Don't be glum, chum

Posted: March 04, 2014

HOW YOU feeling, Bunkie? Something got you down?

In the annual Gallup poll measuring Americans' sense of well-being, also known as the happiness poll, Pennsylvania was No. 36 in 2013, down sharply from 29 the year before. (Thank you, Gov. Corbett?) Since Philadelphians are the single biggest geographic group of Pennsylvanians, our civic angst probably drags down the ranking.

We have a schools crisis and send in a hothead as a healer. Crime by criminals is down but crime by cops is up. Buildings collapse, water mains explode, the mayor adds deputy mayors and bike lanes. Poverty is up, employment is down, as are the Phillies, Sixers and Flyers. No wonder we're not happy.

Do I hear laughter from across the river?

That would be from PATCO-riding Jerseyans because the Garden State finished 23rd last year, leaping up from No. 32 a year earlier. (Thank you, Gov. Christie?) South Jerseyans are lucky. Their bridges aren't used for revenge by the governor's office. (Revenge is the job of the Delaware River Port Authority.)

While the two tristate Biggies fluctuated, the Small Wonder to our south remained stable. Delaware was 28th in happiness last year, 26th the year before. It's as steady as Joe Biden's smile.

North Dakota exploded from 19th in 2012 to seize the No. 1 position from Hawaii last year. How did little (population 699,628), isolated North Dakota win?

It's not the weather. The state kisses Canada's bottom and offers nine months of permafrost. North Dakotans are happy because of a four-letter word: jobs.

The fastest-growing state, North Dakota's jobs are in what is called "energy" but also known by the sinister name of fracking, reputedly a destroyer of the environment, but that's another discussion.

North Dakota was followed by South Dakota, gold and silver if you will, South riding on North's coattails.

For the record, dead last in happiness is West (almost heaven?) Virginia, just ahead of Kentucky.

That's not enough for Your Favorite Columnist, who had the Bykofsky Investigatory & Technical Clearing House (BITCH) cross-reference the data.

Is there a correlation between happiness and which party controls the governor's office? No space to do all 50 states (not to mention the pesky U.S. possessions), so BITCH looked at the Top and Bottom 10.

First, in our tristate area: Pennsylvania and New Jersey have Republican governors (one running for office, the other running from subpoenas); Delaware has a Democratic governor, and because its ranking landed between Pennsylvania and New Jersey in 2013, this is inconclusive.

Top 10: North Dakota, Republican; South Dakota, Republican; Nebraska, Republican; Minnesota, Democrat; Montana, Democrat; Vermont, Democrat; Colorado, Democrat; Hawaii, Democrat; Washington, Democrat; Iowa, Republican.

Six happy Democrats, four happy Republicans. Conclusion: Democrats are more likely, 60/40, to make you happy.

Bottom 10: Louisiana, Republican; Oklahoma, Republican; Missouri, Democrat; Tennessee, Republican; Arkansas, Democrat; Ohio, Republican; Alabama, Republican; Mississippi, Republican; Kentucky, Democrat; West Virginia, Democrat.

Six unhappy Republicans, four unhappy Democrats. Conclusion: Republicans are more likely, 60/40, to make you unhappy.

Some of you (Republicans) will say that what BITCH has done is invalid. You are correct, but this is a column, not a statistics course, so calm down, turn those frowns upside down and maybe people will like you more.

I mean, it's possible.


Email: stubyko@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5977

On Twitter: @StuBykofsky

Blog: ph.ly/Byko

Columns: ph.ly/StuBykofsky

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