Californians Are Stifled by Their Own Government

That's the conclusion, more or less, of a new study that ranks California near the bottom of the 50 states for the freedoms it grants its residents.

The study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University ranked California 48th in its "state freedom rankings." Analysts measured such factors as taxation and restrictive social policies when weighing the states' libertarian bona fides.

"Contrary to popular perception, California not only taxes and regulates its economy more than most other states, it also aggressively interferes in the personal lives of its citizens," the study found.

The study's authors argue that "California simply needs to cut government spending," while also criticizing its mandates for health-insurance providers, labor-friendly employment laws, and land-use regulations. It praised the state's hands-off approach to same-sex marriage and marijuana use, but assailed its gun laws and restrictions on cigarette smoking.

At the top of the center's freedom list was New Hampshire, famous for its occasionally pathological libertarian streak, and South Dakota. Indiana and Missouri also made it into the top 5. By contrast, Hawaii and New York were ranked in the worst five with California. Perhaps big-government dystopias aren't so bad after all.

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