The Colorado Springs Gazette yesterday reported something that many Coloradans understand anecdotally, but may lack the hard evidence to prove in an empirical way: that this state is still a pretty good place to live if you're the liberty-loving sort.
According to "Freedom in the 50 States," a study by the Mercatus Center at Virginia's George Mason University, Colorado ranks second nationally in terms of the "economic and personal freedom" enjoyed by residents, having barely been edged out for top spot by New Hampshire. Read the entire report here.
Writes the Gazette:
"William P. Ruger and Jason Sorens, co-authors of the George Mason report, adhere strictly to the idea that adults "should be allowed to dispose of their lives, liberties, and property as they see fit, so long as they do not infringe on the rights of others."
"The fewer regulations the better, in our view," Sorens said.
Lower taxes, too, are better in their eyes. The authors take a dim view of seat belt laws, campaign finance limits, smoking bans, gun-control laws, restrictions on gambling and alcohol, and especially any attempt to regulate education.
Colorado scored third highest in the economic-freedom ranking and 15th on personal freedom."
It's a high honor, in my view; as important as almost any the state could receive. It should be trumpeted by state officials, much as they tout our natural grandeur or highly-educated workforce, making this state a national magnet for organizations, businesses and individuals who understand that political and economic liberty are still key to unlocking the American dream.
But the ranking can't be taken for granted, and could even be improved upon, which is why Local Liberty Online, another project I'm associated with, exists. Its mission is to ensure that the Pikes Peak region of Colorado remains the standard-bearer for liberty in the freest state in the union. That effort begins in our own backyard, at the local level.
If Colorado embraces this ranking as a virtue to be cultivated, rather than an inheritance to be squandered, it could make itself a safe haven and sanctuary for refugees fleeing states that embrace command and control models. We'll remain true to the founding ideals, while they stray. We'll flourish, while they wither on the vine. We'll prosper, while they stagnate. And if these findings are to be believed – and we can all quibble with the criteria used in such ratings – it seems we already have a solid foundation on which to construct such a vision.
Colorado’s still reasonably free, relative to many states, where the Spirit of 76 has been all but smothered under extreme taxation, government expansion and rules and regulations regimentation. But that's being threatened, as the Californianized "new West" supplants the "old West” and this formerly red state turns deep hues of blue.
No one put it better that Jefferson did when he (purportedly) wrote: "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” So let’s stay vigilant out there.