Nevada’s Bait & Switch
William P. Ruger & Jason Sorens at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University have just published “Freedom in the 50 States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom.” It analyzes and ranks all 50 U.S. states on a variety of economic, social, and personal variables. Of the Silver State, it says:
Nevada has a reputation as a “libertarian state,” mostly because of legal prostitution and gambling, but perception does not meet reality. Nevada scores a disappointing 32nd place on personal freedom and 24th overall. On fiscal policy the state is overall about average. However, the state is about two standard deviations better than average on fiscal decentralization, one standard deviation better than average on government employment, and more than two standard deviations worse than average on government employee wages (they make 18 percent more than private industry). Gun and alcohol laws are fairly relaxed, and marijuana laws are better than average, except for the possibility of life imprisonment for a single conviction. The state falls down, however, in imposing the strictest private school regulations in the country: mandatory state approval of all schools, mandatory state licensure of all teachers, and detailed curriculum control. Home school laws are far less restrictive, but notification requirements are still somewhat onerous relative to other states. Additionally, the asset forfeiture regime is the worst in the country. The burden of proof is on the claimant, who must prove that the property was not used in a crime. Smoking bans are virtually complete in public places, restaurants, and workplaces (bars are exempted). Labor laws are relatively good, except for the prevailing wage law. Health insurance mandates are more than a standard deviation worse than average. As of 2006, Nevada had not reformed eminent domain, but they have since done so.