In an announcement sure to raise the hackles of many a person who likes running around in Colonial-era garb, it appears that Arizona is unfortunately NOT among the freest states in America — we're only 11th. But hey, better than those freedom-hating Commu-socialist bastards on the coasts!
From Freedom in the 50 States:
Arizona scores well on economic freedom but its personal freedom score is mediocre. Arizona was one of the most improved states between 2009 and 2011, after declining between 2007 and 2009. Fiscal policy was the major factor in this apparent reversal, perhaps because the state was hit hard by the housing bust.
The state scores particularly well on taxes, which are 8.5 percent of personal income, and on fiscal decentralization, which is nearly a standard deviation better (more decentralized) than average. But it scores poorly on government debt, which is 22.8 percent of income. Government spending and employment are slightly better (lower) than average.
In the personal freedom dimension, Arizona scores well on gun control laws (no permit is required for concealed carry, as in Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming); alcohol regulations and taxes, apart from a “happy hour” ban; and educational freedom (a tax credit law is in place, and private and home schools are not very regulated). It scores poorly on tobacco policies due to high cigarette taxes and extremely strict smoking bans, and on incarceration rates, which are a standard deviation worse (higher) than average.
The major categories that the states were scored on include fiscal policy, regulatory policy and personal freedom. Sub-categories included economic freedom; marijuana and salvia freedom; and travel freedom.
Nothing too out of the ordinary here: the Mercatus Center, a libertarian-leaning think-tank whose stated research mission "is focused on how markets solve problems," ranked states on fiscal policy, regulatory policy and personal freedom...uh, policy, then decided that our love of guns, our low taxes and our loose regulations on most things (smoking aside) make us a top example of liberty-loving values...though you shouldn't be surprised to note that the effects of S.B. 1070 were wholly ignored:
Note that, because its most controversial provisions were thrown out by the courts, Arizona’s first-in-the-nation stop-and-identify law targeting undocumented immigrants is not included in the index.
Good call, to an extent — but ignoring the law as a whole simply because the "controversial" bits were excluded doesn't quite represent the culture of intimidation that surrounded it, guys.
Either way, the rest of the top 10 includes such bastions of freedom as North and South Dakota (ranked numbers one and two, respectively), followed by Tennessee, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Idaho, Missouri, Virginia, Georgia and Utah.