A pair of academics, Jason Sorens at the University of Buffalo and William Ruger of Texas State University, have ranked the states according to degree of freedom--economic freedom, personal freedom and so forth. They look at fiscal policy, regulatory policy and paternalism in a libertarian index. New Hampshire ranks number 1, New York ranks number 50: no great surprises there. Here's their full report (64 page pdf).
One thing that interested me is that there is little correlation between degrees of economic and personal freedom--with the notable exception of New York, which ranks number 50 on economic freedom and number 48 on personal freedom. South Dakota, New Hampshire, Colorado and North Dakota rank tops in economic freedom, far ahead of any other state. But they're only middling on personal freedom (with New Hampshire the highest of the four). Alaska ranks way out in front on personal freedom; Maine in second place is far ahead of any other state. But Alaska ranks 47 in economic freedom and Maine 49. Perhaps readers can come up with an explanation for why this is so.
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By Michael Barone