A new analysis from a top libertarian think tank found that GOP-led states are dramatically outpacing Democrat-led states in terms of overall freedom.
The Cato Institute’s newest “Freedom in the 50 States” report shows that across a variety of metrics including fiscal policy, government regulations, and civil liberties, red states most generally provide a higher quality of life with more liberties.
The organization’s methodology is as follows:
Our index encompasses both economic and personal freedoms because the two sets of freedoms are complementary. A state scoring high in economic freedom but not in personal freedom — a hypothetical American Singapore — would not be a really free state in the way the liberal tradition understands it.
Nor would a state high in personal freedom but low in economic freedom — an American Argentina — provide the liberal conditions necessary for human flourishing in the broadest sense.
Even to economist Milton Friedman, a mere “economic freedom index” would not be a real freedom index. In his 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman explores the connection between economic and political freedoms, finding that political freedom in the absence of economic freedom is unlikely to last.
He writes, “It is a mark of the political freedom of a capitalist society that men can openly advocate and work for socialism,” while a socialist society does not permit the reverse.
The report found that, in overall freedom, the top five states are:
- New Hampshire
- South Dakota
Meanwhile, the bottom five are:
- New Jersey
- New York
Nevada is the only state in the top five with a Democrat governor.
The Daily Wire adds:
Because of the Cato Institute’s libertarian leanings, a small portion of the index considers policies surrounding gambling, LGBTQ ideology, marijuana, and tobacco.
After filtering out these categories and focusing specifically on economic freedom, however, the top five states are Florida, Tennessee, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Idaho; the bottom states are once again New York, Hawaii, California, Oregon, and New Jersey.
Evaluating the states in terms of regulatory freedom shows similar results. The top five states are Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Idaho, and Wyoming; the bottom five are California, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and Oregon.
“Governor Kristi Noem (R-SD) did not issue a lockdown order in the spring of 2020,” the outlet continued, in reference to state governors’ policies regarding the pandemic.
“One survey indicated that South Dakota — in a tie with Idaho — ranked fourth in the country for state-to-state migration. Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) was among the first governors to rescind his state’s COVID-19 restrictions — a move that even garnered accolades from Florida Democrats,” the outlet added.
DeSantis has since vowed to never again impose any lockdowns due to viral spread.
“We will never do any of these lockdowns again, and I hear people say they’ll shut down the country, and honestly, I cringe,” DeSantis said in August 2020. “And at best, what the lockdown will do is delay.
“It does not reduce the ultimate mortality … it creates a lot of other problems with mortality that a lot of people don’t necessarily focus on,” he added.