Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Reverse Lake Wobegon Effect

Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon is well known as the place where "all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."

Now Paul Soglin has discovered what might be called a Reverse Lake Wobegon Effect. It's found in the alternate universe of right wing think tank business studies. As Soglin reports in Waxing America on a recent visit to this upside down world, it's a place where, paradoxically, nearly every state is below average in its business climate.
My methodology is flawless. I used only studies offered by right wing foundations, or the shill front groups trying to disgrace the home state. I took seven studies and looked at the bottom 12 or 13 states in each ranking. The studies covered taxes, so called 'tort reform', overall taxes, business taxes, and the overall cost of doing business.

The finding is very simple.

78% of the states are ranked in the bottom quarter in one or more of the studies.
You've seen these studies -- they're the ones inevitably cited by business groups lobbying their state legislatures for special interest legislation to reverse the state's alleged hostility to business revealed by the research. Soglin only had time to document the Reverse Lake Wobegon Effect for 78% of the states, but he's sure there are more out there.
I am sure that with enough time, I could find enough studies to rank every state in the bottom quarter.
Take a look at the cool chart he's compiled. If you've seen a business study that ranks another state not yet identified as hostile to business in the lowest quartile, let him know.

It would be nice if the blogosphere could help complete the picture of how there really are -- to paraphrase Twain, or Disraeli, or somebody -- "Three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies , and right wing research statistics."

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