- - Monday, July 28, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Where is that key to happiness? It may be down South, and voting for conservatives may be the reason why, say professors from Harvard and the Vancouver School.

Using data from a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and related sources, researchers concluded that the five happiest cities in America are all in Louisiana. Lafayette, Houma, Shreveport, Baton Rouge and Alexandria are the places to find “life satisfaction.” Charlotte, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Naples, Fla., are only a little less likely places to find euphoria.

Southern and Mountain West states, including Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wyoming are happy, which may be the lower taxes and minimal government intrusion. Voters here tend to vote Republican.

Life is not so nice in the Northeast and Midwest, particularly in Scranton, Erie, and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania; Gary, Ind.; and New York City. These places usually vote Democratic, and residents pay high taxes to support large governments. Other “least happy” places include Chicago, New Jersey, most of Southern California, the San Francisco Bay area and southern New England.

The relatively few unhappy cities in the South, including Atlanta; Memphis, Tenn.; Little Rock, Ark.; Miami; and Austin, Texas, sometimes vote Democratic. The two Northern states that appear to be the happiest, Maine and Wisconsin, are led by two of the most freedom-oriented, limited-government governors in America, Paul LePage and Scott Walker. Both are Republicans.

Clearly, ideology has more to do with happiness than sunny weather and a big paycheck. A Pew Survey earlier found that 47 percent of Republicans say they’re “very happy,” compared with just 28 percent of Democrats. Republicans scored as much happier, on average, even after income differences and other dynamics were accounted for.

A study published in the American Political Science Review uncovered one reason why liberals are so dour: Hand-wringing isn’t conducive to happiness. Liberals often drive a hybrid automobile, lest the tailpipe trigger the end of days. They typically agonize over a cow’s feelings, insisting on ordering the vegetarian plate. They revel in suffering so much they want to share it with others, forcing everyone to use low-flow toilets, inferior light bulbs and anything festooned with government-mandated warning labels and cautions.

Republicans spend less time fretting and more time acting to resolve problems. When a conservative sees someone in need, his first thought is not to ask about a new government program, but what a private charity or church group can do to help. If someone’s out of work, a conservative wants to expand business opportunities so an employer can hire him.

Establishing a soup kitchen or starting a small business is easier in some places than others. Regulatory climates, tax policies and other bureaucratic hassles can break the will of someone more inclined to make a difference than to simply sit around and hope for the best. That’s why so many cheerful people live where government governs least. Instead of calling the red states red, maybe we ought to call them “tickled pink.”

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