In many ways, Tennessee is a great place to live. A cost of living 8% lower than the national average, combined with a temperate climate (if you exclude the tornadoes) coupled with lovely scenery explains why this location is attractive to retirees and transplants alike. Add in Tennessee’s many business-friendly incentives, low wages, and anti-union laws; all enticements to manufacturers wanting to increase profitability and it’s easy to see why we are among the top 10 fastest growing states in the country.
Nevertheless, Tennessee is not as idyllic as many would have us believe, particularly for those 13.9% of Tennesseans living below the poverty line. Indeed we are the 43rd poorest state in the nation. Half of Tennessee families depend on a female breadwinner and 40% of those are living in poverty. With that in mind, it’s hard to justify the passage of laws seeking to deny reproductive and workers’ rights and laws which treat homelessness and sleeping on public property as a criminal offense. So despite this perceived image of growth, success and prosperity for many Tennesseans the reality of their lives is far more grim.
- Tennessee is now considered to be among the top 5 most dangerous states in the nation. That includes being 10th highest for number of women killed by men and 8th highest for children and adolescents dying from gun accidents, a direct result of the 1 in 3 children who live in a home which legally stores a loaded and unlocked firearm. That high crime rate has also caused this state to be considered the 10th most dangerous place for our older residents to live.
- Tennessee has the 5th highest rate of people shot in road rage incidents nationwide. Harvard researchers have found that rude drivers with guns in their cars are more likely to be aggressive and engage in road rage. Adding to concerns about the safety of traveling our roadways is the fact that we now rank 8th highest for number of fatal car accidents. And given last year’s passage of a permitless carry bill in Tennessee allowing people to be publicly armed with loaded handguns without a background check or safety training, these incidences of homicidal road rage, reckless driving, and automobile fatalities will undoubtedly increase along with our traffic.
- And how have Tennesseans fared as a result of these lawmakers’ refusal to expand Medicaid? Well, our life expectancy is now 1-1/2 years less than the national average, no doubt due in large part to the closure of 16 of our hospitals and the nearly 800,000 (11%) of Tennesseans who are without medical insurance. Additionally, the COVID pandemic was responsible for Tennesseans having the 4th highest infection and death rate of any other state. All of which contributes to Tennesseans having the nation’s highest rate of bankruptcy and an ongoing cycle of poverty.
- Last, but certainly not least would be this legislature’s passage of a flurry of divisive, hate-filled, anti-transgender/LGBTQ bills designed to create an atmosphere of intolerance where these individuals are made to feel unsafe, undesirable, and unwelcome.
This election provides an opportunity to elect those officials who value people over politics and democracy over divisiveness. Vote accordingly.
Murfreesboro, TN 37128