California may have the most residents, and Alaska the most land area, but for one online writer, it's the Bay State that comes out on top among the 50 states.
"The nation’s favorite punching bag is an exceptionally successful state," writes Mark Vanhoenacker, a New York writer and a Massachusetts native, in a column for the online magazine Slate.
Vanhoenacker argues that the state's success rests on education, social well-being, and economic strength.
"Some Americans believe good results on these metrics are the goals of responsible government, and others believe they’re the happy consequences of free markets. But however we get there, these are desirable outcomes for all Americans."
Vanhoenacker acknowledges at the start of his column that Massachusetts, for many people inside and outside the state, is everyone's favorite target of outrage against liberals.
"Massachusetts, in today’s political culture, is more epithet than state. The People’s Republic, Taxachusetts, 'Sweden'—this is America’s arugula-munching, maple syrup-swigging, receding-ponytail hippy uncle, exiled to its cold, lonely corner of American geography by Sunbelt population growth and a rightward-leaning national discourse."
However, he argues, the state's stellar educational resources, its heavy emphasis on social support, and its high average income per capita make Massachusetts the envy of the rest of the country.
"In fact, if America wants to be a healthy, smart, rich, globalized, high-tech powerhouse, we arguably have no better model than Massachusetts."