Leibowitz

This week we ponder the greatest mystery in the 110-year history of the Grand Canyon State.

No, not how does a noxious fraud like Kari Lake lead the Republican gubernatorial field in 2022, according to multiple polls. I’m talking about Arizona’s other great mystery.

Namely, if this state is such a wretched place to live — as proclaimed yet again recently by the folks at CNBC television — then why do so many people keep moving here?

My hypothesis follows, but first we should delve into CNBC’s analysis, released last week.

As the network tells it, “We put the states through an unprecedented 88 metrics in 10 categories of competitiveness,” all to crown America’s best states for business and 10 worst states in which to live.

On the positive side, Arizona ranked 34th for business. On the negative side, we’re dead last in states to call home.

CNBC correspondent Scott Cohn’s Arizona write-up started off with a super clever “it’s a dry heat” reference before knocking the state for having “some of the worst air quality in the nation,” which stresses our “poor health care system, short on hospital beds and staff.”

In a nod at balance, Scotty touted Arizona’s “stunning natural beauty and top-notch cultural and recreational attractions.” However, “that comes at a stiff price in America’s worst state to live in.”

I contacted Scott to discuss his hometown, the hippie dippie central California enclave of Santa Cruz. Just FYI, in Santa Cruz the average monthly rent on a studio apartment doubled over the last year to $2,500, according to the website Zumper.

 Santa Cruz’s violent crime rate is 31% higher than Arizona’s, according to the Best Places website, while the property crime rate is 12% higher.

Of course, all the maiming and stealing may be explained by Santa Cruz’s stratospheric cost of living — approximately double Arizona’s, according to Best Places.

Sadly, Scott did not get back to me before my deadline. I hope he’s OK, living in such a hellhole.

As far as the CNBC survey, I’m of two minds.

One, let’s hope the 100,000 people planning a move to Arizona this year read it and stay home. All that migration is driving up the cost of housing and goods, plus hurting everything from traffic to air quality to the wait time between holes on one of Arizona’s 500 golf courses.

Then there’s my other theory, which explains the mystery of Arizona being ranked so miserably, yet remaining so popular to new residents.

It’s simple: while CNBC’s “unprecedented 88 metrics” sound impressive, their made-up criteria have zero to do with why people choose a home.

Put simply, their analysis is all about the brain, crunching “empirical data,” while human beings choose homes with the heart.

When was the last time you asked someone, “Hey, what brought you to Arizona?” only to have them respond, “Well, I ranked my top choices on 88 metrics, like inclusiveness in state laws, including protections against discrimination of all kinds, as well as voting rights.”

People move to Arizona for exactly six reasons. A job. Family. The weather.

And also: the weather, the weather, the weather.

Cable networks can say what they want, but Arizona apparently has the essential qualities people seek in a home. Humans are fickle that way, falling in love with places for the oddest reasons.

 It’s the same with TV channels. Maybe that’s why CNBC ranks 44th in the TV ratings, right behind Nick Jr., and with half the audience of the Game Show Network.

I guess it’s tricky to outdraw Gene Rayburn and reruns of “Match Game” — even though Gene’s been dead since 1999. Apparently, fake state rankings aren’t doing the trick.