William Ruger and Jason Sorens, both professors of political science, have just released their study ranking freedom in the fifty states.
Ruger and Sorens present an innovative set of criteria: they not not only rank states according to economic freedom (tax and regulation) but also what they define as personal freedom (including firearms, seatbelt, drug and marriage laws ). Colorado is virtually tied with New Hampshire and South Dakota for number one, New York is 50, with New Jersey, Rhode Island, California and Maryland sitting at the bottom.
Policy makers from states at the bottom might want to consider the reasons for their low rank more closely – New Jersey and California – both suffering unprecedented fiscal and economic crises, have not coincidentally, been losing people in recent years. Both were destination states in the 1960s – business friendly, low tax, and prosperous.
The rankings prompt important questions: Can underperforming states reverse course? And which reforms matter most?