Why Louisiana Stays Poor

With all Louisiana’s wealth in natural resources and industry, WHY DO WE STAY SO POOR?

Comments

Wow, as an outsider (not from Louisiana) I’ve visited the state numerous times, and the impression is always the same—shocking poverty and decay. I’ve always thought of Louisiana as an under-developed state that has just been passed-by the 20th & 21st Centuries. To learn that economically, it’s a very wealthy state with huge economic production and growth from which residents are deriving little to no benefit SCREAMS exploitation. This is a clear lesson in the vital importance of taxes and how they are used.

 

I am a native Louisianaian. If the people would stop electing and re-electing corrupt politicians we could be such a better state. Louisiana is a fantastic state but corruption has ruined us.
I remember working at a hotel when I lived in New Orleans and met a man from there that had moved to Colorado. He told me prior to moving to Colorado he never left Louisiana and thought it was the best state ever. He then said “I got so use to seeing the clean interstates and meeting nice people in Colorado, I came back here to visit 3 years later. I looked around and realized this is a NASTY ass city with no opportunities I can’t believe I stayed here most of my life”. He was happy he left and at that moment I started a plan to leave. I’ve been gone for 4 years and never going back.
The world’s shortest book is entitled “A List of Honest Louisiana Politicians.”
This is why I moved to Texas 16 years ago. EVERY citizen in Louisiana needs to see this. Thank you so much for making this video.
This is absolutely amazing I live in Louisiana and I am one paycheck away from being homeless and corporations get away with murder this absolutely sickens me
“If the wealth of a nation is mostly dug out of the ground, it is a terrible place to live, because a gold mine can run with dying slaves and still produce great treasure.” -CGP_Grey [Rules for Rulers] Corollary: Great places to live are founded on the economic strength of happy productive citizens.
Great video. Another thing to keep in mind is Louisiana has some of the highest sales tax rates in the country, and they are high partly to make up for the lost property tax revenues. Sales taxes hit the poorest the hardest.
I cried watching this. I was born and raised here. I’ve watched my friends and family vote consistently for politicians who sell them out. They worship Industry and Big Oil, they think bending over & letting the big companies have their way is the only path to economic opportunity. I have such a deep connection to this land, such a love and appreciation for it, but I just can’t be here anymore. I can’t watch the thing I love and cherish be ripped apart and torn asunder so greedy politicians and corporations can glean every last drop of wealthy we have.
I’ve lived in Gonzales, Louisiana my entire life. I can count on one hand the times I’ve left the state longer than 48 hours in my 21 years. Honestly until seeing this video I’ve felt very optimistic about living in this state, and have always wanted to come back home anytime I leave. I grew up thinking we were one of the best states because the amount of plants ascension pairsh, and neighboring parishes have to then see/hear all of this. It’s a real slap in the face, and we all deserve better. If it wouldn’t for me honestly not having the means to leave, and how much I love my community I’d leave. The other states I’ve been too not every so I don’t know for sure the people aren’t as kind, nore hospitalitie as us in Louisiana are. My take on all of this is that we as citizens of this great state need to fight for our share of what WE ALL put in with taxes. Let’s not forget the men, and women working the plants who have some pretty dangerous jobs who are nothing but numbers. Finally how about all of us who don’t work in that industry? We have the Devine “privilege” of breathing, smelling, and for some living in such close proximity to them all. For that alone we deserve some sorta system related to Alaska where it’s citizens get a percentage of the revenue in OUR pockets, and more importantly that these multi billion, maybe trillion dollar companies pay AT LEAST a fair share of the property value/profits!!!!
Great video… I went to school in Louisiana, now living in Texas. I’ve always been amazed at the stark contrast in infrastructure… as soon as I cross the border from Texas into Louisiana, the roads are noticeably inferior. I’ve never been able to explain this, since both states have similar natural resources… this video makes sense. Thank you for doing this.
As an immigrant I feel this video resonating with the reasons we leave our counties, it’s not because we are land poor without the beautiful riches nature has to offer but because they are poorly managed and hoarded by a small corrupt few. Louisiana looks more beautiful, and I regret not going out during the reconstruction after Katrina and offering my little grain of sand when I had the chance.
And don’t forget Louisiana’s “cancer alley”, where the rates of cancer are significantly higher than the national average. This is so bad that it was used as a case study in one of my environmental courses for how bad out of control pollution can get.
I’m from western New York and this just stuns me. I thought the disparity and corruption is bad here but it doesn’t hold a candle to this. I hope the people of Louisiana get justice and a properly funded future!
it’s amazing that corporations can be exempt from property tax but that individual’s homes cannot.
My uncle served in the Air Force in Louisiania and absolutely loved that state, but he was shocked by the poverty and the rampant corruption.
This was an outstandingly professionally produced video.
As someone who works in data, great job keeping this data driven and factual and not based on “Feelings”. Its very easy to follow your research and understand a cause and effect relation. I’m not from Louisiana but I’m from another “traditionally poor state” – Michigan and I think some of the problems you face are some of the same ones we also face. I hope your politicians can turn it around.
It wasn’t until I moved away from Louisiana that I realized how bad the situation was there. I love my people, but it is too hard for me to see them taken advantage like this and just roll over for it. All of this wealth rightfully belongs to the people of Louisiana, but they don’t even realize it. Honestly, once my mother passes away, I probably won’t ever return to the state. It’s too heartbreaking for me.
As a foreigner living in the US, I’ve always wondered why the “South” is always so poor. This explains so much. Thank you for explaining this.
So glad to know you exist and are fighting against these inequities with great skill, and showing some results! It gives me hope for the state where family and friends still live. I left Louisiana decades ago for college out of state. I saw how other states operated and never seriously considered returning. I sadly began to see Louisiana a a state operating much like a Central American kleptocracy, but embedded in the US. Even the most corrupt other states had nothing on Louisiana.
This is absolutely terrifying. I honestly wonder if Louisiana’s natural resource infrastructure and tax exemptions are part of the reason why school privatization was pushed so hard in New Orleans after Katrina hit.
I’m German, could care less and stumbled upon this video by accident – but my God did they do a good job in presenting this!!! One of the best visualizations and presentations I’ve ever come across and I work in white color automotive. Congratulations! Hope this had the wanted outcome and the situation has gotten better for the people …
I tend to be one of the last to support a tax increase, and being Louisiana, my initial thought was of corruption and levee funding being diverted. But this is a very solidly argued point that Louisiana went way too far in practically exempting industrial properties from property taxes. Then my next reaction was that there was no way the political fight would be won so I was pleasantly surprised to see the progress shown at the end. Congratulations to you guys for helping to create a significant improvement in public policy! Now I hope the money will be well-spent.
With those property tax exemptions, there’s also the point of them not paying for services and public right of ways that they need to operate. More dense development typically is the only property that returns more than it costs cities to maintain. This means not only are the urban poor subsidizing suburban development, but they’re subsidizing the giant corporations they work for. And they’re not even paid a fair living wage to begin with due to deregulation.
Let me just take a wild guess and say that practically everything has gotten worse and almost nothing has gotten better for Louisiana residents since this video was produced. Get out while (if) you still can. I’ve struggled here my whole life and I’ve finally had enough. I’m selling my possessions and moving away with whatever fits in my beat up 90’s car as soon as I can manage it, and I will never look back.
I’m from Mississippi, a genuinely poor state with poor natural resources and high corruption – not so much on the corporate-political level, but rather internally to our politics. Both sides of the government participate in these practices, and its no wonder that our state remains poor. Whenever I cross over into Louisiana, however, I’m always shocked at how destitute things are. Like this video states, there are so many reasons that Louisiana should be one of the richest states in the United States, and I’ve been aware of them for a long time. It’s baffled me for years that a state so strategically placed and rich in natural resources could possibly be on a level of poverty like Mississippi. Now I know why, and it breaks my heart to see a state that could be so prosperous falling to corruption and poverty that has no business being in it. Unlike Mississippi, there is no excuse for Louisiana to be at the bottom. I sincerely hope this changes.
You think those good ol’ boys on the state board might be getting some kick backs from all those tax exemptions they hand out so freely ?
Having lived in Alaska, where every citizen received a yearly dividend from investment of oil lease fees, this is sickening to hear. Louisiana should be one of the most flush states in the nation if it weren’t for trickle-down economics and tax breaks for the wealthy. The impact of these industries should be beneficial to the area not debilitating. The bottom line is that the people of the state of Louisiana are paying (or losing out on) the taxes that should be spread out to all the consumers. Good luck to all in Louisiana, I hope you finally get this corrected.
“No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems – of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.”
OMG, I had no idea how bad this was. I lived in New Orleans, Louisiana for 10 years. I actually left because of lack of opportunities, widespread poverty and lackluster healthcare system. I also knew that my life expectancy would go down drastically if I stayed. I did develop endocrine health issues during and and immediately after living there. It took 10 years to figure out what was wrong with me. My DNA may have been predisposed to these problems, but maybe they may never have come up if I never lived there.
This could also be useful to show to the decision makers in most other states if nothing else to show what not to do.

THE MONEY GAME, CHEATERS EDITION

The coronavirus has thrown us into truly unprecedented times. Most countries have enforced a lockdown, and global travel has ground to a halt, and this, in turn, has had an enormous impact on the economy.

Stock markets all over the world experienced huge volatility. Wall Street suffered its worst day since ‘Black Monday’, oil prices went negative for the first time in history and governments all over the world have been implementing extreme fiscal and monetary policies.

Many analysts have suggested that rather than coronavirus being the cause of this economic downturn, instead, it was merely the pin that popped the bubble and the enormous debts that have been amounting since long before the 2008 global financial crisis was a disaster waiting to happen.

So, how do we get out of this mess? Who stands to benefit from government money printing? Who has to pay this money back? And, why the fuck is Steve Mnuchin, the Secretary of the Treasury?

To answer these questions and more, I am joined by leading finance experts: Andrea Ferrero, Andreas M. Antonopoulos, Caitlin Long, Ben Hunt & Raoul Pal. We look at the corruption and mismanagement of the economy by central banks and governments.

‘Food Doesn’t Grow Here Anymore. That’s Why I Would Send My Son North.’

A stark choice for some Guatemalans: watch crops wither, and maybe die with them, or migrate.

NENTÓN, Guatemala — To understand why President Trump’s new sanctions and other flailing to end Central American immigration aren’t working, step into the dark, melancholy hovel of Ana Jorge Jorge.

She lives in Guatemala’s western highlands in the hillside village of Canquintic, near the town of Nentón, and she’s a widow because of the American dream.

Her husband, Mateo Gómez Tadeo, borrowed thousands of dollars and migrated north to the United States several years ago after his crops here failed. He found work in Alabama cutting flowers but then caught an infection and died, leaving hungry children back home and a huge debt hanging over the family.

Two of their sons, aged 7 and 14, soon died as well, apparently of malnutrition-related illnesses. Jorge Jorge pulled another son, Juan, out of school in the second grade so that he could work in the fields and help pay off the debt. If it isn’t paid, lenders will seize the family land.

“We all suffer now,” Jorge Jorge told me grimly. “I have to struggle daily.”

If any family understands the risks of traveling to the United States, it’s this one. Yet Juan, now 11, is talking about trying to make his own way north. And Jorge Jorge, while terrified at the prospect of losing him, approves.

“I say, ‘Go,’” she said bleakly. “‘There’s nothing here, so go.’”

I’m on my annual win-a-trip journey, in which I take a university student on a reporting trip, and we’ve come to Guatemala to report on migration. My student winner, Mia Armstrong of Arizona State University, and I have heard from innumerable Guatemalans that the most fundamental driver of emigration is desperation — and, to an extent that most Americans don’t appreciate, this desperation often reflects drought and severe weather linked to climate change.

Food doesn’t grow here anymore,” Jorge Jorge said. “That’s why I would send my son north.

There are other factors as well, and the despair also reflects a marginalization of Mayan communities that goes back hundreds of years, presided over in the capital by an incompetent kleptocracy. But climate change is aggravating the desperation.

“The weather has changed, clearly,” said Flori Micaela Jorge Santizo, a 19-year-old woman whose husband has abandoned the fields to find work in Mexico. She noted that drought and unprecedented winds have destroyed successive corn crops, leaving the family destitute, adding, “And because I had no money, my children died.”

A third son, now 14, will be the next to try his luck. Remaining as crops fail and children suffer is not an option.

There’s no rain, and no way to grow crops,” Mateo Mateo said. “One can’t live here.”

The Key to Making Peace in Africa

Fighting Corruption Can Help End Conflict

Mike Pence, Holy Terror

Are you sure you want to get rid of Donald Trump?

There are problems with impeaching Donald Trump. A big one is the holy terror waiting in the wings.

That would be Mike Pence, who mirrors the boss more than you realize. He’s also self-infatuated. Also a bigot. Also a liar. Also cruel.

To that brimming potpourri he adds two ingredients that Trump doesn’t genuinely possess: the conviction that he’s on a mission from God and a determination to mold the entire nation in the shape of his own faith, a regressive, repressive version of Christianity. Trade Trump for Pence and you go from kleptocracy to theocracy.

.. The book persuasively illustrates what an ineffectual congressman he was, apart from cozying up to the Koch brothers, Betsy DeVos and other rich Republican donors

..  the strong possibility that he wouldn’t have won re-election; his luck in being spared that humiliation by the summons from Trump, who needed an outwardly bland, intensely religious character witness to muffle his madness and launder his sins; and the alacrity with which he says whatever Trump needs him to regardless of the truth.

.. In Pence’s view, any bite marks in his tongue are divinely ordained. Trump wouldn’t be president if God didn’t want that; Pence wouldn’t be vice president if he weren’t supposed to sanctify Trump. And his obsequiousness is his own best route to the Oval Office, which may very well be God’s grand plan.

.. “I don’t think he’s as resilient, politically, as Bill Clinton was,” D’Antonio said. “He doesn’t relish a partisan fight in the same way. He loves to go to rallies where people adore him.”

There’s no deeply felt policy vision or sense of duty to sustain him through the investigations and accusations. “If the pain is great enough,” D’Antonio said, “I think he’d be disposed not to run again.”

.. It suggests callousness at best toward African-Americans. As governor, Pence refused to pardon a black man who had spent almost a decade in prison for a crime that he clearly hadn’t committed. He also ignored a crisis — similar to the one in Flint, Mich. — in which people in a poor, largely black Indiana city were exposed to dangerously high levels of lead. D’Antonio told me: “I think he’s just as driven by prejudice as Trump is.”
.. he rallied behind the unhinged former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. In a speech he called Arpaio a “tireless champion” of the “rule of law.” This was after Arpaio’s contempt-of-court conviction for ignoring a federal judge’s order to stop using illegal tactics to torment immigrants. The conservative columnist George Will seized on Pence’s speech to write that Pence had dethroned Trump as “America’s most repulsive public figure.”
.. You can thank Pence for DeVos. They are longtime allies, going back decades, who bonded over such shared passions as making it O.K. for students to use government money, in the form of vouchers, at religious schools.
Pence cast the tiebreaking vote in the Senate to confirm her as education secretary.
.. Pence once spoke positively on the House floor about historical figures who “actually placed it beyond doubt that the offense of abortion was a capital offense, punishable even by death.” He seemed to back federal funds for anti-gay conversion therapy. He promoted a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

He is absolutely certain that his moral view should govern public policy,” D’Antonio told me.

..  Pence sees himself and fellow Christian warriors as a blessed but oppressed group, and his “hope for the future resided in his faith that, as chosen people, conservative evangelicals would eventually be served by a leader whom God would enable to defeat their enemies and create a Christian nation.”

.. Is America worse off with Trump or Pence?

“I have to say that I prefer Donald Trump, because I think that Trump is more obvious in his intent,” he said, while Pence tends to “disguise his agenda.”

 

Maria Butina is just the tip of the Russia iceberg

There is no right to bear arms in Russia, and under this regime there never will be. According to court papers, Butina nevertheless convinced some naive members of the National Rifle Associationthat she was a genuine activist. In doing so, she gained access to their world.

.. They were both seeking to assist political movements they believed to be pro-Kremlin (the Communist Party of the 1930s; the pro-gun wing of the Republican Party of the 2010s). They were both backed by Kremlin money, diverted through cutouts (the Communist International, in the former instance; a couple of Russian oligarchs, allegedly, in the latter).

.. Butina, even if considering only her role as an open, pro-Kremlin activist, also has many counterparts, agents of influence who are openly agitating for Russian interests, now on the far-right edge of Western politics instead of the far-left.

  • Gianluca Savoini, the leader of the enigmatic Lombardy-Russia Cultural Association, seems to perform a similar role in Italian politics, even showing up recently as a member of an official Italian government delegation to Moscow.
  • Bela Kovacs , a Hungarian member of the European Parliament, is on trial in Budapest on a charge of spying on European Union institutions on behalf of Russia.

.. they too are part of a long-term project, though it’s not a proletarian revolution. Instead, it’s a kleptocratic coup d’état: The modern Kremlin project seeks to undermine Western democracies, break up the E.U. and NATO, and put corrupt relationships rather than the rule of law at the center of international commerce.

.. it’s worth remembering why Golos and his network failed. In large part,

  • it was because the center-left — especially the anti-Soviet wing of the American trade union movement — rejected Soviet-style communism in the United States. It’s also because,
  • in the 1940s and 1950s, the American political establishment, Democratic and Republican, unified around the need to defeat Soviet-style communism in Europe. And it’s because,
  • even in the depths of the Depression, the majority of Americans were never beguiled by the appeal of authoritarianism.

.. A wing of the Republican Party is preparing to double down and support the Russian autocracy, which it believes, mistakenly, is “Christian.” 

.. To push back against them, as well as their equivalents from the rest of the autocratic world, we will need not only to catch the odd agent but also to

  • make our political funding systems more transparent, to
  • write new laws banning shell companies and money laundering, and to
  • end the manipulation of social media.

It took more than a generation for Americans to reject the temptations of communist authoritarianism; it will take more than a generation before we have defeated kleptocratic authoritarianism too — if we still can.

 

 

Finding the Way Forward on Iran

the question of what Iran is. This isn’t just about whether it’s a dictatorship. What kind of dictatorship? To get the answer right is to know what kind of pressure can change its behavior or break its back.

The conventional wisdom is that it’s a dictatorship with democratic characteristics, and that it’s riven between hard-liners who want to make it more repressive and militant and reformists who want to make it less. Western policy, according to this analysis, should do what it can to encourage and reward the latter at the expense of the former.

But the analysis fails to explain why, for instance,

  • the number of executions in Iran rose under the ostensibly reformist leadership of President Hassan Rouhani.
  • It doesn’t account for Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif laying a wreath in honor of Imad Mugniyeh, the Hezbollah terrorist responsible for killing hundreds of Americans. And it doesn’t explain
  • Tehran’s hyperaggressive foreign policy in the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal, which was supposed to inaugurate its opening to the rest of the world.

A better way of describing Iran’s dictatorship is as a kleptotheocracy, driven by impulses that are by turns doctrinal and venal.

.. Note how quickly the provincial protesters turned their sights on the supreme leader: Maybe it’s because they know better than most how thoroughly he’s fleecing them.

.. a supposedly charitable foundation controlled by Khamenei, known as Setad, had assets worth an estimated $95 billion.

.. “Setad built its empire on the systematic seizure of thousands of properties belonging to ordinary Iranians

.. the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, estimated to controlanother 15 percent of the Iranian economy.

.. But it also means that the kleptotheocracy is uniquely vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy.

.. All Islamist movements take the concept of justice (as opposed to freedom) as their organizing political concept, and all of them ignore it at their peril.

.. Ken Weinstein of the Hudson Institute has argued that the U.S. government “should release details on the billions in stolen assets” held by the I.R.G.C. and the supreme leader. That — and making sure ordinary Iranians learn about them, one scandalous disclosure at a time — is the right idea.

.. put Setad, along with its scores of front companies and subsidiaries, under U.S. sanctions for corruption. The Obama administration did such a thing in 2013, only to reverse course as part of the nuclear deal.