Reason.tv: Ranking Freedom in the 50 States

Which state is most free when it comes to personal, social, and economic issues?

"Freedom in the 50 States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom" provides one answer to just that question. Political scientists Jason Sorens (University at Buffalo) and William P Ruger (Texas State) looked at everything from drug policy to civil union statutes to business regulations and tax rates to rank each state across multiple dimensions.

Published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University appraise each state in the union on their economic, social and personal liberty to come up with their final ranking. Maybe Jean-Paul Sartre was right about hell being other people: At the top of the list are a lot of states where almost nobody lives and at the bottom are states where just about everybody lives.

Reason Magazine senior editor Katherine Mangu-Ward sat down with Sorens and Ruger, to talk about their results, their methodology and why New York City may not be as free as New Yorkers believe.

Shot by Josh Swain, Jim Epstein and Meredith Bragg; Edited by Meredith Bragg.

Approximately 9:20 minutes.

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Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • KDN||

    New Jersey is ahead of only New York.

    Seems right to me.

  • WTF||

    I am actually surprised we're ahead of New York. It must have been a close call.

  • KDN||

    I think they need a category for number of local cops per capita and an index of dickishness of said cops. That'll surely put us over the top. We should get extra points for all the petty dictators home rule creates as well.

  • ||

    Uh, New York State is blanketed with cops at the village, town, county, and state level. NYC has 35,000 cops.

    Jersey's bad, but New York is ridiculous.

  • KDN||

    http://www.visionofhumanity.or.....-20111.pdf

    NJ leads the country in Police per capita, slightly ahead of New York (the city's probably worse, but it's the city so of course it is).

    I wonder if this includes the anti-benny auxiliary gang Seaside raises each year for the summer.

  • KDN||

    Here's a presser for the report, don't know how accurate this all is, but it's the best I can come up with on short notice.

  • GILMORE||

    Fucking fuck

    Yeah, dead last.

    I don't really buy it (well, I get it with the taxes).. but fuck man... worse than California?? In san fran I was almost crucified for smoking a cigarette on the street. And they put fucking milk in the soda machines!

    I mean, I can accept maybe 10th from last... but being the nadir of American liberty is a little hard to swallow.

  • ||

    Hey, congratulations!

  • ||

    Florida looks about right. We're surprisingly non-meddling in many ways, but we get enough statist nonsense to prevent us from doing as well as we could. Part of that is the huge influx of people from other places, who bring their variety of statism to our shores. Similar to the situation in Texas, I imagine. Interesting to see that all of the other large states rank far, far lower.

  • Bar Student||

    I don't think the immigrants to Texas (whether foreign or domestic) have anything to do with our ridiculous marijuana laws which is one of the most negative things in the state mentioned in the index.

  • ||

    I wasn't necessarily referring to foreign immigrants. I was thinking more invaders from the north.

  • Bar Student||

    I assumed that is what you meant as well but if anything those invaders might help out on marijuana laws or gay marriage. First we need Perry out of office though, hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

  • Brett L||

    Despite what you might think, Northerners and Westerners moving to TX and FL are far more statist than the local. Any freedoms enjoyed at the state level w/r/t gay rights or pot smoking would be swamped by local-level interference. Unbelievable how many people buy a cheap house in FL and immediately push for stricter zoning restrictions.

  • ||

    Can we make them stop?

  • Brett L||

    Short of passing laws preventing damnyankees from owning property or voting? Nope. I'm afraid the 14th and 22nd Amendments are against us.

  • ||

    As a native Floridian, I've have to agree. The east coast of florida has to deal with the northerners coming down (NY etc) and the west coast from the midwesters (ohio et al).

    Most floridians are layed back. Its the annoying outsiders who make Florida a hellhole. Worse are the retirees. you can usually get away from it by going to rural florida (yup, it exists).

  • ||

    I agree. However, we (the west coast) are getting a lot more from the Northeast than we used to. Generally speaking, that's been a bad thing.

  • Bar Student||

    So we all agree that Yankees suck?

  • ||

    It seems to be retired state workers with their massive government-sponsored pensions who really bring things down. What a bunch of unpleasant, bitter, irritating statists.

  • Mensan||

    We do have a lot of foreign immigrants here too. They just come from Canada instead of Mexico. There are so many Canucks in Spring Hill that the local talk radio station broadcasts Canadian news in the morning.

  • SIV||

    Part of that is the huge influx of people from other places, who bring their variety of statism to our shores.

    Tell me about it. Yankees ruin everything they touch.

  • The Mossy Spaniard||

    ^This.

  • Middle Age Crazy||

    In that screenshot the guys look so sad about what their study found. So very sad.

  • Warty||

    Fucking worthless Ohio.

  • ||

    Didn't look. How bad?

  • Warty||

    42. Sounds about right.

  • ||

    Pathetic.

  • Warty||

    Even fucking bitchass Pennsylvania is better than us, probably because of its awesome gun laws. Fuck you, Ohio.

  • LeBron||

    say it dogg! eff ohio

  • ||

    If he had said he was leaving Ohio to live in much freer Florida, well, I'd probably not think he was an asshole. Even if he announced it on a special program on whatever network loves liberty the most.

    Say, what television network is most libertarian? Relatively speaking, of course.

  • Warty||

    Say, what television network is most libertarian?

    Cinemax, duh.

  • ||

    I'll buy that.

  • Sudden||

    Talk to the cable guy, grease a pocket, and you won't have to pay monthly.....

  • ||

    Say, what television network is most libertarian? Relatively speaking, of course.

    The CW. The libertine drug use in the monocle and top-hat world of Gossip Girl. The failed and venal government of Smallville and Nikita. The cautionary tale of socalist California presented by 90210.

  • Robert||

    Yes, that's one thing I noticed about Smallville back when I used to watch it: the portrayal of gov't. From Washington all the way down to the sheriff and the school principal, gov't was portrayed as crooked, evil, and just plain an object of ridicule.

  • Qetesh||

    So Dukes of Hazzard is now libertarian ?

  • Pip||

    The Home Shopping Network

  • ||

    Al Jazeera?

  • ||

    It's probably some obscure public access channel in Montana.

  • ||

    Random, but did anyone watch the first season of Harry's Law? It was awesome, from a libertarian perspective.

  • ||

    Maybe you should move. Also, email me when you get the chance.

  • Warty||

    Yes, and done.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Reporting from Ohio, getting weed or betting action on sports is not a problem. Unemployment is over 7%, and Gov. Kasich is pissing off all the right people, so maybe there's hope.

  • ||

    At the Mercatus site there's a neat feature where you can see how your state's ranking would change in realtime based on the changes you selected (reducing tax, spending, # of gov't employees, etc).

    I did WA not even in my ideal world but things I thought were in the realm of reasonableness and took us from #40 to #3. I'm available for freelance consulting, Governor Gregoire.

  • ||

    On the bright side, WA has moved up the freedom index by 5 spots. Our strong gun rights also merited mention again. I believe since this study was passed a bill was signed into law to decriminalize the use of suppressors provided they are in compliance with federal law. Previously it was legal to own them but not to use them rolls eyes.

  • ||

    You also have that curious omission of an income tax. It's weird.

  • ||

    It's awesome for people who like to save and don't like spending money.

  • ||

    Which is what protects Florida--retired people.

  • Ex-Floridian||

    Ironic, no? ['Cause so many retirees are from your "statist" north]

  • ||

    Not really. The idiocy of giving your money away becomes all the more apparent when living on a fixed income.

  • Brian C||

    And good for people in Vancouver, WA (a suburb of Portland). They can live in Washington and avoid income tax then buy all their crap across the river in OR and avoid sales tax.

  • ||

    Technically, they are supposed to claim their Oregon purchases with the dept of revenue and pay use tax on them. Fat chance of that happening though. The price of tax avoidance is bridge traffic.

  • ||

    I like that. Defiance!

  • kinnath||

    So Iowa is at 13, one above Texas.

  • FlyoverCountry||

    Which is not too shabby - but, if you go to the bottom and change the qualifications to 'allows gay marriage' - even with upping cigarette taxes and health insurance community whatevers, Iowa moves up to 3rd.

    Since we now have gay marriage, and, I believe we are now also a 'shall issue' state with regard to CCW, I think we are solidly higher than 13th.

    Go Iowa!

    Where are you at in our glorious state, Kinnath? I'm in Grinnell

  • kinnath||

    The greater Cedar Rapids area

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    Maybe Jean-Paul Sartre was right about hell being other people: At the top of the list are a lot of states where almost nobody lives and at the bottom are states where just about everybody lives.

    Well, we can take care of that right quick! Open the borders! The more, the merrier!

    Of the top of my head, this presentation provokes a couple of questions that one suspects will quickly get tabled...

    What is the relationship between the degree of freedom in each state, and it's demographic composition?

    Does the presence of cosmopolitan hipsters inherently lead to a negative impact on freedom?

    Inquiring minds wanna know....

  • ||

    The is a very strong correlation between population density and the desire for active government. It's the old country vs. city dichotomy that's been around since Roman times.

  • Dick O'Tomy||

    There is also a strong correlation between population density and homosexuality. NTTAWWT.

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    Well, yeah... the greater the population density, the greater the opportunities for conflict. The greater the occurrences of conflict, the greater demand for an authority to mediate them. (Not to mention other aggravating factors, such as the close proximity of diverse groups with competing priorities and values.) Which leaves me at a bit of a loss as to why people who claim to want less authority favor policies which increase population density.

  • Robert||

    Oh. For a sec I thought you wrote, "an authority to medicate them".

  • ||

    But Florida and Texas. They have huge populations yet rank relatively high. Why?

  • ||

    Those large populations are spread out across huge tracts of land instead of being concentrated in one major urban area?

  • ||

    Possibly. I think it's probably a combination of factors.

  • ||

    Lots of Texans live in three major metroplexes (DFW, Austin/San Antonion, and Houston), but there are also a million small towns.

  • Middle Age Crazy||

    But Florida and Texas. They have huge populations yet rank relatively high. Why?

    That's a great question. Maybe it's just a matter of time. FL, TX, AZ, NV were all relative backwaters until the last few decades, due to the low value of the land, and the hot climate. Technology has made the former less important, and the latter something of an advantage.

    It seems to take a few generations for the culture of the original "low-density" inhabitants to dissipate. Even here in California it isn't completely gone; consider Orange County and the Central Valley, e.g., read Victor Davis Hanson. For 150 years the statism flowed in through San Francisco (high-density by geographical accident), and later, through Hollywood.

    Unfortunately, it may be that political liberty will persist longest in those parts where the climate keeps the population density relatively low, like NH, WY, or SD. The worse the weather, the better the people.

    It's a perfect warm San Francisco summer day outside my office window.

  • kinnath||

    population density leads to more rules which leads to more enforcers which leads to more costs which leads to more taxes which leads to concentration of political power which leads to .................

  • ||

    The conditions that have led NY to be #50; it's called NYC and Long Island. I'd like to see what Upstate ranks when Downstate goes away.

  • ||

    My old man retired to a low population density county. It's like a frickin' paradise compared to the city I live in.

    Lots of small businesses, minimal police, land is cheap, and the people are much friendlier.

  • kinnath||

    I'm an engineer. I could live in almost any part of the country if I wanted to. There is a reason that I "suffer" out here in backwoods Iowa.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Can you get me a job? I'll be a goddamned sanitation engineer if I can still afford hookers and rent as long as it gets me out of the hell-world that is Northern Virginia. The failure of government roads has never been more apparent.

  • Lowdog||

    Sweet, I'm moving from 22 on the list (AZ) to 11 (FL).

  • Brett L||

    Which part?

  • Lowdog||

    Space Coast...grad school...

  • Brett L||

    Cool.

  • Joe M||

    46. Massachusetts
    47. Hawaii
    48. California
    49. New Jersey
    50. New York

    Shocking! Glad to see Texas ranks 14, which is decent.

  • NoVAHockey||

    Northern VA has it's issues, but they are not big enough to drop the commonwealth out of the top 10. If nothing else, I know I'm not in Maryland (43)

  • Maryland||

    THE (forty-third most) FREE STATE!

  • ||

    *hangs head in shame*

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Yeah, as I alluded to above, Northern Virginia is populated by assholes of every variety statists notwithstanding. 95% of said assholes benefit significantly from the festering bloated tumor across the Potomac. Then again, it beats the hell out of New Jersey which in turn beats the hell out of the Gaza strip (this has not been verfied).

    If I could escape the foothills of the so-called mountains, perhaps I could see where all this freedom is being hoarded in Virginia.

  • ||

    Yeah, I could have guessed that even if my only familiarity with those states was their income tax returns.

  • ||

    Fucking threaded comments. That was meant as a reply to Joe M.

  • Joe M||

    Actually, seeing New Jersey at #49 makes it even harder to believe they elected Chris Christie.

  • ||

    Apropos to my point a number of days ago about CT being a slight island in the sea of statism that is NY-NJ-CT-RI-MA, it is ahead of all of them in the list. But being 38th is still nothing to be proud of, though I am amazed that it beat out WA.

  • ||

    Looking at their summaries of a few states, it seems that WA has way more gov't employees than the norm, which hurt its ranking pretty significantly (and rightly so).

  • ||

    Where are all these supposed employees? Working the liquor stores?

  • ||

    This says says UW Seattle employees 29,000.

  • ||

    http://www.seattlebusinessmag......greentools

    Sorry reasonable seems to have eaten my URL :(

  • ||

    They are traveling around the country, correcting people's pronunciations of Spokane.

  • ||

    People tend to have trouble with "Rainier" too. It's "Ray-neer", people. I know that is not how the French say it. Suck it up.

  • ||

    It should be pronounced, of course, rainier, as in "It's rainier here than in other places."

  • ||

    While I agree with you in reference to the mountain, I find it amusing to use the rahn-ieh pronunciation in reference to the beer.

  • ||

    Just when I thought there was no way to make Rainier even classier.

  • Brian C||

    Well, then again, I'm not sure why anyone outside of Washington would ever have a need to say Spokane.

  • ||

    There's a song: "Spokane" (Bob Rivers):

    (Parody of Cocaine by Eric Clapton)

    When your drivin' all day
    Ain't seen nothing but hay
    Spokane (Spo-caine)
    'What did you say boy?'

    When you're down on your luck
    And they repo your truck
    Spokane (Spo-caine)

    'Hehehe, You ain't from around here are you ?
    It's Spokane
    It's Spokane
    It's Spokane, son
    Spokane (Spo-caine)

    'Ga-digg boy! Listen, mister, you're gonna have to learn a few things if you're gonna hang around this part of the state!'

    Well the Cougars did hot
    They'll be drinkin' a lot
    Spokane (Spo-caine)
    'Well, we do know how to celebrate, don't we, hehe!'

    There ain't no place to go
    'Cept for Idaho
    Spokane (Spo-caine)

    'Now maybe I didn't make myself clear
    It's Spokane
    It's Spokane
    It's Spokane
    You obviously ain't catchin' on
    Maybe you need a lesson from Smith & Wesson'
    Yeehooo!
    Spokane
    'Now you got it You only half-bad. Why don't you come over to the place. Ethel and I got some possum on. I got a daughter, that'll just love you. She's a big girl, but I think you can handle her. How tall are you?'

  • Jim||

    I remember your comment, because I had brought up real estate law there. As far as my ability to quickly and easily foreclose on a property, I'd say CT is about fifth worst, right behind Ohio, NY, Jersey, & Florida.

    Surprisingly CA is only kind of middle-of-the-road. It isn't completely pro-bank and anti-borrower (like my home of Texas), but it isn't full of needless court dates like the other states I mentioned.

  • Brian C||

    I'd imagine California being a title-theory state, like most of the western US, helps avoid needless court dates that are required in those east-coast lien-theory states... though it's been a long time since I studied any property law so I wouldn't be surprised if I'm remembering it backwards...

  • ||

    32. Which is low, considering the number of Hit&'n'Runners we produce.

  • Rich||

    I believe the study also considered their quality. ;-)

  • ||

    This is why no one likes you, Rich.

  • Rich||

    I *said* I was kidding!

    ** sulks **

  • CE||

    People are more apt to complain about a lack of freedom when they don't have much.

  • mr simple||

    Well, we do have a constitutional amendment prohibiting domestic partnerships legal privileges.

  • Mike M.||

    Notice how, with a couple of exceptions, the bottom 25% of the list is almost completely dominated by the deep blue, far left wing bastions of the northeast and west coast.

    I miss the good old days when liberals believed in freedom and were truly liberal.

  • Mensan||

    So, pre-nineteenth century?

  • ||

    Oregon is pretty damn Team Blue and managed to snag #8. I wonder how they are weighting various freedoms - I suspect they might be giving physician assisted suicide more points than I would. Not that I disagree with it, I just have many other freedoms that are higher priority for me.

  • ||

    Yeah, I also get the sense that they put a really high value on regs for homeschoolers, which is fine, just not my top freedom issue.

  • Mike M.||

    You can click on each state and get a fairly detailed explanation for the rankings.

    Oregon actually ranks #1 overall in terms of personal freedom. Furthermore, they had the biggest positive movement of any state over the last four years.

  • ||

    I'm surprised that Washington's tax burden is a full 90 basis points higher than Oregon's. That definitely is not my perception from my out of pocket tax expense estimates. Maybe it is easier to underestimate sales tax.

    Also, doesn't Oregon have the nation's most expansive welfare and food stamp system?

  • Robert||

    The weighting's bound to be a convers'n starter. There are various theories you could go by. One would be to weight according to how many people it affects, and/or how often it affects them. Another would take that into account plus profoundness of the imposition on liberty. Another would be to weight more heavily according to rarity or outlandishness of particular freedoms or particular suppressions thereof.

  • H. Protagonist||

    Damn it, why couldn't they just have ranked CA last? Now our legislators are going to get ideas about catching up with New York.

  • Middle Age Crazy||

    It'll never happen. My theory is that half our political class are lawyers who couldn't cut it in New York.

  • GILMORE||

    That actually sounds about right.

  • California||

    We can't afford it, otherwise we would.

  • Tman||

    Notice the top ten all have positive net migration numbers and the bottom ten have net negative migration rates. People are leaving the statist enclaves in droves.

    This makes me curious to see if this will be a boon for the most free states or a net negative?

  • Pip||

    Off-topic, but I am going on record as saying that this will be the picketed funeral that gets the shit kicked out of these fuckers.

    "Ryan-Dunn-Is-In-Hell-WBC-Will-Picket-Funeral"

    http://godhatesfags.com/fliers.....uneral.pdf

  • Warty||

    The antics had better be taped.

  • Brett L||

    I, personally, am waiting for Steve-O or someone to jump out of the coffin in a Jesus costume and start raping Phelps while screaming "God is a fag!". Anything less would disappoint.

  • ||

    I very much like this idea. Too bad Steve-O is back on the wagon.

  • Brett L||

    Viagra counts against your clean time now? Shit.

  • Zuo||

    Damn Alaska sucks. Surprised me... On the other end Indiana is pretty shocking, who would have thought that depressing armpit of a state would have so much freedom?

    Also interesting to hear that I'm "nobody". I'd rather be regarded as a hostile gun-toting redneck Injun. To deter more transplant fucks from coming and further ruining what we've got here.

  • Zuo||

    Alaska has massive amounts of the workforce on the public payroll, driving down their ranking. They own for personal freedom though. Hmmm.

  • Trespassers Hoosier||

    You may be confusing Indiana with Gary and Hammond. Indiana's not even close to being an armpit -- it's just largely dull.

    Presumably, if they'd only reinstate the 4th amendment, they might move up to second or first.

  • ||

    I'm in LOVE with that hottie Katherine Mangu-Ward! Vararooom! And I can't do anything about it........!!!!

  • Shirts & Skins||

    Should Blacks Be Kept at 'Traditionally Black' Schools?
    Amy Scott of "Marketplace," a public radio program, reports on a lawsuit that claims the state of Maryland is "underfunding historically black colleges" and "drawing top students away from those colleges to other state schools":

    Scott: The lawsuit began after Towson University started offering an MBA--a degree students could already get a short drive away at historically Black Morgan State University. Attorney Michael Jones represents the coalition suing the state. He says federal law prohibits states from starting new programs that are already established at a nearby Historically Black College or University, or HBCU.

    Jones: Once these programs were duplicated elsewhere, it affected the abilities of the HBCUs to be competitive in terms of attracting students regardless of race.
    Scott: Plaintiffs want the state to dismantle redundant programs at traditionally white schools, which many African-Americans attend.


    So let's see if we have this straight. The federal government has policies aimed at preserving HCBUs by preventing "traditionally white schools" from gaining advantages in recruiting black students. At the same time, the government encourages TWSs, especially elite ones, to institute "affirmative action" programs to increase their black enrollment. Since there are only so many black students to go around, aren't these goals at cross purposes?

    Maybe not--if one assumes that the ultimate purpose of all such rules is to make work for education bureaucrats.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/.....LEFTSecond

  • Top Black Student||

    "drawing top [black] students away from [HBCUs] to other state schools"

    That's ridiculous. I would never leave my homies.

  • The Gobbler||

    It is somewhat funny when two PC dictates collide.

  • Popular Girl||

    You all understand that the study is somewhat subjective, right? You're gabbing like it's real science, a fact of reality, when it's mostly opinion. "Liberals" in New York and California don't consider themselves unfree, for instance. How reliable is a study that merely reinforces libertarians' core beliefs?

  • Cy Milarly||

    "Liberals" in New York and California don't consider themselves unfree, for instance.

    You understand that domesticated sheep don't consider themselves unfree, for instance.

  • Popular Girl||

    They would take issue with some aspects of your political philosophy. That makes them "sheep"? Arrogant much?

  • Popular Girl||

    Anyway, I'm not sure how many of you actually read the study, but this caveat is worth noting:

    Conclusion
    Although we hope we have demonstrated that some states provide freer environments than others, it would be inappropriate to infer that the freest states necessarily enjoy a libertarian streak, while others suffer from a statist mentality.

    [sound of a bubble bursting]

  • ||

    Strange. That sounds just like a strawman burning!

  • Devil's Advocate||

    While the rankings do not necessarily mean that a state is more libertarian than another, there is a pretty significant libertarian presence here in Idaho (#4 on the list). Ron Paul got almost 24% of the primary vote in Idaho, even though it was mathematically impossible for him to win the nomination at that point. He will probably get an even larger share here this time around.

  • ||

    Anyone withstanding the amount of political silliness California heaps on people, simply for the weather, is a sheep at best.

  • Middle Age Crazy||

    I'm here for family reasons. Can I get a waiver?

  • Middle Age Crazy||

    That's probably because they haven't started a business, or put an addition on their house, or even just had a corporate job where they had to deal with nonsensical labyrinthine government regulations and petty bureaucrats.

    Or been successful enough to have a significant part of their income taken away to pay for the privledge of being treated like a irresponsible child, or worse, a potential criminal.

    Some of them will be mugged by these realities eventually. As for the rest, how long do you think the current standard of living in CA & NY will last once most of the people on the receiving end of this crap decide to go elsewhere?

    This may not be hard science, but the things they are attempting to measure in this study are important. It's not just a philosophical exercise.

  • GILMORE||

    . "Liberals" in New York and California don't consider themselves unfree, for instance.

    Dude above (re: sheep) more or less gave the response I had in mind. Actually, I was more on a "Fish don't think about the water much" line, but I'm not even sure that's right.

    Trust me, NY liberals suddenly find themselves 'unfree' whenever they find themselves on the receiving end of The Man's Phallus of Authority. Some hipster bitch ranted for like an hour in a bar last night about something she got charged and how ridiculous it was that she was going to have to appear in court and how she was going to lecture the judge in the Brooklyn courthouse and explain that this was a miscarriage of justice, yadda yadda yadda.

    While I suspect her Atticus Finch moment will never actually materialize, I'd give $100 to watch her try that shit with a Brooklyn municipal judge. With the backlog of bullshit they deal with...? Seriously, if you've ever been in the Bklyn courthouse for any reason... you know what I mean. The place is one of the darkest holes of Kafka-esque bureaucracy God has ever witnessed. Torquemada would be impressed. I am pretty sure there have been a number of deaths in the Waiting Room alone, both by natural and unnatural causes. Watching the transplant suburban hipster girl trying to buck the system would be like watching starved Christians being fed to the lions.

  • Satan||

    I am pretty sure there have been a number of deaths in the Waiting Room alone, both by natural and unnatural causes.

    Supernatural, too.

  • np||

    Trust me, NY liberals suddenly find themselves 'unfree' whenever they find themselves on the receiving end of The Man's Phallus of Authority.

    But that is true of any state, even ones that are supposedly more free! That's why I have a problem with such kinds of study that distills everything into a single ranking. The importance of various freedoms are completely relative.

    For example, if I were a porn producer or merely an erotic artist, I'd stay as far away from Florida as possible. Or what about the issue of raw milk? Or incestuous marriages? for example Rhode Island makes an exception for Jewish marriages. And what about going topless in New York? In other states, this could be treated as felony depending on context, etc, etc

  • Zuo||

    Say what??? Some of the best porn in the country is produced in the Miami area.

  • ||

    Strangely enough, it's legal for females (and males) to be topless in NYS. There is (was) a feminist march in the Rochester area in July where women walked topless on a Lake Ontario beach.

  • Trespassers W||

    "Liberals" in New York and California don't consider themselves unfree, for instance.

    People will feel free right up to the point they try to exercise a right, at which point they're forced to come to terms with how much or how little that right is respected.

    Liberals love democracy, so as long as they get to vote, they'll generally feel free. On the rare occasion a liberal tries buying a gun, or homeschooling, or starting a business, I bet their feelings change.

  • Zuo||

    You have it ass backwards you dumb ho. These guys are using OBJECTIVE indicators, YOU are the one using subjective opinions: "Well dumbass libtards in the nanny state think they're free, so it must be so! hurrrr!"

  • Popular Girl||

    I'll bet you're a big fan of Top 100 Rock Song lists.
    Dude! Stairway To Heaven is only #6?!
    Lists are for unthinking, gullible suckers.

  • Popular Girl||

    I am particularly threatened by this list and I don't know why!

  • ||

    I hear NY came in at number 57.

  • GILMORE||

    Alright, enough already. Go back to shitting on California!! I like doing that too! California!! Over there! Stop looking at us that way!

  • ||

    lol.

    But how free are we when our the feds allow this.

    http://motherjones.com/mojo/20.....ems-yearly

  • ||

    What is the correlation between a low score (i.e. most free) and F'n cold winter weather. Look at the top 4, only Indiana lies in what I'd think of as a moderate winter climate and it still gets Lake Effects storms in the northern half.

    Then again, look at Alaska, who would'a thought. If you'd asked me where the BIG chill would rank, I would have thought top quartile. Guess that's why I'm not doing research.

  • CE||

    Or they just came up with a formula to justify the Free State Project vote that picked New Hampshire (#1) over Wyoming (#21), Montana (#29), Alaska (#44) and six other states.

    Montana is way too low in the rankings, which casts a lot of doubt on their methodology.

  • Zuo||

    I found the lowness of MT ...surprising as well. Same w/ WY actually. And AK. But AK dominates for personal freedom; it got low score because 25% are on the public payroll. I didn't look at their reasoning for WY and MT.

  • Popular Girl||

    You mean opinions shouldn't count as science? Huh.

  • Zuo||

    No they shouldnt. It was my (mistaken) OPINION that MT was more free than it actually is. Fortunately, unlike a certain dumb bitch who tries to convince people shes never met that she's well liked, I can modify my OPINION when I am gifted with FACTS. Fancy that. Pwned, skank.

  • Ecolibertarian||

    The scoop on Montana:

    "Montana has a reputation for being a relatively free place. However, this reputation is not generally justified. Alcohol distribution is highly state controlled at both the wholesale and retail levels. Marijuana sentencing is extremely harsh. Health-insurance coverage mandates are somewhat excessive, including mandatory direct access to specialists. Occupational licensing is much more prevalent than average. Asset-forfeiture abuse is rampant, and eminentdomain reform has been anemic. Arrests for victimless crimes other than drugs are high. Cigarette taxes are rather high, and the state has universal smoking bans. Corporate PAC contributions to candidates and parties are prohibited."

  • Devil's Advocate||

    Yeah, Montana is not great when it comes to eminent domain. They just passed a law that grants utility companies the right to use eminent domain to condemn properties for the placement of transmission lines that do not serve any Montana customers. Not exactly a "public use" as far as Montanans are concerned. They explicitly authorized big companies to pull a Kelo on farmers and other landowners.

  • GSL||

    Yup, number 48 is about right. Though it's hard to imagine California wouldn't be #50 with a bullet if the authors had taken our environmental policies into account.

  • GSL||

    I also really liked playing with the calculator on the Mercatus website. The rankings seem to be very sensitive to changes in the options they provide. So, if you live in a middle-of-the-pack state, small changes in its policies are likely to move it up the line quickly.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    give me a 'C'!
    give me an 'O'!
    What does that spell for a lazy commenter?

    'C-O-L-O-R-A-D-O'!

    WOOOO!!!

    Home of Gaults Gulch by the way.

  • Brett L||

    Galt's Gulch.

  • Zuo||

    Also the Libertarian Party (TM).

  • Robert||

    Even from the executive summary, this damn well settles the argument about whether either of the major parties is better for individual liberty. Look how strongly ranking on a statewide basis correlates with Republican vs. Democrat numbers or votes. The only thing that would cast any doubt on that conclusion would be if the parties behaved differently when it came to national as compared to state issues.

  • ||

    WoooooHoooooooo!!! A list where my home state of Alabama isn't in the bottom 3. Yessssssss

  • Crystal Jewelry||

    You know there are not absolute freedom in any country!

  • Aimeng Crystal||

    Pursuit of freedom is pursuit of happiness!

    Freedom is the best in one's life!

  • ||

    North Carolina here, so this is its summary:

    """"""North Carolina is right in the middle of the pack
    in three of our categories. Overall spending, taxes,
    and debt are slightly below average, though income
    taxes and social service spending are too high. The
    state performs slightly better relative to its peers in
    terms of personal freedom. Unsurprisingly given its
    history, cigarette taxes and smoking regulations are
    minimal. North Carolina has the best asset-forfeiture
    laws in the land. It could improve them by putting
    the burden of proof on the government. Gun laws
    are better than average, including legal open carry.
    However, the state licenses handgun owners and
    gun dealers. Although wine taxes are low, beer and
    spirits taxes are quite onerous (with the latter a full
    standard deviation higher than average). Marijuana
    laws are fairly strict despite the decriminalization
    of low-level marijuana possession (indeed, in 2009,
    the state also banned Salvia). Motorist freedoms and
    gambling are highly constrained. Homeschoolers
    face teacher qualification and annual standardizedtesting
    requirements. Victimless-crime arrests and
    drug-law enforcement are relatively unexceptional.
    On regulation, labor laws are excellent, but occupational
    licensing needs to be rolled back (especially
    the elimination of licensing for acupuncturists,
    landscape contractors, cat and dog dealers, and athletic
    trainers). The state liability system is solid and
    health-insurance coverage mandates are fewer than
    average. However, eminent-domain reform has not
    gone far enough to be effective.""""""

  • cartonmayhem||

    I am not surprised that Indiana ranks among the top tier of freedom states. Getting a concealed carry permet is a joke. Just pay the fee and get one. No restrictions on how many guns you can own. Fellow hoosiers taught me the fine art of getting around the law. Before the lottery was brought in, gambling was allowed as bingo in church, so naturally, full scale gambling tended to happen there. In 1980 all the head shops closed thanks to Reagan's War on Drugs, but reopened like mushrooms by the mid-80's due to a simple sign put on bongs "For tobacco use only" in Indianapolis, pollutions laws were a joke. Pollution monitors were only on in the day time, so many plants ran at night. My spouse, from Canada, was shocked at how much I broke minor laws (speeding, illegal U-Turns things like that—really) I quipped "i'm from Indiana: there you learn the law is only advisory!"

  • cartonmayhem||

    Permit not permet

  • ||

    The Mercatus Center is financed by the Koch brothers, I wouldn't take this ranking too seriously.

  • قبلة الوداع||

    ThaNk U

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