A constant barrage of information and complaints reminds us nearly every day what a horror it is to live in Illinois.
State spending is out of control. We're pushing businesses out of the state. We have too much unemployment and not enough money for schools. Our legislature is dysfunctional. Crime is a problem. Air quality is a problem. Traffic is a problem.
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Who would want to live here?
And then something comes along to keep all the negativity in perspective.
Case in point this week: U.S. News and World Report, whose quality rankings on everything from elementary schools to business colleges, nursing homes and even diets are highly regarded, this week declared DuPage County one of "America's 50 Healthiest Counties for Kids."
Specifically, DuPage ranked 20th on a list that examines, in the magazine's words, "how health and environmental factors affect the well-being of children younger than 18." Among specific issues considered were birth weight, infant death rate, teen birthrate, children in poverty and injury death rate, and the results show a region with exceptional private health care as well as effective public programs.
"The numbers support the work we've been doing to expand capacity and programs to meet the needs of a new population in DuPage," said Maureen McHugh, executive director of the DuPage County Health Department.
They also add to a generous body of research highlighting quality of life issues throughout the suburbs.
A few among many:
• Mount Prospect was named the best place in America to raise a family by Businessweek magazine in 2008.
• At various times in recent years, Naperville, Elgin, Lake Zurich, Libertyville, Carol Stream, Glen Ellyn and South Elgin have all been listed among the best places in America to live by national magazines.
• Naperville has been named both the kid friendliest city in the country -- by the Zero Population Growth organization -- and one of the top places in the country for seniors -- by the American Association for Retired Persons.
• Bensenville was ranked second statewide in a Bloomberg Businessweek report on the best places to raise a family.
• St. Charles was named the best town for families by Family Circle magazine in 2011, and ABC's "Good Morning America" found the "Best Block in America" in West Dundee in 2010.
We could cite more, but hopefully, you're getting the point.
Yes, there is much to be concerned about regarding the fiscal health, business climate and quality of life in Illinois. But at the same time, communities devoted to providing a healthy, nurturing, engaging, inclusive environment can still provide the setting for the most rewarding and productive living in America.