Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Saturday, February 11, 2012


This article by Tom Keane of the Boston Globe sets out facts and stats to illustrate why this very liberal state has nothing to be ashamed of when ignorant folks point the finger at us and call us "Taxachusetts." (We rank 37th in the nation in tax burden, relative to income.)  Also when you read about the other qualities of life, it's pretty evident that this liberal state has done a great job in making it one of the most desirable in the nation to live in.

Well done, Massachusetts! 


Mass. moderate?

Exceptional is more like it: The Bay State compares well in just about everything

THE POLITICAL expletive in this season’s Republican presidential race is “Massachusetts moderate.’’ The power of the accusation, presumably, is that the Bay State’s brand of politics has left it so much worse off than true-red states that hew the conservative line. Or put conversely, conservative politics yield better outcomes.

Except that they don’t. By almost every important factual measure — economic, educational, and socioeconomic — Massachusetts is vastly better off than the nation’s most right-wing states.

The five most conservative states in the country are Wyoming, Mississippi, Utah, Alabama, and South Dakota, according to a 2010 Gallup Survey. These are the exemplars that candidates such as Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum would have the nation emulate. One has to wonder why.


XLS document: How Massachusetts compares
For one, they’re a lot poorer. The median family income in Massachusetts is just over $61,300 - fourth highest in the nation. The average for the conservative states is $46,400. (Even adjusted for our higher cost of living, the Bay State is still better off than any conservative state.)

Of course, money isn’t everything. Our kids are smarter, too. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, sometimes called the “Nation’s Report Card,’’ compares fourth- and eighth-graders’ performance in math and reading across the country. The difference between Massachusetts and the conservative states is staggering. In 2011, 50 percent of our fourth graders were proficient in reading; the number was just 30 percent for the red states. Indeed, in every single category, Massachusetts ranked first in the nation, with roughly half or more of our kids proficient. In the conservative states, the comparable figures usually average less than one-third. That’s why 38 percent of Massachusetts children complete college - also the best of any state. The average for the conservative states is just 24 percent.

We’re healthier as well. At 80.1 years, Massachusetts ranks sixth in the United States for life expectancy. The red states average 77.5 (Utah - due to its preponderance of clean-living Mormons - is the only conservative state to equal us). Why? Fewer of us are fat (22 percent versus the red states’ 29 percent), we exercise regularly (37 percent versus 27 percent), and, with the exception of Utah (again, the Mormon thing), we smoke less.

And despite our higher level of urbanization, we’re safer. Massachusetts residents suffer 2.7 murders for every 100,000 residents; the average for residents in conservative states is 4.2. Our property crime rate is 2,329 per 100,000; the conservative states average 2,992.

Moreover, it’s not as if conservative values somehow breed better family values. Far from it. Massachusetts’ divorce rate is only 2.2 per 1,000, the lowest in the nation. The conservative states average 4.1. Our teen pregnancy rate is just 49 for every 1,000 versus red states’ 64. Massachusetts families seem to care more for their kids - 68 percent of Bay State parents read to their children every day; in the conservative states it’s 46 percent.

And more disturbingly: The child death rate in Massachusetts is 12 for every 100,000. It’s double that in the conservative states. The teen death rate here is 44; it averages 84 in red states. The suicide rate in Massachusetts is 7.6 per 100,000, less than any other conservative state and essentially half their average of 15.1.

Massachusetts doesn’t necessarily beat the conservative states in every measure, but we’re always in the mix. Despite the taunt of “Taxachusetts,’’ we rank 37th in the nation in tax burden relative to incomes. Some conservative states are better, but others - such as Utah, at 19th - are much worse. On certain measures, one or two conservative states might beat the Bay State - South Dakota’s December unemployment rate of 3.3 percent was half our 6.8 percent. Even so, the conservative state average for that month was 6.7 percent, not meaningfully different from ours.

Taking all of the above together is the reason why a number of “meta-indexes’’ - efforts to rank states on a wide variety of criteria - consistently favor Massachusetts. For instance, the Human Development Index ranks Massachusetts second. The conservative states average 36.

Ideology notwithstanding, at some point results matter. The Bay State’s families are stronger, healthier, safer, richer, and smarter than those of conservative states. Given that, why would anyone want to be other than moderate Massachusetts?

Tom Keane writes regularly for the Globe.


Rational Nation USA said...

I have lived on the west coast, in the mid west, and the northeast. All the political BS aside MA. Has been the least desirable with respect to quality of life. IMO anyway.

Having said this one makes decisions in life that often carry unintended consequences. Bill Weld was a good governor at any rate. And besides the better hall is happy here. She's from upstate NY. So with all said and done if she's happy I'm happy.

Infidel753 said...

Interesting. Massachusetts has always struck me as one of the pleasantest parts of the country (winter weather excepted). I knew red states in general do terribly on measures like teenage pregnancy and crime, but I never would have thought Utah's taxes were higher than those of Massachusetts!

You certainly have a disproportionate share of the country's brainpower, with places like MIT.

But I suspect teabaggers will always resent a state they must find almost impossible to spell.

Rational Nation USA said...

Is a tea bagger like a flaming liberal with an accent and a pick up truck with rifiles on board.

Just sayin...

Shaw Kenawe said...

RN, I've lived on the west coast and in Florida. I willingly came back to Mass. because of all the things that interest me and that the state--actually, Boston, where I live, offers.

No question that the weather leaves a lot to be desired, but there are things worse than being cold. Believe me. I lived in Florida for 10 years. I know what I'm talking about.

I love California, but not SoCal. I prefer the area around Monterey and San Francisco.

Infidel753, Mass. is by no means perfect, but for where I am in my life, it suits me fine. Yes, there is a lot to be said for its institutions of higer learning. Mr. "Shaw Kenawe" is a graduate of MIT in physics, and, as a graduate, has access to any lecture he wants to sit in on. We both went to one given by Nobel Laureate in physics, Frank Wilczek, not too long ago.

Plus Boston offers so much in cultural activities, it's impossible to list all the advantages. These are the things that matter to me at this time of my life. Hot weather? Not so much.

Shaw Kenawe said...

PS. I left out the fact that I had to deal with some serious health issues over the last few years, and am very glad I had some of the best medical facilities in the world here in Boston to help me through them.

Rational Nation USA said...

Shaw - You point out many of the finer things MA has to offer. As a student of history {particularly colonial and early American}I would be very hard pressed to disagree.

Truth 101 said...

My Mom's family is from Mass. I love it there. I love it in Minnesota where my Dad's family is from.

You should have seen Forge Village when I was a kid. It was right out of colonial times. Beautiful. So cool even an 8 year old could appreciate it.

My aunt lived not far from there on a lake. The road to her house was called beaver Brook Road. Went over a stone arch bridge. Caught a five pound largemouth in that lake. My Dad and I caught stringers full of bluegill and yellow perch my unle refused to eat because he thought they were dirty or something. He only ate ocean fish.

I have more fond memories of Minn. and Mass than Illinois which is where I live now. I blame Blagojevich for this.

DerFarm said...

I'm 60. I spent practically my entire life in the Deep South (MS, AL, SC, GA, TX, TN) and moved to MA in 2009. I can definitely say that people in my part of MA are friendlier than the people in AL and TN at this time. Understand, that might not have been the case 40 years ago, but it sure as hell is the case now.

The manners are somewhate different. In MA if you're finished talking to someone you walk away ... somewhat offputting. But on the other hand when you are talking to someone you actuall listen to what they say and respond to it! In the South these days, not so much.

I would appreciate it if you'd do something about the accent tho. That is trying ...

BB-Idaho said...

Massachusetts is what Wisconsin was. ..and will be again when
Scott Walker moves on.

DerFarm said...

I moved to MA from AL about 3 years ago. I've spent most of my adult life in the Deep South (AL, SC, TN, TX) with brief sojourns to CA, MN, NM.

I can definitively state that the people in MA are nicer than those currently residing in the Old South. I don't know about 35-40 years ago, but it's the truth now.

I love it here. You can keep the debtor states. Let'em go.

DerFarm said...

PS - It WOULD be nice if you could change the accent tho.

That kinda sucks