Every once in a while it's fun to look around the United States to see just how those states are doing. Luckily, there are all sorts of polls and rankings that make the task easier. The observations are sometimes revealing and always entertaining., for instance, asked Americans what they thought about their states. “There are endless rankings of the US states: whether they are the best places to live, the best places to do business, how much fun they are. Such judgements are made by economists, companies, and journalists – but what do Americans themselves think? We asked people to choose the better of two states in a series of head-to-head matchups.” 


Think of this as a March Madness playoff bracket system. In this scenario, the five top states were: Hawaii, Colorado, Virginia, Nevada, and North Carolina. The five bottom states were: Alabama, Mississippi, New Jersey, Arkansas, and Iowa. Michigan finished in twentieth position. See all the results at:


Along similar lines, tried to determine the best states in which to raise a family. “WalletHub compared the fifty states across fifty-one key indicators of family-friendliness. Our data set ranges from the median annual family income to housing affordability to the unemployment rate.” 


Finishing as most family-friendly were: Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Rated as the least family-friendly were: Mississippi, New Mexico, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Oklahoma. Michigan had nothing to boast about, finishing in thirty-fifth place. 


One item in this study was oddly interesting. There was a five-way tie for the most violent crimes per capita. Sharing that dubious honor were: Alaska, Tennessee, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Arkansas. See the categories at:


It's always a priority to keep your family safe, so a study by the insurance website was informative. “We analyzed over two million insurance quotes to find out which states have the worst drivers in America and which have the best.” 

The five states with the best drivers were: New Hampshire, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Illinois. The states most likely to turn you into a crash test dummy were: Iowa, North Dakota, Virginia, California, and Alaska. 


Michigan scored a respectable rating finishing eighth. More impressive is that our state was number one when it came to the fewest accidents. “Michigan had the lowest number of accidents.” The whole list is at:


When it comes to driving it's always beneficial to have a good itinerary. helped out on this by suggesting some great road trips. “Road trips in the United States are so popular that an estimated fifty million Americans embarked on one in 2019. Which destination is right for you? Take a look at the best road trip in each state for some travel inspiration.” 


The good news for our locals is that the road trip chosen for Michigan is nearby – Lake Michigan via State Route 31‌. “Appreciate the wonder of Lake Michigan from the coast of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Starting in Grand Rapids, take Route 31 for 175 miles towards Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where you can see massive sand dunes tower 450 feet above the waters of Lake Michigan. Expansive lake views dominate this trip as you travel north to the Straits of Mackinac. On the other side of the famed Mackinac bridge are protected parks with abundant hiking, camping, and fishing.” See the country's best road trips at:


That trip is pretty close to home, but there's one even closer. Men's Journal recently listed “The Most Epic Adventures in America’s 50 States.” For Michigan, they suggested a must-do between Cadillac and Manistee – Pedal the Big M cross-country trail. 


“This 25-mile singletrack loop cuts through the thick woods of the Manistee National Forest, in the uplands of the Udell Hills. The trail has a superb mix of tough, sandy climbs and fast but not terribly technical downhills. Plus, in the winter months, the outer loop stays open for fat-bike-only snow riding.” See all fifty adventures at:


If you do happen to venture forth on a trip of some sort, it might be good to know where you will potentially encounter hostility. “Lifestyle magazine Best Life released a list of states ranked as the rudest in 2020. It looked at indicators from other surveys, such as those for rudest cities and drivers, unfriendliness and impolite behavior.” The ten states with the “winning” profiles were: New Jersey, Texas, Delaware, Rhode Island, California, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Maryland. 


Michigan made the list at number seventeen. Apparently, dirty water enters into the rudeness equation. “Toilet water has recently been leaching into waterways and muddying backyards, due to failing septic tanks and broken pumps. Nearly thirty percent of homes in the state have septic systems, compared to the national rate of twenty percent.” (


On a final note, there may be a reason for these bad vibes – frustration. says: “Customers from around the U.S. wrote in their current frustrations at stores.” Apparently, shortages of some items are driving people to distraction. (


Among the items in short supply are cold remedies, cream cheese, and dried pasta. One of the items people are disturbed about is a head-scratcher to me – refrigerated cinnamon rolls. Geez, what a disaster. People may have to resort to baking from scratch. What a tragedy!


That said, the number one hysteria inducing item makes perfect sense to me –  a massive shortage of canned cat food. Any household (like ours) that has a feline occupant knows the humans are only allowed to inhabit the space under the condition that an acceptable gourmet feeding schedule is maintained. Said humans will tell you there is nothing more revengeful than a disgruntled cat. I agree with one respondent who said: “It’s a waking nightmare.” 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and