State of despair: Okla. makes the ‘worst’ list | Opinion

Oklahoma is …

How would you finish that sentence? Fill in your own thoughts about our state.

There are any number of ways to describe Oklahoma, though these days hot and sticky seem most appropriate.

The folks at CNBC would use some other rather unkind terms to describe the Sooner State, which they have ranked as the third-worst state in the nation in which to live.

The business network annually compiles its study of America’s Top States for Business. It ranks states in terms of 10 factors — work force, infrastructure, cost of doing business, economy, quality of life, technology and innovation, education, business friendliness, access to capital and cost of living.

Oklahoma didn’t do very well in this ranking, placing 43rd, though we were 12th in business friendliness and fifth in cost of living.

It is in the quality of life category our state really stumbles, ranking 48th.

It was from that list that CNBC drew its state hall of shame. According to this ranking, Oklahoma placed above only Louisiana and Alabama. It probably wouldn’t hurt to send them thank you notes.

So what is so bad about Oklahoma, according to the survey? We smoke too much, for one thing, which leads Oklahomans to have the highest rate of premature death in the country. We have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation and mental health issues are widespread. Oh, and Oklahoma is in the bottom five states in terms of health insurance coverage.

As if that weren’t enough, our governor is the fourth-least popular in the country, according to the website Morning Consult. Gov. Mary Fallin ranks behind only New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Kansas’ Sam Brownback and Connecticut’s Dan Malloy. It probably wouldn’t hurt to send them thank you notes.

Fallin’s approval rating is 35 percent, which places her somewhere below Kevin Durant and somewhere above tax increases and deer ticks.

So what are we to do, load up the wagon, nail home the shutters and take out for California (as per the aforementioned Kevin Durant)? Hardly.

Neither can we simply sit around and moan about our fate, warbling the chorus from the old “Hee Haw” song “Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me” — “Gloom, despair and agony on me. Deep, dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Gloom, despair and agony on me.”

That won’t do any good. All we can do is recognize our shortcomings and try to correct them. We’ve got to raise more revenue, which means we may have to, gasp, raise taxes, which will mean a vote of the people. Lower taxes are nice, but so are well-paid teachers and roads that don’t feature potholes large enough to have their own fan clubs.

Besides, there is plenty that is right with Oklahoma, like Braum’s and football, Sonic and chicken fry, Pops and Garth Brooks, the Thunder and the most awesome state song in the land. Oklahomans are some of the warmest, most generous people in the U.S. In fact in the most recent poll taken by the website WalletHub, Oklahoma was the fifth-most charitable state in the country. In that same poll, Oklahoma was sixth in terms of volunteering and service.

We’re also faithful folks. In a 2016 poll by the Pew Research Center, Oklahoma was the eighth most religious state in the country. So it’s not like we haven’t a prayer.

We are a loving state, or at least Oklahoma ranked 15th in a Live Science poll of the best states for romance, and we are the 14th-most patriotic state in the country according to yet another WalletHub poll.

There is not a ranking of the toughest states in the country, but if there was, Oklahoma would undoubtedly rank near the top. Every time the state is forced to deal with a disaster, either natural or man-made, we pull together and seem to bounce back stronger than ever.

So move if you want; as for me, I will stay put. The way I look at it the more people leave, the more Braum’s ice cream for the rest of us.

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