PHIL WIELAND: Good thing 'Stupid' is not a health category

2012-12-14T00:00:00Z PHIL WIELAND: Good thing 'Stupid' is not a health categoryPhil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com
December 14, 2012 12:00 am  • 

The state of Indiana's overall health is not good, unless you happen to favor fat, lazy smokers.

According to a report this week by the United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention, Indiana ranked as the 41st healthiest state in the nation. For those who haven't counted the stars on the flag lately, that's nine short of the place currently shared by Mississippi and Louisiana.

Among the categories in which the state did poorly were obesity, sedentary habits, high smoking rates and low public health funding. We also have the second worst air pollution in the nation. California has the worst and Illinois is 46th.

Gov. Mitch "Mini Me" Daniels thinks Indiana air gets a bad rap, apparently blaming it on toxic air wafting our way from a bean burrito festival in some Chicago suburb. He's talked about suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to lift the emissions testing requirement here, but he's the one blowing smoke.

The state health rankings are based on the scores in 24 different categories, ranging from infant mortality rates and dental visits to poverty levels and violent crime. From what I could tell, the survey doesn't have a category for short-term memory loss. This probably is the only thing that kept us from being No. 1 from the bottom.

During Monday's snow in Porter County, police dispatchers were busy sending officers and ambulances to a rapid succession of slide-off accidents  It's the same thing every year after the first snow. People drive as if they have never seen snow before, by which I mean, they drive too fast and too close.

Monday's snow barely qualified as a heavy frost, but some areas had an inch or so. In some parts of the country an inch of snow is enough to shut down schools and hunker in the storm cellar for the duration. Around here, it's just an excuse to drive stupid.

OK, more stupid than usual. We also have boneheads like the eager groom arrested for doing 100 mph in Portage on the way to his wedding after just getting out of jail. Stupid drivers are a constant concern, but the sheer volume of them during the year's first snow is truly incomprehensible.

These are not all people visiting here from some tropical rain forest. All of them have probably lived here all their lives and see snow regularly, but, if it's been more than a few hours since the last snowfall, they drive like it's 75 and sunny and that slushy stuff on the road is an illusion.

If I didn't know better, I'd think they were all drunk, but the health report said Indiana did better than most states in the category of binge drinking. So, if they aren't drunk, they must just be stupid.

The opinions are those of the writer. He can be reached at phil.wieland@nwi.com or (219) 548-4352.

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