No matter how many "Visit Louisiana" ads are played, no matter how many times people unnecessarily put “-eaux” on billboards, it’s impossible to deny that Louisiana is detestable.
I'll keep my criticisms brief while I barricade my apartment from the Cajun death squad.
Louisiana’s most obvious problem—and likely its most fundamental—is its climate. The state is a muggy swamp that ping-pongs between a boiling, blistering heat and torrents of spontaneous rain. Lake Charles, my own hometown, is the second most-humid place in the contiguous United States, although it can regularly make it to No. 1.
On top of the humidity and bipolar weather patterns, the annual tradition of hurricane season sees massive flooding, property damage and loss of life, with critical damage often exacerbated by slow disaster response.
Of course, a horrid climate is the case for much of the world—floods and rainfall were even the benchmarks of hearth civilizations on the Indus, Nile and Yellow river valleys. So it's that much more depressing that Bronze Age civilizations who were still inventing the wheel had more reliable infrastructure than 21st century Louisiana.
Traffic-congested roads lead into massive parking lots for stores located miles away from residential areas. Drainage systems can’t handle more than a few of those spontaneous storms before overflowing like a Lockett classroom, and we can’t even consider the idea of simply building upward instead of outward! Urban sprawl is the name of Louisiana’s developmental game, and there will be no other word on it.
And then there’s the demographics and statistics. Forgoing my surface level criticisms of that sector of our state's population who drive lifted white trucks with obscene bumper stickers, an LED underbelly and “The Compensator” scrawled beside a Snapchat handle on the rear window, Louisiana has some seriously unsettling trends. According to US News & World Report, Louisiana ranks close to last in the nation for healthcare, education, crime, incarceration and economy. In fact, its highest score is a mere 42 out of 50 for fiscal stability.
Want to fix these problems and put this train wreck of a state back on the right track? Well, good luck getting past the corrupt politicians, lawyers and massive lobbying groups for international industries. I’m sure your naïve idealism and "coming together as a community" is really going to make a difference to oil barons and the Southern aristocracy.
There are some genuine draws to the state—TOPS, Tabasco, the soft, comforting smile of Ed Orgeron—but I for one can’t overlook all of Louisiana's glaring weaknesses enough to tolerate the unique culture and so-called "charm."
Sure, there are worse places to be (somewhere horrid like Connecticut, for example), but I spit on the advice of Delbert McClinton; when I’m out, I plan on doing everything in my power not to come “back to Louisiana."
Haden DeVilbiss is a 19-year-old history and psychology sophomore from Lake Charles.