How free is your state? According to the libertarian folks at Reason.com, Florida is the most free – or, at least, the least not-free – state. Our own Colorado surprisingly comes in at #15, Alaska at #27, and our neighbor to the north, Wyoming, not surprisingly comes in at #10. Excerpt:
Florida is the freest (or least unfree, depending on how you look at it) state in the United States? So says North Carolina’s John Locke Foundation in its First in Freedom Index, which drew data from a range of sources and found that the state where alligators help keep the yowling, roaming kitty population under control is also notable for officials who generally stay out of your way. Arizona and Indiana round out the top three, while California, New Jersey, and New York serve, unsurprisingly, as black holes of bureaucratic suckage.
Those of us familiar with the neverending jaw-drops provided by Florida police shenanigans, or simply with the presence of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona’s Maricopa County, might be raising an eyebrow around now. But remember that cops in California, New Jersey, and New York are much more professional about their pervasive abuses. They can get through the business of strangling petty “criminals” and trumping up charges against political enemies without parading outrageous personalities in the process. Besides, the John Locke Foundation bypasses civil liberties issues to focus on fiscal policy, educational choice, regulatory incursions, and health care freedom. As a measure of relative restraint and leeway in those areas, it’s a handy addition to various existing freedom rankings without displacing the role of other indexes.
Personally I kind of like Joe Arpaio. But then I don’t agree with Reason on everything; immigration policy, for instance. I’d be OK with open borders, on one condition: No welfare of any kind for immigrants for five years after entry.
But that’s a topic for another day.
Here’s the original study from the John Locke Foundation. An interesting point:
One possible mechanism for economic freedom boosting growth is making astate more attractive to out-of-state business executives, investors, professionals, and other job creators. In a 2007 Southern Economic Journal study, economist Nathan Ashby found that states ranking high on the EFNA Index tend to experience high rates of in-migration, which in turn confer broader economic benefits.
Yet another index, from the Tax Foundation, ranks states according to the competitiveness of their tax codes. While focused solely on taxes, this State Business Tax Climate Index (SBTCI) also combines several different variables — and has also been the subject of empirical study. A 2007 study by scholars at the Brookings Institution, for example, used the Tax Foundation’s measure as one variable in a broader analysis of state growth rates. It found that states ranked high on the SBTCI tended to have higher rates of employment growth.
Again, no shit.
So there you have it, True Believers; some pretty compelling arguments for moving to Florida. Personally, I’ll opt for somewhere else; I can’t abide the summer humidity.