Saturday, December 10, 2011

More ‘firsts’ for Maine

Depending on how you define ‘first,’ that is, especially as it relates to whether you have the page right side up or upside down.

By now, you may already have heard about or seen the 2011 Forbes report on the best states for business and careers.  Just in case you haven’t, though, we want to pass it along.

We’ve got plenty of ‘don’t worry, be happy’ types around here, and in our state overall.  Fine.  But ignoring our systemic economic challenges, and that whether you like it or not, states are in competition with each other, is whistling past the ash heap of history.

So take a look at the data in this report.  Any such summary survey is bound to have margins of error, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to the outcomes, especially when they track pretty consistently with other sources and prior year results.

You can rationalize that your doctor or nurse didn’t take your blood pressure exactly by the book, but if the numbers are elevated year after year, you’d be a fool to ignore them, wouldn't you?  You can think of the numbers in the Forbes report as Maine’s annual checkup and go from there.

In this case, instead of two numbers, there are six.  Rankings in business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects, and quality of life.  These are combined to come up with an overall ranking for the 50 (or is it 57??) states.

Whoopee, Maine ranks first overall!  At least if you hold the page upside down.  If you don’t, we rank dead last.

Why?  Because we rank 44th in business costs; 28th in labor supply; 45th in regulatory environment; 42nd in economic climate; 50th in growth prospects; and 17th in quality of life.

Based on what we’ve observed in the way of public opinion over our years here, we’re confident that many area and state residents find the last place ranking overall, and the last place ranking in growth prospects, perfectly to their liking.

Why?  Because they can’t see beyond next year.  And they think that Maine’s ‘quality of place,’ touted by the anti-growth, anti free-market, big government crowd trumps every other consideration.

We assume they don’t have children and grandchildren they’d like to see stay here and build their futures where they were born and raised.  We also assume they are immune to the risks of high blood pressure.

We’ll close with this: ponder the difference between ‘quality of place’ and ‘quality of life.’  And what factors contribute to each. 

If you think they are the same thing, you probably don’t come here often. 

And you aren’t very good at remembering to take your blood pressure medicine, if you even have any.

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