Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thoughts For Thursday

I'm not going to talk about politics.  I'm not.  

Politics make me crazy.

I am informed.  I do pay attention.  Its sort of my job.  But the duplicity of it, the hypocrisy, makes me nuts.  How can people hold two opposing ideas at the same time?  How can politicians get away with defying logic?  How can voters ignore facts in favor of flashy rhetoric?

Let me give you an example.  I'll use local politics, so most of you won't know what I'm talking about & I can avoid offending you~*

We had three State Reps come to our campus to hold a debate.  One was the consummate politician, right down to his navy blue suit, red power tie, silver cross tie tack & American flag lapel pin. He was incredibly dramatic {at one point whipping out his wallet & holding it open while asking if we wanted the government to take more of our money}.  He utterly dominated the debate-- when he wasn't speaking or speaking over the other participants he was grimacing as the others responded to the question asked.  He stuck to his talking points regardless of whether or not they fit the question.  I would love to know where he got his hairspray-- his hair didn't move a millimeter even as he pontificated to the maximus.  

Anyway.

He kept pointing out that Tennessee has one of the lowest state tax rates in the nation {we do: state income tax of 6% on dividends & interest income only: find a state that beats that}.  He really pounded that home.  Then he went on to say that if re-elected {yeah, he's the incumbent} he would lower the tax rate further to encourage industry & business to move in to the state.

Wait.  What?

If businesses base their location decisions on a states tax rates, then how do you explain industry in California or New York?  And if we already have one of the lowest tax rates in the nation, & businesses are not flocking here to employ people, how is lowering taxes more going to help? 

According to CNBC America's Top States for Business , the tax rate isn't the problem  We were ranked 48th {out of 50} in quality of life & 41st in education-- everywhere else we were on the higher side {including 2nd in cost of living & 6th in business friendliness}.   

Maybe the problem has something to do with that whole quality of life/education thing & not taxes.  Anyone?  

These are problems that further reducing our tax rate is just going to exacerbate. The average salary of Tennessee teachers is $45,891-- that's the fourth lowest in the nation {Missouri, Mississippi & West Virginia are lower}.  We are also 2nd highest in both meth labs & prescription drug abuse, 3rd highest in food stamps, 7th highest in welfare caseload,  8th highest in divorce rates, & 12th highest in obesity. I wonder if that ties in to the quality of life thingie...

Now I love my adopted home state, I do.  But there are times when Tennesseans need to take a second to look around them.  Denying there is a problem isn't going to fix the problem.  Pretending it doesn't exist, or is somehow solvable by lowering taxes {a huge theme out here}, isn't going to improve our situation.  I don't know the answers, I just want to start the discussion.  And some ken-doll-hairdo in a thousand dollar suit dramatically waving his wallet around isn't going to help us.  

Even though this is his 3rd campaign & he won his 2nd term with a 60% majority,  & most of my students said he "won" the debate.

...yeah.

Which is why I won't talk about politics.

Anymore.