The Ten States That Restrict Personal Freedom (And Those That Protect It)

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The Ten States That Restrict Personal Freedom

10. Illinois
> Fiscal freedom: -0.002 (25th lowest)
> Regulatory freedom: -0.005 (24th lowest)
> Personal freedom: -0.193 (2nd lowest)
> Net Migration (2000-2009): -5.1%

At the number ten slot on the Mercatus list for the least free states, Illinois actually performs around average in fiscal and regulatory freedom, including taxes and excessive spending. Its overall score is dragged down severely by personal freedom, where it ranks the second worst in the country. According to the Mercatus report. “In 2008, more than 2 percent of the state’s population was arrested for a victimless crime.” Victimless crimes include things like drug possession and prostitution. Until a recent court case overturned the measure, it was legal in the state for local governments to ban handgun possession.

9. Ohio
> Fiscal freedom: -0.063 (14th lowest)
> Regulatory freedom: -0.046 (18th lowest)
> Personal freedom: -0.105 (9th lowest)
> Net Migration (2000-2009): -3.2%

Although Ohio’s state debt is below average, spending and taxation are both exceptionally high. This is especially true for spending in the areas of administration, education, and social service. Most gambling is illegal, there are widespread bans on smoking, and cigarette taxes are high. Additionally, students that are home schooled face an above average amount of regulation. Beer and wine taxes are relatively low. The state also does not mandate many of the things other states do, including motorcycle helmets.

8. Maryland
> Fiscal freedom: 0.124 (11th highest)
> Regulatory freedom: -0.119 (7th lowest)
> Personal freedom: -0.273 (lowest)
> Net Migration (2000-2009): -1.8%

Maryland has one of the highest rates of fiscal freedom in the country because of low taxes and government spending. However, the state ranks the absolute worst in the U.S. in terms of personal freedom. The Old Line State has – according to the Mercatus Report – “ the second-strictest gun laws in the country, fairly harsh marijuana laws … tight gambling laws, a law allowing police to take DNA from certain felony arrestees, burdensome homeschooling laws (curricula must be approved by the government), high drug-arrest rates, and lack of same-sex partnerships.”

7. Alaska
> Fiscal freedom: -0.434 (2nd lowest)
> Regulatory freedom: -0.006 (22nd)
> Personal freedom: 0.140 (5th highest)
> Net Migration (2000-2009): -1.4%

Despite being ranked as the seventh-least free state in the nation, Alaskans have the fifth-greatest amount of personal freedom. The state has legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana along with same-sex domestic partnerships.  It has the most relaxed gun laws in the country, and has among the least restrictive homeschooling laws in the country. Alaska is extremely involved in the state’s economy, however. Over a quarter of the state’s workforce are state or employed by teh state or local government. Also, according to the study, the state has “the highest debt and government spending to personal income ratios in the country.” Alaska also has extensive labor laws and has done a poor job of reforming eminent domain.

6. Rhode Island
> Fiscal freedom: -0.067 (13th lowest)
> Regulatory freedom: -0.173 (5th lowest)
> Personal freedom: -0.143 (5th lowest)
> Net Migration (2000-2009): -4.2%

Rhode Island has high taxes, although alcohol excise taxes are quite low. It is also one of the worst states in terms of high levels of spending and debt, and therefore performs poorly overall in the fiscal freedom category. Worse still for its rank, the state has one of the most paternalistic systems of policies in the country. The state has harsh penalties for drug offenses and strict regulation of public and private schools.