As Louisiana was ranked the worst state in the nation during a joyous Carnival, we wonder how the higher-ranked states were feeling, right about then.
Without Mardi Gras, how does one become a good state, anyway?
Now, in the Lenten season, we can more soberly reflect on our sins, not least the sins of omission and commission that have resulted in our latest ritual beating at the hands of the raters.
In fact, we're paying for the "worst state" rating, as U.S. News and World Report based its first rating of the provinces basically on U.S. government data collected at taxpayer expense.
In many ways, absent Mardi Gras and other important cultural assets, Louisiana is in fact a poor ranker on objective criteria, including bad roads and poor people. We lack education, even compared to our neighbors in the Mississippi Delta south, and there's crime and a lack of opportunity across city and country here between the Sabine and the Pearl.
What to make of this? Not much that we did not already know.
The spokesman for Gov. John Bel Edwards rather reflexively responded that such a rating is based on old data, 2013 or so sometimes. Perhaps we are supposed to think the dramatic consequences of one year of the new administration has elevated us suddenly, and dramatically up the scale of besthood.
We suspect that the governor's real view is similar to ours, that problems in the making for decades or generations are not magically solved. Our view, and our ambition, has to be for generations and not for a year or a four-year term.
Because, after all, these ratings are not based on short-term criteria. One example: Edwards' decision to expand Medicaid insurance coverage for the working poor is a way to move us up the health rankings, because more people are likely seeing physicians like they should, and that is one of the standards by which health of a society is often measured.
Going to the doctor might be more possible today, but we're playing catch-up on public health problems that have existed for decades. That is the wider sin of omission that we face in all sorts of fields and endeavors.
If we are the worst state on many measures, it is our obligations as a society that we ought to reflect on before Easter. Although with a break for St. Patrick's Day, and JazzFest, and Festival Internationale, and maybe a nice dinner or two that you can't get at any price in some of those better-rated places.