In the past I’ve noted that Missouri hasn’t been doing so well when it comes to specific measures of qualilty of life. It has also seemed apparent to me that the state’s often low rankings in crucial areas have lots to do with the quality of government its citizens have selected – and here I’m talking – mostly – about the legacy of Republican Governor Matt Blunt as well as the antics of the GOP circus that has disabled Jefferson City over the past few years.
Consider these important rankings:
— The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2013 Report Card on American Infrastructure gave Missouri a grade of C-.
— Education Week ranked Missouri 41st in education.
— The U.S. Department of Agriculture ranks Missouri the 7th worst state in the nation when it comes to food insecurity.
Not very flattering to say the least. And now there are two more very sad rankings that can be added to the list above.
First, the Center for American Progress (CAP) recently put out a report on the state of women in America. The report measures issues surrounding economic security, health and leadership. Missouri ranked 31 overall in comparative terms and received a grade of D+; the particulars were economic factors: rank 39/grade D-; health factors: rank 35/grade D; leadership factors: rank 24/grade C.
Second, The Opportunity Index just put out its most recent report. The Index is predicated on the proposition that “if you work hard and play by the rules, your zip code shouldn’t determine the amount of opportunity available to you.” Its goal is to identify:
… the conditions present in different communities and [it] is designed to connect economic, academic, civic and other factors together to help identify concrete solutions to lagging conditions for opportunity and economic mobility. From preschool enrollment to income inequality, from volunteerism to access to healthy food, expanding opportunity depends on the intersection of multiple factors. Developed by Measure of America and Opportunity Nation, the Index gives policymakers and community leaders a powerful tool to advance opportunity-related issues and work, advocate for positive change and track progress over time. The Index measures 16 indicators, and scores all 50 states plus Washington DC on a scale of 0-100 each year. In addition, more than 3,000 counties are graded A-F, giving policymakers and leaders a useful tool to identify areas for improvement and to gauge progress over time.
And guess what? Once again Missouri, ranked 28th, falls into the bottom half of the fifty states. You can look at the details here.
The message from all these rankings is pretty clear. Missouri might not be one of the most attractive states in which to live. Who, given a choice, would want to relocate to Missouri? Or, given a choice, remain in the state?
But there is a further message; folks get the government and the concommitant policies that they deserve. Think of the last legislative session in Jefferson City. Bills were put forward to please the gun nuts (and I do mean nuts), conspiracy theorists, nullificationists, anti-abortion fanatics, corporate lobbyists and other influence peddlers. Nothing was done to address any of the issues addressed by the various reports discussed above – actually, by refusing to expand Medicaid, the legislature moved Missouri backwards. Yet it’s very likely that many of the same legislators who were braying loudest about utter nonsense will be returned after the next election. Draw your own conclusions.
Addendum: Upon reflection it strikes me that there’s a third message to be derived from this data. Remember when red-meat eating Texas Governor Rick Perry was touring the state trying to persuade all and sundry that he had the key to prosperity? Well Texas ranks at about the same or lower in all the measures discussed above – infrastructure: C+; education: 39th; food insecurity: 2nd worst in the U.S.; state of women: ranking 45/grade F; opportunity index: 38th. Goes to show that all that Texas has going for it is oil reserves and the related jobs, and, consequently, when it comes to government, the red state solution might not be what’s called for if Missouri wants to fix its problems.