Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

20 August 2016

Freedom in the 50 States Evaluated by Cato Institute

The 2016 report on Freedom in the 50 States by the Cato Institute evaluating the state of freedom through 2014 is now available.  The results of their evaluation of freedom based on fiscal policy, personal freedom, and regulatory policy are summarized in this map:

Cato provides the weightings they used for the evaluation of freedom and one can change those weightings to one's personal preferences to see how the rankings change.  But by Cato's weightings, the top ten freest states are ranked and graded as, with the party of the governor, the senate, and the house of the state added in order either as a D or an R in the year 2014:

1) New Hampshire, 0.3319, D, R, D
2) Alaska, 0.3265, R, R, R
3) Oklahoma, 0.2791, R, R, R
4) Indiana, 0.2778, R, R, R
5) South Dakota, 0.2754, R, R, R
6) Tennessee, 0.2646, R, R, R
7) Idaho, 0.2608, R, R, R
8) Florida, 0.2133, R, R, R
9) Iowa, 0.2048, R, D, R
10) Arizona, 0.1834, R, R, R

The 10 most authoritarian states with their negative scores are:

50) New York, -0.9763, D, D, D
49) California, -0.5026, D, D, D
48) Hawaii, -0.4904, D, D, D
47) New Jersey, -0.4285, R, D, D
46) Maryland, -0.4039, D, D, D
45) Connecticut, -0.2612, D, D, D
44) Illinois, -0.2554, D, D, D
43) Rhode Island, -0.1735, I (really D), D, D
42) Maine, -0.1500, R, D, D
41) Kentucky, -0.1489, D, R, D

It is interesting that the five most authoritarian states, New York, California, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Maryland are all more greatly deviant from the norm of freedom than is the freest of the states, New Hampshire.  If you value your freedom, it is particularly important to avoid these most negatively rated states.  New York is about three times more negative than New Hampshire is positive.  In fact, New York is almost twice as bad as either of the next two worst states, California and Hawaii.

If one were to move from New York to New Hampshire, the freedom score would increase by 1.3082.  Or if I were to move from authoritarian Maryland to where much of my family lives in Oklahoma, my score would improve by 0.6830, which is a substantial increase in freedom.  Or if you live in the Washington, DC area, living in Virginia offers a big improvement over living in Maryland by 0.5080.  If you have to live near New York City, Connecticut is substantially more free than is either New York or New Jersey.

Of the 10 most free states, all are controlled by Republicans, except two which had divided government in 2014.  Of the 10 most authoritarian governments, all were entirely controlled by Democrats in the governorship and the legislature, except the two least repressive of that set of the 10 worst, who had one of the three legs of the state government in the hands of Republicans.  It is not uncommon for libertarians to claim that the Republicans are every bit as anti-freedom as the Democrats, but these rankings make it clear that the Republicans are significantly better than the Democrats in most cases.  Indeed, one of the main reasons that the mean state freedom rankings are so much better than those of the most repressive states is because far more states are controlled by Republicans than are controlled by the more adamant deniers of individual rights found in the Democrat Party.


Anonymous said...

Maybe you discussed this when it came out (2013) - I didn't check that far back. Anyway, I think it's related:

While I was scouring around for that, I came across some less glitzy, but well-documented discussion of economic migration and Minnesota - not in the bottom five, but punching above its weight?!
This is the report (but they messed up the archiving...): [26 pp.]
Author's comments:

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Thank you. Your links in your comment are very useful. In fact, I will add an update to my post based on information from one of them.

These comments from the Peter J. Nelson's report Minnesotans on the Move to Lower Tax States 2016 are very useful:

"With few exceptions, Minnesota loses taxpaying families to lower-tax states. Of the ten states to which Minnesota loses the most income, eight are ranked among the top half of states with the lightest tax burdens, while seven of ten states from which Minnesota gains income are in the bottom half of the rankings. Notably, five of the top ten states to which Minnesota loses income impose no income tax.

Most of the taxpayers who leave Minnesota for lower-tax states are in their prime earning years. One might think that most high-earning families who leave Minnesota are retirees moving to Florida or Arizona, but this is not the case. Working-age people between 35 and 54 account for nearly 40 percent of Minnesota’s net loss of tax filers for the 2013-2014 period. People between 55 and 64, most of whom are still in the workforce, account for another 23 percent. As for the loss in household income, the IRS data show that 34 percent ($343 million) of the net loss in adjusted gross income is from people between 35 and 54. Another 30 percent ($298 million) of the net loss comes from people aged 55 to 64.