Thank God for Mississippi

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"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 U.S. state of Mississippi commonly (or stereotypically) ranks at or near the bottom of such rankings, residents of other states ranking near the bottom may proclaim, "Thank God for Mississippi", since the presence of that state in 50th place spares them the shame of finishing in last place.[2]

Examples include rankings of educational achievement, overall health,[3] the poverty rate,[4] 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[5][6] and journalists,[7][8][9][10] though occasionally with a slight twist.[11][12][13]

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.[14][15]

Territories of the United States sometimes have rankings worse than Mississippi; for example, Mississippi had a poverty rate of 21.9%, while American Samoa had a poverty rate of 65%.[16][17]

History[edit]

The saying has been attributed since before the induction of Alaska and Hawaii as states in 1959,[18] and its use, while found throughout the entire country, is especially common in Alabama,[19][20] which shares significant cultural and historical ties with its neighbor and former Mississippi Territory co-constituent Mississippi.[21][22] Its use is also noted in nearby Arkansas and other frequently low-ranking states such as Kentucky, West Virginia and Texas.[23][24][25][26]

The saying has become something of a cliché,[27] and has seen usage across the nation with regard to rankings both serious[28] and trivial,[29][30] and the underlying logic has been extrapolated to other states and even countries.[31]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Key, V. O. Southern Politics in State and Nation. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1949. Print.
  2. ^ "'Thank God for Mississippi' - Church World Service". Hunger.cwsglobal.org. April 26, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  3. ^ "TGFM: La. second unhealthiest state - The Independent Media Group". Theind.com. December 8, 2010. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  4. ^ Povich, Elaine S. (October 7, 2010). "Arkansas: Battle for the Statehouse, Governor Election - AARP Bulletin". Aarp.org. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  5. ^ "Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe". Governor.arkansas.gov. January 11, 2011. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  6. ^ "Fiscal Input Report" (PDF). Nmlegis.gov. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  7. ^ "Alabama and Mississippi all alone in food-tax policy". Archive.decaturdaily.com. April 30, 2007. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  8. ^ Budd McLaughlin. "Good news for Alabama business | al.com". Blog.al.com. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  9. ^ "Is "Thank God For Mississippi Or Arkansas" Finally Behind Us? On West Kentucky Journal". Westkyjournal.com. October 10, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  10. ^ Stiglitz, Joseph E. "Joe Wilson does other politically challenged states a favor. - Slate Magazine". Slate.com. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  11. ^ "Thank god for Mississippi (County). - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. August 23, 2004. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  12. ^ Brantley, Max (April 7, 2011). "Thank God for Mississippi | Arkansas Blog". Arktimes.com. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  13. ^ "Congo: Africa's "Thank God for Mississippi"". Radar Online. October 27, 2008. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  14. ^ Larry J. Sabato and Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley. "'Thank God for Mississippi!'". POLITICO Magazine.
  15. ^ "Which states are the best (and worst) at vaccinating their kids". The Washington Post.
  16. ^ https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/cb15-157.html "Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the U.S.: 2014". Census.gov. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  17. ^ http://www.pireport.org/articles/2017/03/02/american-samoa-governor-says-small-economies-cannot-afford-any-reduction Pireport.org. American Samoa Governor Says Small Economies Cannot Afford Any Reduction In Medicaid. Fili Sagapolutele. 03/02/2017. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  18. ^ Popik, Barry (October 11, 2008). "The Big Apple: "Thank God for Mississippi" ("Thank Heaven for Mississippi")". Barrypopik.com. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  19. ^ Zengerle, Jason. "Mississippi Is For . . . Education?". New Republic. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  20. ^ Brooks, Thomas R. "In Alabama: A County of Hope". Washington Evening Star. p. 152. Alabamans have a saying: 'Thank God for Mississippi, or we'd be the poorest state in the nation.'
  21. ^ "Thank God for Mississippi". Capstone Report. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  22. ^ "Thank God for Mississippi | This Bird's View". Thisbirdsview.wordpress.com. February 17, 2011. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  23. ^ "Letter from the President | Arkansas' Independent Colleges & Universities". Arkindcolleges.org. March 13, 2012. Archived from the original on June 23, 2013. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  24. ^ Tim Murphy (February 1, 2011). "West Virginia Legislator Hatches Plan to Secede". Mother Jones. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  25. ^ "Now in Mississippi: Four S's, Four I's, And a Dollop of P.R". Washingtonpost.com. December 3, 2006. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  26. ^ Cluth, Jack (January 11, 2009). "The (might as well be official) Texas state motto: "Thank God for Mississippi"". What Would Jack Do. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  27. ^ "Arkansas 4th Most Pro-Life State in the Nation". Family Council. January 25, 2011. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  28. ^ Cluth, Jack (January 11, 2009). "The (might as well be official) Texas state motto: "Thank God for Mississippi"". What Would Jack Do. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  29. ^ "What Is the State Motto of New Mexico?". Wisegeek.com. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  30. ^ "Thank God for Mississippi - Santa Fe - Live, Work, Play, Stay". Santa Fe. August 17, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  31. ^ "How the UK compares to other Europeans on poverty". Liberal Conspiracy. January 17, 2013. Retrieved May 13, 2013.