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Front Page » March 20, 2012 » Opinion » Don't feel bad; it's just a popularity contest
Published 757 days ago

Don't feel bad; it's just a popularity contest


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advcoate publisher

A recent poll released by Public Policy Polling showed that while people across the country love Hawaii, many of the them hate California. Unfortunately next to last on the bottom of that list of all 50 states is Utah.

Yeah we are one better than California.

That's hard to take for some people. Utah has worked hard to make its image better, but we also over the years have done things to shoot ourselves in the foot, too. Maybe both feet.

When the poll was released a couple of weeks ago, newspapers and commentators across the Golden State couldn't get over the fact that California was most disliked state. They ranted and raved about how beautiful a state it was, that they had everything from mountains to the beach, that they had the fifth largest economy in the world and that the United States would collapse if they left the union because they contribute so much. One guy I read said that they were much more important than the "fly over" states; you know when you leave Chicago and fly to Los Angeles, everything in between.

Well I am not going to rant like that. I am a native Utahn and I love our state, but if other people hate it, so what.

Actually to say that any state was really hated in the poll is a little strong, in fact a lot strong. In most of the polls on each state at or over 50 percent of the people that responded had no opinion, probably because they had probably never been to the state they were being polled on.

So the why did Utah fare so badly? We are not like California where it seems everyone wants to spend a vacation at some point in their life. What has caused people to feel this way about our Pretty Great State?

Well I can give you a few reasons because at one time I had a business where I traveled to many of the far flung states of the union to conduct my duties. When I met new people and I told them from Utah the first question they had (other than business questions) was "How many wives to you have?"

Some initially thought that I couldn't go in restaurants that served booze or even coffee.

I had people as me questions about things like Gary Gilmore, cold fusion, liquor by the drink, magic underwear, if I belonged to the John Birch Society, and how come I wasn't dressed like I was Amish.

One time I was in the Chicago airport talking with a guy about Utah and while we were talking Orrin Hatch was on the CNN news channel they use. He looked up and asked me if I had any sons. When I told him I did he asked if I had named any of them Brigham or Orrin.

The other night on television when this poll was announced I heard one of the commentators say that it was reported that most people who said they didn't like Utah said the reason they didn't like our state was because of our politics. However, I have failed to find that justification in any the information associated with the poll. I think that might have been his take on the poll; in other words an editorial comment during the news. Go figure.

While I sometimes get upset about the quirks our state has, in many ways I like them. It makes us unique, and in some ways makes us better than other places I have been.

I believe California got the brunt of the bad stuff because they are so big, considered rich, have a lot of what a lot of people want, and let's face it, they have been at the forefront as a poster child for running their state government poorly.

We got it for an entirely different reason; people don't know us, and what they think they know is often either distorted or entirely wrong.

Interestingly the states around us did very well in the poll. Colorado was the next in line from Hawaii as the best liked state. People generally liked Arizona, Wyoming, Nevada and Idaho. I guess they liked the Grand Canyon, skiing, cowboys, potatoes and gambling better than us.

Don't feel bad about it. Think about the times you may have visited a place and just didn't like it, yet you really saw so little of it. It has happened to me dozens of times, although my 25 times of visiting Texas, both for business and pleasure, has not changed my mind about the fact I would never want to live there.

It's just a popularity contest, kind of like when you were in high school and certain people always got elected to be student body officers or to be the prom queen. My experience from that is that years later at some reunion you would see those "popular" kids and many of them had unhappy lives filled with divorces, alcoholism and mayhem. The average kids, who were mostly ignored in their younger years, excelled and adjusted well to adult life.

I think Utah is just such a state. Now that we are grown up, despite that not everything is perfect, and I, myself rant and rave about some of the stuff that goes on in Behiveville, would much rather have our problems than some of the problems the more well known states have.

Besides if everything was hunky-dory in Utah, what the heck would I have to write about?

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