50 Reasons To Be Vigilant: New Stats Show Every State is Corrupt
There’s alway US corruption in the news – legislation to serve a politician’s own needs, funneling funds where they don’t belong – but is the entire country that unethical and nefarious? Is our national moral system really so severely crippled? According the Center for Public Integrity, yes. Yes, it is.
Today, the nonprofit organization released a project that detailed all the ways in which each state houses its own little niche of corruption. The study looked at state legislation from January 2013 to March 2015, giving each state a letter grade based on 245 measures of transparency and accountability. Each state was given a score based on 13 subcategories, including political finance, election oversight, lobbying, ethics, and so forth. The results were then re-evaluated, for good measure, by government watchdog Global Integrity. They fact checked, did some double takes, crossed the T’s and dotted the I’s, and people be warned, the results weren’t pretty.
The map results ain’t no postcard. If these were real academic grades, the US would be booking it to summer school and probably retaking the eighth grade – again. Only Alaska got a mediocre grade of 76, and roughly a quarter of the states completely failed. Looking at you, Michigan.
For the sake of state pride (and shame) we highly suggest you check out the entire study, but in case you just can’t the moral decay of your home state – looking at you too, Oregon – we’ll give you the quick and dirty breakdown of national grades and the oh-so-many ways in which we have collectively failed to up-stand a moral rigor.
Nope, none. Not a single state got a B.
At least some states are average! Alaska was the nation’s crowned jewel with a C, and California and Connecticut were close behind each with a C-. Although these states did better than the rest, they still had utterly low grades in the sub categories of Public Access to Information and Judicial Accountability, wading into the low fifties and forties. Tsk tsk.
These states did pretty bad, but they weren’t utter failures. Given this was the grade given to a majority of states–36 to be specific–I like to this that these states at least gave ethics a shot. A for effort. D for morally ambiguous legislation, but A for effort. This category includes Virginia, Washington, Georgia, Mississippi, and Vermont to name a few.
Let’s hear it for the underachievers! In the ranks are Louisiana, Kansas, Maine, Wyoming, and a hand full of others. These states scored the lowest in Public Access to Information, Political Financing, Oversight, Accountability, Budgeting, Management, and literally every other category. You might want to consider moving to Alaska.
To be fair, even Mother Jones, who reported the story, noted that the criteria for a good grade is pretty demanding. According to Paula A. Franzese, a government ethics expert, the results may not necessarily rectify any long lost patriotism, but they’re also not surprising. Legislative results trump the moral means of getting there, and for the majority of voters morals fall to the wayside.
The results are bad and definitely scary. We’re not living in a Boss Tweed sitting-on-piles-of-money, greed-ridden dystopia… but still, there’s plenty of room for improvement. States from Oregon to Delaware should take heed from (moderately) good guys like Alaska and California–shout out to the 310!–and step up their moral game.
Images via Mother Jones, Washington.org