Some say we live in a “free society.” Others say we are marching toward communism. How free are you really? In a study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, political science professors William P. Ruger and Jason Sorens decided to find out.
“Freedom In The 50 States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom” measures a number of variables beyond the usual economic measures, including, “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.” And why did the authors decide to study personal freedom?
“In our view, individuals should be allowed to dispose of their lives, liberties, and property as they see fit, so long as they do not infringe on the rights of others.”
Ruger and Sorens do acknowledge that different people see freedom differently, and publish raw data with an invitation for readers to construct their own personal freedom rankings by going to: http://www.statepolicyindex.com/
“We would also argue that freedom … can be threatened as much by the weakness of the state as by overbearing state intervention. Individuals are less free the more they have reason to fear private assaults and depredations, and a useful government punishes private aggression vigorously. However, we focus on threats to individual liberty originating in the state. Therefore, we do not code the effectiveness of state governments in punishing rights violations. For instance, we do not include measures of the efficacy of state police and courts or of violent and property crime rates. Thus, our “freedom index” does not capture all aspects of freedom.”
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