William Ruger and Jason Sorens are the authors of the “Freedom in the 50 States” report, a Cato Institute project which gives an annual assessment of which states are increasing and decreasing in the rankings of a broad index of liberties. The Cato Institute has been publishing this detailed compendium, using hundreds of various weighted variables.
They both joined my show for the first time to discuss how the index weighs different broad categories of freedom – from regulatory, to financial to personal – as well as specific freedoms that vary in importance for different people. Of course, there are many people who would be happy to live in a state that restricts other people’s liberty, while their own cherished freedoms are left untouched. But which states guarantee liberty for all?
In this episode, we discuss:
- Cato’s Annual Freedom in the 50 States report
- New Hampshire - The Free State Project
- How is freedom defined and measured, given moral disagreements over issues like abortion?
- Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia, and the concept of Distributive Justice. Is wealth really ever “distributed”?
- What makes people devalue freedom?
- The Urban vs. Rural divide. Why are free states more rural?
- How high do taxes have to go before citizens start to leave a state?
- How do less free states compensate their residents for the lack of freedom?
How free is your state?
William Ruger is Vice President for Research and Policy at the Charles Koch Institute and Vice President for Foreign Policy at Stand Together (where he leads the Koch network's foreign policy initiative). He was previously an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Texas State University.