Should members of the LSU Board of Supervisors disclose who receives their scholarships?|
Story Archives: No justification for lack of details
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|No justification for lack of details|
Every American willing to work deserves a good job. It is appropriate that government, at all levels, promote and establish policies to create such jobs. Those policies may include infrastructure, education and training, direct stimulus and targeted incentives.
Polices which encourage job creation from the bottom up, with an emphasis on education, training and assistance to the economically disadvantaged are, of course, preferable to trickle down policies which funnel large amounts of public largesse to economically advantaged entities, with the hope that jobs will be a by-product.
Our state and local governments have decided to funnel tens of millions of dollars into a speculative venture, at the behest of a group of economically-advantaged, well-heeled investors.
By all accounts, members of the V Vehicle group are all outstanding. The chief executive was the Vice President of Oracle for several years, and the designer of the Mazda Miata is part of the group as well. Yet the hyperbole surrounding the project seems overblown.
We are told that the Monroe project will "transform" the auto industry.
Saturn, Delorean and others were predicted to do so as well. And while automotive transport can certainly be improved at the margins, just how it will be "transformed" remains to be seen, as do other things remain to be seen.
Most details of the project were withheld from public scrutiny until after the fact. There may be legitimate reasons for such stealth in purely commercial dealings, but when public policy and tens of millions of public dollars are at stake, there is no such justification. Our elected officials' willingness to put the public, their employers, on a need-to-know basis is troubling to say the least.
Ouachita Parish Police Jury President Shane Smiley was quoted as saying that the policy jury stepped out "on faith alone" while Gov. Jindal likened the venture to throwing the long ball. Unfortunately, such metaphors ring hollow when it is remembered that every public dime that goes into this venture ultimately comes from one place, and one place only. That place being the sweat of the brow of the working men and working women of our community and our state.
Everyone, of course, wishes the best for this venture. But members of the V Vehicle group concede that the venture is risky. They further concede that 39 of 40 such ventures don't pan out as hoped.
David Sedgwick, editor of Automotive News, a critic of the V Vehicle Group, was more graphic in his assessment. Sedgwick was quoted by the News-Star as saying "I can't conceive of a worse time to launch an auto company than now … It could be a bloodbath."
Risk has its place. But when education budgets, state jobs and other state functions are on the chopping block, perhaps a little prudence and circumspection are in order.
Charles Kincade is a criminal defense attorney.