Live free or die.
New Hampshire is the best place to live in the U.S., according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). These are the folks who rate nations based on education, safety, health, and economy—they’re basically a global gaggle of policy wonks who sip tea together while pondering the Great Issues of the day. Then they share the PowerPoint with the hoi polloi when they’ve reached some Great Conclusion.
Mind you, I’m from New Hampshire*. I couldn’t agree more, that a state with skiable mountains, swimmable God-created lakes, the tallest peak north of the Smokies and east of the Rockies, rapid-filled rivers, and a pristine seacoast, all within 4 hours of each other, has to be the best place in the world. Not only that, but New Hampshirites are the best people on earth. The old saw about asking the grizzled farmer how you get to Manchester, and him replying “you can’t get theah from heah, go back to wheah you stahted and try again” is absolutely true. We NH’ers tell it like it is, and you can go to you-know-where if you don’t like it.
NH has stood for small government, self-determination, and rugged individualism. Years ago, when the state tried to hike the tolls on certain highways, and simultaneously reduce the discount for prepaying, revenues went down, not up. We just drove back roads for 18 months until the state woke up and fixed it. But it’s not that way anymore.
NH is such a great place to live, with a zero percent income tax and a zero percent sales tax, that refugees began to pour over our borders by the thousands. From places like Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and (gasp!) New Jersey. They lived in southern NH but worked in Mass. It’s only a 45 minute commute from Nashua, Salem or Hampton to downtown Boston. Of course, Mass didn’t mind; they charged income tax to these people and provided no services outside the 9 or 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, when they were at work. What a great deal for the People’s Republic of Massachusetts.
We had a name for these people in little Seabrook, where I lived while growing up: “New York divorcees”. In three words, it sums up everything we didn’t like about the liberals whose money and politics infested our state, where God makes men. It’s telling that on May 3, 2003, the Old Man of the Mountain in Franconia Notch fell, just about the time that New Hampshire gasped its last conservative breath: since 1997, NH has been governed by Democrats for 15 of 17 years. From 1857 to 1997, Republicans governed for 125 of 140 years.
The Washington Post’s major conclusion from the OECD report wasn’t that NH is a great place for liberals to conquer—“Why the South is the worst place to live in the U.S. — in 10 charts”. Liberals can now have a PowerPoint reinforcing their bias that southerners are Bible-thumping, gun-loving, pig-eating, ignorant filthy rednecks.
Another thing about me: for the last 22 years, I’ve lived in Georgia. And unlike most Yankee transplants, I don’t live in the Atlanta metroplex, but 100 miles south, in central Georgia, where there’s a church on every corner (sometimes two) and the streets run with sweet tea. OECD lists Georgia as the tenth unhealthiest state in America, 8th worst place to find a job, and 10th worst educated. I would venture to guess that football is not part of the OECD rating criteria.
What I’ve personally found in Georgia are the sweetest people I’ve ever met, with more compassion, care and personal involvement than 100 northerners. I had to learn their ways because northerners always find southerners to be sicky-sweet and fake. It’s not fake. OECD doesn’t consider politeness, care for neighbors, hugs, and respect in their ratings either.
In Georgia, we pull to the side of the road when funerals go past. Not just when they are trying to pass us, but when they are going the other way, on the other side of the street. Our children call adults “sir” and “ma’am”. Every waitress and register clerk says “y’all come back now” whenever you buy something. Nobody speed-walks the sidewalks looking at their shoes. People don’t start conversations with “waddaya want?” and the reason southern states have gone to the GOP is because the Democrats have abandoned God and country. Southerners haven’t.
The OECD can keep its charts; they’re not worth the broadband to download the report (what’s the OECD doing evaluating American states anyway? They are supposed to be dealing with global policies, not judging state fairs). Maybe it will keep the New York Divorcees out of central Georgia, because it would be a shame to ruin God’s country twice.
*I was born in Massachusetts but raised in NH. I moved to Warner Robins, Georgia in 1992 and been there ever since—not quite half my life.