Your Opinion: Progressive versus conservative metrics

Dear Editor:

There is a desperate note to the various responses to my Mississippi series. Mr. Brown’s defense that the agricultural nature of Mississippi’s economy, Mr. Otto’s assertion that Mississippi’s “swamps, filled with toxic plants, dangerous animals and disease-carrying insects, increased moisture levels” so altering the environment as to make any comparison logically deficient and Mr. Hepler’s interpretation of my premise as purely political, all fail to recognize the simplicity and validity of my premise.

First, the comparison was never solely based upon Democrat versus Republican. The comparison has always been based upon the impact of progressive government versus conservative government in three fundamental metrics: education, health and personal income and poverty.

Mississippi and Massachusetts were selected as recognizably apt representatives of the outcome of progressive and conservative governing philosophies.

Hepler was correct about the control the Democrats have traditionally held in Southern states, such as Mississippi. It is equally true that the commitment the Democratic Party made to the civil rights effort and the southern strategy enunciated by President Nixon effectively converted the South from Democrat to Republican. In the interest of ethics and morality, this Democrat would make that decision/trade again without hesitation.

Based upon the specific metrics I have consistently used, more progressive states uniformly perform significantly better. The five states performing best in education based upon graduation rates, preschool and basic skills are Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, New Jersey and Massachusetts. The five worst performing are Nevada, New Mexico, Mississippi, West Virginia and Arizona.

Judging the metrics of median income, per capita income and poverty rates, the top five best in each of these three and the five worst in these three categories create fifteen “slots” for best and worst.

The fifteen best are Maryland [2], New Hampshire [2], Connecticut [2], New Jersey [3], Massachusetts [2], New York, Vermont, Minnesota and Hawaii.

Among the worst, Mississippi [3], Arkansas, Tennessee, Montana, S. Carolina [2], Idaho, West Virginia, Utah, Louisiana, New Mexico, Alabama and Texas. The numbers indicate the state exceeded or failed in more than one category.

Whether a state is governed by progressive Democrats or Republicans, which are an extremely rare breed, the point being made is that progressive governance produces superior results in policy metrics that critically affect the day to day lives of ordinary Americans. The final metric is health of a state’s citizens. There are eight categories in this metric to be subsequently addressed.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com

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