Dennis Persica

Dear counselor:

I am writing to see if you might be interested in taking on my lawsuit.

I plan to sue a variety of entities based on an ingenious legal theory put forward last week in Jindal v. U.S. Department of Education. The theory is so simple it’s amazing no one has thought of it before. Luckily, Gov. Bobby Jindal — always the smartest guy in the room — came up with it.

Stated simply: An incentive is a form of coercion.

The governor has accused the federal government of coercing Louisiana into adopting the controversial Common Core educational standards by offering monetary grants for education, more than $17 million to Louisiana alone.

Using that same argument, I plan to sue a number of government agencies and private enterprises.

For example, my local supermarket often offers BOGO deals. I see this as a form of coercion, forcing me to purchase more jars of mayonnaise or cans of Vienna sausage than I normally would, all because of the incentive of buying one and getting one free.

As might be expected, being coerced to buy so much sodium-laden processed food has affected my health.

Similarly, my corner bar has a happy hour each workday evening, where drinks are cheaper than at other times of the day. That great Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, taught us that a penny saved is a penny earned. So I buy many drinks at the cheaper price; it would be foolish not to take advantage of the bargain.

This coercion by my neighborhood bar has had a harmful effect on my relations with my friends, co-workers and family. My children already are pretty perturbed with me since I sent back to Washington the many President’s Awards for Educational Excellence that they earned in school over the years.

I returned them in solidarity with the governor’s opposition to what he calls “a federal scheme to nationalize curriculum.” But that message is lost on my kids. Though they are angry with me, the happy hours make it easy for me to ignore that.

The same is true at work. My co-workers are constantly at odds with me, accusing me of coming in late and shirking my duties, but I don’t really care.

When I was arrested on a charge of disturbing the peace after a recent happy hour, I once again experienced an incentive being used as coercion. The prosecutor offered me a deal if I would plead guilty without going to trial.

He told me I could save lawyer’s fees (no offense intended) by avoiding trial and that I wouldn’t have to go to prison. He said that if I insisted on going to trial, I could wind up with some jail time if convicted.

So, by using incentives, the prosecutor has coerced me into giving up my right to a fair trial. This is a flagrant slap in the face of the Constitution, I’d say.

When I win my suit, it no doubt will be profitable to both of us. It will be good to have more money in hand then; we’ll need it. For one thing, I expect our car-repair bills will increase if the governor extends his principled opposition to include such things as federal grants for highway repairs.

I may sound overconfident of victory, but I can assure you I’m not being unrealistic. Gov. Jindal, a staunch fiscal conservative, wouldn’t be spending taxpayer money on this lawsuit unless he knew the result would be a slam dunk in his favor, right?

I can’t think of any other reason he would file a suit like this.


Dennis Persica’s email address is