Monday, March 09, 2009

How Free is Illinois?

We all know that corruption costs the citizens of Illinois money, and lots of it. But is the government intrusiveness characteristic of Illinois Democrats also costing us our freedom and our ability to prosper? The Mercatus Center, George Mason University, has published a new study that ranks American states on the level of economic, social, and personal freedom:

This paper presents the first-ever comprehensive ranking of the American states on their public policies affecting individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres. We develop and justify our ratings and aggregation procedure on explicitly normative criteria, defining individual freedom as the ability to dispose of one’s own life, liberty, and justly acquired property however one sees fit, so long as one does not coercively infringe on another individual’s ability to do the same.

This study improves on prior attempts to score economic freedom for American states in three primary ways: (1) it includes measures of social and personal freedoms such as peaceable citizens’ rights to educate their own children, own and carry firearms, and be free from unreasonable search and seizure; (2) it includes far more variables, even on economic policies alone, than prior studies, and there are no missing data on any variable; and (3) it uses new, more accurate measurements of key variables, particularly state fiscal policies.
So how does this study rank Illinois against others when it comes to various manifestations of freedom?

Economic Freedom: Illiois ranks 29th. South Dakota holds the top position, and New York is dead last. As to personal freedom - Illinois ranks a miserable 49th, saved from the absolute bottom of the barrel by Maryland. Alaska tops the list. Illinois ranked 42nd in overall freedom. New Hampshire has the greatest freedom overall, and again, New Yorkers have the least. There are two more categories - fiscal and regulatory - and if it's any comfort, to my untrained eye, it looks like New York's nanny-state is destroying freedom somewhat faster than than ours in the Land of Lincoln. You can download and read the entire study here.

Here's a shocking little truth: more power and money for the government is less freedom and prosperity for you, especially if you are the "little guy" that the Democrats have been pandering to every election season. Speaking for myself - I'm tired, and I'll have these things in mind on April 7th. It's time for - yeah, I'm going to say it - change.

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