Friday, November 13, 2015


Reporter defends Iowa as a smart state, but ranks Hawaii as the dumbest

Iowa is the eighth-smartest state, behind, in order: Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Kansas and Vermont. Donald Trump's home state of New York came in 17th. The bottom five states were Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Nevada and, in the 50th spot, Hawaii.—one reporter’s ranking of state “smartness”

by Larry Geller

Ouch. That hurt. Who wants to learn that the state they live in is the least smartest state in the country?? It must be really tough to be the least smart kid in a class, or on a team that just never can win. What do you do??

It’s fair to question the reporter’s methodology in this Washington Post story written to challenge Donald Trump’s remarks about Iowa. On the other hand, Hawaii became collateral damage as he ranked the states according to his own measures, which were:

  1. IQ, as estimated by Virginia Commonwealth's Michael McDaniel in 2006
  2. 2015 SAT scores, compiled by The Post
  3. 2015 ACT scores, via the company that administers the tests
  4. The percentage of college graduates in the state, compiled by the Census Bureau

[Washington Post, Actually, Mr. Trump, Iowa is one of the smartest states in the union, 11/13/2015]

Without validating the reporter’s conclusions, this could explain much. Honolulu’s rail plans, for example.

On the other hand, I want to say up front that we are also among the smartest of states. Since 1974 we have had our Prepaid Health Care Act, providing healthcare to the maximum number of our people, at a time when Obamacare wasn’t even a gleam in Romney’s eye. The PPHCA was the first in the nation to set minimum standards of health care benefits for workers.

We are smart enough to be one of only two states that refuse to legalize gambling (though keep an eye on some of our dumb legislators this session who plan to introduce gambling bills…).

But still …

Covering prime farmland and increasing the number of cars on already jammed highways, is not smart.

Maybe we are kind of dumb. Not you, dear reader, not you. Discerning readers of Disappeared News are all ckearly above average.

Just ponder the implications of the Washington Post article. How does one react to being included in a “lowest” ranking? Ask schoolkids to try harder? Find a coach to fire? Wait—we keep doing that and end up looking really dumb.

The local news these days is full of so much that might support the reporter’s inadvertent case against our collective state intelligence.

Like, sweeping homeless encampments instead of building places for people to live. Not smart.

Like, giving up federal money (free money!) when our budget is so tight, simply because we don’t know how to spend it. Even state officials admit we are too dumb to spend free money and could lose many millions of it. No, they didn’t put it exactly that way, but close enough. We’d be stupid to let that happen. Are we going to let that happen??

As to rail, our City government doesn’t seem competent to either pick the best system for Honolulu or to build it within our ability to pay.

Think: had they chosen a system that would start in Waianae and branch off to the University of Hawaii and Waikiki, people could actually get from where they live to where they work or study. And retail would flourish along Farrington Highway, making it less necessary to come into town for many. The system they are building is so expensive it will never go there.

Honolulu’s “urban planning” and its transit plan in particular do not derive from citizen participation, and we’ve been short of visionary leadership as well. Whatever developer wants to pave over farmland gets the green light to do so. The current dispute over whether rail should proceed is only possible because it is a fight among politicians and ideologues. Before this phase of the battle, the City Council wavered over the route (Salt Lake, Nimitz, Dillingham, etc.) based on the whim of city councilmen, not as a result of careful and inclusive urban planning. Pure politics. Little common sense.

If someone living out west in Waianae needs to get to a job in downtown Honolulu or in Waikiki, they’re stuck, the train will never go there. Nor will retail and small business spring up along a transit right-of-way, because no transit is planned for them. It’s the ‘60s thinking—get into a car. This has not worked for some time, and as noted by Honolulu’s designation as the worst traffic-congested city in the country, there’s no relief in sight. More development over previous farmland simply means more cars. You’d think we’d learn.

[Portland: A city that didn’t build a single, short elevated train line—and prospered, 5/28/2012] [includes video]

Well, look: We believe our government leaders should be self-selected from the general population. We don’t require IQ tests to qualify for elected office. This would apply anywhere in the country, of course. At the same time, no IQ test is required to vote. So we really can’t blame those we put in office when we’re responsible.

So while I bristle at the Washington Post ranking of Hawaii as the least smart state, I wonder if it might explain some things, sad to say.


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