One of the conservative baloney machine's greatest triumphs has been to convince a sizable portion of the country that states such as Massachusetts (which I proudly call home) are decrepit urine-soaked wastelands whose streets are overflowing with junkies and hookers living inside million-dollar public housing units that are paid for on the backs of the few hard-working Real Americans who haven't fled for the greener pastures of Rick Perry's free market paradise down South. You've probably heard quite a bit about the "Texas Miracle" in the press a lot and I'm sure you'll be surprised to know that it's a longhorn-sized pile of poop.
First, let's just consider that the unemployment rate in the free-market paradise of Texas stands at a freedom-y 8.4 percent. For contrast, the unemployment rate in my socialist hellhole of Massachusetts stands at communist-like 7.6 percent. Poverty rates are also intriguing, since 10 percent of Massachusetts residents live below the poverty line while 15.8 percent of Texas residents live below the poverty line.
But that's not all! My evil job-killing state has the lowest rate of uninsured people in the country, at 5.3 percent. Texas, on the other hand, has left a whopping 27.1 percent of its population uninsured. I'm not sure what's quite so miraculous about not having access to health care but then again I'm just a commie pinko. What the hell do I know?
And there are other things too. Like, education. In Massachusetts, 85 percent of eighth graders scored at or above basic in the National Assessment of Educational Progress math exam, while 52 percent scored at or above proficient. Texas' eighth graders scored 78 percent at basic, 36 percent at proficient. You see a similar trend for reading: 83 percent of Massachusetts eighth graders scored at basic in reading, with 43 percent at proficient. In Texas, 73 percent of eighth graders scored at basic in reading while 27 percent scored at proficient.
"OK, OK," you say. "So Massachusetts has a better economy, education and health care than Texas. But all those big government programs are surely sapping Massholes of their precious moral values and leading to crime running rampant in the streets and a breakdown in family values! DON'T YOU READ DAVID BROOKS!?!!?!"
Yeah, sure, let's go there. Violent crime rate in Massachusetts is 432 per 100,000 people. In Texas it's 511 per 100,000 people. In Massachusetts the murder rate is 2.6 per 100,000 people. In Texas it's 5.4 per 100,000 people. The Massachusetts divorce rate is 1.8 per 1,000 people. The Texas divorce rate is 5.4 per 1,000. The teen pregnancy rate in Massachusetts is 49 per 1,000 women while in Texas it's 88 per 1,000 women.
The point of this post isn't to dump on Texas (although I admit I'm not fond of many of the politicians it elects), nor is it to insist that everyone in America become a Massachusetts liberal like me (though it would make me feel a lot saner). The point is to provide some, oh, I don't know, reality to claims that my state is a decaying crap dive that people are fleeing in droves to escape tyrannical taxation and deteriorating standards of living. In fact, it's actually a pretty nice place to live. Feel free to share this with your conservative relatives the next time you hear them ranting about how awful Massachusetts is -- it may not change their minds but it may at least get them to realize that Rush Limbaugh may not exactly know what he's talking about. And that's good enough for me at this point.