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MBJ Editorial: Parcells never knew he was actually talking about Mississippi

Positive is great.
Reality is, well, real.
Every once in a while, a talking head will rebut some statistic that’s not favorable to his or her opinion by saying, “Yeah, well, you can make statistics say whatever your want them to say.”
Super Bowl winning coach Bill Parcells, however, famously said, “You are what your record says you are.”
Hmm. Sounds simple. Cut and dried. It’s a results-driven business.
So, when Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant started touting the results of a survey conducted by Area Development Magazine that listed Mississippi as the ninth best state in America to do business, we thought, “Great, something we can crow about in Mississippi.”
Then, we wondered what other states were in the top 10.
In order, they are: Texas, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Indiana, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi and California.
Most of those are states that are similar to Mississippi.
So, if Parcells is right, then we are what our record says we are and, “We are No. 9!”
But there is something the top 10 in that survey share — terrible rankings in categories like per capita income, education, unemployment and healthcare.
“(Area Development Magazine) was looking for a non-unionized work force, low tax rates and things like that,” says Marianne Hill, senior economist for Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.
“When you’re not worried about the ability to innovate or the ability to create, then you will get results like these.”
When you take into account technical jobs, IT professionals, job churning, healthcare of workforce and other like categories, the results are what you get from the surveys like The New Economy Index, in which Mississippi ranked No. 50 in 1999 and ranks No. 50 today.
Other states at the bottom of the New Economy index are Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina and Indiana.
If those states sound familiar, they are our brethren in the Top 10 for Best States for Doing Business.
The fact is the average ranking for the Top 10 in per capita income is 36 (Mississippi is 50); Education is 35 (Mississippi is 50); Unemployment is 38 (Mississippi is 47) and Healthcare is 41 (Mississippi is 50).
Ultimately, Parcells is right. You are what your record says you are, and Mississippi’s record has been the same for the last 50 years.
When Bryant and other public leaders recognize that and truly make an effort to change things, then, and only then, will Mississippi make a charge up the rankings that significantly make a difference in people’s lives and, ultimately, in the pocketbooks of the CEOs of businesses in Mississippi and those that would want to come to Mississippi.
That’s not positive or negative. That’s reality.


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