Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Computers and balls

When Republicans think of issues that might serve as things to highlight in the coming year at the State level, the Governor's tax increases and chronic mismanagement of the State budget surplus come immediately to mind. The fact that the Republicans in the State Senate had to practically beg to get the tiniest shred of tax relief for ordinary Tennesseans while Bredesen was keen on a dramatic increase in the tobacco tax and enacting a Statewide public smoking ban that logic would dictate would cause a loss of tobacco tax revenue.

The solution of the Governor's Revenue Commissioner was to man the State's border crossings to try and determine who was buying cigarettes and bringing them into Tennessee-or at least make the threat. The Governor's plan is evidence of chronic mismanagement of both the State taxation apparatus as well as State revenue.

Tennessee House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower has his own idea of what makes an election year issue. Mumpower apparently believes that Tennessee voters believe in large numbers that the integrity of the Tennessee Education Lottery might be undermined because the lottery uses computers to draw lottery numbers instead of balls. From the day that Mumpower became House GOP Leader, he has said that his primary goal is to insure that Republicans gain a majority in the Tennessee House of Representatives. I believe Jason Mumpower is very sincere in his desire for a majority, and I base that belief upon several conversations with him, two interviews on my internet podcast, and a journey to Nashville.

What I am not certain of is that Mumpower is going to connect with the average voter with the issue of whether the lottery uses computers or balls. Yes, it gets some press-usually in papers that have shown in the past that they love nothing more than to give Republicans a bad rap. The best way to find out if this issue is important to the average voter is to ask. Perhaps my way is a bit simplistic, but I just asked around town whether folks thought it made a difference whether computers or balls were the method used to draw numbers. Most of the time I just got a chuckle or a laugh. Among those who did see a problem with the lottery using computers to draw numbers, no one thought this was a pressing State issue upon which our future as Tennesseans may depend.

It may indeed be better for the lottery to use balls instead of computers when drawing lottery numbers, but it isn't an issue of pressing importance to the people of Tennessee. This is one of those things you wait and deal with quietly when you have the majority you are seeking. As an election year issue, it is incredibly silly, and I can think of many other issues that are more deserving of Caucus time and newsprint than whether the lottery uses computers or balls.



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