Americans’ freedoms have gradually eroded over the years, a new study has found, with the COVID-19 pandemic giving local officials more power in everyday life.
a new study by Kato Institute, a Washington DC think tank that promotes individual liberties, limited government, free markets, has evaluated each of the 50 states under 23 different categories, and created an overall ranking.
The fewest and least free states are unchanged – New York is the least free, followed by Hawaii and california, and New Hampshire, Florida and Nevada are the most free.
According to the Cato Institute, New York ranks 50th in the Freedom Ratings and New Hampshire ranks first.
Cato Institute researchers William Ruger and Jason Sorens, who compiled the annual report, said their analysis shows individual freedoms are being curtailed across the board.
“While there has been a significant increase in the rights of some in some areas, for the average American, freedoms have generally declined due to federal policy that includes encroaching on policies that states controlled 20 years ago,” he says. Huh.
They looked at factors that varied by state – such as taxation, marriage restrictions, rules for wearing seatbelts in cars and helmets on motorbikes, and marijuana and gambling laws.
New Hampshire, whose motto is ‘Free or Die’, surprisingly came in at or near the top of most metrics – although they were at the bottom of the rankings for land use and marriage equality.
‘We base our concept of liberty on an individual rights framework. In our view, individuals should be allowed to dispose of their life, liberty and property so long as they do not infringe on the rights of others,’ the authors wrote.
‘This understanding of liberty comes from the natural-rights libertarian views of John Locke, Emmanuel Kant and Robert Nozick, but it is also consistent with the rights-generating rule-utilitarianism of Herbert Spencer and others.’
Economic independence includes both fiscal and regulatory policy.
Florida was granted the status of the most independent state, with no personal income tax.
The authors write, ‘Florida does particularly well at economic freedom, and even more so at fiscal policy.
‘Actually, it is our top state on both.
‘The regulatory policy has improved but is mediocre in comparison to the fiscal side.’
Florida is followed by Tennessee and third is New Hampshire.
“The volunteer state lacks income tax, and both state and local tax collections are well below the national average,” the report said.
New Hampshire’s overall tax burden is well below the national average of 8.1 percent. The state government taxes less than any other state except Alaska.
The average personal income tax rate for all taxpayers is 13.3 percent, according to a tax foundation Report from February 2021.
All three states have Republican governors.
Arizona, Florida and Indiana are leading the way in education, keeping in mind the requirements and restrictions for private and homeschools.
The most restrictive states are North Dakota, ranked 50th, followed by Nebraska and Michigan.
‘North Dakota remains the worst state in the country for educational freedom,’ the authors write.
‘Both private schools and homeschools are more tightly regulated than anywhere else, and the state has no private or public school options.’
The Cato Institute recommends that Republican Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota, eliminate teacher licensing, mandatory state approval, and detailed curriculum requirements for private schools, and reduce the burden of notification and record-keeping on homeschooling families.
Maryland – ranked 46th for educational freedom – ‘is one of the least free states in the country, and it has held this status since the beginning of our time series in 2000,’ the authors write.
Homeschool and private schools are strictly regulated, more later, thanks to mandatory state approval and teacher licensing.
The state increased the years of compulsory schooling from 11 to 12 in 2014 and again to 13 in 2017.
Idaho, North Dakota and Nebraska are considered the freest states for health insurance.
Socially and economically conservative, states defend nurse practitioner independence, and physician assistants have full prescribing authority.
No certificate is required for hospitals.
The most regulated states are New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
Health insurance mandates are broad in New Jersey, which is at the bottom of the list.
In 2013, the freedom of nurse practitioner independent practice was abolished, while more states were going in the other direction.
In 2018, New Jersey enacted a state-level individual health insurance mandate law.
The Cato Institute ranked states on the basis of couples’ freedom to enter into private contracts—both civil union or marriage.
Eleven states made it equally easy for couples to get married.
States included deeply Democrats ranging from California and Hawaii to staunch Republican Tennessee.
Seven states sat at the bottom of the table with Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington all set the highest odds.
While many believe that Texas has the most liberal gun laws, it is actually Kansas that has the least restrictive gun ownership policies.
Permitless open carry was legalized in 2013, and permitless concealed carry was enacted in 2015.
US citizens have an estimated 393 million firearms, both legal and illegal; According to the Small Arms Survey, this is more than all firearms from 24 countries combined reporting the highest rates of civilian gun ownership.
However, only one in three Americans report having a gun, while 44 percent live in homes where a gun is kept. This means that most gun owners have more than one gun.
Four states – Texas, Florida, California and Pennsylvania – had at least one million estimated gun sales in 2020.
Kansas may have the most liberal gun laws, but the most guns are held in the state of Wyoming, followed by Montana and Alaska.
Iowa, Massachusetts and Nebraska have the lowest rates of gun ownership, as well as Washington DC.
Massachusetts, California and Hawaii have the most restrictive gun ownership rules.