Report: New York "the least free" state. Again.

freedom in the 50 states 2013 map

New York once again ranked as the least "free" state in the nation, in the Mercatus Center's new "Freedom in the 50 States" report (Mercatus is a "market-oriented" think tank at George Mason University). The Empire State was last in 2011. And 2007. And 2001.

New York is "by far the least free state in the Union," according to the report. The state gets dinged for, well, pretty much everything: taxes, spending, regulation. Among the rare positives identified by the report: "better than average" marijuana laws, low alcohol taxes, and eventually same-sex marriage (the report only covers policy to the end of 2010).

Oh, and NYS ranks #32 in the "bachelor party" category, which "combines a variety of laws including those on alcohol, marijuana, prostitution, and fireworks" (sadly, there's no indication the category covers laws regarding coke-snorting donkeys).

Freedom is, to some degree, in the eye of beholder. And here is how the Mercatus Center beholds it. Slate's Matthew Yglesias offers a rather different view, arguing that the concept of freedom needs to be salvaged "from the wreckage of Mercatus."

The top five states for freedom, according to Mercatus, are (from the top): North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma. The least free (descending): Rhode Island, Hawaii, New Jersey, California, New York.

map: Mercatus Center


It's interesting that reproductive freedom isn't taken into account AT ALL in those findings. I'd wager that is certainly important to the definition of freedom to a good percentage of the population.

They also have this policy recommendation for NYS:
Cut spending on police and fire protection, hospitals, housing and community development, libraries, public welfare, sanitation and sewerage, miscellaneous commercial activities, public transit, and employee retirement.

I couldn't disagree more. Glad you link to a nice counterpoint perspective.

From the Mercatus Center's website:

"A grant from philanthropist and entrepreneur Charles Koch made the program possible and started an important tradition for the Center...."

I think I'll take the Mercatus Center ranking of NYS as a badge of honor.

North Dakota??? As in the state that just took a way a woman's freedom of reproductive choice pretty much entirely? That's a laugh.

Aren't California and New York the most populous states? People must really hate "freedom".

I see so many upstaters moving out of New York as an issue. The people who could move, have indeed moved. The people who are too poor to move, typically have not left. This has left a drain on the state. Is it terrible? You make the call.

Sure, it is more important for me to own fireworks than have reproductive freedoms. FFS.

SN: My SIL lives in an expensive housing development on the Atlantic coast of Central Florida, and had to have someone install special filters in her showers and sinks so that the water was actually potable. Because, you know, the municipal water is not. She also had to pay for an expensive private school for her daughter because the public school was atrocious. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

Hmff. Told ya.

@mike -- I'm retiring soon and can afford to move. I'm not moving. There are enough quality of life trade offs (better services, better cultural institutions in NYS) for me to put up with the taxes and regulations. And I know lots of people who haven't moved for the same reason.

I do find these studies comical sometimes, because they often discount one thing over another. In this case, many of the “social” freedoms one finds, for lack of a better label, in blue states gets discounted against some of the “fiscal” freedoms (or lack of) typically found in red states. This is the beautiful thing about America, in that we’ve fostered a federalist, de-centralized form of government, allowing folks to move to states that cater to their specific needs. I for one don’t mind paying an extra $4,000 or $6,000 a year to live in a state that gives me all kinds of “social” freedoms, access to cultural and heritage not found in many parts of the country, and just plain basic amenities that get skimped on to save a dollar or two. I have friends who’ve had to move to Texas (against their will, in order to maintain a job) and abhor the poor condition of public schools, unpaved roads, and limited governmental services (like fire and libraries). They are saving a few thousand a year in taxes, but find they are paying more, for example, to send their kids to private school. Again, the beautiful thing about America is you can weigh the pros and cons for yourself and make the choice that best suits you. However, the bluing of the country seems to indicate to me that most folks tend to like the freedoms the New York’s and California’s of the world offer, over a Texas’ or Montana’s.

@Bill: Hear, hear! There are some things that are more important than money. While "free states" like Texas and the Dakotas may be nice to visit, you couldn't pay me to live there.

You should also not discount the weather as reason why California is so populated. I'm from there and even though I disagree with much of their politics, I'm moving back soon because: 1) it's cheaper to live there (really); 2) my family is there, and 3) for some SUNSHINE.

Hi there. Comments have been closed for this item. Still have something to say? Contact us.

The Scoop

For a decade All Over Albany was a place for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. It was kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who could help you find out what's up. AOA stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

Recently on All Over Albany

Thank you!

When we started AOA a decade ago we had no idea what was going to happen. And it turned out better than we could have... (more)

Let's stay in touch

This all feels like the last day of camp or something. And we're going to miss you all so much. But we'd like to stay... (more)

A few things I think about this place

Working on AOA over the past decade has been a life-changing experience for me and it's shaped the way I think about so many things.... (more)

Albany tightened its rules for shoveling snowy sidewalks last winter -- so how'd that work out?

If winter ever gets its act together and drops more snow on us, there will be sidewalks to shovel. And shortly after that, Albany will... (more)

Tea with Jack McEneny

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.... (more)

Recent Comments

My three year old son absolutely loving riding the train around Huck Finn's (Hoffman's) Playland this summer.

Thank you!

...has 27 comments, most recently from Ashley

Let's stay in touch

...has 4 comments, most recently from mg

A look inside 2 Judson Street

...has 3 comments, most recently from Diane (Agans) Boyle

Everything changes: Alicia Lea

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chaz Boyark

A few things I think about this place

...has 13 comments, most recently from Katherine