Bryant: State’s economic numbers reflect growth, progress

Country singer Merle Haggard asked the tough question in 1981 about the state of the nation’s future when he wrote a song that confronted the erosion of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. with this simple question: “Is the best of the free life behind us now? Are the good times really over for good?”

In Mississippi, Haggard’s question still resonates more than 30 years later. More than merely the intrinsic artistic value of hearing “The Hag” moan the working man’s blues, there’s the examination of just what’s waiting down the line for the people who populate the poorest state in the union.

Let’s face it – the last decade hasn’t been a walk in the park for Mississippians and that’s considering the usual suspects including decades of endemic, systemic poverty, lack of educational attainment and poor health.

Sid Salter