Monday Open Thread: Best & Worst States

As someone who recently moved cross-country, I know that there are definite advantages and disadvantages to living in certain places. Government regulation in a state rarely defines life in that state, but can definitely impact quite a lot of aspects. Now that I live in California, I know that the advantages of perfect weather and proximity to the beach are offset by a few things: high gas prices, high taxes, and poor government (i.e. bad public schools, etc). That doesn’t even include things such as the regulatory state increasing the cost of every other product.

For the open thread, perhaps tell us a little about where you live, and why it’s a good or bad state… I’d particularly love to hear about some of the folks up in the Free State; once I can get my wife to stop voting Democrat, I might try to convince her to move cross-country to the bitter cold of freedom :-)

  • UCrawford

    I live in Kansas, which is a nice enough place to live in asthetically (moderate weather, low housing prices, low crime, great barbeque), but it seems relegated to permanent backwater status because of a populist anti-business stance that seems to permeate both parties’ leaderships. The Republican leadership are a bunch of chirpy Jesus freaks who seem to think that the state party’s only obligation is to persecute abortion clinics to ferret out non-existent felonies. So they nominated, and got elected, an incompetent AG (Phill Kline) who refused to accept the state Supreme Court’s rulings that his investigation violated the law, and unsurprisingly he proved to be an utter disaster in pretty much every non-abortion aspect of his job. He won last year’s Republican nomination easily, then lost by 20 points in the general election to a politically moderate Republican who switched parties. Our Democratic lieutenant governor, by the way, is the former chairman of the state GOP. He quit because the state Republican party had gotten so disgustingly polarized over the last ten years that he couldn’t vote for them anymore…not that the Dems have been much better. For the plus side, at least the GOP’s been somewhat hesitant about raising taxes…although they’ve demonstrated no real interest in scaling back government in any meaningful way.

    The Democrats, for their part, seem to be interested in expanding the nanny state through government-sponsored technical education programs and progressive taxation on new businesses and homes, and they push to increase sales taxes to pay for things like a downtown arena in Wichita that has nothing in it to act as a major draw (Wichita has a minor-league hockey team and a minor-league AFL team, both of which already have a place to play), and which will possibly require the use of eminent domain laws so they can build parking. Currently, there’s a public referendum coming up so that Wichitans can vote on whether or not to allow a casino to be built in the city…a casino which will be built by public funds and owned and operated by the state government, not by a private enterprise looking for a new market so they can generate a profit.

    And politicians from both parties wonder why, with policies like this, economic growth remains stagnant in most of the state. Also, there’s this weird long-time fascination with trying to turn the state into a tourist draw, on which our state government’s spent a lot of money for marketing and infrastructure. They can’t seem to understand that no one from another part of the country’s going to spend money to visit anywhere except Kansas City. The Libertarians might actually be a threat to do something significant here, except that the party in my area seems to consist of eight or less very nice retired men who have absolutely zero interest in doing anything in the way of recruiting, community involvement, or nominating credible candidates for office.

    So basically, Kansas is a nice place to live, just as long as you don’t expect it to improve much.

  • Doug Mataconis

    I grew up in New Jersey, which I formally nominate for the title of worst state. Taxes at the state and local level are horrendous (in one town in particular I know someone paying $ 10,000 in property taxes on a house with a small lot and no garage) and border on the ridiculous (when you buy a new car you pay a tax separate from the sales tax for each of the four tires and the spare). The car insurance industry is the most heavily regulated in the country, and the most messed up. Government regulation of business is all over the place. And the government is largely responsible for NJ’s reputation as nothing more than a big superhighway.

  • Sean

    I live in Connecticut, richest state in the richest country in the world. It’s a blue state, so most people believe in letting you alone to do as you please… until money is involved, of course. The greatest threat to liberty here is a push for socialized medicine. And we’re the home of Kelo, of course. Everything else is pretty free, save some anti-freedom things you’ll find in any state, like public schools or the War on Drugs. And hey, we’ve got civil unions!

    I’ll probably never leave. I love my hometown and I love my liberal upbringing. Why, I’d never be a libertarian if I hadn’t applied my liberal ideals to economics as well.

  • Kevin

    I live in Louisiana, a state rich in culture, natural resources, good food, and pleasant people. However, we have the worst government in America; possibly rivaling that of a Third World country. Louisiana is last or very close to last in every positive indicator and first or second in every negative indicator. Political corruption is out of control and permeates every level of government. We are the one of the most overtaxed states in the union with one of the highest state income taxes in the South and in the top ten in taxation in the union. Business taxes are the highest in the South. Louisiana state government has the fourth highest rate of spending per capita in the nation and employs more employees than any other state per capita.

    Louisiana requires more licenses to do business in more categories than any other state in the country. The response from state and local government in licensing and permitting is very slow. The state of Louisiana frequently engages in projects such as building sugar mills, football stadiums, Political Hall of Fames, and other projects. The state government, as a method of buying votes, frequently awards grants through earmarks, to shady “religious” non-profits and ministries.

  • rammage

    I’ve spent 30 of my 36 years in the state of Maryland and had the oppportunity to see it go from a great state to one of the worst in the nation. In particular, I have been living in Montgomery County for the last four years, which is as close to socialism as can be found in this country at the moment. We’ve recently moved to the hills of Virgina, where we’re hoping that we’ll be able to hold off the encroaching socialism of Northern VA as long as possible. When Virginia goes the way of Maryland, then we’ll be forced to move to Hong Kong or New Zealand.