The Mercatus Center at George Mason University just released a study that was produced by Jason Sorens an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Buffalo and William Ruger, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the Texas State University.
Founded 25 years ago, Mercatus describes itself as working “to advance knowledge about how markets work to improve our lives by training graduate students, conducting research, and applying sound economics to offer solutions to society’s most pressing problems” with a mission to “generate knowledge and understanding of how institutions affect the freedom to prosper and find creative solutions to overcome barriers that prevent individuals from living free, prosperous, and peaceful lives.”
The study focused on three broad categories such as fiscal policy, regulatory restriction and paternalism. With regard to fiscal policies they researched things like taxation, debt to income ratio, government spending as a percentage of income and employment. With regard to regulatory policy they looked at state mandates, eminent domain and business required licenses and permits among others. Finally the category of paternalism where they examined social freedom such as gun control, same sex marriage and sin taxes imposed by government.
New York is by far the least Free State in the Union. The states motto is Excelsior which translates to “ever upward” as in costs to live here. It has also experienced the most interstate emigration of any state over the last decade. New York has by far the highest taxes in the country. Property, selective sales, individual income, and corporate-income taxes are particularly high. Spending on public welfare, hospitals, electric power, transit, employee retirement, and “other and unallocable” expenses are well above national norms. On personal freedoms, gun laws are extremely restrictive, but marijuana laws are better than average, while tobacco laws are extremely strict, and cigarette taxes are the highest in the country. Motorists are highly regulated, and home school regulations are excessive, but nondrug victimless-crimes arrests are low. New York has the strictest health-insurance community-rating regulations in the country, which have wiped out the individual market. Mandated coverages are worse than average but were actually cut back substantially in 2007–2008. Eminent domain abuse is rampant and unchecked.
New Hampshire is the freest state in the country. Their state motto is “ Live free or die” and seems to be fairly appropriate. New Hampshire does much better on economic than personal freedom and on fiscal than regulatory policy. Under unified Democratic control in 2007–2008, the state saw a respectable increase in freedom. A smoking ban was enacted, but so were same-sex civil unions.
Taxes, spending, and fiscal decentralization remain more than a standard deviation better than average, and government debt actually went down slightly. Gun laws are among the most liberal in the country, but carrying a firearm in a car requires a concealed carry permit. Effective retail-tax rates on wine and spirits are zero. Marijuana laws are middling; low level possession could be decriminalized like it is in Maine, while low-level cultivation could be made a misdemeanor like it is in both Maine and Vermont. New Hampshire is the only state in the country with no seatbelt law for adults. It lacks a motorcycle helmet law but does have a bicycle-helmet law and authorizes sobriety checkpoints. Eminent-domain reforms have gone far. The state’s liability system is one of the best, but campaign-finance regulations are quite strict. The drug law-enforcement rate is low and dropping, while arrests for other victimless crimes are high and dropping.
Statistics show that Free states of New Hampshire, Colorado, Texas, Georgia, Florida and North Carolina are all gaining population in the range op 5 -7 % or more. While the Nanny states of New York, New Jersey, California, Massachusetts and Illinois are all declining between 5 – 9% per year since 2007.
Around the country people are voting with their feet as they flee the least free states in America and move to free states that allow them to pursue happiness. The is tacit approval that liberty, the freedom to live and be left alone and the ability to pursue a happy life is an inalienable right that comes from our creator but can be taken by our government. Invariably people given a choice are choosing freedom over the Nanny state.