22 December, 2009

Everything is wrong in the South---well, not quite

The constant drumbeat of news telling people how bad life is in the South never seems to end. In case you haven't been paying attention: we're poorer, fatter, sicker, dumber, and more violent than the rest of the country. We're also more "conservative"*, have fewer labor unions, virtually no public transit, get pregnant out of marriage more often, etc. So say all the media outlets based in… uhm, help me out here… ah yes: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and so forth.

(Hmm, Yankees. What a coincidence.)

Anyway, there's a new study out which was not conducted from up north, but from across the pond, and it's quite something. According to this British Study, the happiest states in the Union are New York, California, Illinois, and D.C. Right? Wrong, actually.

Of all places, Louisiana is the happiest state in the Union. Before you jump to the conclusion that Governor Jindal should thank all those sinners in New Orleans who will surely regret this come Judgment Day, let me point out that
Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee all appear in the top ten States. I mean, the only states of the Bible Belt missing from that list are Arkansas and Georgia, and they're ranked 17 and 19, respectively. The top ten are rounded out by Hawaii, Arizona, Montana, and Maine, states that everyone will recognize as centers of cosmopolitan culture.

Weirder yet, the authors of the study say that they don't base their conclusions merely on a survey, but on studying "objective factors" as well: things that include—I am not making this up, I swear! read the article!—environmental "greenness", violent crime, student-teacher ratio, and local spending on education and highways.

I don't get it. The easiest way to get happy is fire water, right? I mean, that's what college students do to get happy, ain't it? That's why they call it happy hour, ain't it? An' if you're fixin' to buy some fire water in this state, then unless it's your run-of-the-mill horse pi—uhm, beer, you have to visit a Wine & Liquor establishment. And they ain't even open on Sundays, so you know people around here have got to be dyin' from depression at least one day every week!!!

So what do people around here have to be so happy about? After all, it's not as if there is a relationship between religiosity and happiness.

Or something.

Anyway, what about those earthly paradises in D.C., Illinois, California, and New York? I wouldn't move there anytime soon if I were you; they were ranked 36, 45, 46, and 51, respectively. Imagine that: New York is the unhappiest state of the Union. Damn, that explains a lot.

*conservative: Whatever that means, considering we receive a disproportionate amount of federal outlays compared to our taxes. Southern senators have a well-deserved notoriety for their ability to direct federal dollars this way, which is why virtually every government installation is named for some Senator: the Trent Lott Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, the Thad Cochran Center for Agricultural Research, NASA Stennis Space Center, etc., etc. ad nauseam. As if Trent Lott knows anything about entrepreneurship, Thad Cochran knows anything about agriculture, or John Stennis knew anything about space exploration. Say what you will about the Russians; at least they name scientific and academic installations after people who actually, you know, contributed something to the field.

Edit: Sorry, forgot to thank the First Thoughts weblog, which is where I found it. Their take on it is pretty funny.

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