Back before the fire, I was planning to closely follow, and possibly participate in, the series of “Nashville Next” colloquiums that the city held to discuss what Nashville will become in the near to mid-term future. What with all the upheaval in my own life, I have had to curtail my own grand plans, and so far have seen only one”Nashville Next” presentation, courtesy of the video of it posted online. I was not impressed. If this is the quality of advice our civic leadership is getting, they are taking us down the wrong path, one that will lead us hung up and hung out to dry.
The speaker was Amy Liu, a “senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-founder and co-director of the Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program,” according to Metro’s website. Right off the bat, it was obvious that Ms. Liu worships at the altar of “growth.” Growth is the problem, not the solution. We have already overshot the planet’s ability to support us in the style to which we have become accustomed.
Second, she didn’t take into account the convulsions our culture will undergo due to climate change and resource depletion. She recommended that Nashville and Middle Tennessee gear up for increased international trade. What’s going to happen to international trade when China dries up and blows away (if it doesn’t suffocate first), or when the seaports through which international trade flows are incapacitated by rising sea levels? This, not some deluded dream of high-tech “progress” and continued comfort, is the future we need to prepare for.
Credit where credit is due, however: she does have her facts about Nashville pretty straight, and I was glad to see her prove my long-held intuition that mass transit doesn’t make much sense in Nashville because the places people work are so scattered around our city’s periphery that there are no “masses” to transport.
As the so-called “Music City Center” demonstrates, the city is deeply committed to a totally delusional rosy view of the future. The irony of spending half a billion dollars on that dinosaur seems to be lost on the city’s elite, as well as the irony of the pride they seemingly took in raising three million dollars, about one half of one percent of the Music City Center tab, to help with low-income housing–not that our current, oil and coal dependent housing is going to be much good very far into the future. Couple that with the way the MCC conveniently removed several service centers for homeless people from the downtown area, and the outlines of economic apartheid start to appear, right here in Nashville. Who could imagine they would freak out in Nashville, Tennessee?
These skewed spending priorities place a different spin on “the one percent,” don’t they? The “one percent” are spending 99.5 percent of the public’s tax money on themselves, and half of one percent on the ninety-nine percent. Let us eat cake, eh Karl? My opinion of Mayor Dean went up when he suggested that everybody in town should read “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but apparently he made that suggestion as a neoliberal bashing serious religion in general, not as a textbook on how it could happen here. So much for Hizzoner.
music: Mothers of Invention, “Hungry Freaks“