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Indiana ... So Close to the Bottom?
Maybe you saw the story that showed Indiana ranking 45th out of the 50 states, in terms of well-being.
And maybe your reaction was like mine, which is to say: Yikes.
I had no idea this was such a rotten place. I didn’t know how miserable I really was.
According to the people who did the measuring, Indiana placed in the bottom half – sometimes frighteningly close to the bottom itself – in several categories. We were:
* 29th in access to basic necessities -- food, shelter, and healthcare, and a safe and satisfying place to live.
* 35th in physical health (although another category indicates that ranking probably won’t last).
* 42nd in life evaluation – where you are now compared to where you think you’ll be five years from now.
* 43rd in emotional health. About the best you can say for that is it isn’t 44th.
* 45th in work satisfaction and environment.
* 48th (OUCH) in healthy behavior. Although I know several people who would rise up, coughing and wheezing, Marlboro in one hand and Bud in the other, to disagree. After which they’d walk past the gym to argue some more over Big Macs.
And so we wind up 45th.
Which, of course, is better than 46th (Arkansas), Ohio (47th), Mississippi (48th, which may be something of an improvement), Kentucky (49th), and West Virginia (50th, but please don’t say anything smart-alecky about it to my friends who grew up there – dang, those people are touchy).
Now, a word of caution: During my days as a newspaper reporter, I went out on enough Man-On-The-Street stories (also known as Editor’s Desperation, or Interviewing The Unwilling) to know that, in general, people tend to answer surveys in the negative. Even when the question begs a positive answer (“So, how do you feel about gorgeous spring weather?”) they’ll find a way to ac-cent-u-ate the negative (“It’s great, except for the tornadoes.”)
Personally, I find it hard to believe that Michigan (41st) outranks us. I mean, we still have some factories open. And Missouri (42nd)? I’ve been to places in Missouri where I am pretty sure everyone was named Jethro or Ellie May, and they had the unmitigated temerity to use the word “Hoosier” as a pejorative meaning “hick.
I do find some good news in the survey, through. Number one, it gives us a pretty good road map toward making this state a better place to live. The problem there is that so many of the people who have that power – those jokers we like to call legislators come to mind – are constitutionally incapable of consulting a road map, much less pulling over and asking for directions.
And keep in mind that the five highest ranked states had scores that weren’t all that far from those on the bottom, and are pretty much no-brainers anyway.
Minnesota, in fifth place, has moose, and any place with moose is a good place. Colorado is fourth, with its abundance of scenery and rich people. Coming in third is Wyoming, and – OK, that one I don’t understand. Hawaii is second, which I think warrants a resounding “Duh.”
And the happiest state in the union is Utah. Of course it is. And if that’s a mystery to you, just consider this:
When did you last see a frowning Osmond?
© 2009 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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