Before I start, I have nothing against the French language or those who speak it and hope to further develop that part of Louisiana culture. Also, I know LA Rep. Stephen Ortego (D-Carencro) personally and can attest that he is genuinely a good guy looking out for the best for his constituents. That being said, recent “woe-is-us” complaints about Gov. Jindal’s line item veto of a $100,000 increase in funding for the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana is a bit ridiculous.
Comments like below give a crystal clear example of why it is so damn difficult to ever actually cut government budgets.
“It’s only $100,000, and I know we have more than 100,000 Cajuns in this area of the state,” State Rep. Jack Montoucet, D-Crowley said Thursday. “We can show (Jindal) that no matter what he does in Baton Rouge, we are going to survive like we did for hundreds of years, and we’re going to be part of this state whether he wants to include us or not.”
Sure, it’s only $100,000 of other people’s money. Why not force all LA taxpaying citizens to spend a portion of their tax dollars on something people who really want to learn the language could spend themselves? But if the government doesn’t fund this program further, that clearly means that people will no longer speak French, which apparently is what Gov. Jindal secretly wants anyway. At least that’s how I interpret Jack Montoucet’s words. However, in a quick check of the wildly popular Rosetta Stone language software program, one could buy all 5 levels of the French program for a whopping $399! Not to mention that this cut does nothing to affect French immersion programs in LA schools. So, I’m fairly certain that we will not suddenly see a drastic dip in French speaking Louisianans.
Also, Earth to Montoucet, there is no grand conspiracy to rid Louisiana of French speakers. I understand that you are simply trying to best represent your French speaking constituents. So to that aim, I suggest that instead of railing against the government for prioritizing the state budget, you look to private organizations and efforts to make up the difference.
Perhaps even, you could exert leadership along with Ortego and Pierre to work toward removing alleged dependence on state government largesse from the further development of French in Louisiana entirely. Given the relatively inexpensive options available for teaching the language, and the clearly passionate constituency of those who care about the issue, I don’t imagine this should be too difficult a task.
This is just another example of what we face in the long slog toward identifying necessary functions of government and the often-times painful process of cutting from the budget those nonessential functions. But if at every turn we face headline producing shouts of “Not Us! It’s just $100,000,” what hope do we truly have of making any significant progress of living within our collective means?