By Rosetta Miller Perry
It seems that Tennessee Republicans delight in constantly showing the rest of the nation how backward they can be in public policy issues. Both senators who are anti-African Americans to their core sided with other white Republicans in demonstrating their allegiance to the cult of Donald Trump, endorsing his absurd and possibly treasonous efforts to overturn a fair election and retain power. Lee, the governor (a Trump clone) is squarely in Trump’s back pocket, more interested in devising laws to punish people for exercising their constitutional rights to protest than in doing anything to help move this backward state forward.
So given that backdrop, it’s no surprise Tennessee was NOT one of twenty states and dozens of municipalities who increased the minimum wage last Friday. It certainly would have provided a boost to struggling frontline workers trying to help others during the pandemic, which only shows signs of getting worse, or the many people battling to survive in the wake of businesses closing and jobs being lost.
Unfortunately, the struggles of low-income earners, as well as the plight of the poor and homeless, are not on the agenda of Republicans running this state, nor those in Washington. They are too busy trying to make Trump more like a Russian Czar and overturn the results of an election where the majority of voters indicated they wanted his incompetent golfing playing presence to vacate the White House. Republicans keep talking about the 70 million who voted for Trump, well what about 80 million Americans who voted AGAINST the Czar wannabe? Since when was there such concern about the voices of those who supported a losing candidate? Did anyone go to court 50 times and claim Trump’s victory in 2016 was the result of fraud even though it probably was?
The federal minimum wage hasn’t been increased since 2009, remaining at $7.25. House Democrats passed a bill in 2019 that would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 through 2025, but it died in the GOP-controlled Senate where Senator Marsha’s Blackburn’s net worth is more than $551,512. How did she vote? Guess!!
“While families work hard to make ends meet, their cost of living has surged to unsustainable highs, inflation has eaten nearly 20 percent of their wages and the GOP’s special interested agenda has left them behind,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at the time. “No one can live with dignity on a $7.25 an hour wage,” she added. Perhaps Senator Marsha Blackburn doesn’t understand this yet.
If anything, it has been much harder to exist in the last 12 years. Expenses in mid-sized cities like Nashville keep soaring, particularly housing and food costs. The notion that the minimum wage should remain stagnant while everything else low-income workers face continues to escalate is both cruel and ridiculous.
This issue especially resonates with the Tennessee Tribune. As a small, locally-owned, independent business, we can’t afford an increase in wages, but we will make sacrifices to do what is right for our employees who struggle daily to feed their families and pay rent, etc. Why is it that Tennessee is always able to find money for race tracks, soccer stadiums, and giveaways to white developers, but is either unwilling or unable (or both) to even provide a slight increase for minimum wage for its citizens, especially at a time when so much of its population is still reeling from the impact of a pandemic, Christmas bombing, and tornado damage, is sickening.
We constantly hear a lot of rhetoric from your governor about his faith and how that impacts his decisions. Well, one major tenet of Christianity is a concern for the poor and compassion for the needy. Somehow I think we do not serve the same God.
“If you mistreat the poor, you insult your Creator” — Proverbs 14:31,
- “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.” Proverbs 21:13
We hope (no doubt in vain) for better governmental decisions and policies in 2021 for the underserved in Tennessee.