Hard to believe, but America’s happiest city is..Being a sucker for lists, I was immediately taken by a feature called “America’s Happiest Cities” on the website Daily Beast.
By: By Dale McFeatters, The Dickinson Press
Being a sucker for lists, I was immediately taken by a feature called “America’s Happiest Cities” on the website Daily Beast.
The site lists 15 cities, in ascending order of good cheer, based on such criteria as the weather, employment rates and percentage of families making more than $100,000 a year.
This made sense to me. Somebody who is out of a job and out in the rain is not a candidate for happiest local citizen. And despite what they say about money not buying happiness, $100,000 a year is a pretty good down payment on getting there.
This information is condensed into something called the Gallup-Healthways Index, which for the country as a whole was 66.2 out of 100, not even two-thirds of the way to full happiness. Moreover, the index is the lowest since they started doing it in 2008, the depth of the recession, which suggests that the reason some people are so happy is that they are absolutely oblivious to what’s going on around them.
Who knows? Maybe those polled were the kinds of people who find that foreclosures, evictions and destitution brighten their day. It takes all kinds, and, heaven knows, the United States has them. But we wander afield.
No. 15 on the list is Manchester, N.H. — happiness score, 91.08; number of sunny days, “n/a,” a cause for suspicion, one would think. I would not have thought of Manchester, N.H., and, indeed, like most people, I only think of it every four years when the state has its primary. People who can be made happy by the quadrennial arrival of hordes of politicians and media probably have a solid inner core of happiness to begin with. In other words, it doesn’t take much to brighten their day.
Many on the list are college towns — Fort Collins and Boulder in Colorado; Lincoln, Neb.; Madison, Wis.; Boston; and Charlottesville, Va. — and are happy for all the obvious reasons, two of which might be beer and members of the opposite sex. Cheers you up just thinking about it.
But their days as centers of national happiness may be numbered. If Rick Santorum, B.A, J.D., M.B.A., is elected president, these snobs are going to find themselves out of the classroom and into the steel mill; that is, if we can still find a working steel mill in this country, let alone one that is hiring. Santorum, it should be noted, went to Penn State, which is not called Happy Valley for nothing.
No factory towns made the list, unless you want to count Manchester and No. 10 Bridgeport, Conn., but their glory days as manufacturing centers are long behind them. However, Bridgeport, as the originator of the Frisbee, may have a playful streak that endures to this day.
Some towns on the list were no-brainers: San Francisco at No. 3 and Honolulu at No. 6.
To end the suspense, Gallup pegged Washington, D.C., as America’s happiest city, with a score of 100, an average of 96 sunny days a year (more than Honolulu at 90, if you believe that) and having just over half the families making more than $100,000 a year.
Washington has some of the nation’s worst traffic; the winters are gray, cold and dispiriting; the summers steamy and prone to violent thunderstorms. Still, it truly is a happy city and for one simple reason: Every two years the people of America send us a new crop of clowns to entertain us.
McFeatters is a columnist for Scripps Howard News Service.