New Map Shows The Best And Worst States To Move To If You Crave Freedom

How free are you in the state where you live?

A new map, released on Wednesday, showed the areas of America that have the most, and least, paternalism.

Merriam-Webster defines paternalism as follows:

1 : a system under which an authority undertakes to supply needs or regulate conduct of those under its control in matters affecting them as individuals as well as in their relations to authority and to each other – the empire’s paternalism in regard to its colonies.
2 : a policy or practice based on or characteristic of paternalism.

The study was conducted by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the results were not surprising.

The ten states in which the government provides a “nanny state” most overwhelmingly are blue states that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

The worst was New York with a “freedom from paternalism” score of 3.9. It was followed by Vermont at 5.1, Washington State with a score of 5.3, California, which also registered a 5.3, and Oregon at 5.4.

Of the top 10 least oppressive states, all but two, Colorado and Nevada, voted for President Donald Trump.

In the top five, Wyoming led the pack with the most freedom at a score of 9.1, followed by Arizona at 8.7, Nevada at 8.6, Kansas with 8.5, and Missouri came in at 8.3.

How did the study figure out the scores? It was actually rather simple: By looking at what each state taxes in order to sway the public’s choices.

The Latin term in loco parentis, originally from English common law, translates to “in place of a parent” and is used to refer to cases where an organization or individual takes on the functions or responsibilities of a parent over someone else. The chapters in this volume, For Your Own Good, and its predecessor, Taxing Choice (Shughart 1997), discuss some of the many ways governments use their policies to distort the choices that would normally be made by individuals in a free society. Rather than allowing choices based on unregulated markets and market prices, governments attempt to alter these choices in certain directions. In this chapter, we rank the states in terms of their degree of policy paternalism. That is, we attempt to measure the extent to which the policies of each state are consistent with paternalistic public policy.

The authors further explained the methodology used.

We have chosen to break the index down into three conceptual areas: use of selective taxes that are often sin taxes (Area 1), use of “saint” subsidies that reward behavior viewed as beneficial (Area 2), and use of miscellaneous bans and regulations (Area 3). With this first attempt to evaluate the extent to which state policies may be consistent with paternalism, we realize that we may be missing particular taxes, subsidies, or policies that are paternalistic and for which comparable data are available across all fifty states. However, we have identified all the major tax, subsidy, and regulatory policies consistent with paternalism.7 These three conceptual areas are described in more detail below. Each of the three areas can be described using variables that reflect the analytical concept of each area. For example, for Area 1, we use state excise taxes on beer to capture the degree of paternalism toward the consumption of alcohol. For most variables, we use the following formula to calculate the area ratings from 0 to 10:

Ratingi = 10 × (Vi −Vmin)/(Vmax −Vmin), (1)


where the index i is the state being rated on the specific variable, Vmin is the minimum value the variable takes on across all states, and Vmax is the maximum value the variable takes on across all states. We again remind the reader that since we are measuring freedom from paternalism that Vmax is frequently a small number and Vmin a large number. Since most states also collect the normal sales tax on beer in addition to excise taxes, the maximum freedom from paternalism was set to 0, and the minimum (or most paternalistic) value for this variable was set to the highest beer excise tax rate in the country— that of Tennessee at $1.17 per gallon. Tennessee therefore receives a 0 on that component of the index and the state with the highest rating on the index with a 9.8 is Wyoming, which only has a $0.02 per gallon excise tax on beer. The 0–10 ratings are averaged over each area and then each of the areas is summed to make a final rating and ranking of the states of the extent to which they are free from paternalism.

Where did your state rank?

Take a look to find out.

  1. Wyoming 9.1
  2. Arizona 8.7
  3. Nevada 8.6
  4. Kansas 8.5
  5. Missouri 8.3
  6. Idaho 8.3
  7. Colorado 8.2
  8. Arkansas 8.2
  9. Oklahoma 8.1
  10. North Dakota 8.0
  11. Kentucky 8.0
  12. South Carolina 8.0
  13. Mississippi 8.0
  14. Utah 7.9
  15. Ohio 7.8
  16. Delaware 7.8
  17. Nebraska 7.8
  18. Louisiana 7.7
  19. South Dakota 7.7
  20. West Virginia 7.7
  21. New Hampshire 7.7
  22. Montana 7.6
  23. Wisconsin 7.6
  24. Alaska 7.6
  25. Alabama 7.3
  26. Tennessee 7.3
  27. Indiana 7.1
  28. New Mexico 7.0
  29. Georgia 6.9
  30. Hawaii 6.7
  31. Rhode Island 6.7
  32. Texas 6.6
  33. North Carolina 6.6
  34. Florida 6.5
  35. Michigan 6.5
  36. Iowa 6.2
  37. Minnesota 6.1
  38. Pennsylvania 6.1
  39. Virginia 6.0
  40. Connecticut 5.9
  41. Maine 5.9
  42. New Jersey 5.8
  43. Maryland 5.8
  44. Illinois 5.6
  45. Massachusetts 5.4
  46. Oregon 5.4
  47. California 5.3
  48. Washington 5.3
  49. Vermont 5.1
  50. New York 3.9