The State Freedom Index was published, after extensive research, in 2011. How free is your state, compared with others? That is the question that this report both asks and answers. Included within it is the ability for the reader to adjust the weights given to the various rated items, allowing for a more individualized ranking of what constitutes ‘free’ from the user’s perspective. Studies like this one take years to produce, in many cases, because of the tremendous amount of research that goes into them, in addition to having to create, test and re-test the various metrics by which each item is weighed in relation to the others, in terms of relative importance. (the selection of what to include, or not, also takes time and thought.)
In this report, for example, legislation or regulation that many would consider as imposing minor infringements upon personal liberty, as well as affecting only a minority of people (motorcycle helmet laws is an example that quickly comes to mind) count for less than things that affect more citizens more directly and to a greater degree, such as ‘sin taxes,’ occupational licensing requirements, or the use of traffic checkpoints operated ostensibly to check for drunk drivers, et cetera.
One man’s minor annoyance may be a major imposition to another. (After all, if one neither drinks nor smokes, excise taxes on alcoholic beverages and cigarettes are an infringement upon personal choice only in the theoretical sense.) This study’s interactive weighting system allows users to customize the relative value of each listed item so as to let them produce a ranking that better reflects their own views about what’s important – or not, in terms of personal freedom. After tweaking the factors to suit myself, my native Michigan rose from the mid-teens to 11th place -(that’s not bad, all things considered).
Regional patterns emerge quickly, and this is not unexpected. New York is more like Massachusetts or New Jersey than any of them are like Nevada or Alabama. This pattern is general, but it is not universal: New Hampshire bucks the trend toward more regulation that characterizes her Northeastern neighbors in favor of a libertarian strain more akin to what Colorado displays.
To write more would be to spoil the fun of discovering it for yourself, which you may do by clicking on the link above. If you’re interested in comparing your state to others, or in looking at places that provide the kind of atmosphere and civic culture that you would appreciate, this is a good place to begin your journey.