States Limiting Freedom Pushes People Out
States Limiting Freedom Pushes People Out
Where legislators think they're responsible for protecting you from yourself, it's no great surprise that they also see fewer limitations on their power in other areas.
Google's auto-complete feature has long been a source of amusement, but as a recent feature on BuzzFeed makes clear, it also says a lot about what it's like to live and work in different states in the country.
Type "New York is" into Google and the first option it presents is "New York is killing me."
True enough, that's also a Gil-Scott Heron song, but try Illinois, and you get "Illinois is bankrupt."
"California is broke."
"Nevada," however, "is not a wasteland."
Google runs on statistics, so while these results aren't purely scientific, they give you an idea what people think of all the states in the union. It comes as little surprise that Americans recognize some of the least free states as oppressive and financially mismanaged, and one with more personal freedom as better than the reputation it gets.
In our Freedom in the 50 States book published today, we look at a wealth of numbers and policies in every state in the country.
When it comes to overall freedom, New York ranks dead last. In New York City itself, of course, Mayor Michael Bloomberg earned national media by enacting a beverage ban which tried to outlaw the sale of sodas 16 ounces and larger. Though the law ran into a judicial buzzsaw on the eve of its enactment earlier this month, it demonstrates the attitude city and state legislators have toward their constituents.
Even New Yorkers who don't care about sweet drinks have to deal with the highest state and local tax burden in the country, at 14% of income.
And of course New Yorkers aren't simply expressing their frustrations on Google -- they're voting with their feet.
On net, between 2000 and 2010, New York saw 1.7 million of its residents move to other states. While the Empire State's overall population didn't drop -- the births of new New Yorkers and the arrival of new immigrants prop up the figures -- it shed 8.9% of its 2000 population.
While New York ranks 50th on freedom, California falls just behind, at 49th. And while New York's biggest problem is taxes, California's is business regulation, where it comes dead last in our index.
The Golden State, with hundreds of miles of picturesque Pacific coastline, nonetheless managed to drive off a net of 1.5 million residents between 2000 and 2010 — over 4% of its 2000 population. And Californians' personal income actually contracted by 0.4% per year in the seven years before the Great Recession struck, a record worse than any other state besides Michigan.
Meanwhile, states that protect more of their residents' freedom and make it easier to run businesses enjoy a steady inflow of people from more burdensome ones. They also enjoy higher personal income growth.
Meanwhile, Arizona, which ranks 11th on freedom, saw 700,000 people move in from other states -- 13.9 percent of its 2000 population.
That's not a coincidence.
Some freedoms mean more to people than others, of course, and if you can't find a good job in a state, you might not care how free it is by anyone's standards. But we've considered a range of social and personal freedoms, including the right to consume alcohol and tobacco, to bear arms, to home school your children and to be free from arbitrary search and seizure. We've also studied the effects of over 200 distinct public policies.
The more a state denies people their freedoms, increases their taxes or passes laws that make it hard for businesses to hire and fire, the more likely they are to leave.
And while there's clearly more to life than drinking oversized beverages and eating foie gras, the states that won't allow you to often cause trouble for their residents in other ways.
Where legislators think they're responsible for protecting you from yourself and choosing the menus of your meals, it's no great surprise that they also see fewer limitations on their power in other areas. After all, if they're taking your food, why not also take your money?
As Americans go west and south, most no longer head for the California coast. They move instead to places with lower costs of living and higher qualities of life. States like Arizona, South Carolina and Idaho -- which Google says aren't so bad for your health.Comments