Tuesday, August 14, 2007

From last week's LEO:

Rich kids count
Once again, those pesky researchers at the Annie E. Casey Foundation have shone a light on the way children live in America and once again, Kentucky's kids' ranking came in near the bottom. The "Kids Count" study, which reported data from 2005, ranked Kentucky 40th, up from 42nd the previous year. But several key measurements actually worsened slightly, including low birth weight and the overall teen death rate. Still, a two-point improvement is a two-point improvement. Keep this up and we'll be number one in 2027! Woo-hoo!

The study is another reminder that it sucks to be poor. In Kentucky, 22% of children live in poverty. Fully 38% of children live in homes where no parent has full-time employment. Even if you factor out the idle rich, that leaves a lot of Kentuckians scraping by in a country that now has over 1000 billionaires.

To fix this problem, Kentuckians are going to have to pull together and fund education, reduce dropouts, provide jobs, make roads safer, and provide better access to health care, right? Um, yes. But guess what experts say the single-most effective strategy to improve the well-being of children would be: Yep, raise the cigarette tax. Not only would it help fund health care, reduce disease and freshen breath, but it would dramatically impact this shocking statistic: currently one out of every four pregnant women in Kentucky smoke.

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