Ugly truth

 Politics + Other Mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  October 11, 2013

If Governor Paul LePage really wanted to reduce the size of state government, he’d lose 50 pounds.

If LePage truly wished to make Maine more attractive to corporations and tourists, he’d hire a plastic surgeon to get rid of his jowls.

If the governor is to be believed about improving the state’s economy, he’d stop talking about what a crappy place this is to do business (last month, he reportedly told the Finance Authority of Maine, “We as a state have not been competitive in education. We haven’t been competitive in energy, and we haven’t been competitive in taxation”), and start extolling our virtues.

Such as . . . hmmm, well . . . if you need quality mud, we have plenty every spring. There’s lobster, at least until disease, climate change, and over-fishing do the species in. I’m told Maine’s marijuana crop compares favorably with the imports. And we have plenty of trees in case somebody invents something that can be made out of them — at a profit.

But back to LePage. It’s not as if he’s been entirely negative. He recently promised that if state employees raise $350,000 in their annual charity drive, he’ll shave his head. The governor should build on that idea. If his unimpressive moss is worth 350 grand, how much could he generate with a pledge to shave his back? His legs? His armpits? There’s probably a million bucks’ worth of renewable resources growing in the governor’s nooks and crannies. Assuming LePage is good for a half-dozen crops per year (more if he includes nose hair), this could be a significant addition to our gross state product (no pun intended . . . sorta), as well as providing employment opportunities for barbers, cosmetologists, and pet groomers.

I mention this not merely as an excuse for making tasteless jokes about the governor’s appearance (although that’s certainly one of the reasons), but to provide context for a discussion of an Important Issue.

Which is: Maine’s economy sucks.

This assessment was delivered by Forbes magazine (motto: We Know All About The Economy Because We Publish A Magazine And Everybody Knows Publishing Magazines Is A Growth Industry), which, for the fourth consecutive year, has named Maine as the worst state in the nation for doing business.

According to Forbes, we have “an aging population and a weak economic forecast.” Which is also a reasonable assessment of the audience for magazines.

The ratings cover six categories, with Maine doing best in “quality of life.” Unfortunately, we only managed 24th place, behind such paradises as Nebraska (16), Indiana (18), and Michigan (23). According to Forbes, the best life quality in the nation can be found in Massachusetts (1), Connecticut (2), and New Jersey (3), the latter having a governor even more susceptible to fat jokes than our own.

Clearly, this is not a category that Forbes has much expertise in grading.

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