Some of you must be thinking that Arizona is the dumbest state in the USA, especially following this week’s Republican primary election results. Joe Arpaio, the 84-year-old Maricopa Country Sheriff who, to quote Wikipedia, “has been accused of abuse of power, misuse of funds, failure to investigate sex crimes, improper clearance of cases, unlawful enforcement of immigration laws, and election law violations, among others,” easily beat his Republican primary challenger. How intelligent could Arizona voters be to nominate him again?
A federal judge has also recommended to the federal prosecutors that Joe Arpaio be criminally prosecuted for contempt of court, and a federal court monitor has been appointed to monitor his office. If he is indicted by the time of the general election, will he still be re-elected as Sheriff of Maricopa County? Probably he will be. OK, but that still does not prove that Arizona Republicans are the dumbest Republicans in the country.
Scandal-tainted Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu won the Republican nomination for Arizona’s First Congressional District despite having been accused of extortion after threatening his Mexican boyfriend with deportation in order to conceal the fact that Paul Babeu is gay. Yes, Arizona Republicans nominated an accused extortionist to represent us in Congress. I imagine that if I looked hard enough, I could find another state in which Republicans do things just as stupid.
Then there is our state economic policy, designed to make it as cheap as possible for low-wage employers to locate in this state. We’re a big competitor when it comes to jobs in warehouses, call centers, fast food joints, hotels, etc. These industries are attracted by Arizona’s rock-bottom business tax rates. Of course, with such low taxes, there is not enough money to repair streets, roads, bridges, etc.
What about good-paying jobs in the tech industry? Arizona used to have those, but most of them have moved away. It turns out that firms that pay good wages need more than low taxes and eternal sunshine to attract them. They need an educated workforce, and the average educational level in Arizona is dismal. High-tech firms want good schools for their employees’ children to attend, and good schools are almost as rare in Arizona as polar bears. We are so obsessed with lowering taxes on fly-by-night businesses that there is not enough money to educate children.
And yet, Arizona’s governor and state legislator continue to claim to be business friendly. They are business friendly, but only to the types of businesses that most states would gladly see go somewhere else. Payday and title loan companies are located every few blocks on the main thoroughfares of Phoenix.
But wait, these things may make us a dumb state, but they don’t necessarily make us the dumbest state in the nation. Although I have trouble proving it, I maintain that there are states whose population is even dumber than Arizona’s. Let me cite some statistics.
Take education. We are certainly not at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to educating our kids. A WalletHub study of all 50 states found that three states plus the District of Columbia have worse education systems than Arizona. Nevada, Louisiana, and New Mexico all do a poorer job at educating kids than we do. See? We are not on the bottom!
Then there’s the matter of intelligence. Even if our education sucks, perhaps we are naturally intelligent. It turns out that according to a Washington Post study of intelligence, there are lots of states whose population is dumber than Arizona’s. Well, by lots, I mean nine. North Carolina, Louisiana, West Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Nevada (of course), and Hawaii all scored lower than Arizona on intelligence.
So, the next time you think about bad-mouthing Arizona’s cognitively-challenged politics, please remember that we are not dead last on intelligence. Oh, and to show that you are intelligent, consider buying one of my books. Click on a cover image in the left sidebar for more information.