California has been subjected to a lot of public flogging recently.
To hear tell, droughts, wildfires, earthquakes, overcrowding, pollution, cash-strapped cities and underperforming athletic franchises are our lot in life.
The news isn’t all bad. We lead the nation in area codes.
Nonetheless, it’s enough to tempt you to look for somewhere else to live.
Just in time to help you make an informed decision about swapping your old paradise for new one comes a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which has ranked all 50 states according to nine different measures of well-being: health, safety, housing, access to broadband, civic engagement, education, jobs, environment, and income.
Using that yardstick, the OECD has anointed New Hampshire as the most desirable place to live in the United States.
We all know New Hampshire as the place that emerges like Brigadoon out of the mists every four years and conducts the first presidential primary election.
The primary's significance is debatable. However, there’s some entertainment value in watching wandering hordes of media types bundled in their best L.L. Bean winter gear trying to be profound in a place that defines quaint.
We also know this about New Hampshire: Summer lasts about two weeks. The rest of the year consists of blizzards, ice storms, white outs and avalanches. Looking for a winter wonderland? Average annual snowfall ranges from 60 inches to more than 100 inches across the state.
And speaking of “white,” almost 94 per cent of the population features that skin tone.
We know New Hampshire as a place of rugged beauty and rugged individualism. After all, this is a state that doesn’t require seat belts or motorcycle helmets. “Live Free or Die”? More like “Live Free and Die.”
The state has no general sales tax and no personal state income tax but the state does tax, at a 5 percent rate, income from dividends and interest). That’s good news. The bad news is that the state's local communities have some of the nation's highest property taxes.
Democrats have dominated elections in recent years, prompting something called the Free Stare Project to attempt to entice 20,000 individuals with libertarian-leaning views to move to New Hampshire with the intent of reducing the size and scope of government at the local, state and federal levels through active participation in the political process.
I’ve always believed that if a state is as great as its boosters claim, people would be flocking to live there. The population of New Hampshire? About 1.3 million or the size of San Diego
As one wag observed, the state is a “pack of syrup-swilling squirrel worshipers.”
Sound like the kind of place you’d want to live? Me neither.
Next up on the desirability scale are Minnesota, Vermont, Iowa and North Dakota. Apparently, living in snow up to your eyebrows while the scent of farm animals wafts on the breeze is a prerequisite to living the good life.
So who occupies the bottom of the list?
The entire Grits Belt, as it turns out.
Mississippi scored lower than any other state on the Best Place to Live scale. Joining it is Arkansas, Alabama ,West Virginia and Tennessee.
Other sons of the south such as Louisiana, Maryland and South Carolina finished at the bottom of the heap when it comes to public safety. So much for Southern hospitality.
Maybe you should avoid the Confederacy as your forwarding address.
Which brings us back to California. We finished in the mid-range of best places to live, We're low on the safety scale and near the bottom (along with Hawaii) in the best states to find a home, the curse of living some place with a view.
We're 11th in the best place to earn a living, fourth in the healthiest states and second to last in best job opportunities category thanks to a 7.4 per cent unemployment rate.
But there is so much to love here, stuff that a study can’t possibly understand.
Like Yosemite and Death Valley, like tacos and sushi and In-N-Out Burger, like Carmel and Santa Barbara and the Napa Valley and Palm Springs, the Dodgers and the Giants. The Golden Gate Bridge and the San Diego Zoo.
And the weather. By god, the weather.
I think I’ll stick around.
Robert Rector is a veteran of 50 years in print journalism. He has worked at the San Francisco Examiner, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Valley News, Los Angeles Times and Pasadena Star-News. He can be reached at Nulede@Aol.Com.