and a major reason why I must pay double the auto insurance premium than I would in some other state. (Actually, insurance itself is stupid, but dat's another post.) Not to mention that the elected position of insurance commissioner has an unfortunate habit of attracting folks who end up convicted felons...
Verdict: ABOLISH

The Department of Justice serves under the state's attorney general, an elected official. The attorney general serves to provide public protection (consumer, environmental, and insurance protection, anti-trust, securities, and family violence prevention). The Justice Department provides civil legal services for the state and its agencies, including protection and assertion of rights of state, debt collection, public works litigation, legal protection of state lands, water bottoms, and natural resources. Criminal law investigation and prosecution as permitted by the constitution are the responsibility of the Attorney General (criminal appeals, amicus curiae briefs, habeas corpus defense, assistance to district attorneys, public corruption, institutional and insurance fraud, and extraditions). The Attorney General gives legal representation to the state and its agencies in court cases and legal services for state gaming regulatory bodies, as well as issuance of legal opinions.

At one time, the Attorney General was merely the state's chief lawyer, representing the state in legal proceedings and similar such. But as with all bureaucrats, the attorney general's empire could not be left behind with the expansion of the State over the last hundred years, and now you witness all these additional "responsibilities" which the AG has aggregated unto himself. Of course, never mind that this all serves far too frequently to ruin innocent people's lives (such as the unfortunate Anna Poe).

Verdict: Abolish the DoJ and limit the AG position to its historic role as the state's chief legal counsel.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission
(formerly the Department of Labor), a commission directly under the governor and civil service, has programs to protect well-being of state’s workforce. It monitors employment security, provides unemployment compensation, aids with manpower evaluation and training, labor-manangement relations, and administration of the community services block grant. Workers’ compensation and labor market and occupational information are also the Workforce Commissions's duties. The Louisiana Workforce Investment Council (formerly Louisiana Workforce Commission) has become part of the reorganized workforce agency.

This institution is silly as to be laughable. Its duties are "economic development" related, though without the corporate welfare angle. In short, the labor department's role is to funnel "surplus" labor to its Corporate Amerika minions, as well as manage the unemployment "insurance" and workmen's compensation programs. All of which, by the way, are either immoral or more properly a private sector concern.

Verdict: ABOLISH

The Department of Natural Resources, a department directly under the governor and civil service, helps with the conservation, regulation, and development of state natural resources (except timber, fish, and wildlife, which are designated to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries). DNR also provides coastal restoration and management.

The aggregation of the natural resources of this state to public ownership for proper "stewardship" is a crime and an insult to free men everywhere. Visit the former USSR for a look at what socialist "stewardship" of natural resources gets you. But as with everything else, power and money are tied up in this matter. DNR is almost like the state's IRS, as mineral leases provide for a substantial portion of the state's revenues.

Open these resources up to private exploitation, starve the state!

Verdict: ABOLISH

The Departments of Public Safety and Corrections, departments directly under the governor and civil service, houses the state police, state property security, and gaming control, whose responsibilities include the enforcement of criminal and traffic laws and weights and standards. The Department of Public Safety aids in fire prevention and protection, and provides services for motor vehicle registration, and drivers’ licenses. The Department of Corrections supervises and maintains correctional institutions, the care, custody, and treatment of children adjudicated delinquent or needing supervision, probation and parole of adults, and the custody, evaluation, and rehabilitation of inmates and adjudicated juveniles.

I would argue that certain limited functions currently held by DPS and DOC have merit in a minarchist society; however, there is so much wrong with the overall distribution of justice in this country that it goes beyond any short summation I could provide here. The short of it can be summated thus:

- Many, many laws and regulations for "safety" purposes exist (driver's licenses, safety codes, etc.) which are really intended for revenue or increase of State power, or otherwise exist because we cannot be trusted by our State overlords with employing common sense in our daily lives regarding safety matters;
- The justice system is hardly restorative. Instead, we give criminals free room and board for the terms of their imprisonment, subsidized by further extractions from their victims in the form of taxes;
- Too many laws that exist to "protect oneself from oneself" which are enforced too assidiously, and thus lesser emphasis on protection of the law abiding from outside harm.
- Aggregation of the State role in domestic matters far and beyond what is acceptable. In particular, the concept of the State acting in loco parentis is abominable and should not be tolerated by free men.

Verdict: Delegate the morally proper tasks to local authorities, abolish the balance, and limit state-level public safety functions to the protection of State property, buildings, and officials, as well as administration of correctional programs which should not include subsidized imprisonment.

The Public Service Commission comprises the Department of Public Service and is divided into five districts, each headed by a commissioner whom is a locally-elected official.

The PSC is the "regulatory" body which permits monopolistic existence of State-sponsored utility companies and other "private businesses" which provide "public goods."

I think you know my opinion on this matter.

Verdict: ABOLISH

The Department of Revenue, a department directly under the governor and civil service, ensures the assessment, evaluation, and collection of state taxes. It also regulates alcoholic beverage control and charitable gaming.

Similar to the IRS, I hate the LDR with every inch of my life. However, someone has to manage tax collection in the existence of a State force. Alcoholic beverage control and gaming regulation, however, is just plain ridiculous.

Tax policy is another matter, beyond the scope of this discussion. Of course, with all the abolishin' goin' on here, our state tax bills should decline precipitously in any case.

Verdict: Merge tax collection functions with the Treasury Department, abolish other functions

The Department of Social Services, a department directly under the governor and civil service, provides social services programs, such as the rehabilitation of handicapped persons, child welfare, blind services, public assistance programs, the food stamp program. It licenses day care and foster care facilities. The process of adoption and the enforcement of child support both fall under DSS's authority, as well as paternity establishment and parental eligibility determinations.

Or as it's known in the hood, "the welfare." Subsidies galore for those who desire to survive parasitically.


The Department of State comprises the office of the secretary of state whom is an elected official. The Secretary of State is the chief election officer of the state. He administers state corporation and trademark laws, the preservation of official state archives, and the official registry of commissions. SOS also maintains the historical dignity of state government landmarks including the Old State Capital and certain museums. The Secretary of State is considered the keeper of the Great Seal of the State of Louisiana. He maintains a "First Stop Shop" for business licensing in Louisiana, and administers certain functions of the Uniform Commercial Code. The Secretary of State's office holds custody of voting machines and provisions voter registration.

The Secretary of State's office performs mostly harmless functions, such as election oversight and preservation of the State archives. Don't feel too bad; Louisiana used to have a separate Elections commissioner and department, thanx to Earl Long; but after one too many elections commissioners were sent up the river for various felonies, the department was wisely returned to its former stead under the SOS.

Verdict: Retain, but limit to morally proper functions

The Department of State Civil Service, a department directly under the governor and civil service, is responsible for processing many state jobs. It provides administration and regulation of the state classified service and is headed by the Civil Service Commission, a seven-member body appointed by the governor.

Civil service is a ruse for "subsidized, lifetime employment" and a tool to gain permanent power over the powerful voating block that is the State bureaucracy. In a rational world, civil service would not exist, and State employees would have to keep their jobs by dint of performance and sucking up to their bosses like everyone else.

Verdict: ABOLISH

The Department of Transportation and Development, a department directly under the governor and civil service, is generally responsible for transportation within the state: airports, highways, bridges, railroads, waterways, intermodal transportation, public transportation, and mass transit. Public works and flood and drainage control also fall under DOTD's control.

I have noted my support for private control of infrastructure on these pages previously. One of the principal goals of socialism is to collectivize the means of transport and movement. Read the Communist Manifesto if you don't believe me.

Verdict: ABOLISH

The Department of the Treasury serves under the state treasurer, an elected official. Custody and disbursement of state funds, accounting, depository control, and investment of state funds are handled by the Department of the Treasury. The Treasurer's office handles functions relating to the management, analysis, and control of state debt, including the issuance of bonds. The Treasury may also lend assistance to certain retirement boards.

Someone has to manage and disperse State funds. All we can hope for is that the folks in charge are honest and forthright. Of course, in Louisiana, that's not generally the case.

Verdict: Retain

The Department of Veterans Affairs, a department directly under the governor and civil service, staffs the functions of the state's veterans service offices. The mission of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs is to assist Louisiana veterans and their dependents in receiving all federal and state benefits. Notable responsibilities include the Agent Orange Directory, domiciliary facilities for war veterans, and veterans cemeteries.

I see no reason for this department to exist. The military should handle the dispersement of its own veterans benefits. They still do this, so far as I know.

Verdict: ABOLISH

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, a department directly under the governor and civil service, sponsors programs related to wildlife and fish, including research and replenishment. LDWF maintains natural wildlife areas within the state. Its agents patrol the scenic rivers and game preserves of Louisiana, providing regulation of hunting and fishing.

See my commentary under DNR above.

Verdict: ABOLISH

Whew! So many State departments, so much superflousness eliminated!

This isn't even counting the various miscellaneous functions housed under the Office of the Governor, including Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (yeah, right), Elderly Affairs, the Oil Spill Coordinator's Office, Abstinence Affairs (!), the TOPS program which subsidizes in-state tuition for college students, and dozens of boards, commissions, and other such tripe. The most important component is the all-powerful Division of Administration, which manages State properties, buildings, community development grants, governmental oversight functions, and other miscellaneous matters. Much of it is, plainly put, crap and could easily be eliminated without a second thought.

In 1900 a photographer took a group photo of all non-elected State employees working in Baton Rouge. Yes, this was possible! In all, the State bureaucracy of the era comprised maybe thirty or so clerks, stenographers, pages, janitors, and other employees. Obviously this state of affairs was too good to last, what with all the threats which the contemporary State has identified that it must "protect" us from.

How I wish we could return to those wondrous days of yore, when the State was small and freedom was great. For all I see on the world scene to-day, this may yet be the case again, in time....

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