The Ten Worst States To Live In (Or Not?)

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If you were expecting to find a list of the top ten worst states to live in – I’m sorry to disappoint you.

Recently, the news organization CNBC did however produce a list of “10 Worst States To Live In”.  If you want to see their list, you’ll have to look elsewhere because I’m not giving them any type of credit or web traffic.  The fact is, all of these lists are complete crap and perfectly illustrate how lazy some so called “journalists” have become.

The authors of this particular list –  Scott Cohn and Betsy Cline of CNBC get at least a little bit of credit for having the guts to even publish their names on the piece.  An actual journalist would be mortified to have their name attached to any type of bogus “list” story.

In their opening statement, Mr. Cohn and Ms. Cline warn that people who actually live in the states they list as “worst” in their piece may have a different opinion.  No kidding?

Let’s be honest, all of us have seen lists just like this and we’ve posted them on Facebook or re-tweeted them to our friends or co-workers.  We’ve all either publicly or privately agreed or disagreed with some article that ranked cities or states for any number of reasons.  It’s time we stop giving these people attention.

According to these two,  Tennessee is listed as the worst state to live in.  According to my sources – neither Mr. Cohn or Ms. Cline actually visited or interviewed anyone that lives there for their article.   While I don’t personally live there – I’ve been to Tennessee many times and have family and long time friends that call it home.  It’s one of my favorite states in America.  The southern hospitality, the beautiful scenery – great cities like Nashville and Memphis, tons of opportunity for recreation and the list goes on. If you’ve never had “sweet tea” from a diner in Tennessee you’re missing out on one of life’s great pleasures.   If Tennessee is the worst state in America, we might as well just shut down the entire country and call it a day.

People like Scott Cohn and Betsy Cline write pieces like this to get folks riled up (mission accomplished) and drive traffic to their website.  Period.  They claim they look at things like “crime statistics”.   Whenever someone says they’ve written a piece based on crime stats – a red flag should immediately go off.

This is the photo that CNBC contributors Scott Cohn and Betsy Cline used to portray the ENTIRE state of Missouri in their piece “10 Worst States To Live In”. Brilliant journalism, guys.

Let’s take Saint Louis for example.  If you look at crime stats – Saint Louis is always listed as one of the most dangerous cities in America.  Fact is – I’m a skinny, white guy who couldn’t win a bar fight if my life depended on it – and I’ve never once felt unsafe walking the streets of downtown Saint Louis alone.   Stats or any data for that matter can be skewed to say anything you want.  Political people use data all the time to push their agenda.  Two people can look at the same set of numbers and draw completely different conclusions.   It happens all the time.   As far as Saint Louis goes – the majority of crime happens in one small section of town.   Therefore the entire city is “unsafe”?  Hogwash.

I did find Ms. Cline on Twitter and asked her: “I’m curious how much time you spent in each of the states you bashed in your piece?”  What a surprise – no answer.   Another fine example of journalism in 2014 – writing about a subject matter without actually leaving your cubical to investigate.  I mean, why actually get off your chair to learn about your subject matter when you can pull random numbers off a website somewhere?

Oh and  imagine the brain power it must take to find a photo of one vacant building or a run down trailer park and use it to represent an entire city or state.  I’m sure their respective colleges are mighty proud.

As someone that actually travels all over America – there’s one thing I’ve noticed.  Every city and every state has positive things to offer.  On the flip side – every city and state in America has problems.  There are no best states.  There is no worst state.  Just states.

Missouri is also on their bogus list for worst states in America.  I actually do know a thing or two about living in Missouri.  Are there bad things about the state? Of course.  But are there good things?   Absolutely.

For example, on the west side – Kansas City is one of the most hoppin’ mid-west cities I’ve ever been to with an arts scene that rivals any US city.   On the other side of the state, Saint Louis may be getting some bad press as of late but it’s one of the greatest cities in the entire country to raise a family and enjoy an affordable vacation.  The Saint Louis Zoo is tops in the country, Forest Park is a gem like no other park in the country and the list of things to see and do are endless.  (Most of them free, by the way)  Little towns all over Missouri are throw backs to the days of Mayberry USA.   If you’ve never sat outside on a clear night in mid-Missouri watching the stars  – you haven’t lived.   All things the folks at CNBC might discover had they written a legit news piece.

At the end of the day, lists like this are completely pointless – except for getting people upset and hurting cities and states.   Call me crazy, but I’m proud of my country and that includes all of the cities,  states and people within it.

It’s time people like Scott Cohn and Betsy Cline start building up America instead of trying to tear it down.

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Bill is a travel journalist, broadcaster and freelance writer based in Saint Louis, Missouri. Bill travels all across the country doing positive stories, highlighting people and places making America great. He's the host of the weekly Rediscover America podcast and author of the new book 100 Things To Do In America Before You Die! Bill enjoys parks, talking to strangers, eating medium-rare steaks, playing Pickleball and telling good jokes.