Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sage of Tangipahoa Parish speaks bravely

Profiles in Real Courage

Dayne Sherman
August 11, 2013
Published in the Daily Star and elsewhere.
Words: 550

After Hurricane Katrina, a wise man appeared in Tangipahoa Parish. His name is C.B. Forgotston, and he stands alone as the most important commentator on Louisiana politics writing today.

I’ve met Mr. Forgotston face-to-face only one time. It was at St. Vincent de Paul. We were both dropping off items. Through Twitter and other venues, however, Forgotston is always quick to answer my many questions. He serves as the Bayou Socrates never taking a fee for his advice and analysis.

Even during the rare moments when I disagree with his positions, I appreciate his perspective and his courage.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from him is what I like to call the “The Forgotston Equilibrium.” It’s a flawless economic principle. Each time tuition is raised, Governor Bobby Jindal and his lapdog legislators cut higher education funding by an equal or greater amount.

For this economic theory, Forgotston should win the Nobel Prize just like Milton Friedman, Paul Krugman, and Joseph Stiglitz.

In other words, “The Forgotston Equilibrium” explains why Louisiana universities can’t possibly tax students into prosperity.

Raising tuition is a lose-lose game, and with the advent of a burgeoning community college system charging far lower tuition, the demise of universities will continue unabated into the foreseeable future.

Remember the $250 million construction engorgement passed during the last legislative session that will build community colleges in every crack and corner of Louisiana? Between misguided community college competition and higher university tuition, I predict that every university in Louisiana with the exception of LSU and perhaps Tech and ULL will start dropping 400-500 students a year until the entire student body can fit into a janitorial closet.

Louisiana higher education is being systematically destroyed. The culprit is not a lack of tax revenues. No, it’s a matter of priorities. These priorities come from the governor and our elected representatives.

Our primary recourse as citizens is to let our “representatives” know that they are not representing us with their pork barrel projects, often called NGOs, obese consulting contracts, and state money spent on local boondoggles.

Let the politicians know that their choices make them anathema, and in 2015 they will be thrown out of office like a big old snake that has slithered inside the house through the kitchen door: swiftly and with plenty of malice.

I find it ludicrous when local leaders run around like hound dogs covered in red ants and can’t quite figure out how to stop the cuts to higher education and other essential state services.

Haven’t these nitwits read C.B. Forgotston’s recent columns?

Here’s how to stop the bleeding in higher education and elsewhere. Stand up, speak up, and don’t shut up.

Of course, this takes backbone. In Hammond, my hometown, a newly evolved subspecies of human invertebrate is leading much of the political and business community. How disgraceful.

In a world of hacks, charlatans, suck-ups, higher education bureaucrats, political appointees, and fawning politicians, it’s nice that we have C.B. Forgotston telling it like it is. At least Hammond has one resident with a fully formed adult spine.

Louisiana and Hammond need people like Forgotston now more than ever.

Dayne Sherman resides in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. He covers the South like kudzu and promises that he never burned Atlanta. He is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website is
Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker

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