The Credibility Gap

I was glad to read Andy Berke’s editorial in the paper today (online).  But, even though I’ve recently sworn off all comment sections inhabited mostly by people I don’t know, I also actually found the comments on the editorial to be quite telling, too.

I am tickled to death to see Berke outlining what he believes to be core Democratic tenets

Tennesseans still want an excellent education for their children and the safest, healthiest communities for their families. They want good jobs and equal opportunity. They want a clean environment, good roads and a quality of life that honors the best of who they are.

I can get behind that.

But I think the commenters bring up a good point, one which I have not yet seen Democrats address.  The biggest political stumbling block facing Democrats are not the Republicans (at least, clearly, not yet).  The biggest political stumbling block facing Democrats is the history of egregiously bad behavior on the part of Tennessee Democrats.

I believe in the things Berke advances as core values.  I’m happy to work towards those ends.

BUT, and I have a big ‘but,’ I’m not going to throw my support behind the Democrats until I understand what the plan is for cleaning up their acts.

I don’t know if we need to have a giant game of “Everyone who’s not fucking a lobbiest or intern take one step forward; Everyone who’s not too old or frail or drunk to perform their duties take one step forward” and so on until we’ve weeded out the problems.

I agree that it is incorrect to interpret this election as a repudiation of Democratic principles.  But it would be a mistake, a huge mistake, to not see this election as a repudiation of the Democrats in office and the way they carry on.

So, Democrats, I’d like to know, what are you going to do to address voters’ concerns ABOUT YOUR BEHAVIOR?!

Two Things that Made My Day

1.  I ordered a calzone from Pie in the Sky Pizza, which is where the Longhorn used to be there on Lyle.  The crust was a little bland (though it worked with the other ingredients just fine, I thought), but the cheese… oh god, the cheese.  Excellent mozzerella with some good ricotta thrown in.  You know when you get ricotta that’s too much whey and you feel like you’re eating old cottage cheese?  This was the opposite of that a kind of fluffy crumbly joy in with the chewy stringy mozzerella.  Mmm.

2.  Any man talks about me like that… Well, I’d be convinced, that’s all I’m saying.

Excuse me, got a little something in my eye.

How Do We Put People to Work?

I’m with Newscoma here, that folks are more focused on what Jason Mumpower is going to do with folks on the Hill than we are about what needs to be done in the state.

(Though, I think Newscoma misreads me a little.  I meant that we should start behaving like a street gang, not that we already are.  And I’m sorry, Arkansas, but from here on out, that means you shouldn’t come to Memphis.  Hell, probably don’t even let us see you getting too cozy with West Memphis.  Talk about taking your joy, we will do it.  Ha.)

Where were we?

What needs to be done in the state?

The most important thing we have to do is put people to work.  The unemployment rate in the state is 7.2 percent for September (see here).  That’s almost twice what it was a year ago, just to give you some perspective.

We need to put people to work because, if people don’t work, they don’t buy stuff.  If they don’t buy stuff, they don’t pay sales tax.  If they don’t pay sales tax, we can’t run the state.

We need to put people to work because we don’t want to be using dwindling state funds to be feeding the families of people who are able to work but just can’t find jobs.

We need to put people to work because people who work can better afford healthcare, so we aren’t paying their bills along with our bills in costs added on by doctors and hospitals.

We need to put people to work because we can’t afford the rise in crime that will come as people get desperate to provide for themselves and their families or desperate for drugs to help them forget about their troubles.

So, if we need Tennesseans to work, there needs to be jobs for Tennesseans to have.  Those jobs are not springing up out of native soil.  So, we’re going to have to convince businesses to come here and employ our people.

If we want businesses to come here, we have to provide them with an educated workforce.  Our workers need to be able to read and write and do basic math, at the least.  For most jobs, they will need a college education, the best college education we can provide for them.

Now here is the time for some harsh truth:

We will have increasing difficulty attracting the best professors to our universities if we continue to persecute gay people.  They will go elsewhere AND THIS WILL HURT OUR ABILITY TO EDUCATE OUR WORKFORCE SO THAT WE LOOK ATTRACTIVE TO BUSINESSES.

And let’s not even contemplate what would happen if all the gay folks in the country music industry decided they were tired of this bullshit.  That would be the end of the industry right there.

We will have increasing difficulty attracting science and technology-based industries to our state (and there’s still money to be made in those fields) if we insist that God creating the universe 6000 years ago is a scientific fact appropriate for teaching in science classrooms.  To outsiders, it makes us look like a state full of idiots who would not make good employees.  I have lived here long enough to know that Tennessee has a contrary nature.  Fuck those outsiders, you say, if they think we’re idiots, well, fuck them.

But remember, we’re trying to get everyone working here, which means we need to look attractive to outsiders.  Encouraging them to fuck themselves if they don’t like the way we do things is satisfying, but it doesn’t put food on our tables.

Pushing an anti-immigrant agenda–with your “English-only” nonsense and your 287(g) programs and your raids–makes employers, especially international employers leery of locating here.  It’s not just a matter of whether they want to hire “illegal” immigrants.  It’s that we look hostile to people who are different than us.  If an employer in, say, Japan wants to set up a technology-based industry in the U.S. (perhaps to save on shipping), he’s going to want to send a core group of people over here to set up the business and run it, at least for a while.  If you’re going to send your best and brightest, most trusted employees half-way around the world, you’re not going to keep those employees if you send them to a place that openly hates them.

Why would we even make the long list of possible good places for international businesses to expand into, when we take such glee in making life miserable for non-Americans?

I could go on, but I think my point is clear.  We are in desperate times.  Businesses are closing.  People are losing their jobs.

But let me be even clearer: The house is on fire around us.  It is burning to the ground.  We are arguing about who gets which room, about whether the Republicans are going to tear down walls to make their bedrooms bigger and the Democrats’ bedrooms smaller.  We’re arguing about who gets to sleep with whom.

The house is on fire!

Our first and only concern at the moment should be putting the fire out.

Get us jobs.  Put Tennesseans to work.

Everything, except one thing, has to come second.

(Ooo, have I ever ended a post on a cliffhanger before?  I don’t think so.  Anyway, tune in next time to see me talking about that one thing, which is, okay, so, we’re desperate, but let’s not let them kill us.)