Saturday, March 06, 2010

Should a conservative reformer vote for Jay Batt?

A slightly edited and expanded comment that I left at the Library Chronicles

I missed the beginning of "Politics with a Punch" last night, did Jeff Crouere explain why he had Batt as a guest but not Guidry? If I understood Batt correctly, fiscal conservatives have the ability to pay for government services while eliminating sources of government revenue, especially unpopular sources of revenue like parking tickets and traffic cameras.

Anyway, I still think that Nagin forfeited any right to say NIMBY when he went to Jamaica before discussing FEMA trailer placement, but BATT was cynical enough in his handling of the situation to even impress me. The District A locations that he suggested were as far as possible from District A residents as any location that were technically in District A could possibly be, e.g. near the corner of Sere and Encampment. A small part of District A is on the eastern side of Bayou St. John bordering Districts C & D, and a very small part of that small part juts to the north to be surrounded by District D on three sides. In other words, Batt said, "You can put FEMA trailers in my district, just put them next to Cynthia's constituents." It's not often that I stand in awe of somebody else's cynicism.

I've started to write about this several times over the last couple of weeks, but I've been reticent to bring up the racial angle. Still, considering the racial divisiveness of reform issues, I can't for the life of me figure out why a sincerely reform minded voter would vote for the established pol with baggage over the fresh face.

What it comes down to is, if I were a conservative (which I'm not) and pro-Reform (which I am, albeit with reservations about the meaninglessness of "Reform" until specific reforms are proposed) would I consider fealty to Chicago School Economics more important than the ability to carry out a reform agenda. Yes, Jay Batt mentioned getting rid of unpopular revenue generators, but do fiscal conservatives really have a magic revenue wand? Does the New Orleans City Council ever have the luxury of debating lowering taxes versus expanding social programs? Can I possibly even begin to imagine any scenario under which it would even remotely begin to matter whether my city council representative was a Keynesian or a Supply-Sider (or a member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute)?

On the other hand, would I really want the "reform as a way to attack established black politicians" shoe to fit? Maybe it wouldn't be fair to Batt, but when you elect somebody to a public office, you hire that person to do a job. If somebody has baggage that might not make him the person for the job, or if hiring that person might cause your firm embarrassment, you try to find a better candidate. I just can't see bringing back another established white politician as being the best move under the circumstances, especially one that can reasonably be accused of being a NIMBYist.

To be clear, I'm by no means suggesting that all white politicians and business interest are pro-reform and all black politicians and business interests are anti-reform. Far from it, on either count. However, anti-reform white interests do have to use different tactics than anti-reform black interests.

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