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Vote With Your Feet: Free States Are Happier And Richer

Vote With Your Feet: Free States Are Happier And Richer by Gabriel Openshaw, Mises Institute

The greater the economic freedom, the wealthier and happier the people.

From minimum-wage laws to higher progressive taxation to greater unionization to larger welfare programs to more regulation, left liberals demand a stronger and more economically active central government. Advocates of laissez-faire, on the other hand, favor smaller government, less regulation, lower taxes, and greater individual opportunity and property rights.

But which economic policy approach actually yields the best results?

We’ve already clearly demonstrated — via international and US state migration rates — that people the world over are naturally drawn toward greater economic freedom. Across countries, and even across states, millions of people every year migrate away from greater taxation and more regulation and toward lower taxation and less regulation. But are they better off?

Yes.

Let’s take a look at the fifty US states, ranked by their level of economic freedom. The most highly-ranked states have lower tax burdens, deference to property rights, less government spending, and labor market freedom:

Taking into account cost-of-living differences, the top ten most economically free states have an average $52,334 median household income, which is considerably higher than the $43,090 median income for the ten least free. That’s a 21 percent raise for workers by switching state government policies to a smaller government approach. How much more could it be increased if the same were done at the national level?

The observed results are not a question of race or country of origin: African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and immigrants also earn substantially more in the more economically free states. While left liberals should be lauded for their apparent concern for the welfare of minorities, the truth is that their policies yield the worst results for them, a standard of living pay cut just for living in a more regulated and heavily taxed state.

One may think that this could be driven by a>


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