Good morning, everyone.
School shootings weren't always normal. Prior to Columbine, which emerged from the catacombs of the ancient internet, these kinds of things happened, but not with the frequency or force they do now. Of course, the massive amount of publicity lumped on the two Columbine boys didn't help, virtually assuring they would be enshrined as antichrist-like heroes. Perhaps this would've happened regardless of media attention, but whatever the case, I don't think it'd be far off to say that the crisis of school shootings in America began here.
I don't like him any more than you do, but Michael Moore in his movie Bowling for Columbine speculated that the normalization of mass violence through foreign wars abroad contributed, in some sense, to its citizens' predilection for it. On the day of the Columbine shooting, Bill Clinton authorized the largest single-day bombing of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. Not saying it's the perfect explanation, but at least it at least goes some of the way to getting at what's behind the violence instead of impotently crowing about guns.
If the assassination of Martin Luther King signaled a shift in American politics from the practical business of bettering lives to the zero-sum psychic warfare we now know it to be, Columbine indicated the complete abdication of government from bettering lives. Sandy Hook took this a step further, ensuring that we'd never address fundamental questions of politics again, and instead, spend our time bickering over "gun laws" as if they were a magic talisman one could wave in the air to make all the evil go away. What would in a healthy society provoke introspection and course correction now is useful only for partisan vanity points and moral indictments of political enemies.
People's reaction to these incidents — the immediate turn towards stumping for legislation and partisan politics — is almost as disturbing as the act itself. The country has stopped asking important questions and instead bickers over laws and reforms that would reduce the number of deaths or something. Presumably, the mind virus of dehumanized, top-down, technocratic rule has leeched outward into the minds of voters who see a casualty number and their first response is, "Imagine how much lower that number could be if..."
The question we should be asking is: what kind of political system produces these results? If your answer is guns, you're answering the how. We're not here to discuss the how which is highly variable (knives, cars, bombs, etc.) If you want to discuss that kind of thing, there are plenty of media outlets and politicians like CNN and Bernie Sanders available to you that will discuss this ad infinitum.
Sandy Hook should've been a come to Jesus moment, but instead, gun control advocates papered over the Dark Night of the Soul with laws and legalese, ignoring the very real spiritual and cultural void left gaping by the events. Could this very approach — impersonal, legalistic, by the numbers — be the thing that has produced these incidents? Could the cold, nihilistic society that such an approach to politics yields be damaging to its people? Is the reduction of a person to his gender, race, and sexual orientation — increasingly, the only metric available to spreadsheet leaders for how to judge people — alienating more and more people?
School shootings are explicitly political events and would be treated as such in a nation seriously concerned with how its politics affected its citizen. Our leaders, presumably, are not concerned with these kinds of things. Biden took to the stump yesterday and barked like a good dog about "standing up to the gun lobby" implying he'd be satisfied with a government that yielded school shootings with only five dead instead of twenty. That people commit these acts of brutal violence is not of concern to him. In other words, the chief end of politics, to better the lives of its citizens, has been abandoned wholesale and replaced by the nihilistic jostling for partisan one-upmanship points.
Go to any drooling liberal rag or YouTube streamer and you'll get sanctioned talking points about gun regulation without any self-reflection on the basic premise of these questions. Maybe the entire viewpoint — a reductionist, if only he had a pistol instead of an AR so the numbers could've been lower, veering towards the trolley problem ethical arbitrage of "we would've been happy if just his grandmother had died" arena — does more to perpetuate them than to prevent them.
So, what's changed since Columbine?
It hasn't been the guns.
Today, we look at bills Gov. Lee did and didn't sign, peek briefly at Mayor Cooper's recent affordable housing initiative, and consider how expensive electric cars are going to get.
Also, be sure to check out our podcast. New episodes every Monday. Available wherever you get your podcasts.
Thanks for reading.
✎ TO SIGN OR NOT TO SIGN
Yet to veto a bill, Governor Bill Lee has allowed quite a few bills to pass into law without his signature this year. The list we’re providing of those bills was reported by the Tennessee Journal who also alluded to the fact that Governor Lee may feel that vetoing bills he dislikes might ruffle feathers more than it’s worth. It only takes a majority vote in the state House and Senate to override a veto from the state’s executive office.
Bills Turned Into Law Without Governor Lee’s Signature
- Truth in Sentencing Requires people convicted of violent felonies to serve all or most of their sentences without the chance of parole.
- Incarceration Costs Changing the method for legislative analysts to project the cost to the state of imprisoning convicts.
- Distressed Counties-Taxes Extending the deadline for economically distressed rural counties to apply to retain state sales taxes for commercial development projects.
- Homelessness Creating criminal penalties for camping on public property.
- Natural Immunity Requiring the state to treat recovery from COVID-19 as the equivalent of vaccinations.
- State School Board Transferring the authority to appoint six of nine State School Board members from the governor to the House and Senate speakers.
- Congressional Residency Establishing a three year residency requirement to run in congressional primaries.
- Medical Machinery Waiving a clearance requirement for medical and dental sterilization machines called autoclaves for inspections.
- Nullification Resolution Declaring the state of Tennessee has the right to nullify federal COVID-19 mandates.
- County Health Departments Stripping health departments in Davidson, Shelby, Knox, Hamilton, Madison, and Sullivan counties of control over COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
- Alternative Teacher Training Authorizing school districts to come up with their own teacher training programs.
- 911 Calls Ratifying a 29% increase to $1.50 of the emergency call surcharge paid to telecoms.
- Sports Betting Legalizing online sports gaming in Tennessee.
Notable Bills Turned Into Laws With Governor Lee’s Signature
- Transgender Athlete Bill Penalizes K-12 public schools that allow transgender athletes to participate in girls’ sports.
- Collegiate Transgender Athlete Bill Bans transgender athletes from participating in women's college sports.
- TN Education Funding Formula Changes Tennessee’s education funding formula from the BEP to TISA with a student focused approach where money follows students.
- Tennessee's State Budget The $52.8B budget included $500M in bonds to help fund the new Titans stadium build, $100M in violent crime reduction grants and $68M in broadband tax relief among other things
- Covid-19 Response Restrictions Requires employers to provide medical/religious exemptions if they are requiring COVID-19 vaccinations to work and bans policies that treat people with immunity from getting sick differently from vaccinated people.
- Voting Bans instant runoff voting.
- TN gas prices increase 8 cents (Main Street) On average, gas prices are up eight cents compared to last week. The Tennessee gas price average is now $4.28, which is 43 cents more expensive than one month ago and $1.41 more than one year ago.
- Supporters help pay fines former VUMC nurse RaDonda Vaught owed to state (Channel 5) The conviction led the Tennessee Board of Nursing to issue Vaught a $3,000 dollar civil penalty, and bill her more than $30,000 in legal and administrative expenses.
- Tennessee college enrollment sinks (Axios) College-going reached 64.4% in 2015, bolstered by programs like Tennessee Promise. That number has dropped significantly, falling to 52.8% in 2021. The drop was especially steep during the pandemic.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Tennessee collects $4.6M in taxes on $293M in sports bets in April (Center Square) For the second consecutive month, Tennessee collected $4.6 million in taxes on sports gambling. But this time it came on $292.8 million of wagering and $23.2 million of adjusted gross income from the state’s 12 online sportsbooks.
- Governor to sign ethics reform bill into law despite call for veto (Lookout) Gov. Bill Lee says he will sign into law legislation requiring dark-money groups that pour cash into political campaigns to disclose their expenditures before elections.
- AFL-CIO makes endorsements in state, federal races (TNJ) The state chapter of the AFL-CIO has announced the names of the candidates the labor group is backing this year’s primary elections. Most are either incumbents or unopposed for the Democratic nomination in their respective races.
- Lee Says No Timeline Set For School Choice Voucher Initiative (TCN) After receiving the news that the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in his favor, Governor Bill Lee says he still does not have a set timeline for the initial start of his long-awaited school voucher program.
- 377 Unit Development Will Add To The Growing MetroCenter Nashville Submarket (Now Next)
- Midtown property of closed bar sells for $7M (Post)
- Year’s end opening eyed for Italian restaurant in Gulch (Post)
- Tower project eyed for Music Row scrapped (Post)
- South Nashville apartment building sells for $77.64M (Post)
- Dallas company pays $3.67M for La Vergne warehouse (Post)
𐳱 A QUICK NOTE ON HOUSING
As Nashville's Mayor John Cooper writes into law an incentive package to encourage developers to produce more affordable housing, it's worth noting that Cooper is merely repeating the mistakes of the past and not innovating as his admirers would have you believe.
Cooper's carrot offers nothing in the way of expanding the ability of developers to respond to increased demand — the only way to actually alleviate cost of living concerns. Instead, Cooper incentivizes developers to take a portion of their existing stock and earmark units as "affordable" in exchange for a tax credit. As brought to our attention by Luke Froeb, the Stanford Law Review calls these efforts a "'kludgy' set of policies that can actually prevent new development and end up increasing housing prices."
The true solution to cost of living concerns would be to loosen up zoning laws to a wider variety of development. The downside to such an approach is that actually increasing supply would decrease the price of all existing homes, ultimately threatening homeowners which is why such policies will likely never see the light of day.
➫ GRAPH OF THE DAY: THE ALL-ELECTRIC FUTURE OF IMPOVERISHMENT
⚔ MISSIVES ⚔
- 🍑 Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has successfully fended off a challenge from former Senator David Perdue in the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary. The victory sets up a rematch between the governor and Democrat Stacey Abrams, whom he defeated in the 2018 general election.
- 🇺🇦 Veteran US statesman Henry Kissinger has urged the West to stop trying to inflict a crushing defeat on Russian forces in Ukraine, warning that it would have disastrous consequences for the long term stability of Europe.
- 🚼 American women had about 3.66 million babies in 2021, up 1% from the prior year, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. It was the first increase since 2014.
- ⚡️ Barclays Plc calculates that monthly electric bills will be more than 40% higher than last year’s, and projections from the US Energy Information Administration show this year’s retail residential rates rising the most since 2008.
- 🛢 The Biden administration is considering a release of diesel fuel from federal reserves to address skyrocketing prices and the threat of supply outages on the East Coast.
- 🚗 The average age of vehicles on U.S. roadways edged higher in 2021, hitting a record of 12.2 years, as Americans challenged by high car prices and slim pickings on dealer lots held on to cars longer.
THINGS TO DO
View our full event calendar here.
🍺 The Pamphleteer hosts Bar Hours Thursday at Lucky's 3 Star Bar from 6-8 PM. The first ten guests get drinks on the company tab. We host these on the last Thursday of every month.
📷 It's flea market weekend at the Fairgrounds: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting at 8am
🎪 Check out our favorite driving distance festivals this summer.
👨🏻🌾 The Pamphleteer farmer's market guide.
👂 Listen to The Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of the bands featured in this week's calendar.
🎙 Ariel Bui @ The 5 Spot, 6p, $10, Info
🎻 Bluegrass Night @ The American Legion Post 82, 7p, Free, Info
🎹 Prohibition Era Jazz @ The Schermerhorn, 7:30p, $50+, Info
🎻 Leftover Salmon @ Station Inn, 8p $35, Info
🍸 Electric relaxation @ Bar Sovereign, 9p, Free, Info
ON THE RADAR
🎻 Town Mountain (6/2) @ 3rd & Lindsley, $20, Info
👁 Beethoven's 9th (6/2-5) @ Schermerhorn, $25+, Info
🍳 Big K.R.I.T. (6/5) @ Brooklyn Bowl, $25, Info
🚨 Eprom (6/25) @ Eastside Bowl, 9p, $25.50, Info
🎸 My Morning Jacket (9/23) @ Ascend Amphitheater, 7p, $22.88, Info
🎸 Smashing Pumpkins (10/10) @ Bridgestone Arena, 6:30p, $133+, Info
NEW THIS WEEK
FROM LAST WEEK
FROM THE ARCHIVE
Around the Web
☇ Energy Lysenkoism Is the energy debate really about energy?
⬇ Descending into one of the deepest caves on Earth For decades, highly skilled cavers have come to Mexico to explore Cheve, a labyrinth within a mountain.
↬ Understanding Vladimir Putin On Oliver Stone's interviews with Vladimir Putin, Part I: An Exercise in Cognitive Empathy
Political Theater Highlight Reel
- Walmart pulls, apologizes for Juneteenth-themed ice cream after sparking outrage
- Overweight Stacey Abrams on Georgia's skyrocketing turnout: "We know that increased turnout has nothing to do with suppression"
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Words of Wisdom
"The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity — much less dissent."