Videos: Ten most free American states -- and why Colorado is falling

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Videos, graphics below.
How can freedom be quantified? The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has tried to do just that with Freedom in the 50 States, a project that attempts to combine rankings for economic and personal freedom to determine which American states are the freest -- and using its metric, whose ideology (or lack thereof?) can be read a number of different ways, Colorado is falling, and falling fast. Look below to count down the top ten, complete with graphics, analysis excerpts and videos for each -- and then continue to see where Colorado wound up and why.

Number 10: Utah

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Utah joins the top 10 freest states for the first time, having moved up in each year coded for this book--from 28th in 2001 to 23rd in 2007 to 17th in 2009 to 10th in 2011. As one might expect, the state performs better in the fiscal and regulatory policy dimensions than on personal freedom, and certainly has some idiosyncrasies that affect its performance.

Utah performs particularly well in the economic realm, ranking eighth out of all the states. In terms of fiscal policy, Utah remains a low-tax state with better-than-average fiscal decentralization and government employment. However, the state could do a lot better on spending and debt....

Number 9: Georgia

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Georgia is an urbanizing Deep South state, which makes for a decidedly mixed personal freedom situation, but the state's rapid economic growth reflects a strong economic freedom environment.

The state and local debt ratio is one of the lowest in the country, at 15.6 percent of income. Its overall tax burden, at 8.6 percent of personal income, is as low as Florida's, and the state is relatively fiscally decentralized. However, government employment, at 13.0 percent of private employment, ranks only about average....

Continue to keep counting down the ten most free American States -- and see where Colorado landed.


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30 comments
Steven M Palmer
Steven M Palmer

I don't really like government at all but it is a necessity in a civilized society. Therefore I am all for the least amount of government encumbrance possible just as the founders of this great nation had planned.

Dan Brown
Dan Brown

Nope. Colorado is not less free. But I'm sure it sells papers/gets clicks to ask that question.

Eric Smiles
Eric Smiles

Can I still buy mah gunz? Untils Obama and his ebil gubmint comes a kockin' down mah door! Lawdy! Pray wiht me now!

Chelly Serna
Chelly Serna

Rightist motto: I only like the government when we're in charge.

Chelly Serna
Chelly Serna

Hey, I was born here, too, and have been a liberal the whole time. Feel free to leave to a more "free" state. I love my open-minded ways and beliefs from actual facts.

Chelly Serna
Chelly Serna

Don't worry, Devin, he probably doesn't even know there's more then two parties.

Ben Lewis
Ben Lewis

That law they put in place for the Occupy movement stating 'you can't camp on city property' really fucked over homeless people. That law in it of it's self took away a lot of freedom.

Steven M Palmer
Steven M Palmer

Leftist motto: You are incapable of making your own decisions. Your government will take care of that.

Mark Laser-Snake
Mark Laser-Snake

so, the more undesirable a place is to live, the freer it is

Heather Doozer
Heather Doozer

how can you combine "economic freedom" with "personal freedom" to come up with a "freedom" score? when products are "free" people are not. This is a well known and studied phenomenon. I'd like to see you try this again and focus just on "personal freedom" since i doubt many of your readers are very concerned with where they can set up shop and get away with as much as possible to make a buck.

coloradonative
coloradonative

Oh, GIVE ME A BREAK, Westword! Freedom? Guess who funded the Mercatus Center? THE KOCH BROTHERS. 'Nuff said.

Laurel Eaton Lesser
Laurel Eaton Lesser

LindaLee Law, if you look at page 6 of the article it actually states, "Colorado used to be a moderately conservative state, but it has moved left over the last 12 years. Its freedom score is one of the "most worsened" in the country over the 2001 to 2011 period. Still, Colorado scores better than average for its fiscal policies and is the second most fiscally decentralized state in the country, with localities raising 50.7 percent of all state and local revenues. However, its state and local debt burden is high, at 23.6 percent of personal income, an increase of 3.6 percent in four years. From FY 2006 to FY 2010, Colorado's measured tax burden increased from 8.3 percent to 9.2 percent...." I'm a native Coloradoan, born & raised, and I can tell you that we didn't have these problems of losing our freedoms until the liberals decided that our ways were not for them! We started losing our freedoms once they started taking away our rights! The republicans were not the "critical parents", the liberals were and are!

John Martinez
John Martinez

Freedom is a myth. Corporations own your ass and you let them

David Alley
David Alley

This should come as no surprise. It's a reflection of the "Progressive" state that Colorado has become.

steven.pfefferle
steven.pfefferle

Anyone notice these are all heavy GOP states.... states that frown upon abortion, gay marriage, have the strictest laws on alcohol and marijuana....  but they have guns and little other regulation, so I guess they are free.

Scott Ingalsbe
Scott Ingalsbe

I drill in any state the send me too. I love it!!!!!!!!!

LindaLee Law
LindaLee Law

Not when you have those who care little for the people only to pad their resumes

LindaLee Law
LindaLee Law

Yes. Been here 40 years and the state was fine until the 'critical parent' Republicans came and had to tell us how to live when we lived well and took care of the state. Now its drill, frack and ruin the earth

Maat Human
Maat Human

They legalized weed.. i think you win the freedom game...

BillyDean
BillyDean

@Steven M Palmer "I am all for the least amount of government encumbrance possible just as the founders of this great nation had planned."

Except that's not what they had planned at all. Stop perpetuating the myth that the founders were somehow these proto-libertarian ideologues. 

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Heather Doozer All good questions, Heather. Thanks for posting.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@John Martinez A lot of people would agree with you, John. Thanks for the post.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@David Alley Thanks for sharing your thoughts, David. Much appreciated.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@steven.pfefferle Interesting post, Steven. We're going to feature it as an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks for weighing in.

steven.pfefferle
steven.pfefferle

@michael.roberts Thank you.  Basically the states that are against the current mainstream freedom movements a majority of Americans support.

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