Freedom Rings – At Least In Some States

“Freedom” and “liberty” are common buzzwords in politics; uttered and heard with increasing frequency as each off-year and presidential election approaches. Every candidate – no matter the office being sought — supports “freedom” and “liberty”; and none would ever admit to acts that might diminish either one.

Unfortunately, a cold, hard analysis of the degree of freedom actually enjoyed by American citizens belies this highfalutin rhetoric. Americans are far less free than government officials admit; and citizens of many states are considerably less free than their compatriots elsewhere.

This is the situation revealed starkly in the latest study, Freedom in the 50 States, just released by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia. As explained by authors William Ruger and Jason Sorens, its purpose is to examine “state and local government intervention across a wide range of public policies, from income taxation to gun control, from homeschooling regulation to drug policy.” The picture of freedom the authors paints is not a pretty one for much of the United States.

The good news is that if you happen be a citizen of New Hampshire, South Dakota, Indiana, Idaho, or Missouri, you are – relatively speaking — far more free than if you have the misfortune to live in Maryland, Massachusetts, Hawaii, California, New York or New Jersey; states at the or near the bottom.

Because of its perversely high taxes and pervasive Nanny-state mentality, New York is ranked dead last in terms of economic freedom enjoyed by its citizens, and 48th based on personal freedom. New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, being the Empire State’s head cheerleader for enforcing restrictive mandates on everything from smoking and fatty foods to Second Amendment rights, probably will take a degree of personal pride in such a ranking, though he publicly would never admit such measures actually diminish freedom.

California, which in decades past was a magnet for individuals and companies seeking growth and opportunity, is now anything but “free.” Like New York, the Golden State continues to suffer an outflow of businesses and entrepreneurs as a result of high taxes and oppressive regulation.

New Hampshire, although surrounded by states that routinely, if not gleefully, take freedom from their citizens, remains – as it did in the 2009 biennial study – the most free state of all.

Georgia fares alright in the study — enjoying an overall ranking of 15th, but suffers a disappointing “personal freedom” rank of 31st. This low ranking is largely the result of restrictive legislation measures imposed in recent years by Republicans, who now control all levers of state power.

While there is not a complete correlation between the “freedom” scores awarded based on the Mercatus study, and the more political “red state/blue state” studies, there is a noticeable match. Most of the states in the bottom half of Freedom in the 50 States, for example, are among the “blue states,” traditionally voting Democratic.

Perhaps in anticipation that politicians in bottom-tier states would fault the Mercatus study, its authors included in the 83-page report an impressive and exhaustive listing and description of all variables considered. The report incorporates the full range of activities by citizens that reasonably might be considered to constitute indices of freedom, and that conversely are subject to regulation or prohibition by state governments.

Government spending and taxation obviously rank heavily in determining a state’s economic freedom; as do myriad regulatory mechanisms in place that restrict personal and business choices available to citizens. Importantly, however, the authors do not shy away from recognizing that such freedoms as the right to keep and bear arms, or to purchase and consume products such as alcoholic beverages or tobacco, also are part of the fabric of freedom devised so long ago by our Founding Fathers; but largely and sadly ignored by so many 21st Century state governors and representatives.

by Bob Barr — The Barr Code

71 comments Add your comment


June 27th, 2011
2:57 pm

Thank you so much, Bob, for defending freedom…Including teachers’ rights to organize, and all Americans for that matter, for better pay, benefits, and working conditions….


June 27th, 2011
3:12 pm

We’re also very free from economic security. I mean, thanks to the helping hands on Wall Street- why do we need regulations?

The retards reside on Bookman's blog.

June 27th, 2011
3:24 pm

I love the freedom we have to post moronic statements and show our limited IQ


June 27th, 2011
4:11 pm

It seems that lawmakers are constantly passing more and more laws without properly enforcing many of the ones already on the books. Our country needs laws, but not such a surplus that they start to become just words and enforcment is questionable at best.


June 27th, 2011
4:51 pm

The U.S. is becoming a police state and I am more and more scared for my liberty in any state. I read President Carter’s statement last week that said approximately 500,000 people were in prison during the time of his presidency. Now the figure exceeds 2,000,000. It is hard to claim that this country loves freedom when we jail more people than China, a communist country with five times our population. We had better wake up fast and realize that jail should be the last option instead of the first option in many cases, especially for non-violent offenses. We need to understand that law enforcement is not the proper avenue for dealing with social problems. We also need to grow up and take responsibility for raising our children. All too often I read of children being arrested for things that were laughed off or written off as kids being kids when our generation was coming up. When I was a teenager the police would take you home and tell your parents. Now they charge the kid with a crime. Don’t give me any hogwash about that being the only answer because most of the parent involved don’t care. I know quite a few good parents who’ve had to go to court with their teenage son because they got into a fist fight at school and were charged with a felony, that’s ridiculous.


June 27th, 2011
5:27 pm

A “hundred years ago”, actually the late 1950’s, a female exchange student from Germany told me:
“what I don’t like about the USA – too many rules”. And this was before the USA became a full-fledged police state!

Gary Smith

June 27th, 2011
9:20 pm

Hum… One wonders if Geoge Mason University were around in 1858, just before the Civil War – it was actually founded 100 years later – what a similar survey on freedoms would have shown. Would Southerners in states below the Mason Dixon Line have more freedoms than Northerners? Would one of the great freedoms in the Southern states that the surveyors would not have shied away from recognizing be the right to own human property, i.e. slaves? After all, it was guaranteed by the Constitution then.

Don't Tread

June 27th, 2011
10:29 pm

“It is hard to claim that this country loves freedom when we jail more people than China”

If they didn’t break the law in the first place, they wouldn’t have to worry about it.

I guess prison should be the “last resort” for this thug.

Hopefully some nice citizen will exercise some of their freedoms on this one when they see him and save us the trouble of keeping him in jail for $100k+ a year.

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June 28th 2011 | Rebellion News

June 28th, 2011
1:19 am

[...] Freedom Rings – At Least In Some States [...]


June 28th, 2011
8:33 am

I live in NYS. Freedom ranks first in NY. The great state of NY gave the country Franklyn Delano Roosevelt, ranked first, all time for U.S. presidents. NY is the seat of the NY Stock Exchange where millions have made their fortunes. NY is where the huddled “masses of poor” looked for their future.
“Let Freedom Ring” that was NY where the great speach got its inspiration. I know what I am talking about. NY is far from a “nanny state” In NY it is the birth place of the 4th Amendment, Freedom of Privacy and the venerable “Tea Party”.

Covers Dixie like the Dew

June 28th, 2011
9:28 am

The official state motto of New Hampshire is


The phrase comes from a toast written by General John Stark on July 31, 1809.
Poor health forced Stark, New Hampshire’s most famous soldier of the American Revolutionary War, to decline his invitation to an anniversary reunion of the Battle of Bennington. Instead he sent his toast by letter:

“Live free or die: death is not the worst of evils.”

Liberalism = retardation

June 28th, 2011
10:02 am

And here I thought that only white people could be racists.

Tonight, around 11 p.m., a group of at least 60-70 African American youth marched down one of the side streets (W. Thrush) to the 4 lane main drag (Sheridan). They were yelling threats to white residents.


June 28th, 2011
10:41 am


African-Americans can be just as racist as whites. Unfortunately, white politicians cannot say that because it is not politically correct and because they don’t want Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton calling them racists.

Liberalism = retardation

June 28th, 2011
10:49 am


100% agreed.

James A. Farmer

June 28th, 2011
11:46 am

A decade ago (2001) JPFO, Inc. published a booklet titled, “Is America
Becoming A Police State?” This should remain available at
Freedom of course cannot exist apart from morality. This via TRIM (Tax
Reform Immediately) at TRIM is a branch of The John
Birch Society ( Perhaps the worse assault on personal liberty, the emergence of the overbearing “nanny state” along with more
government, socialism, and people control commenced under Lyndon B. Johnson, America’s worse president, back in the 1960’s! Also, the Earl
Warren Supreme Court during same era. Judicial and political abuse from
this era continues to haunt free thinking Americans today!

Harvey Schock

June 28th, 2011
6:02 pm

Georgia is very oppressive when it comes to personal freedoms. They decide what shows they will show on television (Jimmy Kimmel wasn’t shwon on WSB because they deemed it too racy for the masses), you can’t buy alcohol on Sundays, bars and clubs must close by 2 a.m., and most of the bars and clubs were closed and demolished to make room for condos and high-end shops in Buckhead.


June 28th, 2011
7:19 pm

“Americans are far less free than government officials admit…”

Well Bob at first I agreed with that statement, until I thought about it for a minute. In terms of sheer numbers of people, if you compare the freedom that African-Americans have now with what they had, say, 50 years ago, U.S. citizens have more freedom today than at any time in our history.

Politi Cal

June 28th, 2011
8:16 pm

No state is well served by a one-party system, and Georgia has essentially been a one party state since Reconstruction. Just because former Democrats now call themselves Repubicans means nothing. Georgia is, was, and remains a one-party state. The solution? Gerrymandering!

Liberalism = retardation

June 29th, 2011
12:10 pm

“Georgia is very oppressive”

Then move.

Ella Robbins

June 29th, 2011
12:56 pm

Mr. West, it is my feeling that high taxes and over-regulation cause black markets.

I think of the great urban areas these days as places where the masses go to huddle together to exchange their freedoms and money for the benefit of safety and conformity. Government is the only industry I see growing exponentially.