When the Truth is Blackmail

Good lord. This would be funny if it wasn’t so disturbing. Or maybe the other is true, that it would be disturbing if it wasn’t so funny. There’s an bill mandating that all driver’s license exams be given in English and… well, I’ll let Jeff Woods tell you this part.

When a lobbyist for Volkswagen, which is building a billion-dollar plant in Chattanooga, raised objections, saying it might hurt the state’s economy and make foreign workers feel unwelcome, Shipley and Watson came unhinged.

“That speaks closely to blackmail,” Shipley huffed. “This is a safety bill,” Watson complained.

I have to say, the desire to stick it to foreigners bugs me. But this illustrates what really pisses me off about Tennessee politics. It’s not just the xenophobic assholeness. It’s that they won’t own up to it. Everyone can look straight at what they’re doing and see it for what it is (or, maybe we can’t because we don’t know what’s in their hearts, ha!) and yet, when you speak the truth about what they’re doing, they get all butthurt.

As if it’s rude to openly acknowledge the truth. Like we owe it to these guys to pretend that they’re not doing what they’re doing.

But I love this idea that telling them the truth is almost blackmail. I mean, Shipley, please, I don’t know when the last time you pulled your head out of your ass long enough to look around the state has been, but let me tell you the hard truth–

He who pays the piper calls the tune.

Tennessee can’t pay the piper. So, if we want to have music at all, we have to shut up and dance to what they want to play.

If we want Volkswagen and other international companies to come here and bring us the jobs we desperately need, we can’t be flipping them off in public to their faces. I’m a hippie liberal. I hate the military-industrial complex as much as the next person. But people in this state need to eat. They need to work. So, you, as a legislator had better put out the welcome mat.

To pretend like we’re in any position to piss off Volkswagen just shows you have no idea how desperately people in this state need jobs.

When taking a stand might cause Tennesseans jobs, you’ve just got to suck it up and say, “well, for now, fuck taking a stand.”

I don’t know. I really worry that they don’t get how bad it is out here. Or that they do get it, but they’re so bereft of ideas about how to fix it that they’re hoping they can just distract us back into fighting the same old fights.

It’s scary. It really is.

7 thoughts on “When the Truth is Blackmail

  1. You’re right, but you’re assuming that they’ve actually thought this through. Mistake. The dogwhistle they are blowing is anti-Hispanic — if we want to be able to hold people who “look Mexican” and might be here illegally, we have to hope they don’t have a valid license. One way to make it more difficult for first-generation migrants to get a valid license is to require everyone (even those people here legally who are literate in Spanish) to take their driver’s exam in English. That way, it gets much more difficult to get a license and they will either get pissed off and move to another state where they can get a license (we win! more jobs for “real” Tennesseans) or we will be able to harass and possibly deport them (we win!).

    Hearkening back to our conversation on the quality of TN schools, there is already a proportion of the native-born population who cannot read and write English well enough to pass a driver’s license test. What provisions are made for functionally illiterate good ol’ boys who still need to drive to work?

    The truth is terribly impolite.

  2. Pingback: Bang Your Head Here | Speak to Power

  3. Bridgett, I was kind of thinking about this from the other end–isn’t one of the things that has to make Tennessee attractive to employers that they can get smart, uneducated employees?

    I’m really starting to wonder how nice it must be to know that the guy you pay $10 an hour to work a complex machine could have gotten a degree in engineering and had his pick of jobs if only his high school had been better or if only he’d been able to go to college.

    You get a lot of bang for your buck when you can hire smart, uneducated people, because where else are they going to go?

    I was thinking about the college up in, I think Clarksville, that has instituted this new training that one of the employers needs and they’ve had no trouble filling slots in those classes. People are smart enough for more education.

    But then I wonder if noticing stuff like that doesn’t make me sound a little paranoid.

  4. Aunt B
    To start I must admit that I have a crush on you or your words to be more exact. You are a delight. That said, I am a conservative Republican and if the GOP finds out I am crushing on Aunt B I shudder to think what fate would await me. Any ways I agree that Shipley and crew are getting off in swamp water with this one. We need to be on our knees saying welcome in German or any other language if it will bring jobs to Tn,Hell these foreigners cant drive worst than my 80 year old Grandmother.Safety bill my ass.First time to respond but read you most everyday.
    PS Maybe this could be our little secret.

  5. Consider it just between us. I have always wanted to have a secret admirer and I will admit that, in general, I have found even the most conservative East Tennesseans to be delightfully charming, so I am tickled to have one have a secret crush on me.

    That makes my whole day.

  6. Thanks for the Kind words. I should also explain that I am politically Conservative and socially moderate. Simply put, I hate Taxes and big Government but i Love to drink, smoke and chase wild Woman.

  7. A true social moderate doesn’t chase wild women. He catches them. Or they swoon into his lap while he sits on the patio drinking a beer.

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