New Study: America's Most Liberal States Rank Least Free

According to a new study released by the Mercatus Center of George Mason University, some of our most liberal states rank at the bottom in a measure of personal freedom. "Freedom in the 50 States, an index of personal and economic freedom," finds the most free states to be first New Hampshire, then Colorado, followed by S. Dakota, Idaho, Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, Arizona, Virginia and N. Dakota.The bottom ten least free states in the U.S. are (in descending order) Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington, Hawaii, Maryland, California, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and bringing up the bottom is New York.

 

It is striking that some of the most Republican states are the most free and all the least free are Democrat states, isn't it? (2008 Election Map)

In keeping with the institute's namesake, American founder George Mason, the rankings are based on some supremely American concepts. Rankings were determined by measuring the personal and economic freedoms of the citizens of the various states coupled with the size and cost of government, education regulations, Second Amendment restrictions, as well as the amount of interference via regulations and police agencies on the populace.

"We develop and justify our ratings," the paper's summary reads, "and aggregation procedure on explicitly normative criteria, defining individual freedom as the ability to dispose of one’s own life, liberty, and justly acquired property however one sees fit, so long as one does not coercively infringe on another individual’s ability to do the same."

Along with the various graphs and ranking lists, the report reviews each state in turn. To get a flavor of the criteria used to rank the sates, here, for instance, is what the report says about the least free state in the union, New York:

New York is by far the least free state in the Union (#50 economic, #48 personal). One of us lives in New York and can attest to the fact that few New Yorkers would be surprised by such a finding. Sadly, equally few New Yorkers seem to believe that anything can be done about the situation. New York has the highest taxes in the country. Property, selective sales, individual income, and corporate income taxes are particularly high. Spending on social services and “other” is well above national norms. Only Massachusetts has more government debt as a percentage of the economy. Government employment is higher than average. On personal freedoms, gun laws are extremely restrictive, but marijuana laws are better than average (while tobacco laws are extremely strict). Motorists are highly regulated, but several kinds of gambling are allowed statewide (not casinos, except on reservations). Home school regulations are burdensome, but asset forfeiture has been reformed. Along with Vermont, New York has the strictest health insurance community rating regulations. Mandated coverages are also very high. Eminent domain is totally unreformed. Perversely,the state strictly limits what grassroots PACs may give to candidates and parties, but not what corporations and unions may give.

A PDF document of the study can be downloaded at the Mercatus Center site.

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Comments

S. Dakota and N. Dakota

This study is so stupid I couldn't even come up with an appropriate sarcastic remark, except to say.  This is excellent news for those wishing to run on an anti-gay marriage platform in New Hampshire/Arizona/Virginia.

"Personal freedom" = Red states?? Not necessarily...

It is striking that some of the most Republican states are the most free and all the least free are Democrat states, isn't it? (2008 Election Map)

 

Well, I just did an XY plot with the percent of McCain votes in the 2008 elections on the other axis.Turns out there is a rather weak correlation there, as you might expect (are "personal freedom" and "John McCain" really synonymous, anyway?). In the South, it seems there is almost a NEGATIVE correlation where McCain tended to do better in Red states with *less* personal freedom such as LA, SC and WV while losingVirginia! On the other hand, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states rank near the bottom of this survey and Obama did perform very well in the 2008 elections.I would like to see a similar survey based on identically weighed criteria for 1959.The Southern states seem to be highly rated by the authors of the survey, but what aboutpersonal freedom for various minorities? E.g. the right to marry a person of the same sex,or unrestricted right to abortion?MARCU$

George Mason University

George Mason University (often referred to as GMU or Mason) is a public university based in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, United States, south of and adjacent to the city of Fairfax.

 

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This just in: America's most

This just in: America's most conservative states rank as biggest shitholes.

Admins-I'm all for free speech.

Bans should be as rare as possible. But this kind of poster isn't even worth debating. An "ignore" feature would be nice.

*bats eyelashes at mods*

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*throws his head back and cackles*

Okay, can I just narrow it down to Midland Valley, SC?? My bad.

Maybe if you weren't taxed so

Maybe if you weren't taxed so heavilly you could save up some money for travel. Obviously, you haven't been around much.

If you had, you wouldn't make an asinine statement like:

This just in: America's most conservative states rank as biggest shitholes.

You exude class.

The right wing loonies are at it again!!!

Utah is one of the most Republican states in the U.S. it should be at the top of the list----go figure

In the South, it seems there

In the South, it seems there is almost a NEGATIVE correlation where McCain tended to do better in Red states with *less* personal freedom such as LA, SC and WV while losingVirginia!

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Whats really amazing is

that liberals do not equate taxation and regulation with personal freedom.

Taxation affects the individual's rights to pursue happienss in their own way, rather than a government sanctioned and approved way.

As Team Obama continues to work through their plan to take this economic "crisis" and turn it into Rahm's "opportunity" to define rich and poor and begin equalizing the two, we will all suffer in terms of personal freedom.

 

 

sure, but will our quality of life go up?

wasting 6% of our gdp on the 'freedom' to be murdered by spreadsheet... bah! I'd rather spend it on restaurants, if it's all the same to you.

Personally, I defy you to find me a rural place where I could have my current standard of living. And I pay more in taxes than I get back, constistently. So in terms of the personal freedom from worry that I want, South Dakota would be an extremely poor choice (as would be practically anyplace in Cali)

taxation has nothing to do with freedom

Nah, what's amazing is how conservatives equate taxes with freedom. Somehow paying a tax is equated with somebody actually owning your life, or making decisions for you. 

It's conservatives who try to control people's behavior, either through marriage, or a women's pregnancy, just to name a few.

 

 

Re: taxation has nothing to do with freedom

"We cut your taxes, Mr. Schiavo. What more do you want?!?"

taxes and freedom

Nah, what's amazing is how conservatives equate taxes with freedom. Somehow paying a tax is equated with somebody actually owning your life, or making decisions for you.

And how is it NOT equated thusly?  What do you think government does with the tax money?  Burn it?  What do you think you would do with the money if you didn't hand it over to the government?

Do you even read your pay stub to see how much money is taken out of your paycheck?

Taxes give you the freedom to forget why they're needed

Taxation is not slavery. You want slavery, see the birth of the US until the mid 19th century. That's slavery.

You want slavery, see the denial of rights to black people from the end of the civil war until the mid 1960s.

Your taxes pay for a lot of things that you would hate see go if all of a sudden taxes were no longer collected.

taxes, and withholding

No, taxation is not exactly equivalent to chattel slavery.  Yes you have a point even if it is pure pedantry. 

But - honestly - do you even know how much in taxes you paid last year?  Just in federal income taxes I paid nearly $9,000.  That is $9,000 less that I had to spend on my priorities: maybe paying down debt, giving away to charity, hiring another part-time worker in a small business.  Instead government takes that $9,000 and decides how it is spent on my behalf.  Now do I get some value for those taxes?  Sure, and there's some taxes that I wouldn't want to get rid of even if it was entirely in my control.  But at the same time, I don't get to hire that worker, I don't get to give money away to charity, and I don't get to pay down that debt.  THAT is the loss of liberty associated with taxes.  I don't get to do the things that I would like to do with my money.  In practice it is no different than, as you said, "somebody actually ... making decisions for you."

And this is not to mention the waste of time and energy associated with all the convoluted schemes people go through just to avoid paying taxes.

But, honestly, I know this is not going to get through to you, because you remind me more and more of a liberal friend I had in college.  Once we had both graduated and got "real" jobs, I asked him if he had changed his tune with respect to taxes, now that he actually had to pay a substantial sum of them.  He said no, because he never even really noticed how much taxes are taken out of his pay.  He just cashes his paycheck, blithely unaware that his take-home pay is substantially less than his gross pay.  To him, his take-home pay IS his salary because that's all the money he sees.  And, to him, a tax refund check is like getting a special bonus check in mid-April; it's like free money!  He's completely unaware that he's really just getting back HIS OWN MONEY that he loaned to the government at 0% interest.

So I see a lot of the same ignorance in you.  You might even be paying half your salary in total tax burden, but you wouldn't care; because you don't see it you don't notice it.  Instead you'd just think you were underpaid, and it was your greedy employer who just wasn't paying you what you deserved.

Do women have the right to

Do women have the right to choose whether to go into the tremendous resposibility of being a parent?

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According to a new study

According to a new study released by the Mercatus Center of George Mason University, some of our most liberal states rank at the bottom in a measure of personal freedom. “Freedom in the 50 States, an index of personal and economic freedom,” finds the most free states to be first New Hampshire, then Colorado, followed by S. Dakota, Idaho, Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, Arizona, Virginia and N. Dakota.

 

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What's amazing is that

What's amazing is that liberals -- and particularly those commenting on this board -- seem to only care about being free to either a) have sexual relations with whatever life form they so desire or b) abort a baby. As long as those two rights, clearly enshrined in every document ever penned by the Founders and every great constitutional scholar from time immemorial, are left inviolate, they consider themselves free – even if the government removes the ability of Americans to say what they want, live where they want, worship as they please (or don't), eat what they want, drive what they want and where they want, spend their money on what they want and keep their property without fear of undo interference from a bureaucrat or massive taxation.

Bush restricted freedom

It's only paranoid fringe conservatives who believe those things are happening under Obama.

They don't care that W wanted to be able to listen in on your communications or be able to enter your house without a warrant.

It was W who expanded the scope of free speech zones. But he was infringing on the rights of dissenters of his policies. Conservatives weren't having their free speech infringed upon, so it was okay. 

It's only social conservatives who want to force their minority views onto the vast majority.

civil liberties

They don't care that W wanted to be able to listen in on your communications or be able to enter your house without a warrant.

So did Clinton, so did Reagan, so did Nixon, so did FDR, ...

You know, I have a great deal of respect for the civil libertarian view.  Problem is, a lot of the civil libertarian types are leftists who think that, for some reason, only Republicans are capable of infringing on people's liberties.  They seem to forget things like Carnivore (started by Clinton's FBI), or that FDR detained a whole lotta Japanese.  For once, do you think you could bring yourself to criticize liberals who want to infringe upon your civil liberties?

 

Where did Obama end up on FISA again?

Oh yeah, he was against it until he saw that he needed it to protect the country from terrorist attacks.

"Given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as president, I will carefully monitor the program," Obama said in a statement hours after the House approved the legislation 293-129.

This marks something of a reversal of Obama's position from an earlier version of the bill, which was approved by the Senate Feb. 12, when Obama was locked in a fight for the Democratic nomination with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Did I hear "trust me" in there somewhere? LOL!

The Constitution got one important thing wrong from the outset.

You are entitled to your own ideas but not your own facts.  Nothing replaces knowledge. Would you like to take back your erroneous, over-reaching statement? It's all right to praise the Constitution, but it, too, contained some absurd logic.  See below,

"clearly enshrined in every document ever penned by the Founders and every great constitutional scholar from time immemorial"

  The three-fifths compromise is found in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indiansnot taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

 

I do not mind paying for

I do not mind paying for roads, bridges, a safety net for our most needy, schools, defense, government, etc.

But now we are getting into the area of "redistribution". Spread the wealth around, as Obama so famously said to Joe the Doofus.

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The only states conservates

The only states conservates control exclusively (sans Texas) tend to be small anyway....  In 20 years the demographics of Texas even will make it competetive for Democrats.

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Taxation has nothing to do with freedom

 

i'm not sure whether that's a typo or not.

and if it Isn't, whether that makes it funny or not...

LOL

Must have been a Freudian slip!

And that makes it funny. At least to me. . .

your good humor makes me smile

Thanks!

I live in New York State and

I live in New York State and need to move to Texas until I can no longer see a free lovin’ pedophile piece of work.

 

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Let's talk bumper stickers

Like the talk radio bumper stickers you regularly expouse?

 

someone didn't read the conclusion

The study makes it clear that the levels of freedom are not simply equated to the level of conservatism or liberalism in state governments or presidential voting patterns, but more in the interplay of traditional state institutions.

The bottom line, from the perspective of capitalism, is that the most liberal states are the most wealthy, therefore their approach to governance is superior.

Communism failed because it could not compete economically with capitalism, not because it was "less free".

Tell that to Alex

Communism failed because it could not compete economically with capitalism, not because it was "less free".

Solzhenitsyn is rolling over in his grave.

The bottom ten least free

The bottom ten least free states in the U.S. are (in descending order) Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington, Hawaii, Maryland, California, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and bringing up the bottom is New York.

 

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Yep, i agree

 I totally agree with you. Infact, i most say that the most least free states in the U.S is probably Connecticut, Illinois and Washington. Nothing more to say.

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I'm mystified

by this.  I am not sure if I can even come up with a general or universal definition for "freedom".  It's a feeling to me.  And I have no feeling of loss of freedom when I pay my taxes.

It certainly has nothing to do with owning or carrying a Glock  9mm automatic with the 15-round clip.  I see that as a dangerous weapon which can be used to kill people, and treat it as such.  I certainly do not think anyone who wants should be allowed to have one.

This whole study seems to me typical of a lot of Conservative research:  They start out with the conclusion they want, and then find, by whatever means necessary, the evidence to support it.

I'm sure you are mystified

But I'm sure that if you paid 100% of your income to the government in the form of taxes, you would feel less free.

Of course, that is a ridiculous example, isn't it?

So it becomes a matter of degree. If you are comfortable having more than 50% of your earnings taken by the government ,fine.

I do not mind paying for roads, bridges, a safety net for our most needy, schools, defense, government, etc.

But now we are getting into the area of "redistribution". Spread the wealth around, as Obama so famously said to Joe the Doofus.

If you are comfortable with that, fine. But I see a slippery socialst slope here.

the freedom of a child

But I'm sure that if you paid 100% of your income to the government in the form of taxes, you would feel less free.

Oh I wouldn't bet on it.

These people want the "freedom" that a child has.  A child is free to do whatever it wants, within the limits of the rules of course.  You read what Jim Dandy wrote - freedom is a feeling.  Who could be less free than a child, without a care in the world, playing in the playground?

That is what you want, Jim Dandy, isn't it?

On Freedom

Uhh, no, Chemjeff.  I do not appreciate your simple-minded attack.  But I will say this:

Conservatives and Liberals see freedom as vastly different experiences.

To a Conservative, it appears freedom means to be left alone to pursue whatever goals and endeavors you choose, and any sort of interference with that simple-minded, selfish goal is seen as oppression, or in your words, "chattel slavery".

To a Liberal or Progressive, Freedom is a much more complex thing.  We believe freedom can only exist within a shared responsibility for our society.  That means that when you live with other people, you have to be conscious of their goals as well as yours, so that we all arrive at a destination together.  That is why we have no problem with  taxation, since we believe our taxes are investments in all of our America's future.  Freedom,  in our context, is a feeling of acting as caretakers and contributors to a noble experiment in shared responsibilities, shared government, and shared liberties.

It's kind of like having the privilege, through your work and shared responsibilities, of keys to a wonderful garden where your work and others' work provides bounty and benefits for all.

It was the foundation of the Obama campaign, incomprehesible to the 20% right-wing clan of which Chemjeff is a member.

Conservatives like Chemjeff still cannot understand why in the world anyone would ratify our 16th Amendment, or the reason why our Income Tax system is progressive, meaning the more you make the more you pay.  In their world view, the more you make, the more you should be able to keep.

"A much more complex thing"

Oh, piffle, the only reason "Freedom is a much more complex thing" to a liberal or progressive is because your definition of "Freedom" is so difficult to defend in the context of the American consititutional experience. 

I mean, I'd have a hard time trying to concisely and coherently dress up Collectivism as Freedom, too -- Marxist cant is so much more wordy than, say, the Bill of Rights.

"Shared Responsibilies" -- check the latest research on per-capita charity in the US vs. Europe, or charitable giving in the Red States vs. the Blue. 

"Arriving Together" -- the rentiers and welfare clients free-riding on the productive class.

"No problem with Taxation" -- as long as it is the elasticly-defined "rich" who pay  them.

"Shared Liberties" -- per the Declaration, each of us, not the Hive,  are endowed with inalienable rights.

"A Wonderful Garden" -- read "Tragedy of the Commons" ,  or any book on Soviet-Era agriculture like "Harvest of Sorrow".  A truly apt metaphor, unintentional on your part, I'm sure, for the Progressive view of Freedom.

Poor Guy

He walked right into a rhetorical bear trap. At least he didn't try to give an example of a more "free" country. Trying to make "freedom" into collective responsibility is like trying to grow a bush that provides shade.

“We develop and justify

“We develop and justify our ratings,” the paper’s summary reads, “and aggregation procedure on explicitly normative criteria, defining individual freedom as the ability to dispose of one’s own life, liberty, and justly acquired property however one sees fit, so long as one does not coercively infringe on another individual’s ability to do the same.”

 

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Freedom,  in our context, is

Freedom,  in our context, is a feeling of acting as caretakers and contributors to a noble experiment in shared responsibilities, shared government, and shared liberties.

Like taking care of banks and failed auto companies?

It's kind of like having the privilege, through your work and shared responsibilities, of keys to a wonderful garden where your work and others' work provides bounty and benefits for all.

Chrysler! Citibank! Fannie Mae! I'm starting to feel it, yes THE SWEET TASTE OF FREEDOM THROUGH TAXATION!

It is striking that some of the most Republican states are...

"It is striking that some of the most Republican states are the most free and all the least free are Democrat states, isn't it?"

No, not really.  Not when you consider who wrote this "new study":

Jason Sorens founded the Free State Project. Its goal: to recruit twenty thousand liberty-minded, activist-oriented individuals to move to a small state, with the intent of effecting significant political change at the local level.

From Soren's dissertation: "Secessionism is an important and growing phenomenon in advanced democracies."

 

I don't understand.

If conservatives left big states in droves and purposely self-apartheided (yup...made up word) themselves won't that just mean they'll have less influence than if they were in bigger states?  The only states conservates control exclusively (sans Texas) tend to be small anyway....  In 20 years the demographics of Texas even will make it competetive for Democrats.

A good read about 'Freedom'

I'm not going to dip into the fire of the flame wars here, but I thought this david brooke's column auspicious for this post

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/05/opinion/05brooks.html?_r=2&ref=opinion

 

The convservatism I grew up with didn't emphasize freedom, but responsibility. If the 'right' or conservatives truely value freedom then why such an emphsive on abortion or gay marriage? Do women have the right to choose whether to go into the tremendous resposibility of being a parent? Don't gays have the freedom to choose whom they mess up their lives with?

As for taxes and other of that junk . . . politicians are politicians. This isn't a matter of liberal or conservative. It's more a matter of money and control. People everywhere forever will fight about this.

It should be no surprise to

It should be no surprise to the center-right that a new study released by the Mercatus Center of George Mason University shows that some of our most liberal states rank at the bottom in a measure of personal freedom. It should also be no surprise that some of the most Republican states are the most free and all the least free are Democrat states (for example - New York is by far the least free state).

 

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Bailout

Notice the least free states (highest taxed) are the ones requiring the largest bailout.

One of us lives in New York

One of us lives in New York and can attest to the fact that few New Yorkers would be surprised by such a finding. Sadly, equally few New Yorkers seem to believe that anything can be done about the situation.

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