Letter: Tennessee corruption is not humorous

Jul. 03, 2014 @ 11:09 AM


I had trouble trying to follow the Michael Collins commentary June 18 on corruption. He started out thusly: “A recent collegiate study (what study?) ranked Tennessee as third on the list of most corrupt states in the union.”

He never identified this study. Instead, he changed the perspective of his own piece by citing another study to make Illinois his point. In fact, he introduced two other studies. Deceptive, huh? But why did he trivialize this corruption? 

According to Fortune Magazine, a study conducted by the University of Hong Kong and Indiana University found that Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Alaska, South Dakota, Kentucky and Florida were the Top 10 corrupt states. From 1976 to 2008, this research looked at more than 25,000 public corruption convictions. Researches (not at the University of Illinois at Chicago or Southern Illinois as Collins inferred) correlated that corruption data with state spending. The end result was that this corruption costs each person in the 10 states an average of $1,308 per year.

Six of the 10 states are dark red states from the heart of Dixie. But Collins could not accept that Illinois and its capital, “Chicago” (Can you believe this? Even if he meant it in jest), were not No. 1 in corruption. Mississippi was No. 1.

Sam Venable (“A shameful showing for our state,” June 17, Knoxville News Sentinel) said, “Tennessee has a long, proud tradition of producing crooked politicians and business people, which is redundant.”

If Gov. Haslam were governor of Illinois and a Democrat, he and half of his family would be in jail for the Pilot corruption, not to mention Sen. Lamar Alexander. How did Alexander obtain such wealth as president of UT and as a Tennessee politician?

I’m shocked that Collins was so willing to trivialize Tennessee’s corruption. That is, “The next time you see an Alabama fan, be sure and point out to them that our crooked politicians are better than their crooked politicians, and we can back it up with statistical proof,” even though he didn’t know either the source or the universities who conducted the research.

This largely southern problem is not a game people play. It’s law-breaking, and we should take it in a serious vein. It’s shameful for our state — and the south.

The bottom-line is that crime should never be trivialized.


B.J. Paschal

Pigeon Forge

P.S. — I agree with “A state of decay” (June 19 editorial).