Knowledge mining is Louisiana’s economic future

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Obviously William F. Tate IV, LSU’s semi-new president, is not from here.

Clearly, in the past 10 months since Tate arrived at LSU, he has continually said things that make too much sense. Tate implored Louisiana to think differently, to reinvest, to engage in knowledge, research and technology, writes Activity Report Associate Editor JR Ball at his new opinion piece.

Knowledge leads to research. Research leads to discovery. Discovery leads to new technologies. New technologies lead to new businesses. All this leads to more knowledge and the circle begins again but on a higher plane. It’s a song that Tate can’t stop singing. And he’s right.

The problem is that he’s preaching aspiration in a state that simply hasn’t and isn’t embracing that way of thinking, Ball writes. In Louisiana, life is good if there’s a pickup truck, two shotguns, a bag of crawfish, a winning football team, and a Mardi Gras parade filled with profanity. Everything else is lagniappe.

Louisiana suffers from the natural resource curse. This state’s economy has been rooted in extraction since it became a state in 1812. Agriculture, timber and seafood dominated the economy until the early 1900s, when this state sold his soul to the greatest extraction resource of all: oil and gas.

Sucking oil and gas from the ground and then refining it is not the cause of the curse, Ball writes. These things, and the enormous wealth they produce, only facilitate the real problem – the hubris and corruption of government leaders and an absolute lack of vision.

This is why this state has never cared about education. Who needs top-notch knowledge when there’s a lot to live off of Mother Earth? Diversify the economy? What’s up with that?

The LSU president is calling on Louisiana to take diversification seriously by leveraging its long-ignored academic and research institutions. This is not a plea for increased general spending, but targeted investments in research that lead to economic growth, and he is right, Ball writes.

Read Ball’s full column in the latest edition of Activity Report. Send feedback to [email protected]

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