William P. Ruger from the CATO Institute joined Doc Thompson and Kris Cruz on Thursday to discuss the most and least free states in the country based on state regulation.
Ruger is a fellow in foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, and vice president of research and policy at the Charles Koch Institute.
(To find out how the states are ranked and to download "Freedom in the Fifty States," click here.)
So which state is the least free in the Union?
"Well, drum roll please: It's not a shock but it's New York," said Ruger during a phone interview with Doc. "Least free by far.
"I mean, the interesting thing is just how far it is from other states. If you look at New York compared to Hawaii — which is No. 49 — it's so much worse than New York. After Hawaii, it's California, then New Jersey, and Vermont. So that's kind of the bad boy list right there."
Doc noted that New York's position on the list comes as no surprise given how progressive their policies are but was fairly surprised by Hawaii's lack of freedom.
Doc said that people typically think of Hawaii as being a free state, but it's actually pretty authoritarian, according to Ruger's findings.
"You know, they have high taxes and spending, lots of land-use restrictions, occupational licensing is high, and civil asset forfeiture is abused. I mean, gun control: It's really hard to get a gun permit if you need it," Ruger said. "It is not the land of the free relative to the other American states."
Which ones are the freest states?
Doc was shocked by the No. 1 most free state: Florida.
"It's an interesting thing given in the past it's been states like New Hampshire and North Dakota, but Florida emerged as No. 1 one this year," he said.
"Its legislature has done a really great job the last 15 to 25 years to kind of keep caps on spending," said Ruger, who also mentioned the lack of land-use restrictions within the state.
To hear the rest of the interview, hit the play button on the clip above.
Here's a video by the Cato Institute: