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Defining 'misery' by standards that really count
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The Central Valley - according to the insightful people at Forbes who pride themselves on catching business trends but somehow were asleep at the wheel when the Wall Street Turks used sleight of hand and unadulterated greed to crash the economy - is hell on earth.

The magazine's list of the most miserable cities in the United States included four from the Central Valley in the top five. Stockton led the parade followed by Miami, Merced, Modesto and Sacramento.

You'll notice the five cities have something in common besides high unemployment rates, foreclosures, and - in some cases - high crime rates. Residents of all five cities can actually see the sun this week as opposed to snow drifts halfway up to roofs.

Detroit, on the other hand, did not make the top five. Its crime rate is off the hook as criminals actually walk into police stations and start shooting officers for no apparent reason. Their unemployment rate has been in the toilet for years and the lowest priced foreclosure home in Detroit sells for $1 by banks eager to unload turkeys. Compare that to $45,000 that was the lowest for a similar foreclosed home in South Stockton.

And the last time I checked Stockton Mayor Ann Johnston wasn't promoting a plan to level a fourth of Stockton and convert it to farmland as Detroit is considering. Stockton actually built 108 new homes in 2010 and 120 new homes in 2009.

Of course, one would think Detroit's future is bright if you're a big business magazine because it is home of the Semi Big Two and Mini Me - GM, Ford, and Chrysler.

Misery, of course, is subjective.

If you're unemployed and having your house foreclosed you're going to be miserable whether you are in Stockton or The Hamptons. Whoops, sorry about that; the people in the Hamptons don't lose jobs. They cause other people to lose their jobs by overvaluing companies and selling them like trading cards while ignoring long-term and stable returns in favor of getting even richer quicker.

The folks at Forbes will tell you they were "objective" as they took economic and social data and plugged it into a model and went to town.

Hey, can't argue with "the facts" can we?

In the spirit of "statistics," I offer up my own list of the most miserable cities to live in based on the concentration of people who make greedy and unethical decisions to destroy companies, put people out of work and ship jobs overseas to expand short-term profit, and impose tons of regulations and taxes to create unfriendly economic climates for businesses as well as people just trying to survive.

So based on that here are the top five most miserable cities in the United States in reverse order:

5. Charlotte, North Carolina. The city is corporate home to a boatload of financial giants who used about as much due diligence processing mortgages as Bonnie and Clyde did using honest labor to build personal wealth.

4. Sacramento. Hey, it's a nice town except that it houses the California Legislature and the bureaucracy they've created. If you want real misery just live anywhere in California that is governed by rules and regulations adopted by the three-ring circus known as the California Senate, California Assembly and California governor's office.

3. Any place in New Jersey. Sorry, but after watching just one show of "Jersey Shore" that state defines misery.

2. Washington, D.C. Ronald Reagan said it best when he noted the scariest words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

1. New York City. They've got everything. Chief executive officers with annual compensation larger than the state budget of Rhode Island, young Turks who just care about amassing the most money to get their expensive toys regardless of how it ruins honest hardworking people, and it is home to Wall Street where everything of value is squandered on bigger bonuses, bigger houses, and bigger muscle cars. Of course, folks at Forbes would probably say such things are the building blocks of happiness.

Given that, I'd rather take solace in the Central Valley being home to miserable cities according to Forbes than to be a part of places where people are "happy" to destroy anything necessary to make more and more money at all costs.