Publisher’s Positions

By Steve Hunley

Housing Crisis For Whom?

For the better part of two years, building slowed during COVID.  That caused a housing problem in this country.  We hear a lot of rattling about a “housing crisis” inside the City of Knoxville especially.  We’ll hear more as the city election approaches.

We need to define just exactly what we mean when we are talking about a “housing crisis.”  There seems to be some vague notion that the City of Knoxville is somehow morally obligated to provide housing for every person who wanders into our midst.  So, if 200,000 people want to move and live in Knoxville, we must provide housing for them?  The fact is we don’t.  The differences between Knox County and the City of Knoxville prove this statement.  Knox County has lived off of natural growth and has encouraged responsible development and business.  It’s been 25 years since Knox County’s property taxes have been raised, and keep in mind, the City of Knoxville already annexed virtually every big sales tax-producing area inside the county.  The county operates the school system (the City went out of the school business), the Health Department, libraries, etc.  Now, the City increases taxes “every four years” according to one councilwoman.  The City hasn’t encouraged natural growth or been as friendly to business and manages to spend more than it has, raising taxes constantly.  Knox County is well managed while the City of Knoxville, during the last 12 years, has been about tax and spend.

First of all, to do what some of the City poohbahs want, we would have to literally tear down existing neighborhoods and replace them with high-rise apartments.  Of course, there are several candidates running in this year’s election who, truth be told, have a vision of Knoxville where everyone walks everywhere or rides a bicycle, and everyone lives in cubicles.  Except for them, naturally.  And as is always the case with the Left, this is another example of “For Thee, But Not for Me.”  Many of those who espouse those views live in a single-family home; in some cases, those candidates and influencers live alone in single-family homes.

The cost to rebuild Knoxville to fit their vision would be astronomical and every aspect of the local infrastructure would become instantly outdated.  Taxes would skyrocket (even more) and they have been raised in the City of Knoxville regularly.  Those who could leave probably would.

“Affordable housing” is a reasonable-sounding phrase, but let’s pare it down to what that means.  It’s housing subsidized by the taxpayers for people who aren’t paying their fair share of that tax burden.  It’s NOT taxing the rich to pay the way of the poor, it’s taxing the dickens out of the lower and middle class to pay the way of a great many folks who aren’t working.  That raises yet another question.  If 100,000 or 200,000 people show up on the doorstep of the City of Knoxville, where are they going to work?  Where are the jobs they intend to fill?

Let’s also pare down what “affordable housing” DOESN’T mean.  It doesn’t mean rent controls and keeping things affordable for middle-income or working-class families.  That much was clear when Indya Kincannon and the city council raised property taxes by 40% in the middle of the worst inflation this country has seen for more than 40 years.  Raising property taxes also raises mortgages and rents for working people.  It is a fact and is indisputable.

So, while Kincannon and the city council try and hide behind the skirt of “affordable housing” they are directly responsible for making homes and apartments less affordable for working families.

Nor has the City of Knoxville used the properties that sit and decay that it already owns.  Those same sites could be used to build more housing if needed. Not everyone can live in a particular city or location.  Suburban counties in this country have boomed precisely because failed cities have caused people to flee to the suburbs to avoid the high crime, high taxes, and flawed policies imposed by the same kind of mismanagement which raises mortgages and rents in the name of affordable housing in a time of crippling inflation.  That same lack of good management skills made things worse, not better.  That’s how so many once-great cities in America became much less attractive to live in.

There are quite a few suburban counties touching Knox County.  Folks can live in Jefferson, Union, Sevier, Loudon, Anderson and Blount counties and work in Knox County.  As is usually the case, one has to accept the premise of a misguided notion for one of the Left’s ideas to have any basis at all, although it rarely has any credibility.  No, Knoxville doesn’t have to provide an apartment for anyone who shows up on our doorstep.

Most Knoxvillians have no idea the notion is even being discussed and likely we will be lucky to see 10% of the electorate bother to vote in the city elections.  Just how anyone can claim that is a mandate of anything is beyond me.

Look for candidates who will be careful with your tax dollars and have a responsible vision for the future.  Under the current vision advocated by the present establishment of the City, it is landlords and developers who will profit off the hard work and taxes paid by working-class families and middle-class folks.


Where We Get Our News

Eight in ten Americans say they get their news through a smartphone, computer or tablet most of the time.  That’s 86% of the people.  That represents a far higher figure than those who get their news from TV.  Still, 68% of people say they get “some” news from the television occasionally.  Digital devices have become the face of delivering news to Americans, at least according to a study by the Pew Research Center.  Most newspapers, including The Focus, can be read online.  The days when people sat on the couch and watched the evening news are becoming fewer and fewer.


Congratulations to Amy and Buddy!

The Knoxville Focus family is glad to report Amy and Buddy Burkhardt have tied the knot.  We wish to congratulate the bride and the groom.  It is our wish that every day your decision to get married will be reinforced by greater love and understanding.  We wish you all the happiness in the world.