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Mercatus Center Deems Dakotas Tops in Freedom… But for Whom?

The Mercatus Center updates its politically agendafied Freedom Index to find that South Dakota has dropped from freest to second-freest state in the Union. Here's their video explaining our second-place ranking:

We have great fiscal policy (i.e., low taxes), budget responsibility, but personal freedom score stinks. We rank 46th, thanks to high asset forfeiture and high arrest and incarceration rates, particularly for victimless crimes (victimless crimes sounds like code for legalize drugs!).

As South Dacola and I noted the last time Mercatus published this propaganda, this Freedom Index seems to focus a lot more on political conditions preferred by business rather than practical results for working people. Mercatus thinks we're free because we don't pay high state taxes, but they ignore the impact of having to pay higher local taxes to keep schools afloat, or having to depend on federal funding to build important infrastructure.

Consider the state of freedom in Mercatus's new fredom champion, North Dakota. The joys of low regulation there mean oil companies are free to keep oil spills secret from the public. When Tesoro's pipeline broke and spilled 20,000 barrels of oil over once-useful farmland in North Dakota last month, the company kept mum about the damage for eleven days, and North Dakota state government helped Tesoro keep the story quiet. It's nice to have the freedom to make mistakes without public scrutiny, but it's not so great for neighbors' freedom to have Big Oil and state government working together to hide threats to their health and their environment.

I still feel freer in South Dakota than I do anywhere else, but that's largely because of personal history (grow up in a place, know a place, you're going to feel more comfortable and in command of your surroundings), culture, and geography. South Dakotans live in a good place, but Mercatu's Freedom Indexs doesn't accurately measure that goodness or the investments we need to make to improve it.


  1. Mark 2013.10.26

    Do Koch brothers underwrite Mercatus?

  2. Roger Cornelius 2013.10.26

    Does the right for all South Dakotans to cast a ballot on election day have anything to do with freedom?

  3. Winston 2013.10.26

    You probably are more free here just so long as you are not the second or third generation of minimum wage workers in your family here in the Dakotas... If you are the first, you better watch out....

  4. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.10.26

    Mpls Strib had an article in the Business Section today about all of ND's secret oil spills. Wow. What a mess.

  5. interested party 2013.10.27

    Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose, nothing ain't worth nothing but it's free.

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