The 10 States With the Most Freedom in the US

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9. Iowa

Iowa has long stood out above other center-left states on economic freedom. The state benefited from this policy regime, federal farm subsidies, and the 2002–8 global commodity boom to post impressive growth in the past decade and a half. The state stands out more on regulatory policy than some of its other measures. Land-use freedom is ample, and Idaho is also a right-to-work state without a minimum wage. Telecommunications and cable have long been partially deregulated. Educational freedom is high, because the state has a long-standing tax credit scholarship program as well as interdistrict public school choice and same sex marriage has been legal since 2009.

Despite Iowa’s fiscal policy regime, there is some indication that its competitive policy advantages are starting to fade. The state would do well to trim spending on areas where the state spends more than the national average (such as education, hospitals, highways, and public welfare) and use the savings to trim property, sales, income, and motor vehicle license taxes. When it comes to personal freedom, Iowa does not do very well on gun freedoms, especially for a rural state. Class III weapons are banned, purchasing handguns requires a permit and waiting period, and open carry requires a license. Cannabis freedom is also sharply limited; a single marijuana offense not involving minors can carry up to 50 years of prison time.