I’m pretty sure I’d seen Gallup’s well-being ranking of the states before, but I hadn’t taken a close look. Coming across it, yesterday, I did so, and it’s kind of depressing.
Rhode Island is 37th, overall, which looks good because we’re so used to being in the bottom 10, but that result is due to the fact that we tend to feel that we’re in good physical health (14th) and have a middle-of-the-pack sense of financial security (27th). However, where we do poorly is telling:
- The finding that we’re 45th for “liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community” certainly jibes with constant commentary in letters, comment sections, and social media that many Rhode Islanders are either looking for a way out of the state or feel like they should be.
- Being 49th in our sense of purpose — liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals — could have a lot to do with how difficult state and local governments make it to accomplish anything.
- And our dead-last 50th ranking for “having supportive relationships and love in your life” could be a combination of having lost so many fleeing friends, family, and neighbors and feeling as if the entire state is working against us.
Honing in on the state government and its orbiting establishment isn’t just a peculiar bias, given my political occupation and interests. Via her Twitter feed, WPRO reporter Kim Kalunian recently directed attention to a WalletHub analysis that places Rhode Island as the 41st most happy state — that is, the 10th most unhappy. In keeping with the Gallup results, Rhode Island was a bit better (37th) for both “emotional & physical well-being” and “work environment,” but suffers (45th) under “community, environment & recreational activities.”
In short, Rhode Islanders’ misery isn’t something growing from our wealth, health, or psychological tendencies. It’s something that somebody else is doing to us (or, rather, in the case of government, something that we’re doing to ourselves by means of the people we allow to walk all over us).
My saying this will surprise no one, but crony jobs in business regulation, new tolls and taxes to hide borrowing, government subsidies to struggling sports franchises, and fancy refinancing schemes to support an economic development slush fund are not going to fix the problem. Governor Raimondo’s plans to use Brookings Institution findings to push Rhode Islanders into conformance with a government-driven economic plan is only going to make matters worse. What we need is for legislators to stop doing so horribly on the Freedom Index.
Get out of our way. Let us live our lives. Ultimately, that’s what the pursuit of happiness is all about.