I shared with you last week my analysis of new Census 2010 data detailing the age changes of our population since 1990 (Tabular presentation here). In today’s Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, the newspaper’s Executive Editor, Carl Redman, focuses his experienced attention on the subject.
Carl Redman’s career in journalism in Louisiana has been marked by his continuing analyses of loud and important warning signs within Louisiana’s population data. His strong commitment to publicizing these trends resulted in the decade-ago series in the Morning Advocate entitled, “Leaving Louisiana.” As that title suggests, the series presented stunning evidence of Louisiana’s population outmigration crisis, providing me an opportunity to work with Carl and his Advocate team on the subject. This media leadership by Carl and the Advocate continues to guarantee that Louisiana elected officials cannot credibly claim ignorance of the serious implications of these patterns and trends.
Regardless of such proclamation of these facts and their meaning, political “leaders” have yet to respond to the truth Carl, I, and a handful of others continue to track, update and proclaim. (In that comment, I ignore Governor Jindal’s claim that he has ended Louisiana’s three-decade outmigration flow unless and until proof emerges. Our governor’s claim is built around the selective use of data corresponding in time with the return home of tens-of-thousands of our residents temporarily displaced by Hurricane Katrina.)
In fact, while Louisiana’s politicians have for over 25 years found it politically safest and most comfortable to ignore the fact, some 600,000 former Louisiana residents voted with their feet and left the state over that time. As I detailed for you last week, one locale which proclaims loud statistical (and other) evidence of this terrible drubbing is Caddo/Shreveport.
We should make no mistake about the clear and simple meaning of, for example, the decreasing number of child-bearing-aged women. No politician – no matter how devoted to the effort she or he may be – can refute such facts; they flow unremittingly from sources in the federal government, not from any of us well-shot-up messengers. Louisiana – notably Caddo Shreveport – must point public policy changes directly at these demographic realities … or join the many other American cities well into fading away. In Caddo Parish, this inarguable projection of fewer and fewer school-aged children has yet to be met by the obvious response … the closing of many of our 70+ schools.
These trend lines are drawn from at least 25 years of causative defects in tax structure, as well as famously poor public policy planning and problem-solving. These data hawk, among other things, demographic maladies as serious as the depletion of our state’s workforce and the aging of our population. What we are watching is not some line on some analyst’s page: we are watching the morphing of Louisiana into a people with an unsustainable (there’s that word again) dependence on our federal government’s largesse, which, too, is irrefutably unsustainable.
We cannot un-ring this alarm bell. What is left for us to do is respond, or pray for some external event to save us. The responsibility for no response falls on every governor (and mayor) and every legislator (and city councilman and parish commissioner) since the 1990 Census. Joining them are all Louisiana residents who have – even if only by default – decided to quietly ride these trend lines down.
Since history proves that politicians will deal with these obvious and critical problems only if made to do so, it will likely be easier to “call out” those deserving it, then work around them. (Establishment of Independent School Districts in Caddo Parish will, in fact, require precisely that.)
Of this I’m certain: we’d better be quick with our response.
Evets Management Services, Inc.
6658 Youree Drive
Suite 180, #367
Shreveport, LA 71105
Editor’s Note: Brookings Report on Metro Issues.