Normally, I scoff at piles of publications and endless websites ranking cities and states as the best this or the worst that. We just endured a gubernatorial campaign during which the winner made one online magazine’s assessment of Iowa a central theme of her pitch.
It’s gotten out of hand. Up next, ranking the best rankings! Make that scoff a double.
But then a news release from WalletHub.com dropped into my inbox this past week, claiming to rank America’s great cities by their level of sinfulness. It measured anger and hatred. Excesses and vices. Jealousy, greed, lust, vanity and laziness.
Still a bunch of clickbait hooey, to be sure, but a lot more interesting than “America’s Best Places to Retire and Raise a House Plant,” or whatever.
And it turns out Cedar Rapids is the seventh least-sinful city in the nation, ranking 176th out of 182 burgs scored. Las Vegas is No. 1, not surprisingly. It’s “Sin City,” after all, so anything less would have been a civic embarrassment.
But Cedar Rapids won’t have to change its moniker to the City of the Seven Sins. What happens here can leave here, apparently. And perhaps we can scratch “our wicked, wicked ways” from the list of reasons why the Cedar River keeps flooding.
But what to make of this? We’ve all seen plenty of sin in this city. I’m not just talking about newbo evolve.
And yet, Cedar Rapids ranked a very low 175th in greed, a category which took into account stats tracking gambling and charitable donations. A small consolation prize, perhaps, for missing out on a big fancy gambling parlor.
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Under the category “excesses and vice,” which looked at obesity, fast food joints per capita, heavy drinking, DUIs, opioids and other vices, Cedar Rapids came in at 145th.
That one surprised me a little. I mulled it over while guzzling a 32-ounce beer and gobbling a metric ton of nachos at a local chain joint. So many questions remain unanswered. Why didn’t this town rank higher? Why do my clothes keep shrinking? Where are my feet?
With regard to, um, lust — tracking factors including adult entertainment establishments, triple-X web searches and users of the dating app Tinder — the city ranked a very respectable No. 153. Maybe too respectable.
The city’s most sinful ranking was its climb to the No. 95 spot under vanity. WalletHub counted the number of beauty salons and tanning salons per capita, as well as web searches for plastic surgery.
I’m not convinced these are good measures. What about mirror sales? Vanity license plates? Forget web searches, what about actual lifts, tucks and augmentations?
The city was 172nd in laziness, which took into account exercise, hours worked, volunteerism, etc., and 163rd in jealousy, factoring in thefts and fraud. Personally, I’m just jealous of all the people who have the will to exercise. And Cedar Rapids’ status as Iowa’s second city did not factor into its jealousy score.
Speaking of Des Moines, it’s now basically Iowa’s largest den of sin, coming in overall at No. 145, thanks to its No. 82 ranking under greed. Just think how sinful our capital would be if the Legislature met more than four months each year. Look out, Vegas.
In fact, if you believe WalletHub, Cedar Rapids is the least sinful city in the Midwest, finishing a heavenly 10 spots ahead of Bismark, N.D. and 12 ahead of Fargo. But plenty of sin is within driving distance, with St. Louis and Chicago both ranked in the top 10.
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Cedar Rapids is less sinful than many a Bible Belt enclave, ranking well head of places such as Tulsa, Okla., and Montgomery, Ala.
How can Cedar Rapids use this to its advantage? Maybe it could spawn a new marketing campaign.
“Is this Heaven? No, but We Can Give You Directions.”
“Dine, Dwell, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
“Haven’t Been to Cedar Rapids? We Forgive you!”
“Let He Who is Without Sin Call the Cedar Rapids Tourism Office.”
But maybe you’re unhappy Cedar Rapids is such a straight arrow.
Well, the good news is it’s the holidays. Overindulge, overspend and overdo it. Max those cards, inhale that fudge and charge that tankard. Maybe we can move the sin needle. But as far as lust is concerned, you’re on your own.
l Comments: (319) 398-8262; firstname.lastname@example.org.