The Blind Side is a forthcoming Hollywood movie, now in production and already getting much ballyhoo, based on the true account of Michael Oher, a product of Memphis' once desolate housing projects who now plays for the NFL's
Baltimore Ravens. Oher was mentored into academic achievement and athletic fame by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy during the period of his enrollment at Briarcrest Christian School.
That's the outline of a story written by Michael Lewis in his book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, which is the basis for the film. The primary characters are Memphians, the setting for much of its action is here, and so the movie is getting made right here in River City, right?
Wrong. It's being made in Georgia, which offered the moviemakers incentives that added to at least $2 million more in benefits, according to Linn Sitler, director of the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission. Despite her (and our) success in having attracted quality film productions to Memphis (The Firm, Nothing But the Truth, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and others too numerous to mention), we are increasingly at a competitive disadvantage with other cities and states, according to Sitler.
The reason? "It's not the city, not the county, not the area, and not the business community," Sitler says. "It's the state." And her primary concern is, believe it or not, the lack of a state income tax in Tennessee, which is one of seven states so protected or deprived (pick one). For reasons of rebate financing — routine calculations in the film business — states with income taxes on their books have a competitive advantage. That, and the presumption that the income tax has a revenue stability lacking in a sales or property tax, the two other chief sources of revenue available to a state. (Anybody who's had to pony up the 10 percent it takes to buy something across the counter in Tennessee knows which tax our penurious state relies on.)
None of this is to say that we should make another try at passing an income tax. Resistance to such a tax became so vigorous back in 2001 that a riot occurred on the state Capitol grounds — one that extended inside the Capitol building itself. A state income tax isn't gonna happen, regardless of the reasoned arguments the Linn Sitlers of the world can make for its passage.
Which is one way of saying, our lawmakers are too shortsighted for their constituents' own good. Another way is to point to the denouement that followed on the General Assembly's giddy passage this past year, under direct tutelage by the National Rifle Association, of irresponsible legislation allowing guns to be toted into restaurants and bars and onto the grounds of parks.
Is it just us who regard the legislation as irresponsible? Nope. The city governments of the suburban municipalities in Shelby County and elsewhere, places whose elected representatives were wall-to-wall for the gun bills, have with striking unanimity voted to opt out of the bill and maintain their bans on public weaponry.
We the taxpayers of Tennessee continue to be blindsided by legislators seduced into foolish decisions by foolish arguments. What is the saying? There are none so blind as those who will not see.