292. Ville Platte, Evangeline Parish (LA36)

I ended up taking a small detour on the way here because I’m a sucker for a tank…

I found this out in the back of beyond and stopped to take a look. Yes, it’s only a Sherman and there are a lot of these and other decommissioned hardware at similar places, but sometimes you just have to stop and say hello to these old girls out here where they live. Speaking of decommissioned hardware…

…that helicopter is on the grounds of the courthouse and, somehow, if it had been a snake it would have bitten me! I can spot a nano on an iron fence at 10 yards. How could I miss that big old thing? Not a clue!

What isn’t pictured here is the ground crew. When I arrived, there were 5-10 guys painting in the parking lot, doing grounds maintenance, all in bright orange jumpsuits. Prison labor is a big thing for governmental upkeep in Louisiana. Something like 90% of employees at the State Capital and other state offices are prisoners. Penal labor makes up a lot of the labor force for a number of companies in the state. Cheap labor makes it quite profitable to run some businesses in Louisiana. I’m not even going to get into the race and class ramifications of some of this, but it makes me wonder… I’ve mentioned on a few occasions how poor a state this is. The thing is this: money is the blood of a polity. When money moves around, just like blood does in the body, the polity is healthy. When money collects and pools, just like in the body, it is often a sign of dysfunction. My point here (and I do have one) is that maybe the state and its people might not be so poor if more people were able to do some of these jobs for minimum wage or more (definitely more) than for prisoners to do them for pittance wages (less than a dollar an hour in many cases). Way to misread the Thirteenth Amendment for profit, guys. Then again, there are some people who think my economic and political ideals are a little to the right of Leon Trotsky. That said, most of those people don’t actually know the actual ideals of Leon Trotsky other than as a name that means crazy leftist stuff. Oh, well. I can’t fix the economic ills of any state, much less one I don’t even live in. What I can do is cache…

There used to be a school here and one of its former students left a cache to commemorate its existence. I ended up snagging this on the way into Ville Platte after stopping to see the Sherman. I even had to endure a “chemical attack” on the way here. While I was driving, I noticed a shirtless guy in his yard, spraying for mosquitoes and other bugs. I flew by on the road at 60 MPH. Imagine my surprise when the fumes of the bug spray penetrated my sealed bubble in strength enough to start me coughing. Have you ever used bug spray in a room and got that chemical smell in your nostrils? I had that in the closed car at high speed from the other side of a multi-lane road. And that guy was in shorts with no shirt. I’ve never actually watched a person give themselves cancer before, but I have the feeling that I have now seen it with my own eyes. Despite my diagnosis, I managed to make it to the courthouse and then get moving again, making it to…

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