The Measure of Freedom

Back in May, Texas Gov Rick Perry went on a religious talk show (Life Today) to discuss current events and he expressed the idea that the hard economic times are happening so that this country will return to "biblical principles" and we will escape our "enslavement" from government (Think Progress has more on Perry's biblical economics). One thing I've noticed among GOPers is the idea that we are somehow "slaves" of the government: we are not really free because taxes. Or something. If Perry ever wondered just how not-free Texas is, he is in luck because Mercatus Center--which is funded in large part by the Koch brothers and is "the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas—bridging the gap between academic ideas and real world problems"--has recently published its listing of "Freedom in the 50 States". Sadly for Perry, Texas isn't even in the Top Ten. It's 14.

So just what is "freedom" according to the Mercatus Center? Freedom from taxes, of course. Freedom also seems to mean no: public safety, any sort of regulation for anything, and not paying people minimum wage. Let's take Oregon, for example. We made it into the Top Ten of The Most Freeeeeeee! (emphasis mine)
Oregon is the freest Pacific state and the top state in terms of personal freedom. Moreover, Oregon enjoyed the greatest increase in freedom of any state since 2007 and the highest positive jump in the overall rankings (from #22 to #8). This was primarily due to big improvements in the quality of its court system, the enactment of same-sex civil unions, and a substantial decline in tax collections (from 9.7 percent to 8.8 percent of personal income). Despite the low taxes, government spending in Oregon remains much too high, resulting in relatively high state debt. Public safety, administration, and environment and housing look particularly ripe for cutting. Gun control laws are a bit better than average. Marijuana possession is decriminalized below a certain level, and there is medical marijuana (cultivation and sale are felonies, though). However, arrests for victimless crimes are surprisingly high (though Oregon’s drug law-enforcement rate declined markedly since 2007). Oregon is one of the few states to refuse to authorize sobriety checkpoints. It is also the only state besides Washington (and now Montana, which allowed it after the closing date on our data) to permit physician-assisted suicide. Private- and homeschool regulations are quite reasonable. Oregon also does quite well in terms of asset forfeiture. The state’s cigarette taxes are higher than most, and its smoking bans were recently tightened. Oregon’s spirits tax is the highest in the country and quite extreme (though interestingly, its neighbor, Washington, is the only other state three standard deviations above the national average). State land-use planning is very advanced. The minimum wage is the second highest in the country when adjusted for average wages. Labor laws are generally poor. Occupational licensing is excessive. However, health-insurance coverage mandates are a bit below the national average.
So how can we be even MORE free? Why, by:
1. At the state level, spending on the inspection and regulation bureaucracy, natural resources, and government employees’ retirement is well above national norms. We recommend cutting spending in these areas and reducing public debt.
2. Eliminate occupational licensing for massage therapists, funeral attendants, pest-control workers, elevator installers and repairmen, boilermakers, fishers and related fishing workers, agricultural product graders and sorters, farm-labor contractors, and other occupations.
3. Maintain, if not reduce, the minimum wage, even in the face of future inflation.
I noticed, as a scrolled through a few states, that they talk a lot about marijuana, homeschool regulations, and being forced to pay for protecting natural resources but there's no mention of reproductive freedom & access--or the lack thereof. Shocking. Or not.

Freedom free·dom noun \ˈfrē-dəm\ : 1. Cut spending on public safety; 2. Destroy the environment; 3. Screw over the poor; 4. Deregulate everything, including certifying service providers/techs; 5. Pay minimum wage workers less

How very...idealistic. If you're a cruel jackass. If that's the definition of "freedom", I'll take my "enslavement". I prefer civilised society with its protected environment, certified elevator installers, and well-funded public safety, thanks.

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