More Thoughts on HJR 1253

One, the folks over at Our Liberal Friends have a breakdown of the good guys and the bad guys. It should be embarrassing for all Democrats to see who voted for this measure.

Two, Southern Beale calls this measure “hippie punching.” I think there’s something to that. But let’s not lose sight of what an enormous “fuck you” this is to immigrant Tennesseans.

Three, I am continually surprised, not just at the impulse of legislators in our state to make these sweeping “fuck you” gestures, but at the complaining they do when their efforts to hang a “you’re not welcome here” sign on the state are met with any resistance. That’s the thing that kills me. It’s not just the bullshit, but it’s the constant insisting that it’s somehow unfair when the truth is told about what they’re up to.

Four, as Michael Silence points out, this is costing taxpayers $185 per day per legislator. Republicans talk about smaller government and less waste, but they’re the ones who spent $185 per legislator yesterday to send a note of support to Arizona. This is their dry-run for how they’ll fix the state? Ha ha ha ha ha.

Five, and here’s the rub, though. The districts of the representatives who voted for this are hurting. The whole state has high unemployment, but some of these places have crushing unemployment. Some of these places have infant mortality rates that tower over Memphis. Some of these places have grinding poverty.

And there’s not a thing anyone has proposed (and is willing to fund) this year that will solve that. It’s not that illegal immigrants are taking your jobs, folks. It’s that jobs are gone and no one knows if they’re coming back.

If we have anything to offer those rural areas, I haven’t heard it.

So, it’s understandable–inexcusable, but understandable–why the legislature is offering them bullshit like this. They might be hurting, but, by god, at least they can make sure their “fuck you” is read loud and clear.

It’s not a solution, either, but at least it feels like something.

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22 thoughts on “More Thoughts on HJR 1253

  1. It’s like they used to say about rural Kentucky. The only solution the KY legislature came up with is to accept federal highway funds so that people could move to Ohio and Indiana more easily.

  2. Until about 25 years ago or so, the gov’t of Ireland (which, economically speaking was perennially at death’s door) used to calculate how many of their citizens would emigrate each year before preparing the national budget? Of course, that part of the emigration that was to the US was illegal at this end. There were probably a million Irish illegal aliens here until the green-card lotteries of the ’80s and ’90s. And yet there was no legislation about how the cops got to demand papers from people with cute Celtic accents. Funny how that works.

  3. At a time when so many of us are having to rely on the kindness of strangers to recover from flooding, passing a bill that will erase whatever national goodwill we’ve managed to muster is just incredibly stupid.

  4. These reps don’t give two shits about liberal bloggers, and they shouldn’t. They should represent their constituency, which is unfortunately “conservative” and a fairly xenophobic. I can’t blame them for voting this way.

    The mock outrage from AuntB and Southern Beale and Jeff Woods is just bellyaching about yet another moment of realization for liberals in Tennessee, when we figure out that we are ignored because we don’t amount to a hill of beans in Tennessee politics. Why? Our leaders are a bunch of arrogant reactionaries who throw up their hands when it actually comes time to connect with rural constituencies on their terms because “that would be beneath us”.

    And so the “conservative” republican takeover of Tennessee continues unabated, and we realized last night that our Sisyphean plight continues.

  5. The gov’t of Ireland (like the governments of most African nations) depends heavily on remittances from the people who immigrate to the US. It’s a part of the deal that you send money back home to your parents and relatives left behind to get them through school or help them buy a house or so on. And so it is when we leave the hills to flat places with jobs. I don’t know of anyone who has moved from Appalachia who isn’t sending stuff back home — boxes of clothes, checks on payday, and so forth. I think that Tennessee’s plan might be to drive the young people out to somewhere else and then depend on the remit. That was the plan in the 1950s and 1960s and it doesn’t appear to have changed much since.

  6. bridgett, i think you are giving the carr and the republican caucus strategists way too much credit. They REALLY can’t think this far ahead. Its just about November.

  7. Angie, why do you say that B is engaging in mock outrage? If she pretended to be surprised I suppose you could call that mock shock, but I figure that the outrage is genuine enough.

  8. Bridgett,, we’re doing one better! We’re still hemming and hawing about whether we’re going to let highways be built. After all, we can’t have that transcontinental highway running through here (never mind that transcontinental highways already exist).

    Anyway, I think you and nm are on to something. In the past, the way Tennessee has dealt with great social change has been a two-pronged approach. Clamp down on it and try to run off the rabble rousers.

    Of course, these days, the economy around the whole nation is so crappy that there’s no place for the rabblerousers to go. So, their little trick for quelling dissent is over.

    Angie, please. Part of being a legislator is being a leader. You don’t just vote the way the majority of your constituents want. You try to balance that against the broader interests of the state.

    And there’s no reason to just sit back and accept that legislators vote how they vote because the state is full of xenophobes. In the 40s the state was full of segregationists and folks who voted for segregation because that’s what their constituents wanted.

    It was still wrong and a moral failing.

  9. Pingback: Honoring Arizona, Oy Vey | Speak to Power

  10. Fuck you, Frank. I do my own gardening. But please, continue to make my point for me. When you’re talking about 10% unemployment (or more), you’re not talking about folks stealing your jobs. THERE ARE NO JOBS.

    You really think there are enough jobs for 100% of the legal workforce to have them, but for the illegal immigrants? Then I’ll laugh in your face. There aren’t enough illegal immigrants in Davidson County to be hogging a forth (or even a tenth) of the jobs.

    They’re not taking our jobs. Our jobs are gone.

  11. B., I’m glad Frank chimed in. He’s just one example of how cowardly and pathetic the average U.S. citizen is right now. After eight years of Bush and now with the teabaggers and this anti-immigrant fad, I think the whole country should spend this next July 4 quietly hiding indoors praying for forgiveness.

    We have indisputable evidence of how our increasingly inequitable wealth distribution is slapping most of us in the face (and taking bread from our mouths), and still so many people can think to do nothing but attack those with even less money and agency than themselves.

  12. “Mock outrage?” No, Angie, you completely misunderstand. Even though it has been made crushingly clear we’re in the minority in this state, the outrage of B. and others is entirely genuine.

    We are outraged by immoral acts based on false premises, promulgated for temporary political advantage, by elected representatives who have no solutions to the real problems, and aren’t doing anything to find those solutions. That should piss off anyone who’s paying attention.

    It’s easier to raise hell about the borders than it is to fix unemployment. It’s easier to rant about socialism than it is to provide healthcare for women and kids and seniors. It’s easier to permit guns in bars than it is to address the root causes of crime. It’s easier to censor textbooks to insert your personal religious prejudices than it is to fix our broken schools. And it’s easier to stage a “tax revolt” than it is to figure out some way to pay for necessary services.

    All these “easy” steps have one thing in common: they are distractions intended to divert attention away from the real problems, and the lack of any effort to fix them. They are the General Assembly’s way of shouting “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

    This twenty first century version of “bread and circuses” has at least two things in common with the Roman version: it is intended to distract the common man, and it does nothing to address the underlying problems.

    No, Angie–the outrage is very real.

  13. Oops! Pardon me for omitting my own classification. Just put the error down to my “mock outrage,” okay?

    Why is it that in basketball or football, everyone feels like a dunce when they go for the headfake, get suckered out of position, and the opposition scores easily; but when the same thing happens in politics, no one ever seems to get upset? Are we really that stupid?

    There’s something in me that resists describing Republicans as geniuses, but they certainly seem to have Democrats’ number when it comes to distracting us from talking about the real issues.

    The Arizona resolution is yet another mean-spirited piece of fakery; it doesn’t really mean anything. But it bought the Republican Party of Tennessee another 24 hours where it, and its candidates, were NOT being dissected on the front page for their failure to solve any of Tennessee’s problems this year.

    The questions everyone ought to be asking every candidate for office between now and November are — What have you PERSONALLY done this past year to:

    1. make Tennessee schools better?
    2. make Tennesseans healthier?
    3. cut down on crime?
    4. make state government less corrupt and more accountable?
    5. create jobs and promote higher wages and salaries?

    Anyone can come up with blue-sky bullshit about what they WILL do. As I learned in many years of interviewing job applicants, it’s a better yardstick to ask them what they HAVE DONE – and then to check their answers for truthfulness.

  14. Oh B,

    We have been down this road before. That 10% unemployment you mentioned refers to US unemployment as a whole. My community is facing closer to 20-25% unemployment. If so many of our working age men weren’t locked up the rate would be much higher.

    I will be perfectly blunt: I don’t give two shits about the struggles faced by the poor, unemployed middle and upper management white folks. I really don’t care.

    I DO care about the working class and blue collar American citizens(with a particular focus on black folks).

    These are the ones that have been destroyed by the capitalists love of slave labor. That is really what it should be called. In fact, it is worse than slave labor in some ways.

    Take the trenching accident from a few years ago. 5 or 6 Pedros or Jose’s were killed in a collapse. The company that killed them was back in operation the next week with 5-6 replacement Pedro’s. There were absolutely no repercussions. There wasn’t even much of a hit on their workers comp because there was no family to collect.

    Say what you will about there being no jobs. I agree. But you can’t seriously argue that removing 11-20 million entry level workers wouldn’t help.

  15. Mark, you just pinned it down for me. Unfortunatly it’s not just the republicans who employ the tactics you’re describing, but it’s exactly what I’ve been trying to figure out. Thanks so much. **scrambles off to do some writing **

  16. I’m guessing that you don’t see how you have it all backward, Frank. If we were somehow able to ‘secure’ the border tonight and ship all the ‘illegals’ back south of the border tomorrow, that company you described would still be facing the same lax regulatory regime that allows it to kill its employees with impunity. Look at the mine explosion in West Virginia, and the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Were the workers killed there all undocumented immigrants? I don’t think so.

    Those workers, like their Latin brothers, were hung out to dry because the companies that employed them are allowed to care for the bottom line at the expense of worker safety. That’s because the voters are unable or unwilling to hold their elected officials accountable for gutting the regulatory agencies that are supposed to protect working people. We’re also unable or unwilling to force our elected officials to enact international and domestic economic policies that don’t pit U.S. workers against poorer and more vulnerable workers living elsewhere (some of whom follow the dollars here when they’re forced off their farms or out of their factories down there).

    But rising up against the wealthy master is always a lot more difficult than bullying other slaves, especially when some of the slaves have convinced themselves that it’s in their best interests to say “fuck you” to the others.

  17. Sam: add this to what you said — since Reagan fired the air traffic controllers, the U.S. Labor movement has been systematically gutted. It is several orders of magnitude harder to organize a workforce today than it was in 1980…and many times easier to decertify an existing union.

    Result – the disparity in bargaining power between employers and employees is light years larger than it used to be – empowering employers to treat employees worse than they have been treated in decades.

    Nowhere, in my experience, is this disparity more marked than you will find in the chicken processing plants of Northern Alabama, where even union representation is unable to prevent the systematic exploitation of a predominantly Hispanic workforce afraid to assert its rights under the labor contract.

    In his seminal work “Love and Profit,” Jim Autry writes eloquently about “the covenant” and how it has been perverted in the workplace. The covenant (at the beginning of my working life in the 60s) used to be, “You work hard and do a good job and we’ll take care of you.” That covenant has morphed into, “Work hard and do a good job, and we may fire you anyway, if it helps us make the numbers for this quarter.”

    No one is more aware than I am of how union abuses in the 1960’s and 70’s started the pendulum swinging. I only hope I will live long enough to see the pendulum swing back in the direction of the center.

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