If you want to understand the realities of life, just talk to someone who is living in the trenches. It’s a common mistake to ASSuME that you understand a situation until you walk a mile in someone’s shoes.
This is precisely what happened in an effort to produce a positive campaign for the Red Stick by consultants and political leaders over the past year in regard to the recession’s effects on a local basis.
In December, I opined about the top ten stories in the Red Stick with #8 being a drop in East Baton Rouge Parish sales tax revenues. As of October, the drop was 4.64% less than the previous year. By December, The Advocate reports a drop of 6% for 2009 vs. 2008.
On Friday, March 19th, The Advocate reported a drop of 12% for January, 2010 in East Baton Rouge Parish. That equates to a 76.8 million dollar drop in spending in our parish for January alone.
Spendthrift mentalities must regroup. It’s something the average citizen understands. One of the reasons that the health care reform debate is so contentious is that political leaders are not listening to or heeding the desire of voters. Politicians that ignore reality and continue to make false assumptions and false promises are out of touch with citizens they are sworn to protect and serve.
The Tea Party may draw some radical members, as witnessed yesterday by irreprehensible hyperbole, but the substance of what the group at large is preaching is common sense.
With all due respect to economist guru, Professor Loren Scott, even he was in error with his ridiculous predictions that Baton Rouge was not affected by the recession. Finally, Scott stated to The Advocate, “I guess it’s just turning out to be tougher, certainly tougher than anything I anticipated. I hadn’t anticipated anything this big.”
Perhaps the greatest flaw was that statistics and charts are not good indicators of what is happening around the kitchen tables in Baton Rouge. The best research is around the coffee shops where citizens are quick to talk about their financial woes to support their family.
The political world is a strange one. It is not for the fainthearted, and is a like a pressure cooker magnified. Popularity is seldom gained by delivering the bad news. Regardless of speculation, this is the precise reason Mayor Kip Holden’s bond issue failed by an overwhelming vote of the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish last fall. Yet, he seeks to revisit another tax increase.
Voters, however, are more savvy and do live in the real world. Sugarplums dancing in the heads of politicians and consultants do not make a significant impact on the average family that is struggling to meet their basic financial obligations in a rough economy.
An average family in East Baton Rouge Parish has a household income of $43,316 according to the Mayor’s Office. With a 2.9 person ratio in each household, that makes for some serious financial challenges.
It’s time that Mayor Holden wakes up, stops dancing around the issues, and cuts parish spending. Of course, this will happen eventually as sales tax income continues to shrink. Or, he could propose another tax increase?
I took a hiatus from blogging for the last two months in hopes that I would return with positive news. The truth is that we are living in troubling times, and there continues to be some chasm between political fodder and living in the trenches of the Red Stick.
Until next time,
Red Stick Republican