An outfit called WalletHub has been sending us news releases for about three years telling us they’ve been rating the states on various topics.
WalletHub has called itself a “personal finance social network.” It’s owned by Evolution Finance, a company that says it can compare thousands of credit cards for best deals. We’ve gotten its reports comparing states on various issues.
Various organizations compare states for various reasons and we’ve never yet seen a rating of the states that isn’t questioned by critics who have their own statistics that question the findings. And it’s always good to look at the organization doing the ratings to see if there’s an agenda that is behind it (We’ve all seen the Chamber of Commerce, NRA, Right to Life and other ratings and endorsements in political campaigns).
One thing we have noticed year after year after year, survey after survey after survey is that Missouri, for all political self-praise that it lavishes on itself, seldom shows any exceptionalism. The surveys paint Missouri as a state that either doesn’t try to excel or whose citizens and leaders don’t care enough about being in the top tier of states that they’ll commit to doing what it takes to get there.
Because WalletHub insists on being in our face every couple of weeks with new findings, we’re going to look at the picture this organization paints of Missouri. Other surveys look at other issues. But in years of reviewing these studies, the impression remains that Missouri talks a better game than it plays. So here are some findings from WalletHub.
Spending: Missourians rank sixth in the country when it comes to spending money, based on ten factors. While many candidates have been bemoaning the $19-20 trillion national debt, none that we have heard voice any concerns about the total consumer debt, reported by the New York Fed in May as $12.25 trillion and rising for the last seven quarters. The increase in debt in the first quarter of the year was the largest since the beginning of the Great Recession.
Missourians apparently love to go shopping. Making their state better in other important ways doesn’t seem as important.
Best and Worst School Systems: Missouri overall is 32nd. We are 29th in a category called “School System Quality” and we’re 39th in School System Safety, whatever that means. Thirteen categories are used in the “quality” rates. Safety is based on disciplinary-incident rates per 100,000 students, bullying incident rates, and youth incarceration rates of people under 21 per 100,000. We are 41st in controlling bullying. Missouri is the 24th best state for teachers.
But we are 34th in places for nurses to work.
And if you are a working mom, the picture is not good. 34th overall (27th in child care, 29th in professional opportunities, and 38th in work-life balance).
It therefore might be surprised to learn that Missouri is ranked ninth in women’s equality according to WalletHub (17th in workplace environment, ninth in education and 16th in political empowerment).
Missouri is 33rd in wealth, adjusted for population (36th in income rank, 35th in GDP per capita, and sixth in taxes paid per capita).
But we are the 45th most financially literate state. Other factors smother our ranking of third in knowledge and education.
The studies say we’re the 30th among green states. We’re 12th in environmental quality but rank 37th in eco-friendly behaviors and 33rd in climate change contributions—a reflection, perhaps, of ancoal-fired utilities produce)
These are some of the results from one of many studies that rank Missouri as a state that is often mediocre at best and poor at worst. And apparently, Missourians and their leaders are comfortable being nothing special.
Myron Cohen, a comedian of the 50s and 60s who often was on the Ed Sullivan Show, used to tell the story of a husband who came home one day and noticed his apartment smelled of cigar smoke. When his wife would not admitted she had taken up cigar smoking, the husband started searching the place and in the bedroom close he found a man standing in his undershorts. “What are you doing here?” the husband demanded. And the man responded, “Everybody gotta be someplace.”
So it is with rankings. Everybody’s gotta be someplace.
Too bad so many surveys show Missouri doesn’t want to be someplace better.