South Carolina’s state govt is only the fifth most dysfunctional state govt in the nation

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At least according to this article, which claims the six states with the worst leadership are:

6. California
5. South Carolina
4. Alaska
3. Illinois
2. Nevada
1. New York

I’m sure the fact that we have the fewest women in state government in the nation is only a coincidence.

–Ann Bartow

This entry was posted in Feminism and Politics, South Carolina, The Underrepresentation of Women, Yep, sarcasm.. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to South Carolina’s state govt is only the fifth most dysfunctional state govt in the nation

  1. efink says:

    Beating out California is mighty impressive!

  2. erica says:

    ……… go us?

  3. Eugene Volokh says:

    Hmm — the average fraction of women in state legislatures for all six of the supposedly most dysfunctional states (not just South Carolina) seems to be nearly the same as the average fraction for all the states. New York is #22; Nevada is #12; Illinois is #17; Alaska is #27; South Carolina is #50; California is #15. The average is just a titch below #25. Likewise, if one averages together the percentages of women in the state legislature in those six states, one gets 23.83%, almost indistinguishable from the nationwide 23.5% average.

    If I’m right on that, then doesn’t the South Carolina situation indeed seem to be a coincidence, at least based on the data that this post points to? Or am I missing something?

  4. Ann Bartow says:

    Why are you so desperate for my attention, Eugene? The posts and links at your blog, the flurry of private e-mails you instigated, now this comment – very odd.

    On the merits, you would have to have a basic grasp of South Carolina politics to understand the absurdity of this ranking system. The negative ranking is based mostly on Mark Sanford – his poor leadership (ranked a 10), and the fact that his actions have created a media circus (ranked a 9). But South Carolina state government has a “weak governor” structure. Sanford has very little to do with much actual decision making. The true responsibility for the dire straits this state is in rests with the South Carolina Legislature, which the “poll” doesn’t really touch upon. This state’s extremely high rate of unemployment, the fact that SC “ranks among the five worst states in such measures as infant mortality, premature births, stroke, diabetes, smoking prevention and violent crime,” the fact that our roads and bridges are poorly maintained and our schools – kindergarten through University level – are seriously underfunded – all this combined only counts half as much as Sanford’s failings.

    The lack of women elected the to the SC legislature, and the closed and patriarchal nature of politics that it reflects, are far more relevant to our “dysfunctionality” than Sanford’s sex life. Meanwhile Alaska is rated as even more dysfunctional than South Carolina almost entirely on the basis of the survey authors hating on Sarah Palin. She completely drives three of the four categories. That Alaska’s economy is in far better shape than those of California and South Carolina counts for so little strikes me as completely absurd.

  5. Pingback: The Volokh Conspiracy

  6. Ann Bartow says:

    The word is actually spelled “desperate,” FYI.

  7. Sorry about the misspelling, and thanks for pointing it out!

  8. Ann Bartow says:

    Note to Volokh Conspiracy readers: Threats are not protected speech.

  9. Only a major-league ____ would pretend to assume that Prof. Bartow was actually insinuating that a graph could be made with % women as the independent variable and dysfunctionality ranking as the dependent variable. Obviously, a legislature with 100% women could be just as functional/dysfunctional as a legislature with 100% men.

    Yes, a cursory read of her post could make a reader ask himself/herself, “Is she insinuating that such a graph could be made?” But, any answer other than “obviously not” is ludicrous. To actually go through the numbers and to type them in with such condescending questions “Or am I missing something?”!? Stupid.

    The post was just a post 1) to encourage readers to think about how South Carolina’s government is both majorly dysfunctional and majorly lacking in the number of women and 2) to suggest that if South Carolina could improve our “closed and patriarchal nature of politics” and get women elected then we might move into the land of functional, rather than dysfunctional, state governments, in the eyes of whoever ranks these things in whatever absurd way they rank them.

  10. I’m sorry if I misunderstood Prof. Bartow’s comment — the “sarcasm” tag, coupled with the phrasing of the post, suggested to me that she was indeed claiming that this was not a coincidence.

    Now indeed if it were “ludicrous” to so assume, I should be faulted for so assuming. But people have indeed argued that having too few women legislators helps cause legislative dysfunction — including on this very blog, see this cross-posted op-ed: “[P]olitical science research displays that having women in a city council, school board or legislature alters institutional agendas and adds perspectives and experiences, informing public policy discussions with the priorities, desires and needs of girls, women and their families. Without women in government, assumptions and generalizations about girls and women can go unchallenged…. As the Senate takes up the state budget, regulation of predatory payday lenders, an increase in our lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax and reproductive decisions : all of which directly impact many women and their children’s financial, housing, health, and retirement security : the absence of senators with wombs limits the ‘informed choices’ these male politicians make about women’s lives and possibilities. Absent from serious discussion also are many agenda items that a Legislature with a more balanced gender representation would be concerned with, such as preventing domestic violence, working toward fair pay and benefits, providing access to affordable physical, mental and dental care for all families, ensuring food and housing security and promising more than ‘minimally adequate education’ in state schools.”

    I therefore assumed that Prof. Bartow was making the same — hardly “ludicrous” — point that others have made: Low representation of women in the legislature causes, or is at least correlated with, legislative dysfunction. Why exactly is it that “[o]nly a major-league ___ would [so] assume” (I assure I was certainly not pretending to assume it)?

  11. Ann Bartow says:

    michaelrogers, let’s chat one of these days. Hope your summer is going well.

  12. EV,

    Did you read how the “dysfunction” rankings were made? One of the factors was the “whiff of criminality,” for goodness sake! How in the world would anyone consider actually seriously postulating that those “dysfunction” rankings could be used for anything except a laugh?!

    Do you follow the news? Really, the only reason these 6 states were chosen were because they’ve been in the news lately for tabloid-style activities.

    Prof. Bartow’s obvious point was that, now that we’ve had our laugh, we should work to get women elected and in so doing work to improve our government’s functionality. The sarcastic “only a coincidence” meant that Prof. Bartow expected (NOT based on the tabloid-style ranking, man!) that these two activities (improving women’s representation in our state government and improving our state government’s functionality) could go hand in hand.

    So you asked, and you say you are serious (unbelievable, but OK), if you are missing something. Yes, you are.

    You did not realize that the “dysfunction” rankings should not be used for a mathematical analysis. You did not realize that Prof. Bartow knew that the “dysfunction” rankings should not be used for a mathematical analysis. You did not realize that the “dysfunction” rankings are supposed to be used only for a laugh. You did not realize that Prof. Bartow knew that the “dysfunction” rankings are supposed to be used only for a laugh. Finally, while you did realize correctly that Prof. Bartow’s “coincidence” comment was sarcastic, you did not realize what she meant.

    Basically, you missed almost all of the meaning of both of Prof. Bartow’s sentences — you missed out on a good laugh, and you missed out on a call to action. Congratulations.

  13. Interesting; since the link was to a seemingly serious article in a generally respected, usually serious publication (the National Journal), I had assumed that the link was to be taken seriously, and the “sarcasm” was in the “I’m sure … is only a coincidence” sentence. That’s why I thought Prof. Bartow was indeed making a claim that there’s some correlation between dysfunctionality and lack of women in government, and that the article’s data supported this claim. (From the third paragraph of your comment, I think you agree that Prof. Bartow was making such a claim.)

    It’s also why I thought Prof. Bartow was saying that the National Journal‘s ranking supported her claim — which is indeed what the post on its face suggests. That, I take it, is where we disagree, and where you think it should have been patently obvious that the link to the National Journal story, with which this post begins, was just “for a laugh.” I guess it still isn’t obvious to me, but I appreciate your explanation.

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