Most of Us are Not Real Tennesseans

I have to say that I see Tennesseans making a mistake I used to make back in the heyday of feminist bloggers. There’d be some discussion or other about things “us Feminists” or “we Feminists” do or say or feel or think and I’d be all doot-doot-doot reading along and all of a sudden it would hit me that, hey, they don’t mean me. I’m too old, too red-state, too poor, too wrong-college, too whatever. “Feminist” seems like an umbrella term, but it really does matter who’s holding the umbrella who gets covered, you know?

I got that feeling again today reading that Haslam has given huge raises to his cabinet. Most of them are getting 11% raises. One dude is getting 32%–$43,000. Yes, his raise is many Tennesseans’ whole salary.

Haslam says “Every one of those commissioners is going to end up saving the state a whole lot more money than the small incremental cost of their salary.”

Now, if you’re one of the 1,200 state workers who are going to lose their jobs in the money-saving efforts, this is probably making you sick to your stomach. If you’re one of the teachers in this state, who can never make more than $66,000 a year and who have been vilified as greedy jackasses out to ruin Tennessee’s children through the power of unionization, this is probably pretty galling.

But I think it’s time we come to terms with something–when the Haslam administration is talking about “Tennessee,” they don’t mean us.

After all, it doesn’t save you any money to not have a job. It doesn’t make your jobless life easier when Bill Gibbons (and, really, dirty shame on him–a man from motherfucking MEMPHIS of all places, who should know how bad people are hurting in this state–for agreeing to take that money) gets as his raise what you wish you could make in a year.

I don’t know how it happens in a state as dirt poor as Tennessee, but it has. Tennessee has become about doing what’s good for the rich people and fuck the rest of us.

I mean, I’m sorry, but we just got done with all this nonsense about how teaching is a calling and teachers should be willing to make sacrifices and concessions for the good of the state and Haslam can turn around and say, “In government we’re never going to pay what they do in the private market. But if we’re going to attract great people, we’re going to have to at least make it comparable.”

Really? Well why isn’t “Cabinet-level position in Haslam’s administration” a calling? Why can’t those folks make sacrifices and concessions for the good of the state?

Right, because this state is for them and not for us. Non-rich, non-well-connected people in this state are just like any other natural resource, something to degrade, pollute, and eventually destroy.

Funny how there’s always money to pay folks’ friends, isn’t it?

No wonder Republicans aren’t worried about jobs. Their friends all have cushy ones.

You know what would be more interesting than Haslam forgoing his $170,000 a year salary? Him taking Bill Gibbons’ pay increase as his salary–$43,000 a year–and forgoing money from his investments and other businesses, and just trying to get by on that, while he’s in office. See what it takes to live like a moderately comfortable regular person in this state. See how small a cost that $43,000 is to a family when that’s all they have.

And I’m glad to see Mike Turner saying, “It’s tough times; a lot of people are hurting,” but I’m noting how convenient it is that Ron Ramsey shot his “antagonism of the rich jackass Republicans” load before this shit came out.

Ugh, really, fuck this nonsense. And what’s next? We’ll elect Karl Dean governor and he can give all his friends $60,000 a year part time jobs at the state level?

I despair. I really do.

14 thoughts on “Most of Us are Not Real Tennesseans

  1. ‘Twas ever thus.

    I know that’s not a great help. But it doesn’t matter who voted you in. Once you’re there, cronyism is a necessary evil. You have to pay back the friends who gave you pots of money to ger elected.

  2. I was about to suggest that the power available to a cabinent level appointee should be worth a few thousand dollars, but I guess if you’re connected enough to get that kind of appointment then you’ve probably got just about that much power somewhere else.

  3. Biased in this instance because similar arguments were leveled against my mom when she went to work for metro. Granted, she wasn’t cabinet level, and HAD been sacrificing for years in the state, but I think there’s an argument to me made for paying people what they are worth. EVERY person.

    That means we need to be able to pay them though, and that’s not something the Republicans in this state can stomach, as it means that we have to do something about revenue.

  4. The ‘paying them what they’re worth’ argument isn’t the problem polerin. It’s one thing to not get a raise because times are tight. It’s an entirely different one when the folks that run things need a raise so they can be paid ‘what they’re worth’ but the rest of us rank and file are apparently not worth it.

    “Every one of those commissioners is going to end up saving the state a whole lot more money than the small incremental cost of their salary,” he said.
    Brand new commissioners don’t know how to save money other than cutting employees and/or programs. The people that have been there and actually know how things work are the ones that would have practical knowledge on how to save money. Basically all these commissioners are going to fire people to come up with the savings that justify there salary bumps.

  5. Don’t Despair B we still have some fight left in us. You are spot on, on the raise’s we have State Employee’s who make 14,000 dollars a year and he offers them a 1.6 percent raise. The bottom raise for a Commissioner is 15,000 a year the top is 50,000. Shameful. Bredesen just gave the Commissioners a raise just a couple of years ago. We will try to cut the raise’s from the budget.

  6. Tennessee America has become about doing what’s good for the rich people and fuck the rest of us.


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  8. W: she was being hired at a time when the janitors and maintenance people were being shuffled off to contractors, no benefits and worse pay.

  9. i agree, andy. any “regular” person in any other part of the country gets just as focked. it is wht it is and ever shall be. til the revolution.

  10. You’re a good three days ahead of the libertarian listserv on this. :)

    Keep it up, maybe throw ia a couple things on strip-search machines at the airport and I can cancel them altogether. 8-)

  11. I should totally stage a coup of the libertarian listserv! I wondered if it just took a while to trickle out or what. This seems like it should be something more upsetting to people. Maybe most folks are just more resigned to this nonsense than me.

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