The battering Kansas is taking when various services are compared with those offered by surrounding states might make Tom Osborne and Barry Switzer feel like underachievers when their football teams clashed with our in-state schools.
A recent comparison was provided by the Kansas Industrial Consumers Group after it contrasted costs for turning on a light switch, and other electrical currents demanding more energy, among states in the region.
Applying some sports geography, Kansas electrical rates ranked higher than every other state in the Big 12 footprint — OK, regional outcast West Virginia wasn’t listed — and some states content to be in other major-college conferences free of Dallas drama.
“We just don’t live on an island. We have to regionally compete,’’ a representative for KIC said about Kansas when explaining that industrial costs for electricity darken the hopes for Kansas to compete for new businesses or retain old businesses.
The competitive beatdown does not stop there. Recent accounts have also touched on the following:
• Consumers who drive out of Kansas to buy groceries because the current state sales tax rate of 6.5 percent exceeds that applied to the same goods just a few miles, or even blocks, away.
• A morning toddy. A bill was introduced this legislative session to expand hours for Kansas clubs and restaurants to serve a cocktail because third-shift workers and those wanting a kick to their breakfast can get it three hours earlier across the state line.
• A different sort of buzz. Colorado happens to sell legalized pot. Kansas won’t even let farmers grow industrial hemp, which does not contain the THC needed to make it an intoxicant but is a versatile crop that can be refined into many commercial uses.
Frustrated? Well, at least we can gouge those pesky out-of-state visitors along the turnpike. Unfortunately, state residents use the toll road more than anyone else, so it actually takes a bigger bite from our wallets.
Is there a fix to all this? Can Kansans find kinder rates on utilities and lower taxes on essential goods?
You can always hope. Yet the state recently entered into a lease-to-own plan to afford a new prison that replaces its largest correctional facility, which has been used for, oh, a century and a half. Long before two of the state’s most renowned qualities — the production of wheat and the waving of wheat at KU basketball games — were widely known.
Yet the state prison isn’t all that’s crumbling. Roads are too. Then there’s the big pinch — finding a way to adequately fund schools.
The pain worsens when both the cost, and the joy, of living seem far more tolerable across any state line most convenient to cross.
For years I have long contended I like living in Kansas because guests rarely want to make it their home. Few even want to visit, which minimizes funds collected off tourism and contributes to issues state and local governments face in providing adequate services.
Keeping the population down instills a weird sense of pride. If you live here, life is better if you learn to like it here. So I have, as long as the wind does not whisk any of my overtaxed belongings down the street.
My contentment with Kansas leaves me to think, “Stick It,’’ if a visitor berates our box turtle or craps on our cottonwoods.
I even take that little slice of Kansacana anywhere I go and proudly state where I am from to anyone who asks. I take a perverse pleasure in how they react.
If they respond by saying they could never live here, I smile, think of the constraints imposed both economically and socially, and realize we pay for our isolation. In some respects, it isn't all that bad. So, I accept it.
Many don’t and that’s understandable. Just make sure to slow down when paying your toll on the way out.
Kevin Haskin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @KevinHaskin on Twitter.