Opinion

How California stacks up, Calexit or not

Karen Sherman of Yes California leads a meeting in San Diego. The secession movement has until July 25 to collect enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Karen Sherman of Yes California leads a meeting in San Diego. The secession movement has until July 25 to collect enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. The Washington Post

If you like rankings – and why not? – U.S. News & World Report just put out a doozy, comparing all 50 states on a mind-bogglingly broad range of measures.

The magazine, which has made a cottage industry out of its best-colleges list, compiled tons of statistics in seven broad categories to show how well each state is doing for its residents.

Massachusetts tops the overall rankings, and its governor went straight onto national TV to brag.

You didn’t hear California politicians boasting. Our state ranked No. 23 overall, and only No. 42 in equality and opportunity. That’s concerning, especially since our state ranks third in economic growth. Too many Californians are getting left behind and left out.

How we stack up with other states got me thinking again about the Yes California secession movement, as it picks up steam.

I don’t want to call #Calexit crazy, so let’s just say it’s completely misguided. It’s also not going to happen because of all the constitutional, financial and political hurdles that will prevent it.

Plus, it’s really suspect because of the people behind it. The key figure, Louis Marinelli, spends much of his time in Moscow (where he was interviewed recently by MSNBC) and is reportedly working with an anti-American group backed by the Kremlin.

There’s enough weird stuff going on with Russia – its meddling in the presidential election to help Donald Trump, Trump’s friendliness with Vladimir Putin and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ mysterious meetings with Russia’s ambassador – without getting mixed up with another suspicious connection.

Publicly, secession proponents are portraying themselves as anti-Trump and arguing that California’s progressive principles no longer mesh with those of the rest of the country. The movement is collecting signatures at a grocery store near you, and has until July 25 to submit at least 585,407 verified signatures to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.

People should really think twice before signing these petitions.

If we don’t like the direction America is headed, the right response is to make the case for our values, not to cut and run. Instead of letting the Calexit crowd push us to do something we’ll regret, Californians should try even harder to improve our state. It’s unacceptable to be ranked 25th in education, 33rd in infrastructure and 42nd in opportunity. Especially that one.

As these U.S. News & World Report rankings show, we’ve got a lot of work to do.

Foon Rhee is the Associate Editorial Page editor for the Sacramento Bee. Email: frhee@sacbee.com

By the numbers

California’s rankings among the states in selected categories:

Health care, 10

Education, 25

Crime and prisons, 20

Infrastructure, 33

Opportunity, 42

Economy, 3

Government, 44

Overall rankings for selected states:

1. Massachusetts

2. New Hampshire

4. North Dakota

5. Washington

7. Utah

9. Colorado

19. Oregon

23. California

38. Texas

50. Louisiana

Source: U.S. News & World Report

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