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Thank God for Mississippi

"Thank God for Mississippi" is a common adage in the United States, particularly in the South, that is generally used when discussing rankings of U.S. states.[1] Since the state of Mississippi generally ranks near or (stereotypically) at the bottom of such rankings, residents of other states ranking near the bottom frequently proclaim, "Thank God for Mississippi", since the presence of that state in 50th place spares them of the shame of finishing in last place.[2] Examples include rankings of educational achievement,[3] overall health,[4] the poverty rate,[5] life expectancy or other objective criteria of the quality of life or government in the fifty states. The phrase is in use even among state government officials[6][7] and journalists,[8][9][10][11] though occasionally with a slight twist.[12][13][14] Mississippi's poor reputation is such a common trope in American culture that when Mississippi does indeed rank well in something, the phrase "Thank God for Mississippi" may get brought up just to discuss how it does not apply in the given circumstance.[15][16]

It is worth noting that while Mississippi may rank below all other U.S. states in many measures, and near the bottom in several others, it still fares very well in comparisons with other first-world countries; for instance, by purchasing power, Mississippi is richer than the United Kingdom,[17] and by raw GDP per capita, it ranks ahead of many other countries. As an example, its GDP per capita ($28,944) ranks above Saudi Arabia's ($24,454) and is more than double that of Russia ($12,926).[18][19]

History

The saying has been attributed since before the induction of Alaska and Hawaii as states in 1959,[20] and its use, while in use throughout the entire country, is especially common in Alabama,[21][22] which shares significant cultural and historical ties with its neighbor and former Mississippi Territory co-constituent Mississippi.[23][24] Its use is also noted in nearby Arkansas and other frequently low-ranking states such as New Mexico, West Virginia and Texas.[25][26][27][28][29][30]

The saying has become something of a cliché,[31] and has seen usage across the nation with regard to rankings both serious[32] and trivial,[33][34] and the underlying logic has been extrapolated to other states and even countries.[35]

See also

References

  1. ^ Key, V. O. Southern Politics in State and Nation. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1949. Print.
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  19. ^ Data mostly refers to IMF staff estimates for the year 2014, made in April 2015. World Economic Outlook Database-April 2015, International Monetary Fund. Accessed on 14 April 2015.
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