California stomps on personal freedom, says study

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.)


Reich: Jobless numbers call for stimulus now

“January’s job numbers confirm our worst fears: The economy is falling off a cliff and we’re in a vicious downward cycle,” University of California, Berkeley professor and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich told reporters on a conference call a short while ago.

“People are not buying because they don’t have enough money in their wallets and paychecks … and that means businesses are laying off large numbers of Americans at a rate we haven’t seen in many, many decades.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced today that 598,000 jobs were lost in January, pushing the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent. About 3.6 million jobs have been lost since the recession began in December 2007.

Heather Boushey, a senior economist with the Center for American Progress Action Fund – which as I’ve reported seems to be the pre-eminent progressive think tank of the Obama Administration, funded in large part by East Bay millionaires Herb and Marion Sandler, and the sponsor of today’s conference call – said America hasn’t seen job losses like this since the end of World War II. There are now 11.6 million adults out of work, “a heartbreaking, staggeringly large number,” she said; those who do still have jobs are working less, posting the lowest weekly hours since the Labor Department started tabulating such figures in 1964.

More on this from Reich and others, after the jump…
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Rockridge Institute to close April 30

The Rockridge Institute, a Berekely based progressive think-tank formed to combat its better funded conservative counterparts, is closing its doors due to lack of money.

The institute was founded by UC Berkeley linguist professor and author George Lakoff, who gained fame after Democrats tapped into his “framing” concept in the book, “Don’t Think of An Elephant.” Framing is the study of how individual worldview affects thought.

Here’s what the institute sent out this morning in an e-mail announcement:
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