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Some states are governed better than other states. Whatever it is that state governments do, some do it more effectively and more consistently than other states. And that is a difficult message to share. "Problem states" simply do not want to hear about it. They do not want to be compared, head on, with states that do better at governing than they do. They want to say: "It's all about money!" And money is a problem, but it's more than money. It's attitudes and history, and more. Much more! As we have tried to think this problem through, we have slowly become aware of something that may be related to this whole problems area: the reluctance of many state officials to acknowledge that they have problems of any kind, except those that pertain to money. Each of the three monograph-type documents included in this book examine a specific problem area by separating the states into high and low groups on a given variable, then comparing those two groups of states on hundreds of other variables. These are simple but powerful analyses, and the results highlight how the two groups of states differ.Some persons are uncomfortable looking at "good states" and "bad states," as they describe these groups that we compare, but comparisons are important.
There are difficulties with making comparisons that are helpful, but comparisons highlight pros and cons, problems and possibilities, rights and wrongs, and comparisons of states can help citizens make more informed and better choices about who they want to exercise power on their behalf. "People who do not know" have problems, but "people who do not know that that do not know" have very serious problems that are generally insurmountable, unless they have a system that "helps them know" more fully and more accurately exactly what their problems are. People can cope with problems, if others help them, but when they do not even know that they have a problem, that in itself makes it difficult to resolve things satisfactorily (i.e., for the benefit and welfare of all involved). And when citizens are force-fed ideologies and platitudes rather than facts, discernment of right from wrong and good from bad is difficult beyond belief.