St. George: a microcosm of our Gordian Knot government

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South Baton Rouge has a problem: they don’t like their neighbors. To be specific, they don’t like the way their neighbor’s kids behave in school, the way those kids videotape fights for the joy of posting them online and the fact that they have to subsidize this behavior. Welcome to the soon to be incorporated city of St George, LA whose residents believe their city can serve “as a model… for the United States” [1]. Denied the creation of their own school district by the Louisiana Legislature, citizens of St. George are now rallying a petition drive to collect 20,000 signatures, the necessary 25 per cent needed to force a ballot initiative to vote on incorporating as a city. If all goes well, the new city will form its own government and its own school district and say goodbye to being connected to Baton Rouge. If you haven’t gathered from my description, what St. George is attempting to do is secede from Baton Rouge, and that comes with serious legal and financial issues.

Opponents of St George, a group calling itself One Community, One School District demand to know how the new city will deal with “legacy costs”. If you are wondering what those are let me summarize: a share of all the boneheaded, big-government decisions that make the secession attractive in the first place. From “civil servant” pensions to bonds for public works projects the legacy costs paint a clear picture of what is wrong with nearly every government in North America: there is practically nothing government is not involved in regulating, taxing, building and pretending to manage. When these tentacles of the state reach across large geographic areas they serve as Gordian knots [2] that are not easily severed, it is long past time to reconsider the usefulness of these arrangements.

St. George is part of what was once St. Tammany Parish, whose citizens have resisted consolidation since 1779 [3]. Those men even sent a petition to Congress in 1812 asking to not be included as part of Louisiana’s admission to the Union. That spirit is alive and well if only St George can find an Alexander, to cut their knot with Baton Rouge.