The Mercatus Center has just released its monster “Freedom in the 50 States” report, ranking all the states according to how “pro-freedom” they are.
There are separate charts for economic and personal freedom, an overall ranking that combines the two, as well as rankings on individual issues like campaign finance and travel. Some surprising findings from the study:
Freest state — North Dakota (followed closely by South Dakota)
Least free state — New York, by a mile
Most personal freedom — Alaska (decadent California is number 47)
Most economic freedom — South Dakota (meaning, I guess, North Dakota is substantially more permissive on non-economic issues)
Best fiscal policy — South Dakota, followed by Tennessee
Worst civil liberties record — California (Nevada has the best)
Freest education policy — Florida
Third-best place to gamble — Indiana
Freest marijuana policy — Alaska, which is 24th in economic freedom, surprisingly (The study is based on 2011 numbers, which is why Washington or Colorado aren’t on top. Alabama is ranked 50)
All states with state-run liquor stores do poorly in the alcohol policy section
Second-most stringent tobacco policy — Hawaii (behind, you guessed it, New York)
Best “fiscal decentralization” — Nebraska
Worst government employment policies — New Mexico
Check out the interactive website too.