The Agenda

Freedom or Megacity Productivity, Beautiful Beaches, and a Pleasant Climate?

Speaking of amenities and rent-extraction, William Ruger and Jason Sorens have released their new index of Freedom in the 50 States. Ruger and Sorens carefully explain how they constructed their index, and it’s a safe bet that others would choose different priorities, weights, etc. But it is interested to note the contrast between the five freest states and five least free states on the index:

1. New Hampshire

2. South Dakota

3. Indiana

4. Idaho

5. Missouri

Notice that none of these states are home to a true megacity (Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Kansas City miss the cutoff) and none of them, apart from a narrow spit of land in New Hampshire, are on a coast. All of these states have beautiful landscapes, but they’re not necessarily the first states that come to mind in the natural beauty department, unless you’re a native in which case all bets are off. Next come the five least free:

46. Massachusetts

47. Hawaii

48. California

49. New Jersey

50. New York

All of these states are part of at least one megacity region except for Hawaii, which is widely considered an extraordinarily beautiful place. 

Several months ago, I read Gerard K. O’Neill’s 2081, in which the celebrated physicist laid out his vision for the future. The book was written in the early 1980s and it was as dated as you’d expect, but it was fun all the same. O’Neill was best known for advocating colonization of what he called “the High Frontier,” the Lagrange points in the neighborhood of Earth and the Moon. In 2081, he sketched out a vision of an American Midwest in which large numbers of people lived in domed cities which enjoy a Hawaiian climate year-round. This is one possible solution — with the word “possible” understood very broadly” — to the rent-extraction problem. Freedom-lovers might be more inclined to flee high-tax jurisdictions if they could take a pleasant climate with them. 


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