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No. 280: Return to What?

⁂ Nashville's Alt-Daily ⁂ Civic · Metro · Budget · More Civic · Podcasts · Much More!

Good morning, everyone.

Donald Trump's political purpose was to enter the arena and kick the cobwebs off a teetering bureaucracy wherein unelected officials outnumber elected officials in Washington D.C. 5,400 to 1. That number comes from the post-Nixon era in which Democrats sought to entrench their gains following Watergate through budgetary expansion and the creation of various government agencies riding the coattails of LBJ's disastrous social programs. It's likely the ratio has only increased since then.

We see this trend in nearly every government body, especially those with monopoly influence such as the public school system. Budgets tend to favor the expansion of existing agencies and bodies and rarely, if ever, advocate for a reduction in their size. Last night, we witnessed this at Nashville's Metro Council meeting wherein the Council approved a new $3B budget (more on that below).

A simple example of this kind of largesse is seen in the way Nashville handles budgeting for public transit. We discussed this briefly last week, but in a nutshell, ridership on the city's WeGo has only recovered 30% of pre-pandemic levels, but the last year's budget will cover the system up to a 7% increase above pre-pandemic levels which would require something like a 245% increase in ridership to even approach. Nonetheless, you have council members like Freddie O'Connell ardently advocating for "more transit funding" among other spending increases. From the angle of these elected officials, the only indicator of a well managed city is how much more money you're spending on something compared to the previous year. Seems promising!

When Trump emerged on the scene in 2016, he helped rekindle in his base hope for a more sensible, common-sense approach to government which extends to the budgeting issues outlined above. Where the movement goes wrong is that people have begun to invest their spiritual energies in political candidates, such as Trump, and adopted the attitude of "I shouldn't have to worry about these things" in the place of a more proactive civic participation.

There has been a small resurgence of civic concern as it relates to voter integrity, but by and large, the populace has absconded to their palatial, climate-controlled abodes and drowned themselves in endless diversions in place of active civic engagement. What's more, any mention of this fact will draw exhausted sighs and/or eye rolls indicating that most people simply lack the constitution and energy to cut into their spin class and Netflix time even though they know it's the "right thing to do." Any movement or political party that fails to rekindle this increasingly rare civic responsibility will fail in its stated goals.

MAGA works great as a slogan, but the reality of some kind of RETURN to simpler times where you could trust a politician and where people cared betrays the fact that, as Samuel Francis puts it, "The Old Republic cannot be restored today because few Americans even remember it, let alone want it back, and even a realistic description of it would frighten and alienate most citizens." He continues at length in one of the more brutal assessments of American culture you'll run across that I've printed in full below in the Elsewhere section. It's worth a read.


Today, we explore Metro's new budget, review some wisdom dispensed from Samuel Francis, and consider why you need to listen to our podcast.

You can follow us on Twitter (@realpamphleteer), LinkedIn (@realpamphleteer), or Instagram (@realpamphleteer) for additional content.

Also, be sure to check out our podcast. New episodes every Monday. Available wherever you get your podcasts.

Thanks for reading.

New This Week Transmission No. 7: On Elections, Journalist Mishaps, and Street Politics (ft. Tom O’Hayer) (Listen)



Nashville’s Metro City Council passed a new $2.97B budget during last night’s Metro Council meeting. Over the past few years, budget season has looked more and more like a company trying to avoid bankruptcy rather than an institution improving on the functions of a city. Thanks to property tax hikes and post-Covid revenue, the 2022-23 budget embodies a new era and reflects Metro government’s commitment to the city's expansion. Given the multiple amendments proposed by Council Members last night, it’s clear that the struggle to preserve entrenched Nashvillian’s way of life during this massive expansion is going to be an arduous task.


Mayor John Cooper showed up and gave a short speech at the beginning of the meeting thanking the council. He stated that the budget reflects the investment that Nashville’s Government is able to make in the city now that Metro has moved beyond the crises that have plagued the area over the past few years. Throughout later discussions on the floor during the evening, multiple Council Members took shots at the Mayor’s speech.


After almost three hours of going over seventeen new budget amendments, four amendments made it into the final budget. The budget passed 31-3. The nos included Council Members Robert Swope, Jonathan Hall and Russ Pulley. At $2.97B, this year’s budget is about 12% larger than last year’s budget.


Of the seventeen amendments proposed during the meeting, one included a raise for Metro Nashville Public School (MNPS) support staff. During the open hearing at the previous council meeting, multiple MNPS workers expressed their need for a livable wage. Though teachers recently received an increase in pay and the budget, without this amendment, brought MNPS support staff’s hourly rate up to $18/hr, MNPS teachers and staff have been repeatedly neglected over the last decade at the expense of the students.


Though the Council just recently pulled itself out of the hole after years of unexpected financial burden and fiscal mismanagement that completely depleted their emergency fund, they ended up dipping into their emergency funds taking out $5M to fulfill the MNPS support staff bonus. Metro government just recentlys. Why is the Metro Council picking up the slack for MNPS mismanagement? Why have these workers been neglected by the MNPS School Board? Who was getting all the money allocated to MNPS?

The Beacon Center released a report that did an excellent job outlining where the funds allocated to schools using the old BEP formula were going from 2012-2020. Instead of supplementing students, classrooms, teachers, and support staff, it went to creating new administrative positions and their salaries. Four Metro School Board positions are on the ballot in August. Perhaps it’s time for the community to ask some questions and express how they feel about this situation at the ballot box.


“Shame on the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.” That was Council Member Young during a discussion about an amendment that made it into the final budget which cut $98.7K from Metro’s contract with the Nashville Area’s Chamber of Commerce and redirected it to Metro’s Housing Division.

Discussions on the floor indicated that the pushback from the Council against the Chamber stems from political riffs between the two entities. Council members expressed that Metro is the only council that allocated funding to the Chamber, and they use it to lobby against many policies and politicians that the majority of the Metro Council support. Council Members also reminded the public that the Chamber of Commerce was behind the push to put the Mayor’s office in charge of selecting the Metro School Board members instead of opening the positions to a public vote; an initiative that failed to gain traction.


Council Member Welsch proposed an amendment to strip the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) of $15M and relocate the money to the Barnes Fund. The Barnes Fund is a trust set up to build affordable housing in Nashville. Council Member Welsch was cheered by the audience in attendance at the meeting. Subsequently, Council Member Henderson was booed when he stood up to voice opposition to the amendment. Despite the pressure from the peanut gallery, this amendment was snuffed out by the council; 5 yeses, 29 noes, and 3 abstentions.




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  • Mixed-used project eyed for The Nations (Post)
  • Berry Hill property sells for $1.67M (Post)
  • Next phase of Vanderbilt Stadium renovations announced (Post)


Samuel Francis in the introduction of his collection of essays Beautiful Losers (1993) assesses the state of both the left and the right. His focus here is on the total absence of civic responsibility in modern political movements (emphasis mine):

The essence of a republic is the independence of the citizens who compose it and their commitment to a sustained active participation in its public affairs, the res publica. The current regime promotes not independence, but dependency and not civic participation, but civic passivity. Today, almost the whole of American society encourages dependency and passivity—in the economy, through the continuing absorption of independent farms and businesses by multinational corporations, through ever more minute regulation by the state and through the dragooning of mass work forces in office and factory and mass consumption through advertising and public relations; in the culture, through the regimented and centralized manufacture and manipulation of thought, taste, opinion, and emotion itselfby the mass media and educational organizations; and in the state, through its management of more and more dimensions of private and social existence under the color of "therapy" that does not cure, "voluntary service" that is really mandatory, and periodic "wars," against poverty, illiteracy, drugs, or other fashionable monsters, that no one ever wins. The result is an economy that does not work, a democracy that does not vote, families without fathers, classes without property, a government that passes more and more laws, a people that is more and more lawless, and a culture that neither thinks nor feels except when and what it is told or tricked to think and feel.
To be sure, there are many Americans who resent and fear these trends, and sometimes they flex enough political muscle to gain a few more tax breaks, a handful of increased federal entitlements, or a tenuous and temporary relief from strangulation by the managerial octopus. Their discontents and fears, if properly mobilized, may revive an American Right and may eventually succeed in achieving some of its projects. But almost no one wants a republic or even knows what a republic is, and there can be no possibility of a republic in the United States again until Americans are willing to assume the burdens of civic responsibility and independence that republican life demands. The American Right-Old or New, Paleo or Neo- failed to persuade Americans to take up those burdens, as their ancestors took them up in Williamsburg and Boston, at Fort Sumter and Gettysburg, and those who identified with its cause arc only a few of the Americans who will eventually pay the price of that failure. No matter how beautiful its ideas and theories, no matter how compelling a chart of the currents of history's river it drew, American conservatism was not enough to channel those currents into other courses. It is as a chronicle and an explanation of these beautiful losers in our history that these essays may serve.

You can retreat into diversions like cryptocurrency, video games, Netflix, and endless hobbies, but at the end of the day, none of these things will effectively substitute for exercising real agency in the world by getting your hands dirty in the civic sphere.

Source: Beautiful Losers: Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism
University of Missouri, 1 August 1994, Buy Online


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You can view our full calendar here.

🍺 The Pamphleteer hosts Bar Hours on the third Thursday of every month at Lucky's 3 Star Bar from 6-8 PM. The first ten guests get drinks on the company tab.

🎪 Check out our favorite driving distance festivals this summer - Redneck Rumble in Lebanon this weekend, see us there.

👨🏻‍🌾 The Pamphleteer farmer's market guide.

👂 Listen to The Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of the bands featured in this week's calendar.


😳 Standup Open Mic @ Cabana Taps, 7p, Free, Info

🎻 Bluegrass Night @ The American Legion Post 82, 7p, Free, Info

🎙 Jamey Johnson @ The Grand Ole Opry, 7p, $40, Info

🎙 Kimmi Bitter @ The Standard Proof Whiskey Co, 7p, Free, Info

🍸 Electric relaxation @ Bar Sovereign, 9p, Free, Info


🎹 Steely Dan @ First Bank Amphitheater, (7/13), $34+, Info

🏜 Hiatus Kaiyote @ Marathon Music Works, (8/14), $35+, Info

🐂 Professional Bull Riding @ Bridgestone, (8/19-21), $20+ Info

🐖 Roger Waters @ Bridgestone, (8/27), $39, Info

🎹 Stereolab @ Marathon Music Works, (9/6), $35, Info

🎸 My Morning Jacket @ Ascend Amphitheater, (9/23), $22.88, Info

🎸 Smashing Pumpkins @ Bridgestone Arena, (10/10), $133+, Info



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Dr. Carol Swain’s Ivory Tower Exit
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Lightyears From Reality
Disney’s biggest nemesis is not Ron DeSantis, but its own artistic compromise.
Book Review: Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam
By Vivek RamaswamyCenter Street Press.Hardcover. $28.00.
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★ There Are Still Pioneers in America. Cole Summers Was One. By 10 years old, the Utah boy had bought and was running a 350-acre farmstead. This is what it looks like to be unafraid to try.

🀹 Why America Is Stuck With Only Two Parties If the United States ever gets a major new political party, it won’t be built by think tank denizens.

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