Perspectives on ferry fight

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 30, 2013

As the Louisiana Legislature gets ready to begin another session, budget issues weigh heavily on most of its members, and once again this year the Reserve/Edgard ferry is fighting for its very existence as proposed budget cuts may force the ferry to throw down anchor for good.

There are many on both sides of the fight. Those who oppose the shutdown cite the long commute for those wishing to travel between the east and west banks of St. John the Baptist Parish. Those in favor of the shutdown claim the mode of transit is inefficient, antiquated and dangerous. Regardless of what side of the argument one falls on, the debate itself brings up some very important questions regarding the future of the parish and even society as a whole.

The first question is, “What does St. John Parish have to gain in losing the ferry?” The truthful answer is “probably not much.” Because the ferry is state funded, the money saved by its closure in all likelihood will not remain here. And it almost certainly will not used to help the state’s troubled schools. The steady decline in state education funding has made that clear.

So, what will St. John Parish lose if the ferry is closed? The ferry’s closure would make the parish the only one in the region without a Mississippi River crossing. That’s not exactly a recipe for growth. Also, the west bank of the parish, besides being the location of the parish seat, holds much of the region’s history. The ferry’s closure would undoubtedly speed up the demise of these communities and could result in scattered neighborhoods tucked between imposing and possibly dangerous industrial apparatus.

Lastly, many in favor of the closure have a let-those-who-use-it-pay-for-it attitude, making one wonder what kind of society we strive to be. Do we want to live in a society where only the voice of the majority is heard or should we try to make ours a compassionate society that cares for each member equally?

The very document upon which this nation is based, the Declaration of Independence, states “All men are created equal.” We must now ask ourselves whether these are just some lofty words, full of idealism with no bearing on reality, or if this ideal is something to be reached for daily in this grand experiment we call the United States of America.