The Weekender: A BirdDog survey, a peek at brain health through the eye + tariff impacts on Tenn.

Spotlighting what you might have missed on BirdDog and why a few headlines from elsewhere matter for Tennessee.

Shipping containers in Vancouver. Photo by Kyle Ryan on Unsplash



This week I’d like three minutes of your time to answer some questions about what kind of reader you are (in life, not just of BirdDog), what compels you to share an article, what all you read, and whether you’re satisfied with the journalism options in Nashville and around the state.

Loyalty and trust are earned, and you have many digital options, so help me understand why you’re here. I’m curious to see what you have to say … I’m glad you’re a reader!

I’ll take a quick survey.


Podcast: Holly talks what puts health care on edge + why politicians, execs need to answer hard questions




1. GOP propose using sales tax money for new tax cuts

David A. Lieb, Associated Press via the Chicago Sun Times

Tennessee is one of the states in line to benefit from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on collecting sales tax online, and this article highlights some proposals to reduce other forms of tax collection in response.

House speaker and governor-hopeful Beth Harwell wants to reduce the state’s 7 percent sales tax, while Democratic competitors said some of the windfall could go to teacher salaries.

It’s estimated that Tennessee could see roughly 1.5 percent to nearly 2.5 percent increase in sales tax growth as a percentage of its total taxes, per Moody’s Investors Service.


2. The eye’s structure holds information about the health of the mind

The Economist

Researchers led by a team from Moorfields Eye Hospital in London studied whether the retinal nerve fiber layer in the eye could be an indicator to determine cognitive decline and the health of a brain.

Excerpt: “The team’s results, published in JAMA Neurology this week, show that people with a thin RNFL are more likely to fail cognitive tests than those with a thick one. They are also more likely to suffer cognitive decline as they age.”


3. ‘A way of monetizing poor people’: How private equity firms make money offering loans to cash-strapped Americans

Peter Whoriskey, The Washington Post

A deep dive into how Warburg Pincus-owned consumer finance company Mariner Finance mass mails checks — which are high interest rate loans — to people who might be cash-strapped, including Tennesseans, then sues them for repayment and legal fees.

Mariner operates in 22 states and is “especially active” in five states, including Tennessee. Consumer installment loans have surged in popularity as the payday lending industry has been met with increased regulations.

Excerpt: “Among its rivals, Mariner stands out for the frequent use of mass-mailed checks, which allows customers to accept a high-interest loan on an impulse — just sign the check. It has become a key marketing method.”


4. A trade war with China could hit these communities hardest

Ted Mellnik and Kevin Uhrmacher, The Washington Post

Using data from the Brookings Institution (available here), The Post mapped the counties that could be hardest hit by auto and other manufacturing tariffs along with counties with food manufacturers or farms.

Tennessee has pockets in all three regions that will be hit by both food or auto/manufacturing tariffs. Per Brookings, the counties that could see the biggest hits are some of the most rural, including Crockett, Moore and Unicoi counties.

Source: Institute of International Finance

The majority of the impact to Tennessee, related to tariffs, will come from the European Union, Canada and China, according to the Institute of International Finance. 

Read more from the AP (spoiler, it’s about Tennessee): How the trade war is changing minds in a Senate battleground


Other reads I stumbled across this week

Fast Company: Patagonia wants U.S. companies to give employees election day off

The New Yorker: The Rise of McPolitics: Democrats and Republicans belong to increasingly homogeneous parties. Can we survive the loss of local politics?

World Economic Forum: Feeling Tired? Take a coffee nap (< this is one of the things fueling BirdDog)