Over the past several weeks, my FOX 8 News colleague Lee Zurik has presented an exhaustive investigation into oil leases doled out by the state back in the 1930s.
What makes the story relevant today is that these leases – rigged up by former Louisiana governors Huey P. Long and James Noe – were likely illegal and continue to shortchange the state while enriching the heirs of these powerful men.
The series, titled 'Dirty Deeds' on our website, FOX8Live.com, is a compelling history lesson.
But now that the case has been laid bare, the question arises: What to do?
Do we – the state – take all the property, art, period furniture and fancy cars away from these folks – described by even the harshest critics of these land and water deals as mostly good and decent people?
Just because they were born into profligacy?
It's far too complicated for that.
Then again, it's very simple: What has unfolded is a scalding example of what we witness generation after generation: Folks born to wealth, property and opportunity generally get more wealth, property and opportunity.
Folks born to advantage gain greater advantage.
The rest of us – born with the wrong last names – work for a living, work for our dreams, and very often work for those born to advantage.
This is hardly the Louisiana Way. It's the American Way.
Look at the descendents of railroad tycoons, of Las Vegas developers, of the Kennedys, of thousands of other American trust fund families. How and where did their fortunes begin?
Peel back the layers, and there are centuries of Dirty Deeds abound.
It makes you mad. It makes you cynical.
Are they illegal actions?
Zurik's investigation makes a strong case for affirmative.
Are they actionable deeds?
Well, according to the Louisiana State Legislature – no.
A House committee voted against requesting the state attorney general to investigate these old land deals, rectify the circumstances, secure a fair return of royalties for the state and leaven the free – and I mean free – flow of money to scores of folks, living all over America now, who happen to descend from their own form of royalty.
Then again, legislators are also folks with advantage. Living in the realms of power, influence, money.
The rest of us, well... it's a Monday.