Yahoo had a fascinating headline, “Ten Dumbest States”. What they did was rank states by the proportion of population with Bachelor’s degrees. Hey, I have one of those, except that I wasn’t a very good bachelor. Did better after I was married. Apparently Massachusetts was the “Smartest” with Colorado #2 and Maryland #3. Oklahoma was 9th dumbest but KY and WV were dumb and dumber or should I say dumbest. The smartest states are mostly in New England and the dumbest are in the South and Mid-South. And they show that median income bears a rough correlation to smartness, while SAT scores don’t seem to correlate too much. Why not IQ? Is it really right to say that some states are dumb and some smart?
Why are we stopping at states? Why not countries? Britain and Germany I am sure have more degreed and pedigreed people. Switzerland and Norway have higher incomes. And concerning test scores, USA is behind Slovenia at about #28. But then I ask, when America came into being, were its people a lot smarter than other countries? I have my doubts. It’s worse, if you believe eugenically that smart people have smart kids and vice versa. America has taken the tack of advertising for the dumb.
“Give me your tired your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teaming shore.
Send these the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
How then do we explain our success? Luck and corrupt gain, like Obama claims in his books? Cheats, colonials and slave owners? Or did American exceptionalism have to do with freedom? Perhaps we have taken the dumbest people in the world, given them opportunities and the freedom to make something of it. Success resulted and we became a superpower. Again, this violates the Obama Doctrine of Illegitimate Superpower.
Thus if we were true to our ideals, we should rank the states not in smarts but freedoms. It occurs to me that New England is just so rule-bond economically, that you have to have credentialization in order to get a good job. You have to go to college to get a decent job. It ranks very low in entrepreneurship. After all, both MA and CA we first to recognize the importance of personal computers, but Silicon Valley wound up around San Fran Bay, not Boston Bay. And do Maryland and Colorado just represent what happens when an area is recognized as a good place to lure skilled workers? Maryland is close to credentialization of Emerald City. If you believe that Washington bureaucrats are the smartest people on the planet, please raise you right hand and repeat the Oath of the Veterans Administration led by the guy over there with the coffee cup. And Colorado lures young people who want the recreation paradise that just a few years earlier made the guys at the frat house go rapt. It wasn’t cowboys and miners who got all those degrees.
So then if you asked for freedom, what state? It surely looks a lot like Texas or Oklahoma and a lot of states in flyover land. Few government regulations, low taxes, easy to start a business. “We like living right and bein’ free” Merle Haggard sang, “Okie from Muskogee”. Or maybe it’s Montana. If we looked at which states produce the most new millionaires per capita, Montana would win. Perhaps freedom trumps a balmy climate and makes more opportunities.
Bottom line, I’m okay living in a dumb state. Just as long as it’s free and welcomes the tempest-tossed.