You had to be trekking in a deep jungle somewhere outside the US not to have been aware of the “no-call” in the final minutes of the NFC championship game last weekend. The Saints were on the march with the score tied and only 1:45 left in the game, when a blatant slam by the Rams screamed for a penalty. When no flag was thrown, the fans, both inside the Dome and all over the state, went nuts. The failure to call a penalty has united the state like no other event in recent history. There is a unifying momentum that what happened was wrong and something should be done.
Not to minimize the wrong no-call, but wouldn’t it be refreshing if the same anger could be directed at state government and the lack of any serious problem solving at the state capitol? Somebody should open the windows and start shouting, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!” Just look at the problems that ought to make everyone in the state really mad.
Health-A newly released report by the United Health Foundation lists Louisiana as dead last with obesity at an all-time high. Yet there is no nutritional education, school lunch menus are laden down with pizza and fried chicken nuggets, and school vending machines are often loaded with sugar loaded soft drinks. With food stamps, one can purchase a whole line of unhealthy sugar loaded foods that include Soft drinks, candy, cookies, ice cream, and any bakery sweets. The American Lung Association gives Louisiana an F for failing to enact proven policies that will reduce tobacco use and save lives, noting that 1/4th of the state population are smokers.
Insurance-Louisiana continues to have the highest insurance costs in the nation for both automobile and homeowner’s insurance, with policyholders paying the highest percentage of their income for insurance compared to any other state. Surrounding states have insurance costs much lower, something every policyholder should be really mad about. The insurance regulatory climate get an F according to Washington-based conservative think tank R Street Institute in its Insurance Regulation Report Card.
Early Childhood Education- A recent study by Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance found that 90% of a child’s brain development occurs between birth and age 4, and quality Pre-K programs are an important piece of that development. Yet Louisiana has limited early learning agendas in public schools. The legislature has failed to adequately fund this highly important program and gets an F for failing to do so.
Quality of life- WalletHub just issued a happiness ranking using 31 different metrics, ranging from adult depression rate to the degree to which residents get enough sleep, to income level and commuting length, to came up with the rankings. Louisiana was close to last, listed as number 48. Their comments? “For tourists, Louisiana is a blast. But for people who live there, not so much.”
Trash- A State Litter "Scorecard" released American Society for Public Administration has listed Louisiana as one of the trashiest states in the nation. This one was easy to determine. Just drive down any major road in the state and view all the trash on the sides of the roads.
Drunk Driving- It seems a week does not go by where you read of a driver getting a 4th or 5th DWI. Louisiana has some of the toughest DWI laws of any state in the country. For a third offense DWI there is no discretion for judges. An offender with three convictions faces a mandatory sentence of two years in jail. But the laws are not enforced, and many judges ignore the law.
There are many other categories to list, but you get my drift. All these problems get scant attention when the legislature is in session. It’s election year, with voting just months away. What if voters got as riled up and mad about the state‘s numerous problems as they did about the terrible no-call in the Superdome last week? After all, it was only football game. Isn’t there much more at stake for voters this fall?
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.