Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - 1:03 PM
by: Dave Eberhart
Illustration: "Democrats Hunting Democrats" by: BEN HEINE. High resolution version of this image (for printing purposes) available HERE ::: Cartoonist, Journalist, Teacher ::: ::: Toonpool.com Executive Belgium ::: My Site ::: My Blog ::: My Toonpool ::: My Flickr :::
According to a new study released by the Mercatus Center of George Mason University, some of the most liberal U.S. states rank lowest when it comes to personal freedom.
The study, which calls itself the “first-ever comprehensive ranking of the American states on their public policies affecting individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres,” made a host of findings:
Unfortunately, say the report authors, these freedom-disadvantaged states “make up a substantial portion of the total American population. Moreover, these bottom five states have considerable ground to make up even to move off this ignoble list, let alone into a creditable position in the rankings.”
Sarah Palin’s Alaska does extremely well on personal freedom, conclude study authors. Reasons for its high personal freedom alone score include: fully legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana (accomplished through a court ruling), the best (least restrictive) gun laws in the country, recognition of same-sex domestic partnerships, and possibly the best homeschooling laws in the country.
There are real benefits to scoring high on economic and personal freedoms, conclude the study’s authors. Their analysis demonstrated that states enjoying more economic and personal freedom tend to attract substantially higher rates of internal net migration.
According to the study, previous research has shown that, as of 2006, Alabama and Mississippi were the most conservative states in the country, while New York and New Jersey were the most liberal. In the index put forth by the new study, Alabama and Mississippi fall in the middle, while New York and New Jersey are at the bottom.
“The problem is that the cultural values of liberal governments seem on balance to require more regulation of individual behavior than do the cultural values of conservative governments,” say the study’s authors. “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.”
Some Individual State Profiles
Alcohol is less regulated than in most other states, and taxes are low. Low-level marijuana cultivation is a misdemeanor, but otherwise marijuana laws are very harsh.
The study touts that it improves on prior attempts to score economic freedom for American states in three primary ways: (1) it includes measures of social and personal freedoms such as peaceable citizens’ rights to educate their own children, own and carry firearms, and be free from unreasonable search and seizure; (2) it includes far more variables, even on economic policies alone, than prior studies, and there are no missing data on any variable; and (3) it uses new, more accurate measurements of key variables, particularly state fiscal policies.
“We develop and justify our ratings 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,” note the author.
Live your values. Love your country.
And, remember: TOGETHER, We can make a DIFFERENCE!