May 24 2010
11:28 am

WATE reports on the Gatlinburg tea party that featured some classic wingnuttery stylings from candidates for governor and others. Here's a good one:

"You can't look at government as an employment agency," said Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, another Republican candidate for governor. "People think, gosh, we need government to make jobs. Wrong!"

Really? Here are the top ten employers in the Knoxville metro area:

• U.S. Department of Energy - 12610
• The University of Tennessee, Knoxville -9317
• Knox County Public School System -8104
• Covenant Health - 8000
• Mercy Health Partners -8141
• University of Tennessee Medical Center - 3225
• City of Knoxville - 2820
• County of Knox - 2500
• Clayton Homes - 2500
• State of Tennessee - 2401

So seven out of the top ten Knoxville area employers, including the top three, are... GOVERNMENT RUN! And nearly 70% of the jobs at the top ten employers are... GOVERNMENT JOBS!

Why do so many people who hate government want to be a part of it by going in to politics?

P.S. And get this. One of the largest "employment agencies" in the State of Tennessee is... THE STATE OF TENNESSEE! Yes, the state that Mayor "You can't look at government as an employment agency" Haslam wants to be governor of operates a huge online job listing service and 73 employment agency offices across the state.

Andy Axel's picture

Haslam, you bum! Get a real job!

Well, that -- and there's the fact that Haslam is applying for a job that, for all intents and purposes, has itself been made by the government. So unless he's going to go the Bredesen route and refuse a salary*, he'll be fully sponsored and paid by our sales and Hall tax dollars.

Whatever. It's become boilerplate Republican hogwash, a bit of demagoguery that makes for neat sound bites even if he doesn't believe it for a second.

This "I-need-to-govern-by-not-governing" schtick is about as tiresome as the Democrat to be named later making utterances about the corrupting influence of corporate dollars in politics.

* I still maintain that this was a conflict-of-interest dodge if ever there was, but it does give a certain plausible deniability to the incumbent in matters involving the state healthcare regime.

R. Neal's picture

I believe Haslam doesn't take

I believe Haslam doesn't take a salary as Knoxville Mayor. Good point on the conflict of interest dodge.

Apparently he was asked at the forum about his lack of financial disclosures and whether he had investments in private prison corporations, casinos, redlight camera companies, or other companies that stood to benefit from state contracts. According to Stacey Campfield this made him "uncomfortable."

Andy Axel's picture

Give me liberty or give me earmarks?

I'm about the last one to worry about Haslam's level of comfort.

And lest we forget Zach Wamp, the first candidate running his mouth, if not his boots, to secure the Tennessee borders:

“You know, I will defend until my death the ability of the Congress to direct the funding or to earmark projects.”- NPR interview, 1/27/2006

And, unlike his two distinct freshman enrollments at UT, directing federal dollars is something at which he doesn't fail.

Rigsby Werner's picture

TVA used to be on the list in a big way as well

However, many people view the abundant and expanding government employment as a problem, not something to brag about and get excited. Government employment has significant limitations, it's esseentially redistribution of our tax dollars or redistribution of charitable contributions. Some government employment is sexier than others and can have a lot of the limitations removed.

Mike Hamilton, Tom Kilgore, Mike Edwards, Minta Roach, Judge Tom Phillips, and Jimmy Duncan are all government employees, yet they make hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, with incredible perks, benefits, and medical benefits that are out of reach of most employees, government, non-profit, or private.

Education will always be within the province of the government, the costs of private education cannot be distributed across the population like public education can.

Currently, some government employment is necessary for any community to grow, however, once the government becomes the primary employer in a community, we begin to encounter the problems like we have in Knoxville, the good old boy network, the its all in who you know situation, and the patronage fiascos that plauge our local governemnt. Government employment is a necessity, however, Knoxville is mired in it.

The fellow from Charlotte was an interesting fellow the other day. According to the most recent list, our largest employer (which is really in Oak Rdige) would be 6th on their list and we don't have anything on our employment list that would be relevant on their list at all.


R. Neal's picture

Nashville: 1. Vanderbilt


1. Vanderbilt University & VU Medical Center
2. State of Tennessee
3. Gaylord Opryland
4. Nissan North America Inc
5. Gulfstream Aircraft
6. St Thomas Hospital
7. AFL Telecommunications
8. Electrolux Home Products
9. Baptist Hospital
10. Centennial Medical Center

One advantage of so many government jobs in the Knoxville area is that it keeps the local economy (and housing prices) a little more stable.

Dave Prince's picture


If you're including UT Medical Center as the seventh government-run entity, that's not entirely accurate. UTMCK has been run by a private nonprofit since around 1999. State employees who still work there were either grandfathered in as employees leased from the University or are employees of the Graduate School of Medicine.

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