New Mexico’s economic freedom needs boost

Are you someone who values freedom above all else, including health, safety and welfare? If so, New Mexico has a ways to go to reach the top tier of states.

A new study released by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the first comprehensive ranking of “economic and personal freedom in the American states,” ranks New Mexico as the 36th best state in which to live.

New Hampshire is No. 1. It goes by the state motto “Live Free or Die” and is home to the Free State Project in which 20,000 people have committed to moving to fight for low taxes and minimal regulation.

The study found the least free state in which to live is New York.

Other findings show:

• New Mexico fares well when it comes to individual freedoms — third behind only Alaska and Maine — because, among other things, gun control is light, private school regulation is light, and only 12 percent of arrests are for victimless crimes.

• But only seven states have less economic freedom. “New Mexico is the laggard of the Mountain West. Spending and taxes are high, and a quarter of the state’s workforce is on state or local government payrolls (federal workers add even more to that percentage).”

Our neighbors in Texas fared much better — fifth overall in the freedom ranking; seventh in economic freedom and fifth in personal freedom.

A 2008 study by the Pacific Research Institute, based in San Francisco, found — surprise! — that states with high economic freedom are growing substantially faster than economically oppressed states.

Of course people flee oppression and seek freedom. They have done so throughout time.

Slick politicians can fool the masses, offering government gifts in a cloak of freedom, but ultimately the human soul yearns to be free from undue taxation and control.

Genuine freedom is priceless. It’s something money cannot buy.

Our governments can budget millions of taxpayer dollars for “economic development,” paying businesses to set up shop in town. But stealing from some citizens and giving that money to others is not freedom.

We should strive to be known as the state where one can move with a business or idea and be left alone to thrive. That would enable us to attract the can-do, confident companies and entrepreneurs that value opportunity more than handouts and strings from cities and states.

Freedom isn’t something government gives us. It’s something we may take when government gets out of the way.