Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Ward Room: Illinois Ranked Last In Personal Freedoms

Well how's that?
Even though Illinois has done more for freedom than any state -- one of our presidents freed the slaves, and one of our generals made that stick -- we’re ranked #45 overall for freedom, and dead last for personal freedoms. We’ve been at the bottom of that list since 2007. The reasons? It’s hard to get high and/or carry a gun around here. Illinois also has harsh asset forfeiture laws, which put the burden of proof on property owners and grant 90 percent of proceeds from seized property to law enforcement.
From the study:
In the personal freedom dimension, Illinois has the sixth harshest gun control laws in the country, though these were improved by the McDonald v. Chicago decision striking down local gun bans. The state’s victimless crimes arrest rates are very high. In 2010, arrests for victimless crimes (excluding minors) made up over 1.5 percent of the state’s population; the vast majority of these were for drugs.
However, that figure is actually an improvement on 2008. Illinois’s marijuana laws are more restrictive than Georgia’s, which is surprising for a left-leaning state. Its asset forfeiture laws are also among the worst in the nation. On the plus side, Illinois’s home school regulations were effectively as minimal as Idaho’s—a case of benign neglect, it seems. The state’s marriage freedom score will improve in the next version of the index since civil unions were legalized in 2011.
You can read the report on Illinois here. Also here's more from Reason although they don't really talk about Illinois:
Rule-bound Massachusetts inspired the line, "everything's illegal in Massachusetts" in the Mel Gibson flick, Edge of Darkness. And, if that line isn't technically true, as a former resident of the Bay State I can testify that it's close enough to capture the feel of a place so ensnared in laws and taxes that you can safely assume that whatever the hell you're doing can get you in hot water if the wrong person takes notice. So it's no surpise that the state ranks poorly in the Mercatus Center's new report, Freedom in the 50 States, published today. If anything, Massachusetts's ranking of 30 seems generous, but the place has a lot of competition in the race to the bottom. And, the Bay State offsets hideous gun laws and land-use restrictions by recognizing same-sex marriage, and keeping arrests for victimless crimes, including marijuana use, rather restrained. The state also has a modestly sized government workforce and average tax rates, which let it shine relative to states like last-place New York.

But Massachusetts, like many less-free states, is losing population to states that rank more strongly overall in their respect for freedom. Not incidentally, freer states also tend to have higher growth in personal income than less-free states. And, there's a direct link between that prosperity and certain types of freedom. Specifically, note authors William P. Ruger and Jason Sorens, "[o]ur study has found that a positive relationship exists between a state's fiscal freedom and its net migration rate and income growth."

But the top-ranked states are red states, with the exception of New Hampshire, and the usual assumption is that red states favor economic liberty and blue states favor social freedom. Does that mean that Americans looking for economic opportunity have to trade off some leeway in their personal lives? Surprisingly, not really — or maybe a little, but in return for leeway in other areas.
I just looked over at the CapFax again and I see that there may be legislation although very strict could allow for medicinal marihuana. As far as personal freedom goes in Chicago at least police are authorized to issue tickets instead of making arrests at least when it comes to possession of marihuana.

My position is that personal liberty is very important, but it must go hand in hand with economic liberty. Bad news is too many people think they know best. When it comes to economic freedom we have had many debates on that issue and look no further than Wal-Mart where opposition was mostly over how much they pay their employees.

What would it take to make the 10 least free states in our union more free?

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