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How do you determine the best run state?

I see today in the news that Minnesota is the best-run state in the nation.

It must be true, right? USA Today has said it's so. The newspaper uses their own algorithms, describing "sound fiscal management." As evidence, they point to state savings, near-perfect credit rating, low unemployment rate at 3 percent and an addition of jobs. Sixty percent of the Minnesotans surveyed think the state provides good value, and 80 percent are optimistic about the future.

Other states in the area: 7) North Dakota, 13) South Dakota, 18) Montana. So in our four-state region, all of the states are above average. It seems like North Dakota was at the top of all of these lists when the oil boom was hitting its stride and agricultural commodity prices were soaring.

Now that things have cooled down economically, we're magically not so well-run. If you believe that then you'll imagine that Gov. Doug Burgum just isn't as good as former Gov. Jack Dalrymple, or that government management is the primary thing that counts in an economy.

I think managing through a farm recession and a downturn in the oil prices counts for something.

Rodeo system

I've competed in journalism contests and often enough win, place or show. But the biggest winners often are the places in the country with the biggest problems — things like droughts, floods or other disasters. Sure, it's fun to win awards, but it's also sobering to know that the biggest victories come in writing about some of the biggest pains in life.

I wonder if contests and ratings should go to a rodeo system.

In rodeo, a "rough stock" ride is scored from 0—100 points. There are usually two things judged: The bull from 0—50 points, and the rider from 0—50 points. The combined point totals from both make up the final score for the ride.

It's important for the rider to last the full 8 seconds, yes, but bull and bronc ratings look at how the rider and the livestock react. The rider gets points for how they sit, spur and kick. But the bull or bronc have to do their part. Do they twist, turn and make it hard to ride?

Unlike management challenges, if the rodeo animal isn't challenging enough, it can trigger a re-ride so the judges can know who really is the best. Do-overs aren't an advantage that state governments and journalists get.

Before I forget, I want to wish readers and watchers a merry Christmas and happy New Year's celebrations. If your family is challenging enough, maybe it will be ... the best!