The happiest & unhappiest states in the union

Gallup has compiled various statistics about “well-being” (health, work, emotional satisfaction, etc.) and has come up with a ranking of  states according to how happy they are.  The most happy states, according to this study, are North Dakota and South Dakota.  The least happy is West Virginia.  In general, the happiest states are those of the upper midwest, and the least happy are those of the deep south.

Now I grant that such studies are very limited and that happiness is not all it’s cracked up to be.  But let’s use this as an occasion to discuss regional differences.

See the top 10 and the bottom 10 after the jump, and go to the Gallup site for more details.

How would you account for the differences?  Some preliminary observations and questions:  The least happy states are poorer than normal, though the wealthiest states are not necessarily the happiest.  Is there something about rural economies, wide-open spaces, and/or natural beauty (especially mountains) that correlate to happiness?  What about the religious differences  (Lutheran strongholds vs. Baptist strongholds)?  What else?  And maybe someone who lives there can tell us what’s so great about the Dakotas. [Read more...]

Split California into six states?

A measure that proposes to split California into six states–since the one has so much diversity that it is “ungovernable”–is actually making headway, with officials giving permission to start getting signatures on a petition to put it to a vote.  They only need just over 800,000 signatures.  I’d think they could get that in California.  The six states would be Silicon Valley, South California, West California, Central California, North California, and Jefferson (in the northernmost part of the state).

I’m curious about the constitutional ramifications of this project.  Can states just split apart like that, and if they do, would the U.S. Congress have to accept them into the union?   I guess secession is pretty much out of the question, thanks to the Civil War.  But if California were to split into six states, this would give the region 12 senators, probably from 8 to 10 of whom would be Democrats.  If this happens, Republicans might need to talk Texas into a similar division.

[Read more...]

Seceding from the state

The Civil War established the principle that states are not allowed to secede from the Union.  But it also established the principle that counties can secede from a state.  West Virginia was formed when certain counties in Virginia refused to go along with the rest of the state in joining the Confederacy.

That has been the only time a state split up, though there have been other attempts to do so, which, if they had succeeded would have given us states named Shasta, Chesapeake, Absaroka, West Florida, Texlahoma, Montezuma, Rough and Ready, and Yazoo.

Today there are secession movements–usually rural conservatives wanting to break away from the dominance of urban liberals–in Maryland, Michigan, Colorado, and California.  (The Maryland breakaway would be called Augusta.  The one in California would be Jefferson.  Does anyone now what the others in California and Michigan would be called?) [Read more...]