Where did the Government Jobs Go?

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Long a ticket to the middle class, especially for African-Americans, they have become increasingly difficult to find

 

By ANNIE LOWREY
APRIL 27, 2016

On a muggy afternoon in April, Angelina Iles, 65, folded herself into my passenger seat and took me on a tour of her beloved Pineville, La., a sleepy town smack in the middle of the low, wet state. We drove past spaced-out, low-slung houses and boarded-up businesses — shuttered restaurants, a decrepit gas station — as Iles, an African-American retired lunchroom worker and community activist, guided me toward the muddy banks of the Red River. Near there stands the locked-up Art Deco shell of the Huey P. Long hospital, which once served the poorest of the poor in Rapides Parish — and employed more than 300 workers.

When employers leave towns like Pineville, they often do it with a deaf ear to the pleading of state and local governments. But in the case of Huey P. Long, the employer was the government itself. Its demise began, arguably, in 2008, when Bobby Jindal was swept into the Louisiana governor’s mansion on a small-government-and-ethics platform, promising to modernize the state and unleash the power of American private industry along the Gulf Coast. At the time, Louisiana was flush with federal funds for Hurricane Katrina reconstruction and running a budget surplus. Jindal and the State Legislature slashed income taxes and started privatizing and cutting. This was a source of great pride for Jindal. During his failed bid for the presidency last year, he boasted that bureaucrats are now an endangered species in Louisiana. “I’ve laid off more of them than Trump has fired people,” he said, “and I’ve cut my state’s budget by more than he’s worth.” Full article here

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