by Karl Kurtz
In his column in the Sacramento Bee today, Dan Walters compares California and North Dakota. After contrasting the two states' very different populations, geography, topography, economy and politics, he concludes:
It's fair to assume that few Californians would abandon the state's scenery, weather, food and cultural amenities for North Dakota, despite the latter's vibrant economy. It's also fair to assume that few North Dakotans would opt for California's population density, cultural complexity, traffic congestion and struggling economy.
That said, Californians should admire North Dakotans for something they didn't do last week. More than two-thirds of the state's voters rejected a measure that would have abolished property taxes by tapping into a fat state surplus from the oil boom.
They heeded warnings from opponents, including business leaders, that passage would have unintended consequences, such as a loss of local control, and that their long-term interests would be best served by saving the windfall for future needs.
Now that's a real contrast to California's boom-and-bust mentality – tax cuts and lavish spending one year, followed by deficits and despair the next.
Have you got your own favorite polar opposite states? Because I'm interested in legislative institutional characteristics, I'm more likely to compare California and New Hampshire. Of course, because of its size, it's alway tempting to contrast California to almost any other state. What about some other pairings? Texas and Vermont, for example. Or among states of more similar size, Mississippi and Massachusetts.
Add a comment below or send me an e-mail with your favorite pair of contrasting states in reference to politicial, policy and institutional characteristics.