PHIL WIELAND: We're not the happiest, but it could be worse

2013-03-15T00:00:00Z PHIL WIELAND: We're not the happiest, but it could be worseBy Phil Wieland nwitimes.com
March 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

If you think of the region as something less than paradise on Earth, apparently you are not alone or even in the minority.

In a recent Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index poll, Indiana in general and the region in particular ranked only slightly north of the opposite of Paradise, which, according to the poll, might be West Virginia, Kentucky and Mississippi.

Indiana (42nd), Ohio (44th) and Oklahoma (41st) were the only states in the bottom 11 that were not part of the Confederacy. Apparently they are still recovering from Sherman's march. Virginia (14th) is the only former Confederate state in the top 26.

(Texas is 27th, but they are all egomaniacs and probably should really be below Indiana.)

The Gallup people asked 353,564 people in 189 metropolitan areas during 2012 to rate their current life situation and how they expect it to be in five years. Categories included their mental and physical health and well-being, their work environment, their "basic access" to things like food, shelter and health care, and whether they felt they lived in a safe, satisfying place.

The survey came to three main conclusions: (1) Lincoln, Neb., is the happiest city in the nation, (2) Hawaii is the happiest state and (3) calling people and asking them silly questions, probably during dinner, is a lot more fun than working for a living.

I've never been to Lincoln, Neb., but watching a couple of episodes of "Tornado Chasers" ought to cure any urge to move there. Hawaii is certainly lovely, if you don't mind being hip deep in lava half the time.

I'm only surprised Indiana ranked that high. When you have state legislators who want to require the Lord's Prayer in the schools and protect us from imaginary conspiracies to eliminate meat from our tables, we might have qualified for the first lower-than-50 ranking.

If you lump us in with Chicago, we finish an almost respectable 87th as a metropolitan area, but Gallup describes the area as "Chicago-Naperville-Joliet." However, it also lists the area as covering Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.

A better indication is the ranking by congressional district. I don't think it's a reflection on Rep. Pete Visclosky personally, but his district ranks 305th in the nation of 436 (for those who don't know how many representatives there are).

The only consolation is the district ranks higher than all but a couple others in the state. Overall, Indiana's best category ranking was 16th for work environment. "Basic access" (29th) was the only other one where Indiana finished higher than 41st.

This might not be Paradise, however at least it's not West Virginia, Kentucky or Mississippi. But we're working on it.

The opinions are those of the writer. He can be reached at phil.wieland@nwi.com or (219) 548-4352.

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