A truly awesome tool to cross compare freedom in various states of the US is the “Freedom in the 50 States” index calculated and published by the Cato Institute.

Every person planning a Strategic Relocation should spend some serious time exploring this tool.

The best news is: a major update was just released in 2016.

Dynamic Interface. Source: Cato Institute.

The amazing thing about this tool is the breadth and depth of factors which go into the rankings.

But keep in mind, rankings are based on a purely libertarian outlook. A state allowing drug use will score higher than a state that outlaws it. And in all editions prior to 2016, a state that allowed gay marriage scored as more free than states that didn’t allow it.

The key is to understand how states are scored, so you can decide how much you agree or disagree with their calculations.

Consider Idaho for example, highlighted in the sample graphic above. It ranks #7 overall (extremely good), very high on fiscal freedom, the best on regulatory freedom, is trending upwards, but basically flunked on personal freedom. What? Why is that? Should you avoid Idaho? Is it a nanny state akin to California?

Not at all. When you click on a state and read the executive summary, you will see that the low personal freedom score in this case is strongly a result of “victimless crime incarcerations.” Essentially, a lot of folks who broke the law in a fashion that didn’t hurt anyone else still end up in jail. Maybe they merely smoked marijuana and got caught. It’s a crime, but totally different from violent crime. If you like that sort of strict law system, then the #45 rank isn’t a negative to you, though it would be to a libertarian perspective (e. g. if your rights end where another’s begin then how is a victimless crime a problem?)

Note also that this must weigh lightly in the default total calculation because Idaho still landed at #7 overall.


The best thing is that you can customize the rankings according to your preferred freedoms.

Many options to look at only the freedoms you care about.

Don’t care about marriage law or disagree that a state should rank higher for allowing gay marriage? Then just remove it as a factor. Disagree that victimless crimes are a problem? Remove it as a factor.

Are 2nd amendment rights your #1 issue? Create a custom ranking which looks only at 2nd amendment and see how states stack up. Care only about homeschooling? Generate a ranking focused on only those factors. Are you a businessman who cares most about keeping the money you’ve earned? Create a custom ranking looking just at financial and tax freedoms.

Once you’ve put in the time to create a detailed ranking system which considers only the freedoms you care about, you can save it for review later, or share it with others.

The American Redoubt

Obviously, the redoubt states do quite well on most factors. If you needed more convincing that freedom still lives in the American Redoubt, this tool will prove it in many different ways.

Aside from showing the high freedom in the Redoubt, this tool serves well to help you compare which Redoubt state you would most want to live in.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to just look at numbers, but understand (at least conceptually) why the numbers shake out the way they do. That way, if a number is low, you will know if you agree with the reason for the low score. And if a number is high but for a reason you’d disagree with, you will be likewise aware.