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Imagine receiving a skills assessment test in a classroom full of 50 other people. It's a broad scope, so surely you'll do okay in one of the categories you're being tested on. However, when you get your results back, you discover you came in 47 out of 50, and most of the other poor performers sat right next to you. You and your friends are not dummies, in spite of what others in the room might say, but you are the group that didn't prepare for the test. Also, you're name is Texas and you are the size of a linebacker compared to every other person in the room.

Texas was recently assessed on safety by and we and most of our immediate neighbors did really poorly across the board, based on the metric this assessment assigned. They were Personal & Residential Safety (40), Financial Safety (42), Road Safety (36), Workplace Safety (31), and Emergency Preparedness (48). The states that did worse than us were Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. We were immediately behind Oklahoma and Alabama. So, it seems the problems highlighted by this analysis are very regional in nature, with the exception of New Mexico, which came in at a respectable #25.

We know the names of the categories, but what do they mean exactly? Let's look into the methodology. Each aforementioned category has several subcategories that were weighted on importance. As an example, let's look at at "Personal Safety", which had 40 subcategories. Among those subcategories includes things you'd expect like mass shootings, terrorist attacks and murders. But it also has categories you might not expect like percentage of people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, since there are so many subcategories, and individual problem could be "absorbed" in the percentages. When its bad across the board, then perhaps there's some real, systematic problems happening here.

It would take a much more in-depth analysis to actually pin down what is causing each of these problems, and the solutions are likely incredibly complex and would require time, money and focused effort. What we can perhaps all agree on is that what we are doing now isn't working. However, since we know this is a regional issue, we should take a broader view. Likely, our problems are historical and systematic in nature to reach across states like that. Perhaps we need to look at what our overachiever friend New Mexico is doing?

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