Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

April 22

The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, on official state "stuff":

Louisiana already has an official state gem stone, the agate, which was designated back in 1976, but Rep. Scott Simon of Abita Springs wants to demote the agate from gem to mineral.

He has the gem designation in mind for LaPearlite, which is created from oyster shells indigenous to Louisiana. Mandeville jeweler Anne Dale developed the process for turning the shells of Crassostrea virginica into gemstones in 2010.

Lawmakers frequently seek official state designation for flora and fauna and food items that are peculiar to their part of the state.

That's how Louisiana ended up with two official state jellies - the mayhaw and sugar cane jelly. It's also why the state has an official vegetable - the sweet potato - and an official state vegetable plant - the Creole tomato.

But Louisiana doesn't need to add a new gem and a new category to its already absurdly lengthy list of official items that includes everything from fossils to fish (fresh and saltwater). The state Legislature certainly doesn't need to turn the catalog of official symbols into a commercial for a particular product, even one that's made from Louisiana oysters.

The LaPearlite website says that the gem is "a wonderful reminder" that beautiful things come from Louisiana's waters.

Tasty things come from its waters, too, and yet oddly, there is no official state mollusk - yet.



April 22

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., on "birther bill" legislation:

Requiring a presidential candidate to present his birth certificate in Louisiana is "just following the Constitution."

This is the dishonest statement of legislators pushing a "birther" bill in the Legislature, and Gov. Bobby Jindal, who says he would sign such a bill if it passes.

We applaud Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who vetoed a similar bill in her state.

The assertion that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States is false. But calling for "enforcement" of the Constitution in this context is a cover for shady and slippery politics by Jindal and others.

On the one hand, Jindal says he believes the president to be a citizen.

On the other hand, he says he'll sign a birther bill.

This is what is called in politics a "dog whistle." While there is no reason for the Louisiana Legislature to pass a birther bill, the pledge to sign the bill is a signal to the lunatic fringe that Jindal is sympathetic to them.

It is a whistle heard by those intended to hear it, just as a dog's whistle is not heard by humans - but rings clear to the canine.

We hope this bill does not pass. But if it does, the governor should veto it.

Jindal's stand is about politics, not constitutional law.

Jindal has been to the White House. He has eaten at the president's table. He expects to be treated there as the governor of his state, whatever political differences the two of them might have.

Our system does not depend merely on laws, even the Constitution. It depends on an atmosphere of mutual respect, for the office if not the person or the views. By lending his signature to a birther bill, Jindal would put his politics above his personal obligation to make America's political system work. Above the respect he ought to show to the president's person, even if he disagrees with the president's actions.

Finally, the son of Indian immigrants to this country, who have lived the American dream, should not be a party to this nativist agitation, which is at its root racist and anti-immigrant.

Piyush Amrit Jindal is the last man in America who should give his blessing to a birther bill.



April 25

The Daily World, Opelousas, La., on the need for state job diversification:

If you want to a see a social statistic in which Louisiana doesn't rank near the bottom, we have one for you. It's like money in the bank.

Louisiana ranked 29th in 2009 in per capita personal income, according to figures released recently by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Per capita income in Louisiana was $37,632, compared to the national total of $39,635. ...

The analysis in the media makes a strong case that while we didn't get hurt as badly by the Great Recession as other parts of the country, the reasons for that aren't necessarily happy ones. We may be economically better suited to bad times than good times, at least statistically, and we should continue to try to remedy that situation with economic diversification.

In many ways, Louisiana remains a natural resources economy depending in large part on agriculture, energy, timber and seafood. We didn't see as steep a plunge in employment during the recession as other parts of the country, in part because we weren't hurt as badly by the downturn in manufacturing, particularly the manufacture of durable goods, particularly autos. The bad news is that's because we have proportionately less manufacturing, particularly durable goods, than the rest of the U.S. economy. Even after decades of decline, 9 percent of American workers are still employed in manufacturing, higher than the 7 percent of Louisiana workers.

Vital as the resource extraction jobs are to Louisiana, they make us agonizingly dependent on commodity prices, which, as the price of oil has shown over the last couple of years, can be dramatically unstable. It also makes us vulnerable to having raw resources shipped out of state for processing, where another economy will reap the value-added benefits, the added employment and the added tax revenue.

State government has made some serious progress in adding to the manufacturing base with the Nucor iron-making plant in St. James Parish and vegetable processing facilities for ConAgra and Bruce Foods. If we can post similar successes in the digital and high-tech area - Pixel Magic in Lafayette is a start - we'll truly be on our way to the transition from an old-style resources economy to a modern, competitive, diversified one.