Happiness in America: A Matter of Faith

My recent article about happiness in America elicited many responses.  Some responded to my message that studies show that conservative states are happiest with the glib cliche:” ignorance is bliss!”  That got me thinking.  Is it true that conservatives are merely happiest because they are, essentially, stupidest?  It certainly deserved some open-minded examination.  After all, it is widely believed that southern public schools are much worse than those in the north–but that doesn’t tell the whole story, as my research has subsequently borne out.

The list of states with the most education, or rather, the most people with secondary degrees, reads a little like the list of the most liberal states, with only Virginia and Colorado making the top ten.  Then, Virginia and Colorado were not necessarily the happiest of those happy red-states, and they are sometimes considered “purple states” any way.  Case closed.  The more education you have, the more unhappy.  Right?

It seems that academic achievement is a North-South thing, it does not seem to be a Republican-Democrat thing.

Academic achievement appears to be more of a North-South thing than a Democrat-Republican thing, as this map shows.

Well, it would, except does a secondary education mean that you are smart?  I mean, I know plenty of ahem, ‘slower’, ahem, people who were simply wealthy enough to attend a middling college and get a meaningless degree.  Additionally, blue states understandably pay for many of their lower income folks to attend classes–so a higher populace definitely has degrees, but what is that worth?  Maybe a closer look state by state is needed.

If the states are ranked by academic achievement, rather than by degrees given out on suspect certificates, the top four states, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire, are decidedly blue.  However, Minnesota, Vermont and New Hampshire are not particularly unhappy.  Additionally, four of the top ten states are red.  A map of this, assigning, for the sake of argument, the color blue to high academic achievement states and red to low, doesn’t seem to correlate very much with the statistics for those happy places.  Liberal states like New York, Michigan, Illinois and California all exhibit poor academic achievement.

If one examines studies about state by state charitable giving and volunteer work, the picture becomes slightly more clear.  The top ten states which volunteer are decidedly red.  The list looks a little like this:

1.  Utah
2.  Nebraska
3.  Minnesota
4.  Alaska
5.  Kansas
6.  Iowa
7.  Montana
8.  Wyoming
9.  South Dakota
10. Vermont

This map designating charitable states with red and uncharitable states with blue reflects a strangely familiar map... Looks a little like maps from the past few elections...

Charitably, the picture is even more bleak for liberals.  state by state ranks of the most charitable states, adjusted for average income, per person, is frankly, embarrassing for Democrats.  The miserly blue states in the map to the left generously vote for policies that promote confiscatory taxes for everyone except themselves.  Generous, only with other peoples’ money, that is.  The top 24 most charitable states are all red, and 26 of the top 27 are red!  So much for the compassionate bleeding hearts!  This map to the left divides the 25 most charitable states and colors them red.  The bluest states are the most uncharitable and illustrate the hypocrisy of the left.

Beyond the studies ranking the most charitable states, a study into the most religious states tells an even more sobering tale.  It appears, as the map to the right will show, that charitable giving, and overall happiness could very well be a product of overall faithfulness.  A list of the states in which residents identify themselves as religious is as follows:

Mississippi: 85%
Alabama: 82%
South Carolina: 80%
Tennessee: 79%
Louisiana: 78%
Arkansas: 78%
Georgia: 76%
North Carolina: 76%
Oklahoma: 75%
Kentucky: 74%
Texas: 74%
West Virginia: 71%
Kansas: 70%
Utah: 69%
Missouri: 68%
Virginia: 68%
South Dakota: 68%
North Dakota: 68%
Indiana: 68%
Nebraska: 67%
New Mexico: 66%
Pennsylvania: 65%
Florida: 65%
Maryland: 65%
Ohio: 65%
Iowa: 64%
Minnesota: 64%
Illinois: 64%
Michigan: 64%
Delaware: 61%
Wisconsin: 61%
District of Columbia: 61%
Idaho: 61%
Arizona: 61%
New Jersey: 60%
Wyoming: 58%
Colorado: 57%
Hawaii: 57%
California: 57%
Montana: 56%
New York: 56%
Connecticut: 55%
Nevada: 54%
Rhode Island: 53%
Oregon: 53%
Washington: 52%
Alaska: 51%
Massachusetts: 48%
Maine: 48%
New Hampshire: 46%
Vermont: 42%

It seems from this map, that religious people are happy because they are religious. Not because they are stupid. Sorry liberals. As much as Keith Olberman uses big words and wears trendy glasses to try to appear intelligent, you guys are no different than the rest of us. You just don't like to work in the real world.

Frankly, it doesn’t take one of those northern public school educated rocket scientists–wait, most of those are in Tennessee–well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that religiosity correlates much more closely to happiness than relative education levels.  And, it seems, red states correlate quite nicely along with more religious and charitable states.  And before you get any ideas about health care quality and how it might affect happiness, rest assured, there is no correlation.  If anything, the healthier you are, the more unhappy you’ll be.  Which makes sense, when I consider how many times I’ve cringed before forcing down brussel sprouts and broccoli (UPDATE: Voting for Democrats may actually make you less healthy, as it may cause cancer).

It seems, then, that happiness is a matter of faith.  Which makes sense to me.  They put their faith in God, not in government.  Take a look at the map a compiled a few weeks ago, determined by composite results from the last three presidential elections, and my case is closed.  Just for kicks though, in the course of my research I discovered that liberal states have a monopoly on dumb drivers, as I have always suspected.  Guess they didn’t have time to read their driver manuals with all that there lurnun’ they been durin’.  The dumbest drivers, in order of dumbdom:

1.   Rhode Island
2.   Washington D.C.
3.   Massachusetts
4.   New Jersey
5.   New York
6.   Maryland
7.   Hawaii
8.   Connecticut
9.   New Mexico
10.  Pennsylvania
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