Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why is NH the Freest State?

"Freedom in the 50 States"
Ranking NH Most Free State
Monday June 27, 10:00 a.m.
Legislative Office Building Room 210

The Josiah Bartlett Center will hold a briefing with Profs. Jason Sorens and William Ruger, authors of the Mercatus Center study “Freedom in the Fifty States” which ranked New Hampshire as the most free state in the country on Monday at 10:00 in the Legislative Office Building. Center president Charlie Arlinghaus said “Sorens and Ruger have created a very provocative objective index based on freedom. The index is thought-provoking and there’s definitely enough here to not only please and annoy both Republicans and Democrats but to make all of us think differently about policy.” The briefing is free and open to the public.

The authors’ analysis of New Hampshire’s standing follows:

New Hampshire is, by our count, the freest state in the country. Depending on weights, however, it really shares the slot with South Dakota. New Hampshire does much better on economic than personal freedom and on fiscal than regulatory policy. Under unified Democratic control in 2007–2008, the state saw a respectable increase in freedom. A smoking ban was enacted, but so were same-sex civil unions. Taxes, spending, and fiscal decentralization remain more than a standard deviation better than average, and government debt actually went down slightly. Gun laws are among the most liberal in the country, but carrying a firearm in a car requires a concealed carry permit. Effective retail-tax rates on wine and spirits are zero. Marijuana laws are middling; low level possession could be decriminalized like it is in Maine, while low-level cultivation could be made a misdemeanor like it is in both Maine and Vermont. New Hampshire is the only state in the country with no seatbelt law for adults. It lacks a motorcycle helmet law but does have a bicycle-helmet law and authorizes sobriety checkpoints. State approval is required to open a private school. Homeschool laws are slightly worse than average; standardized testing and recordkeeping requirements are stricter than those in most states. Eminent-domain reforms have gone far. The state’s liability system is one of the best, but campaign-finance regulations are quite strict. The drug law-enforcement rate is low and dropping, while arrests for other victimless crimes are high and dropping. Asset-forfeiture law is definitely subpar, with potential for abuse.
NHPR coverage.
Union Leader coverage.
Response by Sorens and Ruger.

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