Ironically, liberals favour the status quo, not conservatives

Advocate editorial writer Lanny Keller salutes the work of two new policy organizations in his Inside Report of May 10 (“New challenge to typical views in Legislature”).

As Keller notes, policy debates do benefit from a fresh perspective. But Keller’s claim that these liberal groups are challenging the “ultraconservative orthodoxy in state politics” is questionable.

Although Republicans are now winning elections in Louisiana, many of the institutions they seek to reform were entrenched long before the rise of conservatism. These institutions tend to resist reform, highlighting one of the great ironies of our political landscape: While conservatives seek to change the system, liberals fight desperately to preserve the status quo.

The call for higher taxes is likely to fall on deaf ears because voters understand that a larger and more costly government has not led to better outcomes in education or health care.

Voters also understand that recent success stories, such as charter schools in New Orleans, do not require higher taxes and more state employees. Instead, they require allowing institutions to innovate, free from unnecessary bureaucratic interference.

If we cannot “cut our way to excellence,” our $25 billion budget is ample proof that we cannot spend our way there, either.

Policy advocates should face up to this, rather than demand more of the same old thing.

This letter originally appeared in the Baton Rouge Advocate on May 18, 2011

Kevin P. Kane is president of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy in New Orleans.