Motley Fool Answers is about to take you on a cross-country tour around America, and even to a few countries abroad.

Well, not really. But Alison Southwick, Robert Brokamp, and Rick Engdahl explore how this country's many states rank in terms of key financial figures. Did you know, for example, that Maryland boasts the highest average income among the 50? And that Hawaii is the healthiest state? Alison, Robert, and Rick discuss these, plus other fascinating nuggets, in this episode. Meanwhile, they also talk a bit about how effectively to benchmark stock investments, and they weigh in on what some people in foreign lands think of Americans.

A full transcript follows the video.

This podcast was recorded on June 28, 2016.

Alison Southwick: This is Motley Fool Answers. I am Alison Southwick, and I am joined, as always, by Robert Brokamp, personal-finance expert here at The Motley Fool. How are you doing, Bro?

Robert Brokamp: Just groovy, Alison. How are you?

Southwick: I'm doing good. I'm excited. I really love America.

Brokamp: So do I.

Southwick: Like, I actually tear up every time I go to a baseball game and they play the national anthem. I just get choked up, so this is a great episode for me, because America! America is a diverse country, and I'm not just talking about the people, but also the topography, the climates, the little microeconomies. This country has something for everyone! Mountains, beaches, plains, deserts, you name it. Cities, suburbs. Weird little artist communities where people do macrame in the nude. We've got that! I assume. I don't have to show it.

Brokamp: I was going to say. Where is this place?

Southwick: But what spot in America is truly the best for living a wealthy, healthy, Foolish life? Well, we're going to tackle that question. We'll also answer your question about how to judge your investment returns. All that and more on this week's episode of Motley Fool Answers.

It's time for "Answers, Answers" and today's question comes from Jordan. Jordan writes: "Brokamp mentioned a couple of months ago that most individual investors actually lose money in the stock market because when markets drop, many people sell everything at a loss and call it quits. My question is simple. How should I judge my investment returns?"

Jordan continues: "When I started investing, my goal was to make a profit and then I shifted to a loftier goal of beating the S&P 500. I figured if I couldn't beat the S&P, I may as well be fully invested in ETFs." Jordan's wondering if aiming for returns above the S&P is a good goal for the average investor.

Brokamp: Hello, Jordan. I'm not sure I said most investors lose money. I'm certain I said that most investors actually underperform the market, as do most mutual fund managers. You're asking a great question. You're asking, essentially, "If I'm going to be picking individual stocks, how do I make sure I'm beating the market, because otherwise ..."

Southwick: Why bother?

Brokamp: "... why don't I just invest in the market and go find other things to do with my time?" It's actually a little more difficult to do than you might think, partially because people often make multiple purchases of the same stock, and then there's a question of what you do with the dividends.

Let's look at a very simple example. Let's say you just bought Berkshire Hathaway stock. Just made one purchase and held it for 10 years. It would be pretty easy to compare that to the overall market.

But what if you made 10 purchases over 10 years, and five of those beat the market, but five didn't because you didn't buy at the right time? Does that make you a good stock picker, or not?

Then there's the question of dividends. If you have a stock that pays a dividend, like [Coca-Cola], Wal-Mart, or something like that, and you look up the performance of that stock on a site like Morningstar or Yahoo! Finance, it assumes that you are reinvesting the dividends. But a lot of people don't. They either spend that cash or just let it sit there in cash.

So really the best thing to do is to take the value of your entire stock portfolio -- including the cash -- and let's say that account is maybe worth $30,000. Create a mock portfolio account using an online service like the Fool's scorecard, or Morningstar, or Yahoo! Finance. Then all you're going to do is put into that your benchmark. Most people do choose the S&P 500, so you just put in there "SPY," which is SPY. It's an ETF that tracks the S&P 500. That's the only thing that's going to be in that benchmark. You're going to put that $30,000 in there.

Any time you add money to your actual portfolio, you also add money to this mock benchmark portfolio. If you take money out, the same way. Because then you're not looking just at the individual investments. You're looking at the growth of the value of the portfolio, and that's really what's important. You want to know if this account is growing at the same rate as if you had just put all that money in the S&P 500.

A lot of people will look at their portfolios and look at their individual holdings (for example, individual stocks), and say that maybe seven of them are beating the market, but three aren't, and feel pretty good about that. But if the three that are underperforming actually had more money in them, you actually may not be keeping up with the S&P 500.

Another thing some people will do is they will look at their stocks and compare them to the S&P 500, but they don't factor in the cash that they have in their accounts, and that's an important part of your overall return and your decisions as an investor. Do I let that cash sit there, or do I invest it?

That's why I like comparing the actual value of the whole account versus some mock portfolio online, because it also keeps you accountable for your decisions of keeping some money in cash, because you want to play it safe, or being fully invested.

Southwick: So the SPY is the way to go, and that's essentially the S&P.

Brokamp: That's the S&P 500. The S&P 500 -- we've talked about this in previous episodes -- is an index of large-company stocks, 500 stocks. The overall stock market has thousands of stocks. I think what's really a better benchmark is the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF -- the symbol is VTI -- because that includes some mid-caps and some small caps. But most people do compare themselves to the S&P 500, so I think that's fine to do.

Southwick: And I think on the Motley Fool scorecard, it automatically will compare at least every individual investment. I know there have been many times when I've looked to see how my stocks have done, and I've thought, "Oh, look! I'm doing awesome." Then it says "compared to the S&P," and I then go wah-wah.

Brokamp: Wah-wah.

Southwick: But that's OK.

Brokamp: And you have to look at it over a longer period of time. Some people say three years. I think it almost has to be longer -- over five years. We've talked before about how small stocks beat large stocks over the long term. That's not been the case over the last five years, so you might be a really good picker of small-cap stocks, but you won't look so good, compared to the S&P 500, if all you do is focus on the last few years. If you look over the last 10 years and you still haven't beaten the S&P 500, then maybe you don't have what it takes.

Southwick: Aw!

Brokamp: Aw!

Southwick: Sorry.

Brokamp: Buy the index funds, go out, and have fun. Do other things with your time.

Southwick: There you go. Everybody wins.

Just Google the term "best places to live," and everyone has their own opinion. Kiplinger, for example, says that South Dakota is the best place to retire. Woof! No offense, but, well, actually some offense. I think we can do better than South Dakota, and we're going to use science and stats to determine the best place to live a healthy, wealthy, and Foolish life.

The reason why Kiplinger picked South Dakota was mostly for how far your money will go. It's a cheap place to live. But if we're being honest, when there is literally nothing for you to do but freeze your tuchas off, how happy is that pile of money going to make you, outside of setting it on fire? So, again, sorry, not sorry, South Dakota.

Brokamp: Have you been to South Dakota?

Southwick: No, but one of my favorite people in the world is from South Dakota. Amber.

Brokamp:It's a beautiful state. Mount Rushmore.

Southwick: I know. That's what they said in their write-up. They're like, "Hey, and your family can come visit you at Mount Rushmore," and I'm like, "One time!" I know, Rick just held up his finger and said "one time," and I was like, "That's right. They'll want to come visit you one time."

Brokamp: Yeah.

Southwick: It is a big state. Is it really pretty?

Brokamp: Yes. It's very mountainous. If you like the mountains, then yes, it's a beautiful state.

Southwick: Are they nice mountains?

Brokamp: If you like beaches, it's not a beautiful state.

Southwick: I'm from Idaho, and we've got mountains in Idaho.

Rick Engdahl: There are other states with better mountains.

Southwick: Yeah. There are other better mountains out there.

Brokamp: If you say so.

Southwick: Man!

Brokamp: I'm just trying to help her. I'm just trying to ...

Southwick: Robert Brokamp, brought to you by the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce.

Brokamp: I'm just trying to hold on to the five South Dakota listeners we have.

Southwick: That's true. I'm sorry. You're all good people. I love the people of South Dakota. But it's a cold place to live.

Brokamp: It is a cold place to live.

Southwick: So here's what we're going to look at. We're going to look at the research that we think matters, and that starts with looking at per-capita income. Why does this matter, Bro?

Brokamp: Well, I think one thing, being a financial podcast, as we are, is we would like to highlight starting with just plain old money. Where can you live to make a decent living? We looked at per-household income, and the top five states as of 2014, according to the Census Bureau, are Maryland, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Connecticut, and -- this is somewhat controversial -- D.C. OK, it's not really a state, but they did include it. If you took that one out, the fifth state would be Alaska.

Southwick: All right.

Brokamp: And D.C. and Maryland, of course, are related. Maryland has a lot of its wealth tied up to being a suburb of Washington, D.C. That's part of why Virginia is No. 8 on the list. Alaska, due in large part to the oil industry.

What I think is interesting is Maryland is No. 1. Household income average of $76,000. You may recall a study from a few years ago out of Princeton that found that to the degree that money buys happiness, $75,000 was the limit, because that takes care of all your needs.

Southwick: Oh!

Brokamp: Once you start making money beyond that ...

Southwick: It's just gravy?

Brokamp: It's just gravy. And this is from 2008-2009, so if we adjusted it for inflation, it would be a little closer to $80,000.

Engdahl: I really like gravy.

Brokamp: There you go. Says the guy from Maryland, by the way. The resident from Maryland. I just think it's interesting that no state has an average-per-household income at that level of happiness.

Southwick: And if we look at the bottom of the list ...

Brokamp: Yeah. At the bottom of the list you're looking at Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama, West Virginia, and Mississippi. And we're talking $42,000 or so for Kentucky, down to Mississippi for $35,000.

Southwick: But, of course, income isn't the whole story, because high income might not be enough to pay for the higher cost of living in some of these states, so what's the next stat we're going to look at, Bro?

Brokamp: And as people who live in the D.C. area, we can point to what this is.

Southwick: It's expensive.

Brokamp: It's expensive. If you did include D.C. as a state, it is the most expensive state to live in.

Southwick: Oh!

Brokamp: Metro regions -- I think New York and San Francisco have got us beat, but it's pretty expensive. So we're going to look at a study from Gallup, as well as an organization called Healthways, and what they did is determine financial well-being, so it's not just income, but whether your income covers important things. They had different criteria for their list.

First of all, enough money to buy food, so comparing your income to the average cost of eating. Enough money for healthcare. Enough money to do everything you want. I'd be curious how they define "everything," but it's nice.

Southwick: Yeah, because there are a lot of things I would like to do.

Brokamp: Exactly. Macrame in the nude, for example.

Southwick: I've heard. I'm telling you.

Brokamp: Other criteria. In the last seven days, have you worried about money? And then -- I thought this one was interesting -- whether, compared to the people you spend time with, you are satisfied with your standard of living? So I guess you look at the people around you and feel like you are doing the same as those folks, as opposed to looking around and seeing a lot of people who are doing better than you and maybe you're not so satisfied.

Southwick: Right. And we've talked about that, also, in the past. Like when you hang out with people that have more money than you, you just start trying to keep up with the Joneses and all that stuff.

Brokamp: So according to this well-being index, the top five states for financial well-being are Hawaii, Alaska, North Dakota, Wyoming, and South Dakota.

Southwick: I don't know. I'm suddenly skeptical of this study. Hawaii and Alaska are extremely expensive places to live. I mean, at least Hawaii is. I assume stuff is not cheap in Alaska, either.

Brokamp: I thought about that, especially in terms of Hawaii, and as someone who grew up in Florida close to the beach, a similar type of situation. I think if you love the beach, and you live there, once you've paid your housing, you don't have to pay anything additional. You just go to the beach for all your entertainment.

Southwick: Yeah, but a Big Mac costs, like, 10 bucks in Hawaii.

Brokamp: Does it really? Ten bucks?

Southwick: I don't know. I'm going to have to Google it. I mean, you don't have to take my hyperbole seriously ...

Engdahl: Eight bucks.

Southwick: Seriously? Man, Rick was fast on the research. Eight bucks for a Big Mac. I mean, how happy can you be in the face of $8 for the cheapest piece of food you can get on the mainland?

Brokamp: That's a good question, other than pointing out that they do have higher income, so with the higher income, they must be able to buy more Big Macs.

Southwick: I guess so. Now we know the states where people make the most money, and we know the states where people at least make enough money to pay for stuff, but which states are the smartest with their money?

Brokamp: That is a great question, and fortunately, we have a report from WalletHub that provides an answer, at least according to their criteria. They have "2016's Most and Least Financially Savvy States." They looked at all kinds of criteria, but you would break it down into things like spending and debt, financial literacy, credit rank -- meaning their credit score, as well as how much and how well they use their credit -- and savings rank.

And the top five states with the people who are the smartest with their money, according to WalletHub, are Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Connecticut, and New York.

Southwick: All right!

Brokamp: I thought this was interesting, because I'm always curious about what the behaviors, predictors, and indicators are of future financial success, and a lot of it is stuff you cannot do. For example, taller people are going to have higher lifetime income. People of Russian ancestry have higher lifetime income. All kinds of things that you can't do much about in your life, but this looks at what people do with their money. It measures things like credit score.

So when I saw that North Dakota was turning up on a lot of these lists, I was a little concerned, because all this stuff is based on numbers from a few years ago, as well as current reports. North Dakota was doing very well because of the oil boom. It's not doing so well now. In fact, just a week ago, the state of North Dakota announced that that they had set up this fund in 1987 to sock away money during oil booms so they could rely on the fund during a bust. It's about to run out of money.

Southwick: Oops.

Brokamp: That's how much the drop in oil is affecting them. But then when you dig into this survey, or the study from WalletHub, you see that there are actually other reasons why people in North Dakota are coming out high on these lists. For example, they have a very high credit score. If there's one thing I would look at about someone to predict how their life is going to play out in terms of finances, it would be credit score. So people in North Dakota not only benefited from the oil boom, but they have good financial habits, which makes me feel like they're going to weather this pretty well.

Southwick: They're going to be OK.

Brokamp: They're going to be OK.

Engdahl: Wall Drug, here we come.

Brokamp: Wall Drug! Have you been to Wall Drug?

Engdahl: Absolutely.

Brokamp: Oh, my gosh, I love Wall Drug. We've got to take a road trip. We've got to do the Motley Fool Answers Road Trip.

Engdahl: Oh, yeah.

Southwick: We're going to go to the Dakotas and The Villages.

Brokamp: It would be awesome.

Engdahl: It's not on the way.

Brokamp: Anyone who is a willing sponsor, contact us. Rent the RV and put us on the road.

Southwick: I don't know that I want to do that. Let's move on to another stat that we think is important, because you, our dear Motley Fool Answers listeners, know that health and wealth go hand in hand. Like two peas in a pod. Like ham and cheese. Like stuff that goes together.

So let's talk about what the healthiest states are. This comes from America's Health Rankings Annual Report. They looked at trends in obesity, smoking, diabetes, and physical inactivity, and their top five states were -- do you want me to say it, or do you want to say it?

Brokamp: You go ahead. You're having fun with it.

Southwick: No. 1 is Hawaii, again!

Brokamp: There we go.

Southwick: No. 2 is Vermont. Three, Massachusetts. Four, Minnesota. And five, New Hampshire.

Brokamp: And a lot of these states also rank high on a lot of these other financially related rankings. I've done a lot of reading about this, and there's a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing whether people who are healthy accumulate more wealth or that wealthy people are healthier. It could be that because people are healthy, they don't have to spend as much on healthcare. They don't miss work. Things like that. On the other hand, if it starts with wealth, it's because wealthier people can afford better healthcare. They don't have a lot of financial stress. Regardless, when you look at these studies of the healthiest states and states that are doing well financially, there's a lot of correlation there.

Southwick: So health is obviously important, but another important thing that we wanted to point out was which state is the most drunk. And there's science behind this, by the way, people.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the states with the highest alcohol consumption are New Hampshire, Washington, D.C., and Delaware. In New Hampshire, their per capita alcohol consumption is about 4,600 gallons.

Brokamp: Wow!

Southwick: Yeah, that's a lot of booze. And in case you prefer craft beer, Vermont has the highest number of craft breweries. There are 8.6 craft breweries per 100,000 people. Oregon has 7.4 per 100,000 people, and Colorado has 6.1 per 100,000 people. Why should we care about the alcohol consumption in a state, Bro?

Brokamp: Because, perhaps to your surprise, or perhaps not, generally people who drink are better off financially than people who don't drink.

Southwick: See? Some of you listeners thought it was going to go the other way.

Brokamp: That's right! I'm looking here at the study called "No Booze? You May Lose," by Bethany Peters and Edward Stringham. What they found is that the people who do drink more make more money than the people who abstain. And by the way, I'm someone who does not drink, so perhaps I should change some of my habits.

And there's some theories about this. It could be that you have more social capital. You're going out and you're drinking more. For example, they found out that men that go out to bars at least once a month earn an additional 7% on top of the 10% that the average drinker makes above the people who abstain. So not only should you drink; you should go out to a bar and do that.

Southwick: At least once a month. That's not bad. I can handle that. Well, let's now move on, because money isn't everything, and look at the overall quality of life. And this comes to us from the OECD, which I think stands for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. They rank the states according to quality of life. They looked at employment rate, income, air pollution, crime, civic engagement, life expectancy, percentage of the population with a high school degree, and self-reported life satisfaction. So Bro, who topped the list for overall quality of life?

Brokamp: The answer is (1) New Hampshire, (2) Minnesota, (3) Vermont, (4) Iowa, and (5) North Dakota.

Southwick: One of the Dakotas comes in again.

Brokamp: There you go.

Southwick: I feel like Minnesota, Vermont, and New Hampshire keep popping up.

Brokamp: They do. And unfortunately, if you are to look at the bottom, not only in this, but in many of the rankings we've talked about, you're once again going to see, frankly, a lot of states from the South. You're looking at the bottom five for this list -- West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Southwick: Well, I don't know that I really want to live in New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont, Iowa, or North Dakota. They're just very cold. Like, Hawaii I could get down with. I can get down with that. But I don't know that I could do these cold states.

Brokamp: You've just got to do the old snowbird thing. Get the little condo in Florida or Hawaii and go there for the winter. Rent it out in the summer. Make the extra money as an investment. That's it.

Southwick: Airbnb it?

Brokamp: Yes.

Southwick: We actually took some quizzes to find out where we should be living personally. Because ultimately, at the end of the day, there are a bajillion factors that go into determining the best place to live, and it's up to your personal whatever-you-want. There are quizzes online because, of course, the internet. Do you want to guess where they thought I should live?

Brokamp: One was Portland, right?

Southwick: One was Portland, yes. Portland, Ore. I'm from Boise, Idaho, so the idea of retiring to Portland is kind of like, eh, OK. I think I can handle that.

Brokamp: North Dakota.

Southwick: No!

Brokamp: Oh.

Southwick: Not North Dakota. I was also told that I should retire to a university town. A small college town, which I'm, like, yes.

Brokamp: Yup.

Southwick: I can totally get behind that.

Brokamp: Yup.

Southwick: And then also Scandinavia. I got Scandinavia in another quiz.

Brokamp: Sounds good.

Southwick: That's cool. I can get behind that one, too.

Brokamp: That's not a state, though, I don't think.

Southwick: No, it's not a state. That one just sent me right out of the United States and said to go to Scandinavia.

Brokamp: We don't want you here!

Southwick: Yeah. So what did you get, Bro?

Brokamp: I did it, and both of the things I got were out of the United States as well. One was Barcelona ...

Southwick: Nice.

Brokamp: Because, "you're known to have unique taste in everything and you're proud of it," if you know what that means.

Southwick: Yes. Yes. That's true.

Brokamp: And the other one was Costa Rica.

Southwick: That's not bad.

Brokamp: Which, coincidentally, we're thinking of going to for a vacation this summer. So maybe I'll find out. Maybe I'll never come back. We'll see.

Southwick: We had a great time in Costa Rica. Rick, what did you get?

Engdahl: I got Montana, for one.

Southwick: Nice!

Engdahl: Which is ironic. I'm on my way there for a vacation soon. And then I'm going to be Brokamp's neighbor in Costa Rica.

Southwick: And Jeff Fischer's neighbor.

Brokamp: It just gets better.

Engdahl: Or I will probably be Alison's neighbor in Portland.

Southwick: Hey! There's a reason we're all friends.

Brokamp: Muy simpatico.

Engdahl: Let's go for coffee.

Southwick: Definitely like a $5 pour-over. Like some fancy-schmancy thing.

Engdahl: And a cross-brew.

Southwick: Oh, yeah! You totally belong in the Pacific Northwest. Well, you know, I will close this episode by saying sorry, South Dakota. I'm sure you are really great and some people love living in you, but maybe you're not for me because I belong in Portland, Ore., or Scandinavia.

If I could afford it, I would have a house in Japan, and Bermuda, and some other place with a lot of artisanal cheesemakers. But above all, I love America best. Don't you? I don't know.

Brokamp: I do. Of all the countries I have been born in, this is my favorite.

Southwick: This is the favorite country that I've been born in, too. But what do other countries think of us? I decided to ask our community of internationally based Fools to chime in on how they perceive Americans, and I got some great responses. Are you ready to hear them?

Brokamp: I'm ready.

Southwick: So Matt heads up our Motley Fool Germany office, and he said: "In Germany, the Americans are the ones not wearing scarves." And he writes: "Note, this works in all seasons."

Brokamp: They wear scarves in the summer in Germany?

Southwick: Yeah, like jaunty, little scarfy scarves, I assume. So John from our U.K. office writes: "Everything -- but everything -- is awesome." To which I replied: "Well, yes it is." He said, "An American says everything is 'awesome,' where the British person says, 'Some things aren't too bad. On a good day, anyway.'"

Brokamp: That was awesome.

Southwick: I have many different British accents, by the way, and all various stages of horrible. Bernd in Germany writes -- he agrees: "Americans are the ones who say, 'That's awesome!' to almost anything."

Heather in the U.K. office was nice enough to collect a number of different things from people and put it all in one email for me, so she wrote that some of the responses were: "They'll claim to be Irish just because their great granddad's brother's friend visited Dublin once." They say, "I could care less. Surely that means you do care? #confused"

Another person wrote: "Loud. Much energy. Very friendly." Another person wrote: "Half-and-half milk. What is that?" I don't think half-and-half milk is that confusing. Like, it's half cream, half milk, right? Another person wrote: "The average American is almost certain to base their English accent off a '90s romcom or a 19th-century chimney sweep."

Brokamp: Or ...

Southwick: Or ...

Brokamp: Monty Python. It's got to be Monty Python.

Southwick: Or Monty Python?

Brokamp: Yeah.

Southwick: Yeah. "The best thing about America is that you have so many cool accents to try out. There's the New York gangster, the Texan cowboy, valley girl. So many possibilities." And I've done them all on this show, haven't I?

Joe Magyer out in Australia wrote: "Americans are loud!" He learned this while living in Australia, and when he went back to the U.S. to visit for the first time, he said: "I wondered why everyone was shouting, but it turns out I had just gotten used to a lower level of volume." I am so guilty of this. I am so loud.

Scott Phillips had some very lovely things to say. He is also in Australia. He said: "Americans are optimistic, driven, and I love that you guys just go after what you want. You're also the people we won the America's Cup back in '83." Oh, yeah. It happened. "And we love that you love Crocodile Dundee and Keith Urban. Oh, and one word. Ameristralia. You'll just have to look it up."

Do you know what Ameristralia is?

Brokamp: I have no idea.

Southwick: You don't know? I did look it up. It was basically started on a Reddit page to celebrate the symbiotic relationship between America and Australian redditors on the site's front page due mainly to the opposite time zones. I think someone posted, "That's it for today in America. Your turn, Australia redditors." And then in the next day, it took off as a pretty big meme.

If you look it up on Urban Dictionary, it says, "Ameristralia: The union of the greatest country in the world and the deadliest island. Ameristralia rules all of the day and all of the night. Founded in 2013, Ameristralia is the newest and [greatest] country to ever exist. The national flag has stars, stripes, and a few more stars and stripes to make it the most star-and-stripey flag in human history.

"The national animal is the eaoalga (e-o-al-ga?), the ferocious blend of koala and eagle that rules the skies and terrorizes the ground. The internet never sleeps with Ameristralians on duty for life, liberty, and the pursuit of not being bitten by a venomous snake. God Bless Ameristralia."

Robert is in Canada, and he writes: "The one thing that I've always noticed when visiting the States, I believe, is rooted in a commerce-oriented society that's always on. It's an almost absurd level of friendliness."

The last one in Australia, Erin, asked her kids how they perceived Americans and what they thought, and they wrote: "They talk funny. They use 'like' a lot and they finish their sentences with 'Right?' They shorten their words. For example, 'you all' becomes 'y'all.' They don't pronounce my name right," and this was coming from Harry, who said, "It sounds like hairy."

Brokamp: Of course!

Southwick: Oh, nuts. What is the right way to pronounce Harry? Hah-ry? Huh-rry? I don't know. "They eat lots of hot dogs and pizza." And the last one from Erin and her kids is: "Americans are cool." And when she asked them why, they said: "Just because they are American." So there you go. Ah!

Brokamp: My son told me about an article that he read. Generally all of us think that we all spoke like the English and had that accent and then Americans came to America and developed their own accent. Actually, it's the other way around. Centuries ago everyone sounded like Americans, and it was the English who changed their accent. I don't know if that's true, but I'm going to believe it. They did it by analyzing old poems and seeing what words rhymed and stuff like that.

Southwick: Oh! That's interesting.

Engdahl: It's mostly true. I recommend the History of English podcast. Listen to it and you'll get the real answer.

Southwick: OK. Thanks. Nice plug.

Brokamp: Well, there we go.

Southwick: Well, that's going to do it for today. Thank you all for joining us and celebrating all of the wonderful things that make America. I love this country, but I also love other countries, too.

Brokamp: Yeah. God bless you, all. God bless each one of us.

Southwick: God bless everyone. The show is edited patriotically by Rick Engdahl. For Robert Brokamp, I'm Alison Southwick. Stay Foolish, everybody.

[Editor's note: Cohost Alison Southwick accidentally misstated New Hampshire's annual per-capita alcohol consumption. The state's per-capita alcohol consumption was 4.65 gallons in 2012, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.]

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.