Freedom is just another word for “ladies need not apply”.

23 Jun 2011 01:46 am
Posted by: Donna

The Goldwater Institute issued a press release today about their (startling) finding that (surprise) underpaid part-time ignorant legislators lead to more magic ponies spreading awesome freedomness for states.

Freedom Thrives with Everyday Citizens in State Legislatures

Goldwater Institute analysis says voters should resist efforts to create career legislatures
Goldwater Institute News Release
June 22, 2011

PHOENIX – A statistical comparison of all 50 states reveals that legislatures filled with everyday people instead of career politicians are more likely to protect freedom by keeping taxes low and limiting the growth of government.

The statistical findings call into question the frequent suggestion from legislative insiders that Arizona should raise lawmakers’ salaries above their current pay of $24,000 a year, with the hope of attracting a “better” crop of legislators. Many of the states that ranked lowest in freedom were states with legislatures made up of career politicians, defined as legislators with relatively higher salaries, larger staffs, and longer legislative sessions.

“Lawmakers who spend most of their time away from a state capitol appear to stay better connected to their constituents. Likewise, they have less time to adopt new programs, increase taxes, or write up more regulations,” said Nick Dranias, the Goldwater Institute’s director of constitutional studies.

The Citizen Legislature: How Reasonable Limits on State Legislative Salaries, Staff, and Session Lengths Keep Liberty Alive was written by political science professors William Ruger of Texas State University and Jason Sorens of the University at Buffalo, SUNY. The researchers analyzed the salaries, staffing, and work schedules of the 50 state legislatures to determine their impact on policies that promote or erode freedom.

Despite Arizona’s reputation for favoring smaller government, the state has traveled down the path toward a career legislature. Arizona ranks among the 10 worst states nationwide in this regard, the authors find, because of its high number of legislative staff and relatively long legislative sessions.

The analysis recommends specific steps Arizona and other states should take to promote free enterprise and protect personal liberty, including holding legislative sessions every other year like Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas. Likewise, Arizona should reduce its number of legislative staff to match those of states with similar populations, such as Colorado or Indiana (Arizona has more than 600 staff versus Colorado with 345 and Indiana with 375).

Click here to read The Citizen Legislature: How Reasonable Limits on Salaries, Staff, and Session Lengths Keep Liberty Alive. The Goldwater Institute is an independent government watchdog that develops innovative, principled solutions to issues facing the states and whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.

The Goldwater article cites a 2009 report by researchers William Ruger and Jason Sorens. They devised a thing Goldwater Institute calls RSI, or Ruger Sorens Index, to calculate economic and personal freedom in states based on a variety of factors.

The database covers fiscal policy, gun control, alcohol regulation, marijuana policies, tobacco and smoking laws, automobile regulations, law enforcement data, education policies, land-use and environmental laws, labor market regulations, health insurance policies, utilities deregulation, occupational licensing, asset forfeiture rules, eminent domain reform, court systems, marriage and domestic partnership regulations, campaign finance laws, and sundry mala prohibita.

In conclusion, our report not only provides a broader framework for understanding the state of freedom in the American states, but also more carefully measures the economic components of freedom.

You guys will never guess what Ruger and Sorens deliberately omitted from their freedom index. No, seriously, you know this one was coming:

Our definition of freedom presents specific challenges on some high-profile issues. Abortion is a critical example. On one account, the fetus is a rights-bearing person, and abortion is therefore an aggressive violation of individual rights that ought to be punished by government. On another account, the fetus does not have rights, and abortion is a permissible exercise of an individual liberty, in which case government regulation of abortion would be an unjust violation of a woman’s rights. Rather than take a stand on one side or the other (or anywhere in between), we have coded the data on state abortion restrictions but have not included the policy in our overall index.

Luckily for Goldwater the researchers opted not to take a stand on the side of “women are full human beings worthy of liberty in the same way that taxpayers and gun owners are”, otherwise Arizona’s freedom index might skew a bit negatively. But I should point out that by not taking a stand at all on reproductive rights Ruger, Sorens, and the Goldwater Institute are essentially ceding the issue to the “fertilized eggs and fetuses trump women” crowd.

Women living in a state where they cannot control their reproduction are not free. Arizona women, thanks to the assiduous efforts of theocratic pressure group Center for Arizona Policy and socially conservative Republican politicians, face numerous intrusive and unnecessary obstacles in obtaining a legal medical procedure. And the meddling doesn’t stop at abortion. The anti-choice movement is on a mission to make most forms of effective female-controlled contraception unavailable to women via pushing for medical provider conscience clauses and an all-out disinformation campaign about how hormonal birth control works. Oh, and abstinence only sex ed too. All of this is taking place in Arizona without a peep of objection by the stalwart defenders of liberty at the Goldwater Institute.

When asked about why they are neutral on reproductive rights, the fine folks over at the Goldwater borg, sheltered as they are in their bubble of Classical Liberalism, will undoubtedly say that reproductive rights are not a Serious Economic Matter and are thus unworthy of their lofty consideration. Plus, they don’t want to alienate their socially conservative patrons.

But what happens when women don’t have ready access to medically safe abortion and contraception? Well, a whole bunch of economic problems for the women themselves and for the community at large. If the economists at the Goldwater Institute ever deigned to trouble their beautiful minds on the ramifications of anti-choice legislation they might run the numbers on it and conclude that a significant uptick in STDs, unplanned pregnancies, and medical complications resulting from illegal abortion is not exactly conducive to a healthy freedom-alicious economic climate in Arizona.

Of course, reproductive rights debates largely focus on women. The jury is still apparently out as to whether or not we are people with full rights to liberty. Okay, I get that. So let’s consider the impact of anti-choice legislation upon a group over whom there is no debate among Classical Liberalists about their full rights to liberty: Male gun enthusiasts. Guys on the hook for child support have less money to buy guns. Put that in your freedom pipe and smoke it, Goldwater Institute.

2 Comments

  1. Comment by todd on June 23, 2011 8:47 am

    Interesting that they use the 2009 Report instead of the 2011 report (http://bit.ly/mINPJ9) . If you compare the two, Arizona has dropped from the 11th most economically free to 22nd and from the 12th in personally freedom to 26th.

    Now you and I know these ratings are bunk, but I guess it wouldn’t make their friends in the legislature look to good.

    Also, as others have pointed out
    http://bit.ly/mFFg7b
    the freedom index lines up with all sorts of things like increased income inequality and increased infant mortality rates. The latter undoubtedly linked directly to the question of reproductive rights.

  2. Comment by Bill on June 23, 2011 11:53 am

    Great post. Another ridiculous assertion from their report is that the Arizona Legislature is overstaffed. Their figure of 600 legislative staffers for 90 legislators is completely unbelievable. Legislators share a secretary, and have no other policy or constituent service staff; the respective caucus staffs are relatively small. No idea where they came up with the number, but it allows them to continue the drumbeat of “big government.”

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