What's it like to be a child in your state?
A six-year study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation assessed states on factors such as economic well-being, education, health, family and community.
According to the philanthropic organization, the five best states for being a kid are: Minnesota, Massachusetts, Iowa, New Hampshire and Connecticut.
The five WORST states are... largely populated by people with an eagle-like eye for SHOOTING THE MESSENGER. So you can Google the USA Today story for yourself, if you're curious.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation is focused on improving the well-being of American children and ensuring that they have better prospects later in life. This dovetails nicely with the focus of state governors and legislators, who think one of the best possible prospects for the children is to someday be able to vote for THEM for president. ("Remember: I balanced the state budget ---- except for the medical bills for tendonitis from sticking my hand out for federal funds all the time.")
The foundation's "Kids Count Data Book" is a valuable resource, although sometimes it's glaringly obvious what constitutes good states and bad states. Signs you're living in one of the worst states:
1. Graduating seniors guffaw, "You mean there are OTHER states? You're pullin' my leg, mister!"
2. Children playing with the garden hose sustain major concussions from particulate matter.
3. Speed traps are set up to entrap toddlers taking their first steps. ("Ma-ma, da-da? What kind of foreign talk is that? I'm keepin' an eye on you, boy!")
One of the reasons for the survey is to shame states into taking decisive action. One state, tired of continually being near the bottom of the rankings, decided to do just that. ("We've hired a PR firm to campaign for statehood for Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., American Samoa, Gotham City...")
I'm sure many people will use the rankings to make important decisions about which states to relocate to in order to start a career and a family. ("Oops. The brochures forgot to mention that the minerals around here mess up fertility rates like a son of a gun.")
Doubtless, some states will ignore the foundation's findings. But others will go to great lengths to impress citizens with how progressive (or how rock-ribbed conservative) they are.
Among the more progressive states, we'll hear things like "We're the 'Mom, this homeless guy followed me home. Can we keep him?' State." And let's not forget esteem-building exercises such as "Tut tut. Don't get the idea that the Just For Participating trophy is all you're going home with. It can share space on the mantel with the coveted Just For Once Having Been A Gleam In Your Father's Eye award."
Some states will go to the opposite extreme and be more business friendly, say with laxer regulations for lemonade stands. ("You say you want your lemonade shaken, not stirred? Perfect! You can build your flimsy structure right along this earthquake fault line.")
What if future surveys focused more on what the children themselves think makes a good state? Would the highly publicized arts and crafts festivals suddenly be transformed into Arts and Minecraft festivals?
Most states will scramble to do well in the next survey ("The road ahead is challenging...really challenging...with narrow lanes and potholes and debris...Did we REALLY have to spend all the 'infrastructure' money on the governor's spouse's flowerbed?")
Danny welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades". Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bennington Banner.