Sunday, April 14, 2013
California Ranks Next-to-last on Freedom Scale
In a Peanuts-based cartoon traveling around the Internet, Lucy loudly informs Linus that she’s pro-choice. Linus asks if he can smoke, but Lucy nixes the idea for health reasons. Similar exchanges occur about large sodas, dangerous guns, planet-endangering incandescent bulbs, environmentally harmful coal, and offensive God-language. When Linus asks what exactly he’s free to choose, Lucy responds, “An abortion.”
The cartoon provides a darkly humorous summary of freedom in the state of California. A more scholarly overview is available at George Mason University’s libertarian-oriented Mercatus Center.
According to that analysis, the Golden State ranks 49th out of the 50 states on various scales of economic and personal freedom—placing more restrictions on liberty than every state but New York. Only California’s libertarian-endorsed lassitude with respect to marijuana, marriage, and so-called “victimless” crimes saves it from occupying the index’s bottom spot.
Not surprisingly, the union and environmentalist-dominated state ranks dead last on freedom from various types of regulation—a position that dovetails with its cellar standing on factors that affect an individual’s ability to find a job.
Sacramento’s fiefdom also leads the nation when it comes to restrictions on gun ownership, a dubious honor that could be further solidified by new proposals to tax and regulate ammunition.
In addition, California ranks first in nanny laws—and thus last in terms of freedom from a grab-bag of regulations that range from trans-fat bans to bicycle helmet requirements.
Cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, however, have concluded that all these restrictions are insufficient to safeguard their residents and to create the ideal balance they feel is needed within imaginary ecosystems. Consequently, they’ve instituted bans directed at another public menace—single-use plastic bags typically distributed by retailers.
Not to be outdone by mere municipalities, California legislators are pondering a statewide ban on these inexpensive and convenient petroleum byproducts—another dubious environmental mandate that will force shoppers to pay for paper sacks or pack a number of durable totes in their cars’ trunks. Dutiful “health officials” assure us that the latter conveyances will remain largely free of bacterial contaminants.
All these laws designed to combat an ever-growing list of perceived dangers have contributed greatly to the exodus of Californians to other states—an outflow also documented by the Mercatus Center and indicating, in their words, a desire to find “more employment opportunities or a better quality of life.”
On the other side of the ledger, California legislators are now considering AB 154—legislation that will allow nurses, midwives, and physicians’ assistants to perform the only act of freedom many Californians passionately embrace—the freedom to extinguish nascent human life.