Requiem for Arizona


Better access to mental health care in Arizona is an admirable goal, but it will do little to mitigate the madness of 6.5 million people trying to hustle a living in a nearly waterless state (HCN, 2/20/12, "Extreme Arizona"). I grew up in Arizona in the 1950s, when it was a much more livable place. There were fewer than a million people and copper, cotton, cattle and citrus played a large role in the state's economy. Though not environmentally benign activities by any means, they were more tangible than what drives Arizona today: real estate, retirement and recreation, which have just about destroyed the place.

Back then, the state wasn't broke. The most notorious killer it had spawned was Winnie Ruth Judd, "the trunk murderess." Her occasional escapes from and returns to the lightly guarded Arizona State Hospital added to the national perception that Arizona was a bit quirky, but not mean-spirited -- certainly not extreme.

It is no secret that Arizona's politicians are narrow-minded and incompetent. But when the highest aspirations of most people in the state are to live in an undemanding climate, engage in ersatz amusements and pay no taxes, enlightened people are not going to flock to state government. As Arizona marks its centennial, the most fitting gesture would be to drape the Capitol in black crepe. That is, of course, if it's all right with the new landlord.

John Woodruff
Grand Junction, Colorado

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