Good-NESS, There’s a Lot Going on in Tennessee Politics

Nathan Moore breaks down how much we’d save here in Nashville by enacting “English-only”–$495 per year.  And that’s only if you don’t factor in the cost of this special election.

Let’s just be clear about what this election is really, at its core, about–can a powerful white man in Nashville still deliberately and publicly fuck over non-white people and have voters either support him or decide that it’s not anything they give a shit about and not worth them voting over?

Also, I see a lot of conservatives giving Moore grief–like he must be trying to run for office or he wouldn’t take such a public stand against this.  And I just want to point out how that feeds into the paragraph above–this idea that, when a white guy decides to publicly throw his weight around, it’s other white guys’ duty to either support him or not stand in his way.  And if said other white guy fails to support or be silent, he must have some agenda.

And maybe Moore does.  I don’t know.

But the other thing is that whole “We Whiteys have an understanding amongst ourselves” nonsense is old and I do think it’s a mindset that suffers from the fact that there are a lot of young people, even young conservatives, who don’t have that implicit understanding.

Crafton’s got to gamble now, because in even 20 years, this is going to seem like such a monumentally bigoted and stupid idea to everyone that his legacy will be as a front for white supremacists.  Woo hoo!  No wonder conservatives like Moore don’t think this is a good idea.

–Speaking of jackass Republicans, S-Town Mike reports that Bob Corker doesn’t think the cost of the TVA disaster should be borne by anyone other than TVA rate-payers.  This sure is convenient, considering that the TVA has a monopoly on providing power to our part of the South, so we have no recourse to make the TVA behave itself other than to either count on our elected national officials–who appoint the Board for the TVA–to keep them in line or to cause the TVA’s bad behavior to so outrage the rest of the nation that the TVA embarrassed into doing the right thing.

And I don’t know if Corker is aware, but you cannot get blood from a turnip.  According to S-Two Mike, the Times Free Press is reporting

Every $100 million of extra expenses for TVA will cost electric ratepayers an extra 1 percent in higher power bills. In the past year, TVA electric rates already have jumped by more than 25 percent — even after a 6 percent fuel cost reduction last week — primarily because of higher coal and natural gas prices.

That’s right.  In a year, our rates have jumped 25%.

I invite you to Newscoma’s to hear about what this means for ordinary people:

What she basically said is that her electric bill in the last three months has gone from $70 to $185. Her latest bill is $245. She knows that there have been increases in utilities and is willing to pay her part but the increase was so drastic that you could tell that there was a genuine state of horror.

“I don’t know how I’m going to keep this up,” she said quietly.

And I have heard similar stories.  Where is a woman like that supposed to scrape together even another 1%?

I think maybe Corker needs to come back to Tennessee and spend some time with the folks who can’t afford to buy themselves into his social sphere.  Does Corker not understand that you’re supposed to aid your constituents when you get to Congress, not make their lives worse?

–It makes you think Andy Berke might be right–“If you’re struggling in this economy, Republicans believe you’re on your own.”

Berke’s an interesting fellow.  His ability to communicate with people through a lot of different media makes him seem like a very viable candidate, but I don’t know if that’s just the illusion of him popping up in my RSS reader or what.  I will point out, yet again, because I’d like to drive a stake through the heart of this notion that Democrats are too diverse to come up with a message that will appeal to all Tennesseans, that Andy Berke seems to not be having much of a problem crafting a message that seems like it might appeal to all Tennesseans.  Is Berke magic?  Or are most of the Democrats still not ready to look in the mirror when talking about what cost them the election?

Which is the other thing I appreciate about Berke’s piece–he does talk frankly about the fact that the Democratic slide has been happening for a while.

I don’t know.  I’ve met the dude.  I found him nice enough, though a hair on the “‘You’re not getting what I’m saying; listen to me.’ ‘No, I get what you’re saying, I just think you’re wrong so don’t try this poor put-upon politician nonsense with me.'” side.  So, I could just have “I met him and liked him” syndrome, but it seems to me a great relief to have a politician speaking so frankly about the state of things.

I don’t know if he can win (or should win, for that matter.  Good god, we’re two years out.), but I do think he’s doing a great service to the State by pushing this agenda.

And I agree with GoldnI that the Democrats need to stop being suckered in by the God, guns, and gays fight (though I’m actually not willing to give up on the gay fight).  I think that this political moment works to the advantage of any non-corrupt Democratic candidate for Governor.  The Republicans rule.  If they pass their legislation and the State is still not fixed, people will notice.

And I am yet again in agreement with Terry Frank, who today was so close to cussing in her blog I almost squealed with delight.  Oh how things come full-circle!  Anyway, Ira Brody sits down with Phil Williams and seems to acknowledge that he’s not clear about when he actually moved to Tennessee.

Now, Frank says that Republicans just don’t have any choice but to put Brody and Wilson in charge of the state finances, that they’re the only candidates (edited to add: Oops.  That’s me misreading Frank.  Wilson is the Repubs’ only choice for his office, but there are other choices besides Brody.  See Pith for more.).  This whole “But there’s nothing we can do.  We’re stuck.” posturing rings a bit false when you learn that Brody’s been taking Republicans to football games all season and, in fact, had State Republicans in a box with him at the Ravens game.

Republicans won because Tennesseans perceived them as less corrupt than the Democrats.  In fact, to go back to GoldnI’s point, because Tennesseans believe that Republicans will stand for more moral values.

I would just point out that giving your friends big political jobs because they took you to football games is not very moral.

I wonder who, over the season, sat in that box with Brody?  That would be an interesting list of names.

18 thoughts on “Good-NESS, There’s a Lot Going on in Tennessee Politics

  1. Maybe we should all send Corker copies of our electric bills with a note reading THANKS A LOT, SENATOR ASSHOLE!!!!!

    Honestly, just when I thought he wasn’t going to be a huge right-wing disappointment he returns to type. Guess he’s got his eye on the Governor’s seat in a few years.

  2. But don’t you have to bring home a little bacon for the people in your state in order for them to like you well enough to elect you Governor? I mean, any opponent of his can now be all “Bob Corker saw the TVA preside over the worst environmental disaster in US history and he said ‘Eh, let Tennesseans pay for that mess.” and it’s true.

  3. You do have a choice in your power source.

    You can pay whatever it costs you to consume dirty coal-powered electricity and the price for properly managing the waste (which is no one’s cost BUT the consumer), or you can do the Green Power switch, or put solar panels on your roof.

    Why are those other two options so unpopular? Because some people feel like they should not pay for managing the mess created by the consumption, and that has made the cost of coal-power cheaper. Supposedly, these people think magic faeries or unicorns should pay that price.

    Until those on the left start demanding power companies charge the full price for coal, the alternatives cannot compete in an artificial market, and you can’t ask the government to pay for the mess left behind your consumption because the government is the taxpayer – you and I. Why should people in Colorado pay for the mess left behind decades of Tennessean’s consumption of dirty coal-power and the mountains of wastes the consumer simply thought was someone else’s problem?

  4. Christian, how many solar panels do you have?

    I mean, please. Do you know that to power a house by solar panels, you’re looking at $40,000? That’s about the median income in Tennessee.

    And you’re aware that the green power switch is, again, more money and goes also directly to the TVA?

    No consumers thought those mountains of waste were someone else’s problem. That’s just bullshit.

    But you and Corker carry on.

  5. Right now I just have panels for some of the exterior lights, including the lights around the gazeebo. Because TVA power is cheap, we don’t have an incentive to explore alternative sources. We did price panels and the rate came to nearly twice what we’re paying now. Granted that price drops to zero once th epanels are paid forwhich means we’d lock in our pwer rate for the next 25 years which MAY make the difference if only we were going to stay in this house for that long. That might change over the years, but recovering costs in years isn’t feasible, especially when you move around as much as we have so far.

    There is a federal tax credit for panels. I believe it’s $2,000 for a certain number of panels. The state will hopefully explore tax credits with this new $1billion solar plant locating here.

    Right now, it’s up to TVA whether they want to charge the ful price for coal. For decades they have not and the mess left behind our unfettered consumption of cheap coal-power has created mountains of a mess we all think should be someone else’s problem.

    Any trip through the poorest neighborhoods will tell you people make due. You’ll see flat screen televisions in homes where people can barely keep the phone bill paid. If they had to pay twice as much for electricity, they will start exploring conservation (which happens very little in TN) and alternative sources. When that happens, those alternatives become cheaper. They will never compete if we all keep demanding artificially low rates and for companies to pile up the mess where we can’t see it and then demand the tax payers pay for cleaning up the mess left behind this region’s glutonous consumption of power.

  6. It doesn’t look to me like we pay an artificially low amount for power. http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_6_b.html

    We seem to pay a pretty average amount for a state that doesn’t have to keep buildings heated in below-freezing weather for most of the winter.

    So, I reject that our power is somehow artificially “cheap.”

    Second, the second you start advocating punishing poor people because they aren’t suffering to your liking, then you become the kind of Democrat I can’t work with. I’m sorry, but you complaining because you drive around and see poor people with flat screen televisions is just about the most…

    I mean, I can’t even get into it with you; I reject the basic premise that there’s anyone in this state worthy of driving around judging whether other people are suffering enough to deserve our pity and our help. I find it the whole thing gross.

  7. I tend to agree with Christian. Wastefulness is wastefulness.

    I have a derelict relative who is 50 years old, never had a job, has 3 kids and relies on her parents to keep her up. And once she did get her hands on some money, she and her husband rushed out to get a flat screen. Meanwhile, her baby had no diapers and she had her mother calling her uncle (a millionaire) begging for money.

    Some people are poor of their own doing. If that offends and I seem like I’m being judgmental, so be it. But lazy is lazy.

  8. And can you tell that by driving around their neighborhood? I mean, what is the mechanism for peering from your car into people’s windows and deciding whether they are the good kind of poor people who pay their bills and have a flat screen tv or if they are the bad kind of poor people who don’t?

    And why, why, why would we as a state not advocate for the best solution to all our power issues just because in doing so some people might game the system?

    I don’t give a shit if a thousand people in Tennessee have flat screen televisions and don’t pay their phone bills and we still get some federal and/or state help in cleaning up the messes caused by the TVA. That doesn’t seem like some grave injustice to me.

  9. AuntB, those rates you are comparing do not include the costs to properly manage the waste produced. That’s my point. If consumers paid the amount it cost to properly manage the mountains of wastes left behind, the South would likely become a leader in alternative energy production and consumption because coal-power would be expensive compared to other sources.

  10. Oh, I don’t have a mechanism for peering into poor people’s homes. I have family and friends who are poor, so it’s mostly anecdotal first hand knowledge. Not one of them doesn’t have a flat screen. Poor is relative, and when power properly prices the cost of managing the wastes produced to consume it so is what one considers conservation and acceptable rates for alternative sources.

  11. Personally, I don’t drive thru neighborhoods and peer in windows – and I stay far away from my derelict relative. Personally, I don’t care if they have a flat screen tv plated with gold – as long as my tax dollars aren’t paying to keep them up.

    Another example – a friend of a friend has been unemployed for 2 years. We suggested tons of jobs for him. Even at an upscale wine store where the hours were reasonable and the pay was decent. He turned his nose up at it b/c he thought he was too good. Of course, he’s still getting unemployment from the state of TN. How? I have no idea. Meanwhile, he goes out about 4 nights a week and spends his money on alcohol. I have a job, and I stay home, cook every meal that I eat and conserve my money to pay my bills. I’ve even cleaned houses and other odd jobs to make ends meet. Money is money.

    There ARE some people who do need assistance in a time of crisis. But to suck on the gov’t tit for years? I can’t abide by that at all. Especially when there are people like this guy who have no intention of altering a lifestyle to do better.

    I’m all for finding a better solution to the power bill. Totally.

  12. That’s funny. Most of my relatives are poor and I don’t begrudge them any comfort that they can manage to get in this life. I don’t think I have the right to dictate what jobs they take or don’t take, what leisure activities they pursue, or what they think is a reasonable way to live. My climb from poverty was just that — mine — and I didn’t trade in my empathy for contempt when I crossed over into the middle class. I worked, but I was also lucky, I got help from unexpected quarters, and I made stupid decisions along the way because I wasn’t always a perfect overcomer of circumstances.

    Their stories aren’t done yet. Mine isn’t either. I may need that mercy I show before it’s all over.

  13. You can pay whatever it costs you to consume dirty coal-powered electricity and the price for properly managing the waste (which is no one’s cost BUT the consumer), or you can do the Green Power switch, or put solar panels on your roof.

    Done and done, Christian (well, the solar panels will go up in March). That doesn’t mean I’m not consuming coal. Green Power Switch just means I’m sending TVA more money every month to encourage them to buy from green sources, and boy would I love to see an accounting of that program. I’m not entirely convinced they aren’t pocketing the extra money and going on their fossil fuel binge as usual.

    They have a limit, too: TVA only generates so much from green sources, and it’s miniscule. They say green power is too expensive (that was the point of Lamar!’s questions to Kilgore last week). They say coal is the cheapest, but that’s because they aren’t factoring in the cost of the environmental and health damage it costs to mine coal and then dispose of the waste. It’s all a shell game, hide the costs under the peanut shell.

    BTW, solar panels are prohibitively expensive for most people. I doubt the average family can afford the $30 grand without some kind of assistance. And unless you pay several thou for the battery system, you’re just selling what you generate back to the utility (in my case NES). You aren’t really “off the grid.”

  14. And as for poor people with flat screen televisions, I suspect that is more a product of our consumer society that was built on a bubble of cheap and easy credit, not cheap and easy fuel.

  15. Southernbeale, thank you for making my point in a clearer way.

    But also, what Bridgett says. We all have shitty relatives or know people who are gaming the system. So what? Once anyone puts himself in a position of judging the behavior of others in order to enact social policy, the potential for misuse is astounding.

    Let me come at it another way. There are illegal aliens who come here and commit crimes and escape justice. There are women who lie about being raped in order to make the men they’ve accused sorry. There are women who lie about who the father of their child is. There are people who do want to be able to marry children or their dogs. There are people who bilk the welfare system.

    But they are not the vast, vast majority of people. And, no matter what we do, there will always be jackasses like them. Should we really not have gay marriage because some guy might someday want to marry a six year old? Should we really hold off on helping poor people because some of them are gaming the system?

    And, to bring us back on point, should we really, really sit here and encourage the TVA to raise our electric bills another 3-5% to cover the cost of this entirely foreseeable accident after they just raised our rates 25% this year just because some of us believe that suffering is virtuous and that poor people will either find a way to scrape the money for their power bills to go up by a third over the course of a year or that they will just get solar power for their whole damn house?

    I just don’t buy it. I do not buy that increasing suffering–which having your power bill go up by a quarter (and now probably a third) over the course of a year in which people in this state are losing jobs left and right is indeed suffering for many, many people in this state–is ever okay. I don’t believe it’s Progressive or Liberal or even should be Democratic.

    I don’t like it. And I sure as hell don’t want someone sitting around deciding, when I’m struggling, whether I deserve help.

  16. Anyone who can afford a flatscreen television and wants one should have it, including the poor. I know my poor friends and relatives feel the same way because they have them, which is why I raised the point. There isn’t anything wrong with it, infact it proves that even poor people have priorities that demonstrate the capacity to pay the true cost of coal-powered electricity.

    I suspect if poor and rich people alike wanted to consume as much coal-power as they do in Tennessee at the steeper rate that includes the cost of managing the waste it creates, they’ll likely do so without cable or the next flatscreen for a while.

    People in general will get by paying for the mess we create in consuming dirty sources of energy, and when we do, we will make alternatives competitive and cheaper, and the Obama Administration’s proposed $25,000,000,000.00 tax credits for alternative sources will help make up the difference.

    If we prefer other people’s taxes pay for our mess, coal-power will remain artificially cheap as power suppliers like TVA spread the cost of your consumption and waste management to residents of Nevada. The coal industry will be very happy with that, and alternative sources of power will continue to be unfairly priced out of our options because coal-power does not accurately reflect the outrageous costs now facing us in the form of mountains of toxic ash.

    The Obama Administration understands how its tax credits, regulations and pricing rates to reflect the cost of waste management will change the way we consume power, but it’s surprising that many of his supporters do not.

  17. Christian, you haven’t yet even proven that our electricity is artificially cheap. You can’t just repeat something over and over because it sounds good and expect us all to get in line with you, if only to get you to shut up about it already. But I guess that seems like a strategy of some sort.

    We will pay for this clean-up. We pay state and federal taxes. We’re not just using other people’s money. We’re saying that, if we are legally, by the federal government, not allowed any alternative but the TVA and if the feds are supposed to be overseeing the TVA to make sure it does its job, and if they fail to do that, they need to help clean up the mess.

    If you don’t see that, fine. But just repeating yourself is not actually going to win you any converts.

  18. There are plenty of non-English speaking WHITE PEOPLE. Just because you don’t speak English doesn’t mean you aren’t white. I am white and have never heard of the “We Whitey’s have an understanding amongst ourselves”. Any HUMAN wouldn’t believe in such nonsense and believe you me, there is prejudice in any culture. “When in Rome do as the Romans do.” All we should ask for to be American; fly the American flag, fight for your country, speak the language and pay your taxes. If a person can’t do that, they have no business being in this country.

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