Dis seat be really golden
To get it dey beholden!
-with apologies to RUN-DMC, who truly were geniuses (and under-cursed Gov-B by quite a ways)
The recent arrest of the famous rapper Gov-B of Illinois no doubt has triggered a debate around your water cooler at work about the most corrupt state in the union. Since I don’t get a water cooler anymore, I’ll just intrude. According to USA Today (December 11th), the way the most corrupt state should be determined is by counting the number of public officials convicted over the past decade for every 100,000 citizens. This is cute, and begs the following, somewhat complicated question: Did they adjust year-for-year, state-by-state, for population changes (read, hire statisticians), did they average ten years’ population stats (the administrative assistant could do that), or did they just use this year’s figures? Never mind – it’s USA Today (their itty-bitty print below the chart reads “Sources: Department of Justice and Census Bureau”). My bet is on the third alternative.
In that case, the most corrupt state is not Illinois, or Pennsylvania, or even New Jersey, a very popular choice, of course. The winner is (in a shocker, a shocker, I say)
North Dakota. That’s right – North Dakota, which features a staggering 8.3 public officials convicted for every 100,000 citizens. New Jersey is merely 10th (4.8), Pennsylvania is 13th (4.5), and Illinois is a distant 18th (3.9). Sarah Palin’s beloved Alaska is third (7.5). We trust that, deals being deals, she won’t inflate that number because of Troopergate.
The least corrupt state in the union, by USA-T’s measure, is Nebraska (0.7), the only state apparently too incompetent to find a corrupt politician for every 100,000 hayseeds – oh, I’m sorry, Nebraska U. football fans – wait – um – never mind – what-ever. I live in a state that used to feature burning rivers. That’s right, kids, rivers on fire. It was an industrial thing, helped to defeat Hitler. (Read, get over yourselves, Huskers.)
But to return to the matter of the most corrupt state – here in The City That Hates You Back, we figure that, if they counted dollars changing hands (definite statisticians needed), my bet is that New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Illinois would rise in the standings. If, on the other hand, one counted dead bodies accumulated behind political deals, well then….
My question is: why do people argue over worst state corruption as though it were something to be proud of?
Fritze, John. “N. Dakota tops analysis of corruption.” USA Today 11 December 2008: 5A.