CATO: Florida is the second freest state in the U S

The Center Square
December 6 2021



The Florida state flag flies. railway fx /

(The Center Square) – Only a state with the motto “Live Free or Die” is freer than the Sunshine State.

That’s according to the nonprofit CATO Institute’s annual Freedom in the 50 States report, which compares states based on different aspects of autonomy and choice in key policy areas. The report uses hundreds of variables to gauge states on fiscal, regulatory and personal terms.

Overall, Florida came in second to New Hampshire in the 2021 ranking that used 2019 data to compare states.

The CATO Institute bills itself as a libertarian public policy think tank that promotes limited government, free markets and peace.

It highlighted the state’s lack of a personal income tax and warm weather as the pied-pipers of not just well-heeled retirees but also business professionals looking to make the most of their labor.

“Florida does especially well on economic freedom, and even more so on fiscal policy. Indeed, it is our top state on both,” the report said. “Regulatory policy is improved but mediocre compared with the fiscal side.”

Florida’s freedom metrics lagged due to heavy incarceration rates, onerous occupational licensing requirements, state-level health insurance mandates, and the cost of gun control laws on owners and dealers.

To make the state freer, CATO suggests Florida decentralize taxing and spending powers from counties to municipalities, reform its occupational licensing system to remove barriers of entry into careers, and enact criminal justice reforms.

While New Hampshire was this year’s freest state, nearby New York came in last.


Regional Editor: Cole Lauterbach is a regional editor for The Center Square covering Arizona, California, and Nevada. For more than a decade, Cole has produced award-winning content on both radio and television.


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Mark Tomes
Trusted Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
2 years ago

The libertarian philosophy is based on a false assumption that people will act rationally when given the chance. Ha! While 9 out of 10 people might, that last 10th person will ruin it for everyone else in the form of corporate greed, mass shootings, factory pollution of clean water and air, pilfering of retirement funds, safety protocols ignored for workers and buildings, low wages, etc. For every freedom there is a responsibility. Libertarians remind me of three-year-olds yelling me, me, mine!

Doug Mowery
Doug Mowery(@douglasm)
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Tomes

I’m not aware of any group that naively thinks everyone will always act rationally. Just look at the Church music director who murdered 3 members of his family last week in Callahan. A good read is “The Undoing Project” about two Israeli researchers work on irrational behavior in humans.

As for the “me, me, mine” folks……they come from every facet of life……Democrats, Republicans, young, old, rich and poor. There will always be that subset of people.

But thanks for reminding us there are irrational and selfish people in this world. I just don’t believe “Libertarians” have a corner on that market.

Scott Dailey
Scott Dailey(@scott-dailey)
2 years ago

who cares what the cato institute says? a bunch of rich people with their own agenda trying to pass itself off as libertarian or non-political..HA!

Peggy Bulger
Noble Member
Peggy Bulger(@peggy-bulger1949gmail-com)
2 years ago

This article is a severely skewed take on what it means to be “free” as we live in community. Without regard for the well-being of others, we are free to do whatever we like! However, it comes with a steep price and we are seeing the consequences every day. The latest is the school shooting in Michegan, where parents and school officials erred on the side of a student’s freedom to own and bear arms — even with clear mental issues and written evidence of violent fantasies. The result was devastating. This is our new normal.

Remember . . . “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”

Jim Law
Jim Law (@guest_63305)
2 years ago

I, for one, am glad to live in Florida, and am happy to hear that we rank high on CATO’s definition of Freedom. For those of you who decry the thought of living in such a terrible place, pack your stuff up and move! Vote with your feet! See ya!

Joseph Kayne
Joseph Kayne(@jay-kayne)
2 years ago

NH: “Live Free or Die.” Since the availability of vaccines in July 2021, FL has among the highest per capita COVID death rate of all 50 states. Perhaps DeSantis should change our state motto to, “Live Free AND Die.”

M Mihaj
M Mihaj (@guest_63805)
2 years ago
Reply to  Joseph Kayne

FL may also have a disproportionately high elderly population, which might skew the results. Just sayin’