Ranking The Smartest To Dumbest States... And Vice Versa

Tyler Durden's picture

If judging a state's intellectual capacity can be quantified by the percentage of the population with higher education (or the street smarts to garner student loans... to gain a degree of course because anything else would be illegal), then the District of Columbia ranks as the 'smartest' while Mississippi and West Virginia rank as the 'dumbest'. Perhaps most notable is that 52% of US Graduates are either employed with jobs that don't require a degree or are unemployed.

(click image for large legible version for those with or without a bachelor's degree who are confused)



Of course, one can read the chart upside down as there are those who will, somewhat rightfully, say that spending tens of thousands for a framed piece of paper is the opposite of "smart" and as such the ranking should be inverted, with the (street) smart West Virginians at the top, while the DC career-track bound exhibiting lost in book smarts with little understanding of what the phrase "debt slave" really means.

One thing is certain: as we showed two months ago, the largest average student loan balance of over $40,000 is held by D.C. students. And another certain thing: a record high 25% of all Washington D.C. student have student loans.

Borrowers as share of population:

Student loans balances per borrower:

So the question is: all those university degrees and all those student loans - are they parlayed into well paying jobs that generate a return on the loan investment, or in the pursuit of the great government handout, are all of these loans merely used to purchase Made in China trinkets and gizmos, with the great subsequent white (and not so white) hope being that sooner or later, all student debt will be extinguished.

Because after all, isn't forgiveness of all obligations, liabilities and responsibiities the real (and fair) new (normal) American way?

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Meatballs's picture

Too bad having a BA has nothing to do with being smart. Goes for plenty of MBA's I know as well.

duo's picture

MBA stands for "Me Better than Anyone".  If you can't handle "Introduction to Intellectual Superiority 501", business school isn't for you.

ratso's picture

The bar graph goes a long way to explaining the red state - blue state divide.

 i just never realized the role that education plays in politcal choices before

NotApplicable's picture

Education? I think you mean "Reconstruction."

Also, college is where stupid people go to get a piece of paper that says it doesn't matter.

knukles's picture

Role Indoctrination Plays....

ACP's picture

Or "higher indoctrination."

The socialist garbage has convinced people that college is necessary. They get to indoctrinate kids AND charge them up the ass. Wow! Win-win!

TheEdelman's picture

MBA is the best 90k (w/o int.) you'll ever spend.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Never, ever forget that the Soviets were the best "educated" people on earth.

The proper word for higher education is, of course, indoctrination.

ratso's picture

Yeah, those readin' types are really dangerous.

James_Cole's picture

The thing I've noticed about education is, the countries with the least amount of public education are usually the most advanced and often come up with the best technology. Pretty sure this is true.

Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.

-George Carlin

economics9698's picture

Education is bullshit fairy tales.  

James_Cole's picture

Education is bullshit fairy tales.  

I know right?? I'm so sick of these "educated" types telling me fairy tales like Earth goes around the sun, inventing devices like computers (who even uses those??) or tellin' me what compounds are toxic, why I'm sick, how to calculate velocity, sending people into space... it just never ends!

Enough with the bullshit fair tales, just give me my Bible - that's the only education my children need!

Meat Hammer's picture

People confuse knowledge with wisdom.  While both are important, the latter is much more essential to a free society.  

TrulyBelieving's picture

And even more essiential for a free society is moral character, something not learned in college. Nor taught.

Scarlett's picture



Yet does not mean there's no space for books

Prince Eugene of Savoy's picture

Interesting that you sarcastically choose Earth around the Sun to support the cause of higher education. Then you go on to ignorantly denigrate religion.

Copernicus formulated the heliocentric model of the universe which placed the Sun, rather than the Earth, at the center.

His book published just before his death in 1543, is considered a major event in the history of science. This began the Copernican Revolution and contributed greatly to advancements in science.

Copernicus, born and died in Royal Prussia of the Kingdom of Poland, had a doctorate in CANON LAW and without degrees was a mathematician, astronomer, physician, polyglot, classics scholar, translator, governor, diplomat, and economist who in 1517 set down a quantity theory of money, a principal concept in economics to the present day, and formulated a version of Gresham's law in the year 1519 before Gresham.

Schmuck indeed.

tango's picture

James Cole - You took too many trips in the time machine. The thing I've noticed about education is, the countries with the least amount of public education are usually the most advanced and often come up with the best technology.  


Factually you could not be more wrong.   There is a direct correlation between an educated citizenry and a society's prosperity.   It was true for America in the 19th century when free public education made us one of the most literate and wealthy societies on Earth.  It was true for Japan, Korea and most of Europe - areas utterly devastated after war (and now leader in science and technology.

As further proof, how many inventions, new medicines, patents, and game changers come from the Middle East, Central or South America or Africa?  Everything benefitting those nations - water purification systems, tractors, solar energy, desalinizaton plants, increased crop production (not to mention the electronic revolution) - originated in nations with public education systems.  

Our problem is that the emphasis is not on academics.  Years ago it was predicted that because the US did not enforce rigorous standards, had the shortest academic year of any industrialized nation and began social engineering in the classroom our nation would suffer.  Today, that has come true.   But the answer is not a society of illiterates. 



James_Cole's picture

I was joking, but can understand how you'd miss the sarcasm as there are many dumbasses on here who legitimately think public education should be abolished.

To my mind the *ONLY* useful thing the human race has achieved is an accumulation of knowledge. Empires come and go, temples rise and fall, currencies die, an ounce of gold is still an ounce of gold - only thing that has truly grown in value over time is knowledge. 

At this point the human species is increasingly looking like a failed experiment, only possibility out of that I see is widespread education. Public education being likely the best way to achieve it - proven over hundreds of years of practice. 

And sure, public education has many flaws, but what system doesn't? 

Eisenhorn's picture

The guy I work for is a Princeton grad with an MBA.

I spend most of my days explaining to our c-suite clients that we aren't really going to do what he suggests and then providing them with viable and sustainable compliance practices.

Oh, I don't have a degree.  I have reputation instead which lets me charge a large hourly rate for consulting services.



SilverRhino's picture

Same here.   

Oh? You're going to install that enterprise wide compliance toolset that way?   Are you SURE you want to do that??? 

And they LISTEN.  :) 


Picking apart and detroying a MBA or PhD's academic theories / implementation plans pays well.  :) 


merizobeach's picture

"MBA is the best 90k (w/o int.) you'll ever spend."

That's a load of shit, and you ought to be smart enough to know it.  If you think credentials matter, then at least get a PhD because there's no higher standard.  A scientist friend of mine said that finishing his PhD was the best investment he had made because now all doors are open to him, but he was referring to his time investment of four years researching, as well as being self-taught in Japanese, and he certainly paid a lot less than US$90K at U of Hokkaido.  I guess when you're legitimately smart, you get invited and subsidized (grants) to study at schools.  If not, you pay 90 large for another factory-produced degree that is not an indication of intelligence or competence.

tango's picture

Anyone can find exceptions to any statements but as a rule, an MBA is an extremely worthwhile investment since it's not simply a pathway to a job but an opportunity to learn the business of business.   The idea that education or an educated citizenry is bad is probably the dumbest idea to come down the pike in a long time.  It was America's unique public education system that made this nation in the 19th century the most literate on Earth.  I, too, was a consultant without an MBA but ONLY because I had a degree from Vanderbilt, years in the system and a reputation.  When I retired early (age 54) I realized a new breed was coming along that would eventually surpass me and my pals. 

Jefferson said it best when he remarked that an educated citizenry was vital to the success of the nation.  

Jumbotron's picture

90k spent on tools, seed, good soil and the time and sweat needed to teach yourself sustainability is the best 90k you'll ever spend.

(Just make sure the seed is not from Monsanto).

There...fixed it for ya !

tango's picture

Right, because a nation of folks living off the land leaves lots of time for unimportant things like scientific research, creating medicines and medical devices, devising ways to solve the fossil fuel problem or plain old travel.   I don't mind if folks want to spend all day at the farm  (I own a small one myself) but we should recognize that when specialization ends, so does progress.  Discretionary time and money is what allows societies to advance and prosper because specialization flourishes. Personally, I don't want to make my own clothes, slaughter my own pigs, plow the fields, pick cotton or shuck corn all day.  

But there's machines for that?  True, they were invented by those who had the discretionary time and capital to research, test and produce the things we need.  My parents were of the era where any type of work other than physical was not "real" work (until I became a software consultant then suddenly it was real - LOL)

chumbawamba's picture

Degree holders are basically educated morons.  Look at the top chart and witness the concentration in Washington, D.C. [not a state but a district].

I rest my case.

I am Chumbawamba.

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Welcome back welcome back welcome back (to the tune of Welcome back Kotter)

Never One Roach's picture

I hope they do the "Fair Thing."


What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine.

dtwn's picture

Hmmmm, the South is both highly indebted, and stupid.

Roandavid's picture

It also has a high percentage of black people and latinos.

PiratePawpaw's picture

Texas is still  the most heavily armed.



Scarlett's picture

YEAH,  Texas seems just fine.  Sad for the others, though.  


Time to secede.  

Abbie Normal's picture

Is it my eyes or does the state below NH read as Vagina?

ChanceIs's picture

No.  You just don't get it.  I got sucked into the DC area after my masters back in '85.  DC does what Hillary so deplores about what the medical industry allegedly does - restict supply via the education hurdle to keep rates for docs high.

You don't get hired in DC w/o things piled high and deep.  You also don't get hired unless you are a minority.  Oh. You can get hired if you are a slave for a minority owned small business.

Competence isn't important.  Unfortunately it is also rare - which backs up your major point.

It is a big game. The government will pay big bucks for a lot of analysis - some of it actually pretty good.  Then at the topmost echelons, the analysis will be shelved and the real calculation of political impact takes place.

This is not unlike being a risk manager for a major bank which was pondering leveraging itself with subprime back in '05.  Lots of articles recently about no global warming increase in the last ten years.  But "The Man" thinks it is an issue.  So it is an issue, and you beter say that it is an issue.  Same thing with coal and the EPA. 

musket's picture

The gov't will pay for analysis....and its usually a boatload of cash.  The real problem comes in when they do not listen to the analyst who prepared the postion document and go of on their merry way with their own preconceived answer and course of action.

Flakmeister's picture

You seem to get off harrassing people..

This may be Fight Club, but get the fuck out my face. You have been warned asshole... 


DaddyO's picture

I'd say someone has an itch under their skin and it's getting worse by the post...


Parrotile's picture

Subdermal itch? Scabies?? Even THAT's getting difficult to treat these days - http://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/2010/ectoparasitic.htm !!

Ident 7777 economy's picture

To: Flakmeister

Breathe deep, little man ...

francis_sawyer's picture

Flakmeister ~ Who the fuck said I was talking to you?...

S5936's picture

A guilty conscience needs no accuser.

Debt-Is-Not-Money's picture

"The government will pay big bucks for a lot of analysis..."

With great emphasis on the anal.

ejmoosa's picture

The more educated you are the more likely you are to operate inside the acceptable level of parameters the experts have told you was allowed.


The parameters keep shrinking and shrinking our range of freedom.

Captain Kink's picture

And that is the problem.  I dont think Ive heard it put so succintly.  thank you.  



tango's picture

But what he said was simply an opinion you agreed with.  It may be true but I seriously doubt anyone can "prove" such a statement unless one was already inclined to believe it.   The idea that the more education one receives is somehow dangerous is actually quite common in history.   The Church has repeatedly banned learning as has Islam.  Ancient states only educated royalty and modern dictatorships centered their education on the party faithful.  It is telling that the first thing the Soviets and Nazis did after conquering a country was to go after the intellectuals, teachers and thinkers.  

tango's picture

This new attitude toward education is perhaps the most disturbing trend on ZH.  The idea that we should celebrate ignorance or that education is "evil" and leads to bad things is absurd.  Our Founders stressed the importance of a well-educated and well-informed citizenry.  Many were scientists themselves or supported scientific research.  

When nations become education they get rich.  The US with its unique public education in the 19th century, Japan, Korea, China, India.   Nations that were once hallmarks for poor education are now leading the technical world.  If folks think education is so bad they should travel to the Middle East or Africa or Central America where the emphasis is NOT on education and see how those areas do.  

It is impossible to innovate, create and advance without knowledge of how the universe operates or a knowledge of history. 

akak's picture

Actually, the problem lies not with true and honest education itself, but in the increasingly pure propaganda and rigid orthodoxy which has come to be considered "education".