JR Ball: Should dying Louisiana small towns be kept alive?

With each passing month, more and more of the tax dollars coming from Baton Rouge or one of the state’s other semi-thriving metropolises is going to the rather pointless effort of keeping some dying, rural town on life support.

Just this month, Executive Editor JR Ball his new column, state government came to the rescue of two more cash-strapped cities, raising the total to seven towns receiving state taxpayer aid. More troubling, the legislative auditor’s office says as many as 60 Louisiana communities are on the brink of financial disaster.

And while it’s sad that many have barely functioning water systems or crippling unfunded retirement debt, Ball wonders what should be done about it, before concluding … nothing.

These communities, he argues, no longer have the ability to compete economically and its population is increasingly fleeing to other states or more vibrant Louisiana cities. So why would it make sense to keep a dying city on life support?

Ball denounces the practice, instead urging the state to consider what the return is on those tax-dollar investments into cash-strapped towns.

“It’s amazing how the people of this state—who allegedly adore small government, abhor taxes, believe public dollars are generally wasted, love Donald Trump and wrap themselves in the flag of self-reliance when it comes to poor black people—can so easily embrace the glory days of Huey Long-style populism when it quenches some self-serving thirst,” Ball writes.

Read the full column about how the taxpayer cost of keeping these towns alive for nostalgia sake isn’t worth it. Send comments to editor@businessreport.com.    

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