Sunday, September 12, 2010

Montana: The Last Best Place

Several times in the last few months I've read that there are only two U.S. states running budget surpluses: Montana and North Dakota.  In fact, the Montana governor joked on air that they had money in the bank and would be willing to lend it "at an exorbitant rate of interest".  Now yours truly doesn't know much about N.D., but I've spent a lot of time in Montana in my life and loved every minute of it.  Within the U.S., Montana is regarded as the outback, the frontier, where criminals go to hide out (Unibomber-style), nutcase separatist militias flourish, and the grizzly bears roam at will.  (Where don't grizzly bears roam at will?)  From my perspective it is laid back, fun, cheap, and extraordinarily beautiful.  The people are generally friendly, especially considering the preponderance of Canadian license plates everywhere - happy (I suppose) to take our money and see us return north of the border.  (Tourism, like prostitution, is a highly profitable business - "ya sells it and ya still got it".)  Sure, it's been "discovered" by Hollywood types too numerous to mention trying to find some peace and privacy - and as a result real estate prices are outrageous in some areas - but it is still America's "last best place" in my estimation.  The Treasure State indeed.