I got to thinking. Are we last? What are we last in? What does Rispone mean?
Over the weekend I watched the LPB debate between Louisiana candidates for governor Eddie Rispone and Gov. John Bel Edwards. At first I have to admit, the political tactics used by Rispone were a turnoff. After all, I don't care if Edwards endorsed Clinton or Trump for President in 2016.
The right-wing political talking points are tired.
Governor Edwards is good about not using the same, tired left-wing talking points. But I think it comes down to him being a better politician at this point. Not saying Rispone cannot become a great politician, but an outsider like that wouldn't want to be typical politician anyway, right?
The one thing that may have resounded with viewers was that Rispone mentioned many, many times that "Louisiana is last (and thank God LSU is first, but if they were last, we'd fire the coach.)"
I got to thinking. Are we last? What are we last in? What does Rispone mean? Why doesn't he share a plan to lift our great state from the ashes into success and prosperity? Does he have a plan? Is it better than Edwards'? Why won't you say anything of substance, Mr. Rispone?
Then it dawned on me. I get emails every week from a company called WalletHub that tell me where Louisiana falls compared to other states on a wide variety of categories. Maybe I could find answers in my very own inbox!
First of all, WalletHub is a website that people can sign into to find out their credit scores. It looks similar to Credit Karma, which is more often advertised.
However, WalletHub loves statistics. And since April 15, here are some of the statistics that the company has shared about Louisiana:
Recent Louisiana WalletHub rankings
2nd - least energy efficient
19th - hardest working
4th - worst to have a baby
44th - worst for healthcare
4th - best for teen drivers
7th - best for summer road trips
1st - worst state for working dads
48th - male life expectancy
34th - % of kids living in poverty with dad present
43rd - male uninsured rate
46th - avg length of work day for males
48th - % of physically active men
48th - day-care quality
47th - home energy efficiency
32nd - vehicle fuel efficiency
19th - transportation efficiency
5th - highest avg workweek hours
18th - avg commute time
31st - share of workers with multiple jobs
41st - infant mortality rate
50th - rate of low birth weight
47th - midwives and OBGYNs per capita
50th - pediatricians and family doctors per capita
32nd - child care centers per capita
27th - parental leave policy score
21st - number of attractions
7th - lowest price of three star hotel rooms
2nd - avg gas prices
4th - nightlife options per capita
21st - vehicle miles traveled per capita
28th - car thefts per capita
8th - access to scenic byways
1st - driving laws rating
2nd - worst state to live in
33rd - housing costs
33rd - homeownership rate
48th - % of population in poverty
49th - income growth
42nd - % of insured population
46th - % of adults in fair or poor health
46th - avg weekly work hours
2nd - worst state economy
42nd - GDP growth
39th - startup activity
47th - % of jobs in high-tech industries
43rd - annual median household income
46th - change in nonfarm payrolls
31st - government surplus/deficit per capita
36th - unemployment rate
28th - restaurants per capita
16th - most fun state
28th - fitness centers per capita
12th - casinos per capita
25th - variety of arts, entertainment & recreation establishments
15th - state and local direct general expenditures on parks & recreation per capita
1st - worst state for working moms
48th - gender pay gap (women's earnings as % of men's)
49th - % of single mom families in poverty
27th - ratio of female executives to male executives
26th - female unemployment rate
30th - median women's salary (adjusted for cost of living)
4th - worst state for nurses
10th - most gambling addicted state
1st - least green state
33rd - air quality
27th - soil quality
46th - water quality
50th - % of recycled municipal solid waste
49th - LEED-certified buildings per capita
45th - % of renewable energy consumption
47th - energy consumption per capita
32nd - gasoline consumption (in gallons) per capita
I've listed these in no particular order, but the important thing to note is that these are all 2019 figures. Dear Louisiana politicians, these should be your official new talking points and directives. The "Trump Wave" is not a real thing. It's a distraction from these real-life issues.
The glaring one I hope you picked out is that Louisiana is the 2nd worst place to live in 2019, with the 2nd worst economy. And Louisiana is the absolute worst state for working moms and dads.
I know. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, doesn't it?
That's got to be what Mr. Rispone is talking about. That's also been obvious to most everyone for many years. I was in Europe in 2004 as a student, speaking to another student from Iowa. He told me Iowa is a great place to live but a poor place to visit. I told him it's the other way around in Louisiana.
That was 15 years ago. I guess if it's not obvious yet, I can forgive Gov. John Bel Edwards for Louisiana being a crappy place to live. It's been this way for a long time. But hey, we're 28th for restaurants and 4th in nightlife options!
But Louisiana, moreover is full of ironies from these WalletHub statistics. For instance, we're 48th for % of physically active men but 28th for fitness centers per capita. Or can someone explain how we are the 2nd worst place to live but the 16th most fun?
The other point I'd like to make is that the more specific things that contribute to our state being so rough to reside in are things that the right-wingers don't appear concerned about fixing. They want to take your medicare. They don't want to protect pre-existing conditions.
They don't want to raise minimum wage. They don't want you to work any less. And that's a real bummer. It's a bummer when left-wing policies could help a state like Louisiana gain access to healthcare and better pay rates. But right-wing politicians remain in favor of big business calling the shots. Which ultimately leads to deregulation, also leading to hiring out-of-state labor.
All that said, I think Louisiana is on a better path than it has been for much of my life. I credit Gov. Edwards for the work he's done for growing education in our state and growing infrastructure. Our transportation efficiency is ranked 19th. That's not bad. But our day-care quality is 48th, and that's pitiful and expensive.
In fact, the day-care drain on the middle class is unacceptable. So is my car insurance premium.
Whoever gets elected, we really need a Mississippi River bridge at Highway 30 between Ascension and Iberville Parish.
And lastly, here's to another 15 years of the same if that's okay with everyone.