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The State You're In: Free to be you and me, sort of

New Hampshire is the free-est state in the union — surely a relief to a state whose motto is "Live Free or Die."

New York is the least free, perhaps proving Frank Sinatra's boast that if you can make it there . . .

And Florida? According to a new analysis, ours is the 11th free-est state, based on a measurement of fiscal and regulatory policy and economic and personal freedom in each state.

The analysis was released Tuesday by George Mason University's Mercatus Center, a conservative think tank. It was done by political science professors Jason Sorens of the University of Buffalo and William Ruger of Texas State University.

The professors give their definition of freedom right up front:

"Individuals should be allowed to dispose of their lives, liberties, and properties as they see fit." They like free markets and distrust taxation, welfare, egalitarianism and state power. So, state intervention is generally bad.

The paper doesn't mention the tea party, but it is safe to say the professors are not FDR liberals.

With that in mind, here's how Florida ranked (the free-est states rank highest). You can see the study online at mercatus.org.

FISCAL POLICY

1. South Dakota

15. Florida

50. New York

REGULATORY POLICY

(This category examines labor regulation, health-insurance coverage mandates, occupational licensing and so on.)

1. Indiana

21. Florida

50. New Jersey

ECONOMIC FREEDOM

1. South Dakota

14. Florida

50. New York

PERSONAL FREEDOM

(How states handle marriage, alcohol and tobacco use, gambling, asset forfeiture and so on.)

1. Oregon

14. Florida

50. Maryland

The authors' policy suggestions for Florida?

Stop adding health insurance coverage mandates. Raise campaign contribution limits to candidates. End mandatory registration of private schools.

Mike Wilson, Times staff writer

The State You're In: Free to be you and me, sort of 06/10/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 10, 2011 12:12pm]

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