Freedom in the 50 States


Paul's picture

Sorens had asked me to help with his 2009 version of this study, presumably because I had worked with him in the Free State Project state selection spreadsheet. I declined for a variety of reasons, some personal. One reason was the immense amount of work required, which I certainly respect with these studies. Another though, was that I had become a bit disenchanted with the notion of grading states with a spreadsheet. Some things are just hard to quantify. Liberty is more than just laws on the books; it is also whether those laws are vigorously enforced. It is "horizontal" enforcement. It is how bad the jails are once you are unfortunately caught in the system. And there are other such things. Montana for example often comes out poorly in such studies, but I "feel" pretty free when I am there. Maybe I just don't see that many cops, and the few I do see are respectful. How do you quantify respect among police? So I think these studies can be used as rough guides; I believe New York and California really are bad, and South Dakota and New Hampshire really are good. But I am doubtful about drawing too fine a conclusion from them.

Another problem is that the studies reflect the things that the authors think important. In the FSP spreadsheet users got to weight the factors themselves, according to what they thought were important. Here, that is not so. I'm guessing weights come from those participating in the study. For example, not too many of them are gun nuts, I'd wager.