Report Rates States By Freedom, And New Yorkers Get To Cry Into Their Regulated Sodas


Statue of Liberty
Derek Jensen

Rule-bound Massachusetts inspired the line, "everything's illegal in Massachusetts" in the Mel Gibson flick, Edge of Darkness. And, if that line isn't technically true, as a former resident of the Bay State I can testify that it's close enough to capture the feel of a place so ensnared in laws and taxes that you can safely assume that whatever the hell you're doing can get you in hot water if the wrong person takes notice. So it's no surpise that the state ranks poorly in the Mercatus Center's new report, Freedom in the 50 States, published today. If anything, Massachusetts's ranking of 30 seems generous, but the place has a lot of competition in the race to the bottom. And, the Bay State offsets hideous gun laws and land-use restrictions by recognizing same-sex marriage, and keeping arrests for victimless crimes, including marijuana use, rather restrained. The state also has a modestly sized government workforce and average tax rates, which let it shine relative to states like last-place New York.

But Massachusetts, like many less-free states, is losing population to states that rank more strongly overall in their respect for freedom. Not incidentally, freer states also tend to have higher growth in personal income than less-free states. And, there's a direct link between that prosperity and certain types of freedom. Specifically, note authors William P. Ruger and Jason Sorens, "[o]ur study has found that a positive relationship exists between a state's fiscal freedom and its net migration rate and income growth."

But the top-ranked states are red states, with the exception of New Hampshire, and the usual assumption is that red states favor economic liberty and blue states favor social freedom. Does that mean that Americans looking for economic opportunity have to trade off some leeway in their personal lives? Surprisingly, not really — or maybe a little, but in return for leeway in other areas. Say the authors:

On personal freedom we find little difference in overall scores between conservative and liberal states in general. While liberal states are freer than conservative states on marijuana and same-sex partnership policies, when it comes to gun owners, home schoolers, motorists, or smokers, liberal states are nanny states, while conservative states are more tolerant.

So, there are trade-offs on drugs and tolerance of homosexuality (and abortion, as North Dakota just demonstrated), but it's not an either-or choice between personal and economic liberty. And let's not forget that "red" Arizona legalized medical marijuana, while "blue" California banned gay marriage. Overall, then, what Ruger and Sorens find is that, while conservative and liberal states can be equally respectful or disrespectful of personal freedom issues, generally conservative states are better at respecting economic freedom than their liberal counterparts. And that edge on economic freedom comes with a boost to income growth.

To rate personal freedom the report looks at "gun policy, alcohol policy, marijuana-related policy, travel policy, gaming policy, mala prohibita and miscellaneous civil liberties, education policy, civil asset forfeiture, law enforcement statistics, marriage policy, campaign finance policy, and tobacco policy."

For economic freedom, the authors consider fiscal dimensions including "tax revenues, government employment, government spending, government debt, and fiscal decentralization," and regulatory dimensions, such as "liability system, real property rights (eminent domain and land-use regulation), health insurance freedom, labor market freedom, occupational freedom, cable and telecom, and miscellaneous regulations that do not fit under another category."

Of course, your mileage may vary if you have a special preference for liberty in specific areas, such as an ability to marry your same-sex partner. So, if you are considering a move, you need to look at a potential state's specific ratings to see how appropriate it is for you.

For easy reference, here are the ten top-ranked states:

1. North Dakota

2. South Dakota

3. Tennessee

4. New Hampshire

5. Oklahoma

6. Idaho

7. Missouri

8. Virginia

9. Georgia

10. Utah

And the ten lowest-ranked states:

40. Connecticut

41. Mississippi

42. West Virginia

43. Vermont

44. Maryland

45. Illinois

46. Rhode Island

47. Hawaii

48. New Jersey

49. California

50. New York

For what it's worth, Ruger and Sorens expect New York to get a nice boost in the ratings the next time around from the legalization of gay marriage. That should jump the state about three slots personal-freedom-wise.

NEXT: S&P 500 Reaches Record High

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  1. And, the Bay State offsets hideous gun laws and land-use restrictions by recognizing same-sex marriage

    This summarizes everything you need to know about the new crop of Reason writers, chiefly Mr Tucille and Mr Krayewski. Barf, barf, barf.

    1. What, that they think that SSM fairness offsets bad ideas? They never said it wholly makes up for those bad ideas. Barf on you.

      1. It doesn’t even offset. SSM, or OMOWM, has zilch to do with liberty. Show me how gay couples are being coerced in a non-SSM state.

        1. Um. The state is giving away incentives and goodies to straight but not gay couples. That’s pretty clearly unfair, whatever your logical fallacies say.

          1. Hmm, don’t some states allow benefits to flow to domestic partners regardless of gender? As do a lot of private companies? I live in Nebraska which is unlikely to allow SSM on its own, but state employee benefit plans recognize domestic partners.

    2. Doesn’t gay marriage legalization offer more freedom than states where gay marriage is still illegal? I’m not sure what your point is.

      1. Tulpa is being angry at the Cosmos.

        1. Well, they don’t invite him to their cool cocktail parties, so of course he’s angry.

          1. I think he’s more angry about not being invited to the key parties.

          2. You seem like a reasonable person. Why are you responding to rational argument with insults against the arguer?

            “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
            ? Eleanor Roosevelt

      2. How if forcing more people into a rigid, state regulated system of licensing more free? I pity the poor same-sex souls in those states that now have to register their love with the government.

        1. I wonder when we’ll see the first common law gay marriage case.

        2. Who the fuck is forcing anyone to get married?

        3. No one’s being forced to do anything. Don’t want to get married? Don’t get married.

          I agree that government shouldn’t be involved in marriage at all, but if they’re going to be involved, then clearly everyone should be equal under the law and have the same opportunities.

      3. No, it doesn’t. A pat on the head for gay couples does not increase freedom.

        Don’t confuse equality with freedom — that’s one of the telltale odors of a leftist.

        1. Tulpa makes a good point, in that if you make same-sex marriage legal, you risk violating the principle of free association. However, the flip side of that coin is that if same-sex couples cannot get the exact same LEGAL rights, there is a discriminatory factor.

          Civil unions that are identical to marriage in everything but name would be the best solution, but gay couples would probably still pout.

          1. Is it different if you think of them as legal benefits rather than legal rights?

            1. Depends really on exactly what the item is. Tax breaks could be considered legal benefits; not having to testify against your spouse in court would be a right.

          2. Several states have civil unions but no SSM, and the Reasonoids still damn them for it.

            1. Cry some more Tulpa. We always need more Kultur Wor b.s.

              1. So now you’re responding to arguments with insults too? How sad.

                Nobody on here has, you know, explained how non-SSM is coercive in nature, but everyone claims it’s a libertarian issue. There was a time when libertarians actually backed up their positions with argument; now you guys are degrading into a smaller version of the other TEAMs, believing what you believe for no rational reason.

          3. Violations of free association continue apace with or without same-sex marriage (see New Mexico). If you’re going to contend that it is actually accelerating the advance of those violations, you’ll need to do a lot more than make assertions.

            1. Yeah it’s Tulpa that’s not going to happen.

              1. Well in this case it was StackofAssumptions here, but likely not.

            2. The mere fact that the number of folks who must seek permission from the state in order to marry is accelerating due to SSM supports the proposition that there is less freedom, not more.

              1. Uh, ANYONE who wants their marriage recognized by the state has to apply for it. I somehow doubt that being able to apply makes someone less free than not being able to.

                Besides which, my point wasn’t about marriage itself but rather the assertion that same-sex marriage has a meaningful effect on the advancement of anti-discrimination laws. As I’ve mentioned before, there are states with same-sex marriage that haven’t passed such laws (in relation to sexual orientation), and at least one state (New Mexico) that passed such a law in the utter absence of any gay marriage or civil union laws.

              2. Technically gay couples have to seek permission from the state right now with the answer always being no. It’s not the number of people but the answer that changes.

        2. I’m not confusing equality with freedom, Tulpa. I’m saying that the government should not be allowed to legally discriminate.

          That’s one of the telltale odors of a leftist.

          At least you didn’t call anyone a cosmotarian, even though that sentence substantively means the same thing.

          1. I’m saying that the government should not be allowed to legally discriminate.

            Which is an equality concern, not a liberty concern.

            Personally I don’t give a shit about SSM or the lack thereof, it’s a fucking word! But libertarians are jumping into bed with some seriously statist fucksticks by putting SSM at the top of the list of liberty issues, or anywhere near it.

    3. the Bay State offsets hideous gun laws and land-use restrictions by recognizing same-sex marriage, and keeping arrests for victimless crimes, including marijuana use, rather restrained. The state also has a modestly sized government workforce and average tax rates,

      Imagine the spazz-out from Tulpa if one of the Reason writers made such liberal use of selective quoting.

      1. Oh wow. Thank you for that. Way to be dishonest, Tulpa.

        1. He may have selectively edited, but the facts are not as J.D. presents them. As a resident Masshole, I beg to differ with his factual assertions.

          1. Uh, the facts are as JD presented them. That he didn’t give us every single detail provided by the report isn’t meaningful. I notice you don’t say what is false about what Tucille said.

            However, Tulpa specifically citing things relevant to the point he’s making while omitting those details that make his narrative suspect is out-and-out deceptive.

            1. See my point below about M.G.L. c. 149 s. 148B, the “presumption of employment” statute.

              The fact that the Report fails to even include such legislation in its labor freedom category is a glaring omission.

              The law is a jobs killer and it has put a number of companies out of business.

              1. So again (as below), lack of perfection means it’s not only totally unreliable, but is left-leaning? Because those are Tulpa’s only points, which are not borne out by the ratings not being perfect.

                1. Correction: Tulpa’s only point about this study seems to be that it cares too much about gay marriage. Which REALLY isn’t borne out by anything you’ve pointed out so far. So Tulpa is far from “right” about the study.

      2. Any tactic, no matter how disingenuous or poorly thought out, is justified when victory in the Kultur Wor is on the line!

      3. But it’s different because Cosmos and gay.

      4. I quoted the part of the article that I was responding to — you know, the article you have to read before you get to the comments.

        And of course, my argument is unaffected by the inclusion of the rest of the sentence. SSM does not offset property rights and gun rights violations at all when it comes to sins against liberty. (the other stuff is weak tea too, but at least sort of involves coercion)

    4. The article mentions nothing about weights for the various criteria. Who knows if SSM is weighted as heavily as gun rights? I suppose they list their methodology somewhere.

      1. I’m not a statistics guy, but if you look at the pdf of their 2011 report here:

        it looks like there is some methodological discussion (around p58ff).

      2. Marriage Freedom (which is mostly, but not all, SSM) has the 5th-highest weight and comprises 2.1% of the weight, while Gun Control Freedom is 6.6% and is the 2nd-highest weight under Personal Freedom. Victimless Crime Policy is 1st at 9.9%.

        1. Again, these are all under Personal Freedom (32.7% of the total weight).

          1. Thanks

    5. what Jeremy said I am stunned that a mom able to profit $7884 in four weeks on the computer. did you see this webpage…

  2. Pennsylvania’s gun control laws are roughly average for the entire country. The state does badly on alcohol policy, ranking 47th.

    You can kind of have your guns but only if you drink this government wine with them.

    The state has dramatically liberalized gambling, adding quite a bit to its treasury and placing Pennsylvania among the best states for gaming freedom in the country. Pennsylvania’s home school laws are perhaps the worst in the country, and its private school regulations are not much better.

    You can gamble, just not on your child’s education.

    1. You must always go all in with your child’s future on the two-pair.

    2. This is why this ranking is bullshit. There is no way that “alcohol policy” should be weighted the same as gun rights, when the major sin of the 4th-to-last state in that area is that they make you drive a little out of your way and deal with miserable clerks if you want something stronger than beer. I sure as hell don’t like the state store system, but is it even close to as liberty-violating as IL’s gun laws?

      1. Who are you to decide that?

        1. Well… The right to bear arms is a pretty big deal. It is enshrined in the constitution and all of that. State governments that blatantly seek to violate that right scare me more than those who are squishy about alcohol. Not that either type of intrusion isn’t abhorrent. Man Im depressed about the situation in Colorado. If I dont see the blue team get spanked good and hard over their shenanigans in Novemember I might have to consider bailing…

          1. The right to imbibe SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED!

            I’d put it right up there with 2A.

            1. And it’s not infringed in PA. Anyone over 21 who wants to get liquor or wine can do so, there’s just a stupid system of ugly stores with asshole clerks they have to go to. Unlibertarian for sure, but in comparison to gun rights and property rights? Please.

      2. Every comprehensive ranking has to choose it’s weighting somehow, and everybody will have their subjective beef with the way it’s weighted. That doesn’t mean it’s BS, just that you subjectively don’t like the weighting they chose.

        1. And they give you the option to personalize the ranking. In case you missed it.

          1. If you toss out fiscal freedom, my state of Indiana comes out as #1. But yeah they tax the fuck out of us. I pay Federal, State, County, AND Local income taxes—I mean how fucked up is paying a city income tax especially when I don’t live in the damn city but 18 miles south of it and don’t receive ANY services whatsoever from the city (volunteer fire department, private trash company, septic, well, they never plow or repave out here and the cop shop that (theoretically)comes is the county sheriff . But I can build any damn thing I want in my back yard (as long as it doesn’t have a permanent foundation) and the only thing you have to do to legally home school is send a note to the public school that they aren’t coming any more.

      3. Who said they were rated equally? I doubt you have any idea what sort of weight they place on different types of regulation, you just see an opportunity to proclaim anyone who disagrees with you (or you have a vague suspicion of disagreeing with you) as biased and jump on it.

        You may want to actually read before you say anything else. I have no doubt it will be stupid, but at least you’ll be better informed then you are now.

        1. Did you read what comprises the Labor Market Freedom category?

          In Massachusetts, we have M.G.L. c. 149 s. 148B. The statute is commonly referred to as the “presumption of employment” law or the “ABC test”. The statute presumes that any person who provides services to another is an employee unless the “employer” can demonstrate three things:

          (1) the person providing the service is engaged in his own business;

          (2) the service being provided is not part of the “employer’s” core business; and

          (3) the person providing the service is free to furnish his services as he sees fit and is not under the control and / or supervision of the “employer”.

          The statute is both a jobs and a liberty killer. It also happens to be a lucrative pursuit of labor class action bar here in Massholeville.

          Guess what? The Labor Market Freedom category does not contain an entry for such legislation.

          1. Upshot: Tulpa is right. How could one accord much credibility to the Report if its authors fail to even include such a freedom filching law in its labor freedom category?

            1. So lack of perfection means it’s not only totally unreliable, but is left-leaning? Because are his only points, which are not borne out by not being perfect.

              1. Correction: Tulpa’s only point about this study seems to be that it cares too much about gay marriage. Which REALLY isn’t borne out by anything you’ve pointed out so far. So Tulpa is far from “right” about the study.

              2. You asked Tulpa for some specifics, I provided one.

                Of course, one has to be AWARE of the existence of such a liberty killer as M.G.L. c. 149 s. 148B. Is it asking too much for the authors to not be so ignorant?

                1. Yes, Tulpa has harped on the SSM issue, but he also criticizes other aspects of the rankings – see his post at 4:53 PM.

                  Sure, Tulpa may know nothing of Mass’s presumptive employment statute either. But, the failure to include a presumption of employment laws in the Labor Market Freedom category only supports the proposition that the rankings are very much flawed.

                  However, I am not taking issue with the point made by many here that these here rankings are very much like college football polls. Its the debate.

                  1. Tulpa’s point at 4:53 was:

                    There is no way that “alcohol policy” should be weighted the same as gun rights, when the major sin of the 4th-to-last state in that area is that they make you drive a little out of your way and deal with miserable clerks if you want something stronger than beer.

                    This is ALSO not borne out by the study, which doesn’t weight them anywhere near the same.

                    YOUR “point” seems to be that despite none of Tulpa’s assertions being true, everything about the study is suspect. As previously noted, pointing out things he is wrong about, as well as what you have mentioned, doesn’t make their ranking worthless.

                2. I didn’t ask Tulpa for specifics, I pointed out he didn’t KNOW the specifics, and provided a link to them so he could educate himself. YOUR “specifics” have nothing at all to do with his point.

                  1. You are evading the overarching point, namely that the criteria are incomplete, rendering them flawed.

                    How can one ignore presumptive employment statutes? How can one ignore public employee immunity? I just looked at all of the criteria and I could not believe that the authors failed to consider absolute immunity for judges and prosecutors as well as qualified immunity for cops.

                    1. Have I said that the rankings are “worthless”?

                      The criteria relied upon are incomplete.

                    2. I’m not evading the fact these ratings aren’t perfect. I never claimed them to be. I DO dispute that the ratings are useless or very misleading, which seems to be what your posts are driving towards.

                      You ask how anyone can ignore presumptive employment statutes, but I can’t find anyone who even writes on them. And public employee immunity hardly seems to be a freedom issue.

                      Again, you don’t seem to have any reason to say cite these things except to “prove” that I’m wrong in finding Tulpa’s criticisms faulty. If your only goal was to show that the ratings aren’t perfect, responding to my posts doesn’t make much sense. Rather, you seem overly sensitive to the idea that Tulpa’s saying dumbass shit, and trying to shore him up with things that are quite irrelevant to what he’s saying.

                    3. Okay, fair enough.

                      No, my goal was not to shore up Tulpa’s posts. It was to provide some specifics to support the point that criteria used for making the rankings is incomplete.

                      But, how can you dismiss the immunity issue by asserting that it “hardly seems to be a freedom issue”? It most certainly is. If your rights are violated by a judge, a prosecutor, a cop or a regulator, you probably have very little recourse. The fact that a public employee knows that he can mess with your rights and that you have no effective remedy to redress the deprivation of your liberty most assuredly is a freedom issue.

                    4. darius, in retrospect, I should not have referred to Tulpa in making my point.

    3. So, don’t have them enroll at Penn State?

  3. Why isn’t NH #1?

    1. They haven’t finished their border fence.

    2. Not sure if serious.

      1. With Tulpa, the stupider that he acts, the more likely he’s being serious.

    3. I was wondering the same thing. How can South Dakota be #46 on personal liberties and rank #2 overall? The average of the three main scores for North Carolina is much higher.

      1. Er, New Hampshire.

  4. Didn’t we just have a discussion about the social ‘permissiveness’ of the blue states, or lack thereof?

    I don’t see the SSM issue the same way Tulpa does, I believe that being equal before the law is an entirely libertarian issue, even if I agree at the same time that benefits conveyed upon a class are not the exact same thing as freedom.

    SSM in Massachusetts is an unqualified good thing, but a state which which observes the ‘duty to flee’ doctrine but conveys the privileges of marriage upon same sex couples is hardly an equalizing force.

    1. I believe that being equal before the law is an entirely libertarian issue

      Well, libertarianism is supposed to be all about when coercion is justified. So, one could make a liberty-based argument that, for example, a law that forbade everyone from smoking marijuana is superior to one that exempted government officials and employees. That issue at least involves coercion.

      SSM, on the other hand, has absolutely nothing to do with coercion. Gay couples are not coerced in non-SSM states, are they?

      1. We can get back into the tit-for-tat whether the privileges conveyed upon the married should exist. I’m not trying to do that.

        I’m recognizing that trivial or no, there are a bunch of laws and ‘stuff’ that you can get if you’re legally married.

        If a state says that mixed-race couples can’t receive a marriage license, thus denying those trivial (or not) privileges, that’s pretty shitty. If we say the same thing to gay people, I’m not convinced it’s any less shitty.

        I’m not sure there’s a ‘coercion’ angle here, aside from the fact that the government is picking winners and losers, or at minimum, creating a ‘preferred class’ of citizen.

        1. m not sure there’s a ‘coercion’ angle here, aside from the fact that the government is picking winners and losers, or at minimum, creating a ‘preferred class’ of citizen.

          Yes it is social engineering by the government. Would you object to a flat tax with no deductions because a lot of people will lose the deductions they currently get?

          1. Winner!

        2. I’m not sure I see a constitutional problem with miscegenation laws either. (obviously I oppose such laws because they’re stupid, but they aren’t necessarily unconstitutional)

          Miscegenation laws are actually on shakier footing because they have to be fairly arbitrary; for example, can a person who’s 5/8 black and 3/8 white marry someone who’s 3/8 black and 5/8 white? Not to mention the definition of the races to begin with.

          Laws against SSM are much less arbitrary; with extremely rare exceptions, it’s clear whether you’re male or female.

      2. When a gay person’s partner dies they are coerced out of a significant amount of the property left by the partner. This doesn’t happen when you are married.

        1. That’s exactly what’s before the Court in DOMA. And I agree.

          1. Of course all estate taxes are bullshit but I think it is an especially vile case.

            As much as people are bickering about the other case I don’t see how any libertarian could oppose the DOMA case.

            1. They should not, for various reasons, one of which being that there is no grant of power given to Congress to legislate anything having to do with the family.

        2. Yes, as Randian states above, DOMA blocks people legally married in the states from some, what did NPR claim, 86,000,000,000 federal laws and benefits conveyed upon the married.

          Yes, there’s a definite libertarian argument to be made about the 86,000,000,000 federal laws and benefits conveyed upon the married, but barring some kind of zombie apocalypse that wipes those from the books, it’s pretty shitty.

          1. Only 86 billion? You sure it wasn’t 86 quadrillion?

            1. 86 Googolplex

          2. I keep hearing about this, but few actually list what they are.

            Estate tax break for married couples – shouldn’t exist or should be for civil unions
            Immunity from testifying against spouse – shouldn’t exist
            Immigration preference for spouses – shouldn’t exist
            Benefits for spouses of fed workers – not coercive in nature as it’s employment related

            Haven’t heard of any other specific ones.

        3. So? The problem there is the marriage exception to the estate tax, not the OMOW marriage policy. if the state gave everyone with a drivers license $1000 a year, would that mean that we should give drivers licenses to blind people and people with no arms or legs to avoid discrimination? No — you get rid of the stupid law that actually causes the problem.

          If I want to leave an inheritance to my sister — who, of course, I don’t have the legal option of marrying — the state’s going to take a bite out of that also. Why should people who want to leave money to someone they’re having sex with be privileged over people who want to leave money to someone else?

      3. It entirely depends on the level we’re talking about. Once the worst parts of DOMA go down and the Federal government blindly recognizes state marriage licenses (again), then a couple that’s civil union’d could be coerced to testify against his husband. And you know, there’s the whole deportation thing for binational couples.

        So under our current legal regime, gays can be coerced in ways that they wouldn’t be under a system that include SSM.

        1. Then get rid of the marriage exceptions for those things.

      4. First of all, there are issues of coercion (mostly legal issues) that SSM solves.

        Second of all, saying that libertarianism is just about coercion is a red herring. The entire point of us supporting SSM is that even though we would prefer the government not being involved in marriage at all, the reality is that government is here and its coercion in this issue is not going to be changed in the near future. If the choice was between government coercion and no government coercion, your analysis would be correct. But that isn’t the choice we have.

        If government is going to exist, then libertarians should at least support a fair government.

        1. saying that libertarianism is just about coercion is a red herring.

          If it’s about anything else it’s going to get a ton more convoluted. You start valuing equality alongside liberty and you wind up with a TEAM philosophy just like the major parties have.

  5. Has anyone noted that the “most free” state bans corporate farmland ownership? An interesting concept which has worked out well for North Dakota’s multi-generational residents.

    1. Corporations are creatures of the state, so there’s no freedom violation there.

      1. Are you picking on Corporations specifically, or are we going to talk about the broader concept of a group of people who pool their resources can’t speak or do, based on their group-ness?

        1. Corporations aren’t just a group of people. They’re a group of people the govt has granted limited liability to.

      2. Or, try this on for size:

        Married couples aren’t allowed to own property. Marriage is a creature of the state, therefor no freedom violation there.

        1. Doctors aren’t allowed to own property. Doctors are a creature of the state…

          1. People who drive on ROADZ are creatures of the state…

          2. Tulpa, a group of individuals does not need the state to limit liability. People can freely contract to limit liability to an entity they create.

          3. Nope. A doctor is a person, and owns property as a person.

            A corporation does not own property as a group of people; it owns property as a limited liability creature. If a tree on that property falls on someone else’s house, the victim can’t sue any of the people who set up the corporation.

  6. “Of course, your mileage may vary…So, if you are considering a move, you need to look at a potential state’s specific ratings to see how appropriate it is for you.”

    Or you could use the personalize ranking questionnaire.

  7. People (like me) are Massachusetts’ biggest export. I recently had an opportunity to move back for a job. No way, never, fuck you. (Although I did briefly consider commuting from New Hampshire)

  8. How is Texas #5 on alcohol when it is illegal for brewpubs to sell off premises, illegal for breweries to sell beer direct to the public and many counties still have sweeping bans and ridiculous regulations?

    1. Because 45 states are even shittier?

      I really don’t know, but that was my first thought – Could be a tallest midget situation.

      1. Nah, Texas is notorious for being anti-beer. Until last year, all beer above 4% abv had to be labeled “malt liquor.”

        1. “Ale” actually, some out of state breweries just but “ale in texas: somewhere on the bottle. Still a stupid law but it doesn’t affect our current ranking and at least we could buy that beer. AS I mentioned a lot of pro-beer legislation is currently making it through the legislature and is almost certain to pass. Our rankings should get better next year.

    2. I think libertarians are beginning to learn one very important lesson:

      We’re losing.

      1. Doesn’t that assume we were winning, or even competitive, at one point.

        1. Don’t rub salt in it.

    3. First of all the first two have already passed the senate and will soon become fixed. The last isn’t the state government’s fault. Also its not like we have government liquor stores or bullshit rules about what alchohol level beer can be sold. I’m frustrated with the laws too but it just shows how shitty it is elsewhere.

      1. That’s true, I was arguing based upon the current law the study was based upon. With liquor stores forced to close at 9 PM and other arbitrary regulations, I guess I assumed there were more enlightened states when it came to alcohol. I’m surprised Oregon is so low ranked (#40) when it has such a booming craft beer/liquor scene.

        Hell, Oklahoma is #27 and you can’t even get beer over 3% outside of liquor stores (sold at room temperature) if I remember correctly.

        1. And Texas is #25 on gambling? The only legal gambling here is the state lotto, which is in most states if I remember right.

          1. Oklahoma is lower ranked!? They actually have a ton of (Indian) casinos that the state promotes heavily.

          2. Several types of gambling are legal (not including casino gambling), though social gambling is technically prohibited and aggravated gambling is a felony.

            From OK. Looks like Indian casinos don’t count as it isn’t part of the state. I guess the penalties on social gambling make the difference. It does look odd though. Gambling is definitely a tallest midget ranking outside few states.

        2. I think the future of alcohol is bright in Texas. We have one of the fastest growing craft brewing scenes (admittedly partially because we were so far behind before) and it has united all three tiers politically at least for now.

          And county level thing, when was the last time a vote to go wet failed?

          1. Here’s another thing we didn’t think of for alcohol, taxes:

            Alcohol is less regulated than in most other states, and beer, wine, and liquor taxes are low.

        3. Hell, Oklahoma is #27 and you can’t even get beer over 3% outside of liquor stores (sold at room temperature) if I remember correctly.

          True, but you can purchase the watery shit on Sunday, so there is that.

        4. Beer and wine sales in Oregon are pretty liberal, but the liquor laws fucking suck. The liquor industry here isn’t nearly as big as the beer and wine industries, so they weren’t quite as able to influence laws in their favor.

          1. We have liquor sales in grocery store and most of my college friends from the pacific northwest grew wide-eyed with wonder when we walked into the local Ralphs and there was an entire aisle of liquor.

            1. I grew up in Nevada and then went to college in Oregon, so it was kind of the opposite for me.

              “What the fuck do you mean you have to go to a special store to buy liquor? And it CLOSES? Who the fuck came up with that bullshit?!”

              1. Also fun was forcing my college roommate from Portland to pump gas the whole way up the CA coast. He was honestly convinced it was dangerous and should be done by a specialist the first two times.

                1. Yeah, that’s the other thing that really bugs me about Oregon. It’s just a fucking jobs program, but they’ve got half the population convinced it’s actually dangerous to pump your own gas.

                  1. Yeah, he has strong opinions on it now that he’s moved back up there. Apparently the first time he went to pump his own gas he got screamed at by the attendant for trying to steal his job.

  9. Isn’t it fascinating how there is an inverse relationship between a place’s freedom and how desirable it is to live there?

    1. Ah desirability… that universal constant that Tony knows to 86 decimal places.

      1. It can be roughly measured by population size, property values, and such, can it not?

        1. And those places are so desirable that…people are fleeing them for ‘less’ desirable places.

    2. Population shifts seem to indicate those “desireable” places are being abandoned for “less desireable” places. But who am I to argue with your aesthetic taste?

      1. Excellent question, but one need not worry about arbitrary preferences when we’re comparing New York or Hawaii to Idaho. I wonder if this measure of “freedom” might put a lot of weight on how much in taxes people pay.

        Of course since the economy of flyover country depends on the taxes collected in the other states to pay for their ag and energy subsidies and social services, it’s a bit skewed a way to measure things. Anyone would be freer if his richer and more interesting neighbors subsidized him.

        1. Anyone would be freer if his richer and more interesting neighbors subsidized him.

          Please, Tony, if more money = more freedom, then I should be bitching loud and clear that school teachers are considerably more free than I.

          1. What is with you guys and this ridiculous idea that schoolteachers are the world’s biggest overpaid parasites? Is it because you don’t believe in hedge fund managers?

            1. Because most teachers suck.

              1. That they do.

            2. What is with you guys and this ridiculous idea that schoolteachers are the world’s biggest overpaid parasites? Is it because you don’t believe in hedge fund managers?

              Who said they’re overpaid parasites? You said more money = more free. On the news the other day, there was a schoolteacher that made $86,000 a year. That’s fuck more than I make. Therefore, more free. You made the assertion, now you’re backing away from it?

              1. Who said they’re overpaid parasites?

                I did.

                As far as I know, no one puts a gun to someone’s head to pay hedge fund managers. Parasitic, socialist, indoctrinators are paid completely with money collected at the point of a gun.

                1. Anti-intellectualism, always the hallmark of a successful political ideology.

            3. It’s the gun that gets pointed at me every month to pay their salary, I think.

              1. You must live in one of the unfree states if that happens. That sucks man.

                1. Are there states with no public schools?

        2. Gee, do you suppose it has anything to do with geography or climate? Nah, that’s crazy talk.

    3. Don’t ever confuse the happy accident of having pretty vistas, good weather and/or beaches which were created 60,000,000 years ago and the political environment.

      People are willing to put up with a lot for 72 degrees year round and bays of azure water. IN fact, I think it’s precisely those things that create the onerous political climate.

      If you tried to pull that shit in flyover country, people would just leave. So you gotta give your constituents some breathing room.

      But as California is learning, you can go too far.

      1. Seriously. California is by far the most beautiful state in the nation, probably has the best weather, and of course it has lots of fun stuff to do. People put up with the shitty government because the rest of CA is great fun.

    4. Yes, because the assholes in charge can levy a premium against the citizens and get away with it. People can only put up with so much shit. Some shit occurs naturally; snow, for example. Some shit is man made, like gun laws and taxes. CA is VERY high on man made shit, but VERY low on natural shit, as long as you aren’t around for the earthquakes or floods.

      New York is high on both types of shit, but also has the long term benefit of being a major gateway to the Atlantic region.

      1. There is a pattern so universal it probably qualifies as a sociological law: the more densely packed a society, the more rules it sees necessary, and obviously the more physical and social infrastructure, and hence taxes, its people require. Most political tensions in a big country like ours can boil down to rural values vs. urban values, with suburbanites naturally on the fence about things.

        Now, the only reason I tend to think urban values ought to prevail more often is because along with their more advanced social infrastructure comes better education. Sure they’re likely to impose things on people who live in Bumfuck, Idaho, that those people don’t need, but the reverse is always scarier, because it’s always far dumber bullshit and always has to involve Jesus.

        1. Social infrastructure. Nice code-word.


        2. I’ll gladly stack the education available in large city school districts against the suburbs/rural districts. Are you seriously going to argue that LA Unified or Detroit Public Schools are providing quality education?

        3. There is a pattern so universal it probably qualifies as a sociological law: the more densely packed a society, the more rules it sees necessary, and obviously the more physical and social infrastructure, and hence taxes, its people require.

          I agree with that; but big city govts in the US have gone far, far beyond the “necessary” amount of rules for a dense population. Population density doesn’t justify regulating how much soda someone can drink or whether they can eat trans fats.

        4. You are dead fucking wrong on the quality of education. Check some statistics on that.

    5. Is this an appeal to popularity? Why, yes it is. What a weak angle, Tony.

  10. Jesus CA, you can’t even be the WORST state on the list!? If my state is going to fail, I want it to fail spectacularly.

    1. We tried our best!

      It’s not even fair to rank us like that! Everyone’s a winner I tell you. EVERYONE!!

  11. New York is tied for #1 on trans fat bans? Shocking.

    1. I was sitting in a coffee shop when a somewhat…theatric opera singer walked in. He saw a sign on the food case that said “NO TRANS FATS” and quipped “But what if I like my trannies a bit chubby.” One of the workers looked absolutely horrified and my friend who was working couldn’t stop laughing.

      1. That’s hilarious.

  12. Number 50 for Leftists on a liberty scale is a win-win for these sad disgruntled sax of rather dry flesh and brain. How will this educate, Libertarian overlords?

  13. My cursory review of all of the criteria revealed that there is nothing on public employee immunity.


  14. I’m shocked that Oklahoma is #5. The rest of the country must be even worse than I thought.

    1. And the widespread Indian gambling didn’t even factor into it, obviously.

  15. “Massachusetts, like many less-free states, is losing population to states that rank more strongly overall in their respect for freedom”

    The amount of freedom must be diluted to equal consistency in all territories. We can call it “statist gas”.

  16. Virginia did pretty good. Nothing in there though, about Bob McDonnell’s efforts to restore felon’s rights. I think he’s done it for a few thousand since taking office. He tried to get a law passed to automatically restore the rights of nonviolent felons, but the Assembly didn’t go for it. He also tried to deregulate our state liquor monopoly, but it also died in the legislature.

    He’s not terrible, from a libertarian standpoint.

  17. I like Massachusetts, but it was almost impossible for me to afford renting of a studio apartment on a crummy full-time retail job without going on some sort of government program….when I did some research on it a year ago.

    Probably will move up to New Hampshire when I decide to settle down. I hate the southern bible-thumping culture

    1. Where do you live now?

      1. Massachusetts 😛 I said ‘was’ because I was looking at moving out of my parent’s house.

        Probably won’t happen until I finish school now. They’re moving to Tennessee anyways, but I like cold weather

  18. When’d you live in Mass Tucille? The book reads as if you’re very western.

  19. I really liek the sound of that.

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