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California stomps on personal freedom, says study

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Tuesday, June 7th, 2011 at 10:16 am in Think tanks.

A new study artfully described by California Watch’s Lance Williams says the Golden State ranks third from the bottom when it comes to infringements on personal freedoms. Only New York and New Jersey place more restrictions on their citizens, according to the Mercatus Center in Virginia.

I bring this up after one of my earlier posts about the passage of an anti-smoking law in the state Senate generated quite a bit of debate.

The libertarian Mercatus Center writes a far different narrative than the one we usually read about, those where California is at the forefront of social and environmental progress.

Here is a small portion of the story:

Want freedom? Leave California for South Dakota, report says

June 7, 2011 | Lance Williams


The economy’s in the tank – unemployment has been in double digits for a couple of years.

The state budget has a $10.8 billion hole in it.

It’s June, but yesterday it was 53 degrees and raining in the Bay Area.

And now, just to make us feel even worse about the Golden State, here comes a study by social scientists at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Arlington, Va.

They say that California ranks 48th in the nation – that is, third from dead last – for having policies and laws that adversely “affect individual freedoms in the economic, social and personal spheres.”

If you want to be free, leave Lotus Land for New Hampshire or South Dakota, say the report’s authors, professors William Ruger of Texas State University and Jason Sorens of the University at Buffalo.

People there face lower taxes, fewer rules and far less governmental hassling than Californians, their study reports. New York and New Jersey are the only places in the country where life is more restrictive, they say.

“Mercatus” means “market” in Latin. The Mercatus Center “works to advance knowledge about how markets work to improve our lives,” its website says.

The professors who wrote the analysis view the world through a libertarian lens. They rank the states on a long list of policies and laws. (Click here to read the rest of the story.)

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  • Wendy Lack

    Thanks for sharing, Lisa!

  • John W

    Based on a rather selective and self-serving list of “freedom” litmus tests, I’d say. Some would say that California is the “anything goes” state when it comes to personal freedom. Also, they need to do some factchecking. Although I am no fan of the Sacramento bureaucracy and how it gets in the way, this so-called “study,” mentions that California hires too many state workers. That may be so; but, statistically, we rank near the bottom in terms of the number of state employees per 10 thousand residents (i.e., we have one of the lowest number of state employees per capita). Also, the study mentions restrictions on cigarette smoking. Well, apparently, we lag behind other states in terms of restricting smoking in hotel lobbies, bars and workplaces. Some would say that such restrictions enhance the freedoms of non-smokers.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    A hard rain’s gonna fall.

  • Doug

    Reminds me of the saying, “if a conservative doesn’t like something, he doesn’t buy it. If a liberal doesn’t like something, he bans it.”

  • John W

    Re: #4

    “If a conservative doesn’t like something, he doesn’t buy it.”

    If only that were true in such matters as a woman’s reproductive rights and same sex marriage.

    But I have to admit your other saying seems to be holding up in SF on the issue of banning circumcision.

  • http://demandprogress.org/ demandprogress

    Protect personal freedom nationally!

    PROTECT IP Act, or PIPA, threatens all of our first amendment rights. It would enable the government to block access to sites, ending the Internet as we know it. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon cautions, “The collateral damage of this approach is speech, innovation and the very integrity of the Internet.” We need to fight together against this travesty: send our letter to Congress here! http://act.demandprogress.org/act/pipa_letter/?source=tf

    Even the experts say PROTECT IP is not the way to protect intellectual property rights; a study composed by internet experts including Paul Vixie of Internet Consortium and Danny McPherson of Verisign states, “[PIPA’s DNS targeting strategy] would likely prove ineffective at reducing online infringement.” Why risk our own internet freedom for a bill that will prove “ineffective” at achieving its aims?

    The Motion Picture Association of America claims that the 24,000 who have already sent our letter to Congress are false identities used by Demand Progress to bolster our numbers.

    Prove the MPAA wrong and stand up for your rights by sending out this letter: http://act.demandprogress.org/act/pipa_letter/?source=tf

  • keenplanner

    When are these Libertarians gonna give up?
    Libertarianism is a failure from the get-go. It’s a system that can’t work for any but the richest members of society who can afford to finance policy that enriches them further, much like the oligarchical direction in which the US is heading, and look where it’s gotten us.
    Do these people want to live downstream from others who exercise their unregulated “freedom” to use the stream for their toilet? Do they want to raise their children in an industrial city with no environmental regulations? Do they enjoy being shills for the rich who hoodwink them into doing their bidding for free? Does anyone actually take anything that the Cato or Mercatus “think” tanks seriously?
    C’mon, people. These people are lucky that in the US you are free to express your opinion, no matter how lame or unfounded.

  • Elwood

    “These people are lucky that in the US you are free to express your opinion, no matter how lame or unfounded.”

    As are you.

  • For Liberty

    The highest level of prosperity occurs when there is a free-market economy and a minimum of government regulations.