Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Utah Rocks: Thoughts on the New US Census

I've heard a lot of people complain about how they don't like Utah. My first thought is, of course, "then live somewhere else." I don't understand these people. It seems logical to me. I do, on the other hand, understand that they might not like some things about Utah (the weather, the traffic, the huge Mormon majority), but they should give credit where credit is due and admit that Utah is pretty cool when it comes to many things.

I just read an article in the Deseret News about Utah's rankings in the new census. The first thing they mention is how Utah is number one in family size and has the lowest marriage age. They contribute this to the LDS emphasis on family and, to a smaller extent, immigrants. "No Surprise Here" is the title of the article and that is how I felt as well. I personally don't want a huge family. I was planning on 4 kids. Now that I'm nine months pregnant, I have downgraded my dream family to 3 kids. I think that one's family size is up to them. I don't care if couples decide on zero or twelve kids (as long as they take care of them!) It really is the other statistics that caught my attention.

Utah is ranked 43rd in percent of people below poverty level. That is pretty darn good, if you ask me.

Utah is ranked 45th in percent of households receiving cash public assistance. Not Bad!

Utah is ranked 10th in percent of housing units that are owner occupied. We all know that owning is, like, a kagillion times better than renting.

Utah is ranked 13th for median household income. Not the highest, but still competitive.

Utah has the LOWEST percentage of children under age 6 with all parents in the work force. This is an important factor in understanding the causation of many of these rankings.

Utah is ranked 6th in percent of people age 25 and older who completed high school. Pretty good in a state where funding education always seems to be a problem.

Utah is ranked 18th in percent of people age 25 and older who received a bachelor's degree. This really isn't that high of a ranking, but I thought it notable.

So why is Utah so awesome? I'll be the first to tell you that correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation, but it stands to reason that many of these great ranking are related to Utah's emphasis on family. As a former educator, I clearly saw the impact that involved parents had on their child's education. Kids need a support system to help them succeed. I believe that all the other ranking are, at least in part, a result of an educated population with a strong emphasis on families.

The government spends A LOT of money on welfare (among other things). I have always thought that the best way to decrease the amount of welfare is improve education. There will always be a need to help those who can not provide for themselves, but unfortunately this is not the case for FAR TOO MANY people on welfare. If only they could learn responsibility, marketable skills, work ethic...things that should be taught in the public school system.

I could go on and on and on with commentary on this or that, but I'm just going to force myself to stop here with my conclusion.

Whether or not you are LDS, you would have to be blind not to see the benefit on society of having strong families. Functional families create strong individuals. Strong individuals create an educated, self-sufficient society...that is something we should all be working towards.

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