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Friday freedom question

The question for today: Where does your state rank on the 50 States Freedom Index — and do you care?

(Readers from Wales and South Africa and Germany, et al — if you want to play, you could use the Heritage Index of Economic Freedom, the Fraser Institute’s Index (.pdf) or some other index that rates countries.)

Some states, like NY, CA, and IL are so generally hellish that it seems the rankings mean a lot. Others, like WY and WA (that have oddball tax structures or something else non-standard about them), tend to produce rankings that don’t mean as much from an individual perspective.

And of course the crappiest state or country can have great pockets of political freedom. And half a dozen members of the Commentariat will rush to declare (rightly) that “freedom is a state of mind.”

Still, do the rankings mean anything at all to you? Would you use them even as a datapoint when deciding to move or advising a friend on making a move?


If you don’t want to ID your state’s rank for privacy reasons, just say “it falls in the middle” or “it’s near the top” or whatever.

H/T J.G. for the idea.


  1. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty March 29, 2013 9:13 am

    I couldn’t find any indication of what they use to rank the states specifically, but seeing Wyoming listed as just a little better than California tells me they don’t know what they are talking about, or they have a totally different definition of “freedom” than I do.

    And North Dakota as the best? Give me strength. I know and talk to people from there frequently and, as far as I can determine, the “powers that be” – and a good swath of the population – are seriously statist. They happen to have a lot of oil and are currently doing fairly well economically, but that isn’t all there is to freedom, by any means.

    The whole “map” is useless to me.

  2. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal March 29, 2013 9:15 am

    Hmmm. I am now living in the highest-ranked state I ever lived in, but I felt a lot more free when I lived in a lower-ranking state. When I check out the “personal freedom” ranking I see that is where the difference lies. So, does that mean that no other rankings made a noticeable difference to me? Maybe I just ignored the other burdens, being an outlaw and all.

  3. Bear
    Bear March 29, 2013 9:29 am

    I live in one of the top five ranked states. But when the current legislature is finished, I expect to be in one of the bottom five states. One of our glorious state leaders once stated in the House chamber her desire to make New hampshire more like New York. Yeah, people laughed at her ass. Then they proceeded to elect a Democrat majority (which, unless I’m misremembering, specifically included reelecting Mrs. New York).

    Some of the current legislation passed includes a new tax on heating oil because heating oil has become so expensive fewer people are buying it. Then there’s the re-instatement of the “duty to retreat” (also known as the Superman/faster-than-a-speeding-bullet) law because the sponsor says there were no problems caused by not requiring people to run away from armed criminals. And let’s not forget their gasoline tax hike because… well, they’re greenweenies Democrats who hate private transportation. And the list goes on. And on… and on… and…

    The continuing influx of Massholes guarantees the fall will accelerate to terminal (in every sense) velocity.

    Do I care?

    No. Not anymore. People want to freeze in the dark as they’re eaten by state-enabled thugs.

  4. G.W.F.
    G.W.F. March 29, 2013 9:31 am

    My state ranked in the top 3, which I felt was about right. They did mention some of the real freedom issues like road block searches and drug seizure policies. These policies leave me to feel less “free”, but in comparison to other states, I still think it should be near the top.

    The study mentions no state tax, but did not bring up sales tax, which at just shy of 10%, is nearly the highest of all states. Also, if you start a business my state has inventory taxes which I think are unfair. I think there are about 15 states that do not have an inventory tax. All things considered my state is better than many, but with the things mentioned, if I am in #3 I’d hate to live in some of the others.

    I do not think a freedom Nirvana exists in this country.

  5. Ken Hagler
    Ken Hagler March 29, 2013 9:46 am

    I recently moved out of California, and when looking for a place to move I considered some of the factors represented on the map, although my priorities were different. For example, I _only_ considered states with no income tax, and then ruled out those with cold climates (leaving only Florida, Nevada, and Texas). I also considered where I could have the best chance of finding a new job if something happened to my current one, which is roughly the same thing as the economic and regulatory freedom rankings on the map.

  6. Water Lily
    Water Lily March 29, 2013 9:55 am

    Meh, I don’t know about this index. My southern state ranked high, but almost everyone I know who lives here worships the state and the military.

    As you predicted, I tend to think that state of mind – people’s attitude toward the state, and their spirit of independence is more important. A lot of disgruntled, freedom-loving folks still live in those less free states because they can’t just pick up and move.

    In NY, the metro area’s politics have always dominate the state. But get a few hundred miles away from NYC, and many people’s mindset are quite different from the city folk.

    We travel around the US by car a lot, and at the risk of making generalizations, we generally have found that people in the west, (not counting the big cities) have the most independent mindset, people in the south and midwest tend to trust and depend on government, and people in the north (outside the big cities) are suspicious and cynical about government.

    So this chart may be valuable, but it really doesn’t tell the whole story.

    What matters to us is if our neighbor wants the government to solve all of his problems, or if he wants to get out there and fix them himself. In that case, I’d favor Wyoming or any other western state (except California) over the south in a heartbeat.

  7. Matt, another
    Matt, another March 29, 2013 9:57 am

    The study was heavily skewed to the financial health of the state. That is why Wyoming rated as poorly as it did. It also included levels of licensing required for various proffesions, zoning laws etc. AZ requires to much in the way of licensing, permits etc. Zoning rules are excessive and draconian in some communities. We do have restrictions on eminent domain now that support private property rights.

    Other than providing a nice scale For comparison I don’t think it told us anything new.

  8. Laird
    Laird March 29, 2013 10:16 am

    MamaLiberty, you obviously didn’t look at the website very closely. There are large sections describing in detail the methodology used and how the various factors were weighted, as well as a long explanation by Jason Sorens of their rationale. You can even download a spreadsheet with the raw numbers and change the rankings to suit your personal preferences. (Although they could have made that easier and more intuitive.)

    My state (SC) ranks 15th overall, and I think the explanations are relatively accurate. I would probably weight some of the factors differently, which could affect the overall result, but probably not by much. I certainly agree with their recommendations on how the state could improve.

    Freedom is highly subjective; we all value aspects of it differently. I think the authors of this report have done a commendable job in trying to combine all those aspects into a standardized model while maintaining transparency. It’s not perfect, but something like this never could be.

  9. Mike
    Mike March 29, 2013 10:59 am

    The state I grew up in is ranked last, and with good reason. I will not move back if it can at all be avoided, unless we get a fortuitous earthquake, tsunami, and/or impact that somehow wipes Long Island and most of the surrounding area off of the map.

    The state I live in now is somwhow in the middle, despite the fact that “everything’s illegal in Massachusetts.” Stuck here solely due to the desires of someone I care about, with the caveat that we’ll be purchasing a second home to the north, in a state that sucks much less.

    Does it matter to me? Hell yes. I hate the fact that I’m going to be raising kids in a place that, without significant extra work on my part, is likely to leave them conditioned to the prison bars that the denizens of this state have so gleefully watched constructed.

    Does it matter to her? No. She’s content to just keep her head down because she thinks ultimately she can just avoid any problems by giving things up when someone says she must. It’s the one single big disagreement we have.

    In the meantime, I do what I can to make sure that other people both recognize the cage, and recognize it as something to be torn down. Sucks…

  10. Woody
    Woody March 29, 2013 11:13 am

    I left the bottom ranked state over 35 years ago because I was looking for more freedom. I am happy with the result even though my current state is in the bottom half of the rankings. For me, I think the real difference is that I moved from the city to a rural environment. Every city I’ve had the misfortune of visiting has sucked! If you can see your nearest neighbor the neighborhood is way too crowded. So in a nut shell the rankings mean nothing to me.

    For a different perspective see:

  11. Joel
    Joel March 29, 2013 11:36 am

    I read their rationale for the rank they gave the state I live in (#11) and didn’t find a lot to disagree with. I have several points of departure with their Personal Freedom category, both in the choice of factors and the way they’re weighted, but that’s always going to be so subjective that what’s valid to me will be trash to you. Besides, I don’t believe intelligent life can exist at an atmospheric humidity greater than 20%.

    But my only real problem with the ranking is that it treats all the states as discreet financial and social units. The writer correctly points out that every state actually consists of different regions that might be quite different from one another financially and socially, then proceeds to ignore that fact forevermore. For that reason I wouldn’t put ultimate faith in this map as a guide to moving. If you want to live in a city you could move to a state with a really high freedom rating, only to learn that the city you picked is indistinguishable from Oakland.

  12. kevin m
    kevin m March 29, 2013 11:43 am

    The right to privacy is the right to be left alone, definetly not here in Illinois.

  13. RickB
    RickB March 29, 2013 1:23 pm

    I agree about the various areas of the states being very different. I’ve often said that my state (Florida) should be split into at least three different parts by culture. Heck, turn every county into its own state. Counties right next to each other can be wildly different.
    Florida ranked barely above the middle but, when I customized my preferences (especially personal) it moved up seven places. Sounds about right.
    I just prefer the South, regardless of ranking.

  14. -s
    -s March 29, 2013 2:43 pm

    Moving between a state in middle to and from one in the top third is a huge change for me. The size, ferocity, and intrusiveness of government is very different. While the cops are equally vicious in both places, there are far fewer of them in the higher-ranked state.

    The attitudes of natives towards government is quite different. The higher ranked state has nearly universal contempt for politics and politicians. Elections are viewed as sport and entertainment, and everyone knows the game is corrupt to the core and rigged. When one pol was accused of stealing an election, the common response was that he had not de-frauded the other candidate so much as he had out-frauded him.

    The mid-ranked state is filled with people who think that government is the solution to all problems, the first and last resort for everything. Manipulating local legislation to steal from your neighbor is considered shrewd and normal. Costumed tyrants march onto and into your property without hesitation. In the higher ranked state, they don’t for fear of being shot.

    I agree with the other comments that the survey is seriously deficient in many respects. Despite the evaluation of economic freedom, the survey doesn’t come close to capturing the extreme differences in regulation, harassment, costs, and state-driven risks to starting and owning a business. The estimates of tax burden are also deeply flawed; they may represent some “average taxpayer” but they represent no actual tax payers.

    I don’t care very much about the rankings. They might provide some very preliminary guidance to someone considering a move. But the details are important and the weight of the boot on your neck will depend in large part on what you do for a living and how much you make.

    The higher ranked state likes businesses and doesn’t hate people who make money, but stinks when it comes to licensing and related extortion. If you happen to work in a “regulated” occupation your personal experience will be far worse than the ranking would suggest. The lower ranked state views all earnings above the poverty line as their property and drives business out of state at every opportunity. None of those important details can be found in the survey.

  15. UnReconstructed
    UnReconstructed March 29, 2013 3:30 pm

    Interesting, and thought provoking. I would have rated my state a *little* higher. Not a LOT higher, mind you.

    What was the interesting part was reading the rational for the ratings. As I clicked on a few states that were interesting to me, I learned a few things. Like the labor laws in Montana, for one.

  16. jed
    jed March 29, 2013 4:28 pm

    Regarding New Hamster, it makes me feel sorry for people such as PSM who moved up there for the Free State Project.

    Since that page showed up as a mostly featureless slab of grey for me, I have no idea where they ranked Colorado. Not sure why a plain ordered list in text has to give way to some blinky-flashy thing that doesn’t even show up, but hey, it’s the in thing these days, I guess.

    Anyways, unless they just recently re-calculated, their ranking for CO would likely be incorrect anyway. And no, they don’t mean much to me, because whatever anyone else’s opinion of CO is, I’ve concluded that it’s in pretty bad shape, and I’d tell someone thinking of moving here what my impression is.

    Maybe, if I were realistically considering moving, I’d use their data as part of evaluating potential relocation targets.

  17. Karen
    Karen March 29, 2013 4:41 pm

    In spite of the ongoing Californication of Colorado, the main things that are important to me are still in place for the most part. As others have said, the more rural areas are far different than the cities and large towns. If anything, I’m kind of surprised that CO is still ranked as high as it is. The rankings must have been done before all the recent gun brouhaha. I think the next round of rankings will probably have us much closer to the bottom with a huge decline in state revenues from the loss of some significant business and the prospect of out of staters boycotting CO due to the new gun laws.

  18. Bear
    Bear March 29, 2013 4:45 pm

    @jed: “Not sure why a plain ordered list in text has to give way to some blinky-flashy thing that doesn’t even show up, but hey, it’s the in thing these days, I guess.”

    Humans are primates; we’re fascinated by shiny stuff. Plus, we’re 21st century primates: the triumph of form over content/marketing.

    Maybe someone should convert the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and most of Spooner’s work into glitzy LOLspeak Flash presentations or YouTube videos.

  19. Bear
    Bear March 29, 2013 4:46 pm

    (added) With LOLCats and cheezburgers. Cats always sell.

  20. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit
    The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit March 29, 2013 4:54 pm

    We’re #28! We’re #28!

    As for the care factor – not so much. I think that there might be some problem comparing state-to-state, I’d be more interested in seeing a county-to-county comparison. Portland/Salem/Eugene drags the rest of the state down, not that the rural counties don’t have their occasional quirks. If it’s good enough for Dave Duffy here, it’s good enough for me! 😀

  21. jed
    jed March 29, 2013 6:53 pm

    The main thing about there being various pockets of mostly decent living, is that no matter, your tax dollars are still going into the state coffers, to fund their attacks on Liberty.

    @Bear: Count me among the humans who aren’t fascinated by shiny stuff. My computer ain’t a TV. 😉

  22. just waiting
    just waiting March 29, 2013 7:32 pm

    Damn, we’re only #48, but our legisators are trying hard!

  23. winston
    winston March 29, 2013 11:09 pm

    My home state is pretty square in the middle…overall not as bad as I expected.

    Hawaii on the other hand…well, only Cali, NY and NJ beat it to the bottom! It’s such a fun place yet that right there is why I’d never make it my home. Red tape is a past-time, every form of taxes are among the highest in the country, gun laws are absolutely outrageous. The government over there does whatever the hell it wants in regards to eminent domain…IIRC, you can’t even OWN actual property on Oahu (you can just lease it for pretty much ever) unless you’re some special political minority that had said land before the white man took over, or some weirdness like that.

  24. lelnet
    lelnet March 29, 2013 11:48 pm

    Indiana does pretty well, and would do better if they weighted the state finance issues less heavily (which seems a reasonable change). We’ve got a few weird and irritating laws about alcohol (You can serve drinks in a bar on Sundays, but you can’t sell in packages. You can sell beer and wine in convenience stores and grocery stores, but only liquor stores and bars are allowed to refrigerate it…stupid stuff like that.) But taxes are pretty low, we’re the best in the country in general business regulation, and while we don’t have Constitutional Carry yet, we do have Shall-Issue permits good for _life_ available to anyone who can pass the same NICS check you need to pass in order to buy a gun from a dealer, and we’ve got preemption to ensure that our more lefty-leaning municipalities can’t enact worse gun laws of their own (plus, no state restrictions on NFA weapons, and needless to say none of these crazy bullshit gun control ideas popping up in other states lately are going to fly here). Plus, zoning laws tend to be pretty weak, so it’s a good place to own land.

    It’s far from perfect, but by the standards of American states in 2013, it’s pretty good.

    Having one of the only two governors in America who told Obama to shove his bribes where the sun don’t shine is nice, too. 🙂

  25. IndividualAudienceMember
    IndividualAudienceMember March 30, 2013 12:48 am

    People such as MamaLiberty (no offense intended) who talk about how Wyoming or Texas isn’t any different than California just blow me away.

    Don’t they practice asset forfeiture in Wyoming?
    Don’t they have Child Protective Services in Wyoming, and Texas?
    Is the state, the supreme being in both states, above God?

    I’ll agree with this statement: “The whole “map” is useless to me.”

    No doubt, the whole lot of them are all the same. That is, goberment is god on earth. To far too many, anyway.

    Be an outlaw all you want (and I’ll be right next to ya) but we’re all still under the thumb of the goberment via it’s minions known elsewhere as Clovers, statist, Marxist, Collectivist, Socialist, Fascist, and busybodies.

    “These policies leave me to feel less “free”,…”

    Less whipped?

    Less beaten?

    Less taxed?

    Less regulated?

    Less bossed?

    Less bossed is still bossed. Less regulated is still regulated. Less taxed is still taxed. Less beaten is still beaten. Less whipped is still whipped.

    “They did mention some of the real freedom issues like road block searches and drug seizure policies. These policies leave me to feel less “free”, but in comparison to other states, I still think it should be near the top. ”

    I’m flabbergasted at such a comment.

    “I do not think a freedom Nirvana exists in this country.” <- um, freedom Nirvana??? how about, "no freedom, really"? These days, there's only: what you can get away with. … Without being targeted by a Swat or drone.

    "What matters to us is if our neighbor wants the government to solve all of his problems" <- really, why? Your neighbor doesn't set policy. Your neighbor doesn't determine if your house in annexed or eminent domained. Your neighbor has as much voice as you do in goberment, which is none to very little. Unless your uber-rich and influential, if even then. We are ruled from the top down, not the bottom up.

    "Freedom is highly subjective" <- WHoa.

    Don't you all see?

    "I’m going to be raising kids in a place that… is likely to leave them conditioned to the prison bars that the denizens of this state have so gleefully watched constructed."?

    "content to just keep her head down because she thinks ultimately she can just avoid any problems by giving things up when someone says she must." <- that's the New American Way! Avoid confrontation and uncomfortable truths, go along to get along. Bullies LOve this!

    " recognize the cage, and recognize it as something to be torn down." <- Is that something that is possible if the majority of the inmates say they are fine with the status quo?

    "If you can see your nearest neighbor the neighborhood is way too crowded." <- Out of sight, out of mind? There's something serious wrong with that statement. I understand the appeal of seclusion, but that is something more.

    Also, Woody, "the_fallacies_of_libertarianism" Ha! A different perspective from Slate? HAHAHA! Funny. As if.

    And that Yglesias character, "attended Harvard University where he studied philosophy [and] was editor-in-chief of The Harvard Independent, a weekly newsmagazine."

    Yglesias is evidently a liberal who supported the Iraq war and reportedly voted previously for Mitt Romney. He has also written for the American Prospect and for The Atlantic magazine before taking up his post at Slate."

    Yeah, ok, listen to what he says, fine, enjoy yourself. But please, don't call what he writes, "a different perspective".

    kevin m, speaks truth.

    jed gets extra points, "The main thing about there being various pockets of mostly decent living, is that no matter, your tax dollars are still going into the state coffers, to fund their attacks on Liberty."

    The states are the same across the board an no one notices, they are all the same.

    The number of comments leads me to conclude that along with the general population, everyone is focused on stats, a.k.a. statistics, and what's that they say about statistics and lies?

    … Anyway, no offense meant to anyone for their comments, thanks for the learning experience. I hope I didn't offend you all too much, and maybe with luck I caused you to think some?

    My better half says I'm wasting my time and I should stop.

    Maybe she's right?


    – IndividualAudienceMember

  26. IndividualAudienceMember
    IndividualAudienceMember March 30, 2013 1:04 am

    Before I stop, there’s my beloved home state of Indiana:

    ‘Showtime Syndrome’ Strikes Evansville, Indiana

    … “the department chose a SWAT team as a way of “sending a message”…

    The role played by the “Threat Matrix” in justifying a military raid on an elderly couple’s home…”

    May 13, 2011
    Indiana Supreme Court Upholds the ‘Rapist Doctrine’: Don’t Resist — You’ll Just Make It Worse
    Posted by William Grigg on May 13, 2011 10:40 AM

    The Indiana State Supreme Court has just nullified the Fourth Amendment and the equivalent provision of that state’s constitution, in addition to “a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215,” notes a wire service report. In a 3–2 decision, the court has ruled that Indiana residents have no right to obstruct unlawful police incursions into their homes.” ….

    Indiana Supreme Court Dispenses With Magna Carta, Constitution

    … “In the first case of Lacey v. State of Indiana, the Court ruled that police officers serving a warrant on a private home may simply walk right in without knocking.” …

    Far from perfect is an understatement, to say the least.

  27. IndividualAudienceMember
    IndividualAudienceMember March 30, 2013 1:37 am

    Oops, I made an error when I said, my beloved Indiana. While I love some People in Indiana, and I think the geography is beautiful and bountiful, and myself and my ancestors have dedicated much to improving the area while providing for the inhabitants and those beyond its borders, I have no love for the state, its officers, nor those self-important no-good-for-nothing individuals who act as kings of us all.
    I just wanted to make that clear.

    Also: no king but Jesus.

    [Atheist shouldn’t have a problem with that.]

    Let freedom ring!

    ^- isn’t that old fashioned?
    The modern trendy people, they’re into submission, I guess?

    I’m not sure if this comment is going to make sense seeing as how my previous comment full of links is all tied up awaiting moderation, but we’ll see. … As if it matters anyway. ?

  28. Woody
    Woody March 30, 2013 5:14 am

    @IAM Sorry that you find my choice of rural living to be objectionable. Do you think I should be living in a city and fighting a guerrilla war for freedom? Yeah, I know that no one is free. I’m trying to make _my_ life as free as possible as best as I can. Living in a low density neighborhood makes my life more pleasant in an unfree world. I realize that doesn’t make you or anyone else (or even me) more free. Perhaps you see that as denial? Sorry about that. You’ll have to take care of your life in whatever way you see fit. Just be happy you don’t have to live next to an ornery and contrary old bastard like me. -chuckle-

    I thought the comentariat might be interested in a leftist take on the subject from Slate. I didn’t say you should take it to heart. You wrote an interesting and entertaining rant but I seem to have missed your solution to the problem.

    Regarding the “No king but Jesus.” comment. I don’t find it objectionable at all. I just wonder about your complete willingness to submit to an imaginary ruler while you rant against a tangible one.

    Thanks to everyone for the stimulating discussion. I love this blog!

  29. Karen
    Karen March 30, 2013 7:23 am

    Woody Says:
    “Yeah, I know that no one is free. I’m trying to make _my_ life as free as possible as best as I can. ”

    Woody always seems to sum up my thinking while I’m still pondering all the imponderables and complicating clear concise ideas.

    DH and I had a big discussion the other day about freedom or the lack thereof. As Woody stated, I feel like there reallly is no such thing in real world absolutes. The closest thing to freedom is exercising choices and choosing which chains/consequences I’m willing to accept.

    Being a follower of Joel’s blog for example he’s chosen the freedom to refuse to pay the extortions and grease the palms and so chooses to limit his driving. I choose to pay the bribes and have freedom to drive anytime anywhere.

    Years ago we had livestock and that was a great freedom from the poisons in our food available at th grocery store. But we were total slaves to the needs of the animals. When we got rid of the animals it sure felt like freedom, but there we were back at the mercy of pink slime and all the other crap govt allows.

    I chose to get a concealed carry permit, while others might choose not to because it involves “permission” fromTPTB to do so.

    Claire’s question of the day about your state’s ranking ended by asking “and do you care?” I hate to outright admit it, but no I really don’t. At a point on the forest service road that we call our driveway, where the National forest meets our private property, we have a green gate. Whether or not I care about some arbitrary govt activity is measured largely by whether or not that activity will take place inside or outside of the green gate. Very few things affect life inside the green gate. I know that sounds like “I got mine and heck with you”, and I certainly don’t take that attitude, but freedom is such a variable individual thing that it’s really not up to me to define it for you. And it’s really not up to some other freedomisto/a to criticize my choices as wrong or “flabbergasting”.

  30. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty March 30, 2013 8:15 am

    IndividualAudienceMember Says:
    March 30th, 2013

    “People such as MamaLiberty (no offense intended) who talk about how Wyoming or Texas isn’t any different than California just blow me away.”

    Hmmm, I think you need to read what I wrote again…

    “,,,but seeing Wyoming _listed_ as just a little better than California…”

    I didn’t say Wyoming wasn’t much different than Calif. The silly ratings thing did. 🙂

    Yes, we’ve still got a non-voluntary “government” here. We have far less of it than most other places I know of, that’s all. Oh, and we still have some jobs! 🙂

    Utopia is not an option…. But I think actual freedom as individuals truly is.

    Oh, and I have my computer set to block all of the java and script bells and whistles, which is probably why I didn’t find the ratings criteria. I admit I’ve seen similar ratings before and didn’t look very hard either…

  31. Joel
    Joel March 30, 2013 8:59 am


    Less bossed is still bossed. Less regulated is still regulated. Less taxed is still taxed. Less beaten is still beaten. Less whipped is still whipped…Don’t you all see?

    See what?

    To the best of my knowledge there is no inhabitable (or even uninhabitable) portion of this planet where one can expect to be left completely alone by TPTB. Therefore any discussion of the best or worst places to live necessarily involves compromise. The discussion about raising the black flag and slitting throats is a couple of posts down.

    Thanks for the critique, though. Next time maybe you can school us noobs on the solution to our problems, instead of just pointing out the mistakes.

  32. gooch
    gooch March 30, 2013 12:40 pm

    Joel says:
    “To the best of my knowledge there is no inhabitable (or even uninhabitable) portion of this planet where one can expect to be left completely alone by TPTB. Therefore any discussion of the best or worst places to live necessarily involves compromise. The discussion about raising the black flag and slitting throats is a couple of posts down.”

    Yep ‘zackly what Joel just said.

    My personal compromise is that I’ll settle for the higher humidity [sorry Joel 20% is too low for this curmudgeon – I like shade trees too much] and the lack of that white stuff that falls out of the sky part of the year so that I can practice my own form of Liberty.
    Can you guess that I am Not a city dweller?

    Rate “My State”? My state is retired and free and that rates as #1 on my personal scale.
    I refuse to let others think, decide or plan for me = my personal Freedom.

    Stay Safe N’ stay Free,


  33. naturegirl
    naturegirl March 30, 2013 2:16 pm

    If there’s a state that hasn’t been infected by crud crawling california (maybe add NYC to that) illness, I’ll move there. Been to 40 states so far and haven’t found one yet. Maybe the secret is to go where it’s ugly and doesn’t have beautiful scenery.

  34. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau March 30, 2013 3:12 pm

    I actually worked with Jason Sorens on the Free State Project spreadsheet, and he invited me to participate in this study later (which I declined). I decided that spreadsheets do not tell the whole story and can distort the picture. Also, unlike the Free State Project spreadsheet, this one does not allow you to select the weights for the different variables – his team selects the weights for you. For example, you might want a higher weight for firearms freedom than his generally academic team might select. Tough!

    I think the spreadsheet does reveal some problems; for example Wyoming has far too large a burden of government employees. It is useful for shining a light on the problem areas. But for an overall rating of liberty, I have become very doubtful it really delivers as advertised.

  35. jed
    jed March 30, 2013 6:39 pm

    ng> Maybe the secret is to go where it’s ugly and doesn’t have beautiful scenery.

    Detroit? 😉

    Okay, not fair. For all I know, it was wonderful there before it got settled and turned into Motor City.

    So I used by ‘no holds barred’ browser config and went back there. Surprised by Wyoming. A couple things stand out:

    However, it ranks as one of the worst in the country in terms of victimless crimes arrests and crime rate […] Wyoming has the worst type of asset forfeiture regime in the country.

    These being hallmarks of the War on (Some) Drugs (TM). Does the WY gov. have a big hard-on for that?

    Climate-wise, I could live in Tennessee. Sounds as if they’re big on the the whole drug war thing though.

  36. Pat
    Pat March 30, 2013 10:18 pm

    “Climate-wise, I could live in Tennessee. Sounds as if they’re big on the whole drug war thing though.”

    [This isn’t aimed at you, jed, it’s just highlighting the problem here.] If every state has an infestation of government lice, tyrannical laws, etc., what difference does it make which state we live in? It is truly a personal thing. If I e.g. never use illegal drugs, why should I care how a state handles the drug war, _most other factors being acceptable?_

    Claire asks “do you care?” Well, Yes… and No. My state was listed high overall (8), but low on Personal Freedom (38), and for that, yes, *I DO care.* But if I can maintain a low profile and am reasonably happy somewhere doing my own thing, even in plain sight, then no, I don’t care.

    My current town is small, everybody is friendly yet minds their own business, the property tax is 1/4 the size of the neighboring County, and the “police state” here is old-fashioned, Norman Rockwell-type; a real serve-and-protect attitude prevails. If/when I move, it would be for geographical reasons only – I love mountains but don’t live near them at present, and I truly miss them. Sometimes the simplest things trip us up. Are climate and geography worth moving for? That’s a rhetorical question. Maybe the devil (we know… or don’t know) has the answer.

    When the political/economic Apocalypse comes, it will all be academic anyway.

  37. G.W.F.
    G.W.F. March 31, 2013 5:53 am

    The drug related property seizure issue in TN is one I find to be at odds with my personal views on liberty, unlawful search and seizure. I think it is an important point to keep in mind because I would like to see local laws change the current policies. I don’t mean to paint the state as having check points at the border and making you feel like you live in a Police state.

    The TN issues are pretty much only along the I-40 interstate that cuts through the middle of the state. If you ever look at the history of the Meth problem in this country, most of the early labs came from a sleepy little town along I-40 called Cookeville. That I-40 highway became a major drug route and law enforcement started to target travelers.

    As with anything else, the money that came into these local agencies became a driver to do more and more. There have been abuses. Truck drivers will often carry cash to save a few cents per gallon when they fill up a 300 gallon tank. You hear stories of trucker being pulled over for speeding, being searched, then when they find a wad of cash that gets taken. To me these policies are criminal.

    I have been on I-40 thousands of times, but I have never been pulled over or personally been through any type of search checkpoint. The problem is not something you really need to lie awake at night worrying about. Being an Anti-Liberty policy I would just like to see a grass roots effort from the freedom loving people of the state to change the bad policy.

  38. jed
    jed March 31, 2013 7:52 am

    One thing that rankles me about living in a low-freedom area is that the gov is taking money from me, and using it to deprive others of their Liberty. Unless I go fully underground, it’s hard to avoid contributing money to that effort.

  39. R.L. Wurdack
    R.L. Wurdack March 31, 2013 8:42 am


    US 10
    Costa Rica 49
    Belize 102

  40. Pre-press veteran
    Pre-press veteran March 31, 2013 9:34 am

    This map is interesting, in that it provokes thought about the criteria used (and yes, having adjustable weighting would make the rankings a lot more useful!)…

    the fact that this is a non-bad-news “topic du jour” and people are thinking, talking and discussing… is good. Some folks have never given a thought to how they personally define freedom. This leads to more “waking up”… and that is also good. Hopefully it’ll also lead to more “just say no” reactions to government intrusion and control as well.

    Even those who are fearful of standing up for themselves (Mike), know it’s wrong… and they will also discover their own “line beyond which they’ll give no more” someday.

  41. Dave
    Dave March 31, 2013 1:56 pm

    The fiance and I used that as a starting point map to determine the best place to (eventually) escape to. We started by eliminating the bottom half. Then we looked at the factors that matter most to us.

    Drug laws? Not as important, ’cause we don’t do drugs. Gun laws? Very important. Home schooling, too.

    But there are other factors that (let’s face it) are also important. Employment, for example. Housing prices. And so on. So freedom is important, yes, but not the only important thing.

    Oh, and when it all shook out, we were down to Indiana and Idaho.

  42. TN James
    TN James March 31, 2013 10:52 pm

    TN is ranked #3. But a lot of work is still needed to make this state truly free. For that matter ANY state on this list.But the whole of America is what is to be #1 in freedom, not just the states. So this list just shows how unfree America really is. That’s all.

  43. ILTim
    ILTim April 1, 2013 5:39 am

    WINNER! Absolute worst state for personal freedom.


    Its the whole federal system that worries me. Let the states enslave and do the genocide thing, really. Just don’t close boarders or meddle with what another state chooses.

    It’ll sort out.

    Every other ‘solution’ is in fact, a contribution to the problem.

  44. revjen45
    revjen45 April 1, 2013 11:36 am

    After having spent the 1st 45 years of my life in the DPRK (West Massachusetts) WA is Free America. It isn’t perfect, but it is worlds ahead of Gov. Moonbeam’s Socialist Utopia.

  45. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau April 1, 2013 7:06 pm

    Form that article Woody linked to:
    “Ruger and Sorens “coded the data on state abortion restrictions and made them available online at www., but have not included the policy in the index of freedom.” Ouch. That’s a great way to dodge the issue without dodging any of the flack generated by the battle over the issue.”

    Tuccille is exactly wrong on this point. Anyone who has made an attempt at ranking freedom (e.g. in spreadsheets) knows that the single issue, abortion, does not significantly alter the freedom score of any state since it is only one of many issues. It does however hugely affect the utility of the study for one group or another. Not only that; there is no “pro-freedom” position on abortion – unless you take the position there should be no state at all. The only sane thing to do with this issue is to throw it out of the study (along with possibly one or two others such as term limits).

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