Thank God for Louisiana.
That state’s public education is terrible. Its economy is worse. Its prisons and crime rates are awful. By and large, Louisianans have fewer opportunities for economic improvement than any other state’s residents. Its protection of its environment is pitiful. Access to affordable health care in Louisiana is poor. And fiscal stability there -- for the state and its people -- is, let’s say kindly, weak.
Thank God for Louisiana.
The new U.S. News & World Report rankings of the 50 states are out, and this year’s highly reputable tabulation places Louisiana as the worst state in the union in which to live. Louisiana may have spectacular cuisine and a vibrant and diverse culture, yet statistical data show on virtually every key component of American life -- schools, crime rates, economic opportunities, health care -- no state makes it tougher on its residents than does Louisiana. Makes one wonder what that state does with taxpayers’ money, doesn’t it? But Alabamians shouldn’t gloat.
Alabama is 49th. (Hence our aforementioned thankfulness.) Our state is essentially neck-and-neck with Louisiana on most metrics, only that Alabama fares slightly better in infrastructure, fiscal stability and the natural environment. U.S. News ranks Alabama’s public education as the worst in the United States. And because Mississippi is ranked among the better states in regards to its natural environment -- 11th overall, third in air and water quality -- it sits at No. 48.
That’s right. Unlike in college football, Alabama is below Mississippi.
This editorial board tends not to obsess over these popular rankings, but in this case they’re instructive in regards to the state Legislature and the people who guide our schools, protect our environment, recruit new industries and oversee our prisons and law enforcement. What these rankings say -- along with a few generations of previous rankings -- is that Alabama’s leadership is a collective flop. They’re not improving our state. They’re good at being re-elected and diving into partisan rabbit holes that tie up legislative time and accomplish nothing else.
Case in point: Alabama’s reprehensible abortion bill. Even its creator, Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, admits it has nothing to do with Alabama. Its sole purpose is to create litigation that may force a Supreme Court review of Roe v. Wade. It’s an evangelical-based bill pushed by legislators who forget they’re state lawmakers, not members of Congress or Supreme Court judges.
As much as we detest the stances taken this session by state Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, regarding public education, at least those efforts are designed at making Alabama better, and fast. And we credit Marsh for being one of those sickened by the thought of an Alabama woman being forced by to carry the child of her rapist.
The truth hurts. Alabama will never rise from the depths of these rankings until we elect and hire leaders who themselves can rise above the muck of partisan pandering and take our state to a better place. Status-quo mediocrity, or worse, is nothing to cheer.