Sunday, May 19, 2013

All states are not created equal

I found this interactive map which graphically represents how states stack up against one another with regard to how much personal freedom their citizens have in comparison with residents of other states. Not surprisingly, Maryland, my former state of residence, came in at a pathetic rating of 44 out of 50.
Where Maryland fails is the personal freedom dimension, where it is the second-worst-ranked state. Maryland boasts the seventh-strictest gun control laws in the country: carry permits are expensive and rarely issued; “assault weapons,” cheap handguns, and large-capacity magazines are banned; sales are banned unless by licensed dealers; and so on. Its marijuana laws are fairly harsh as well, except that the first offense of high-level possession is only a misdemeanor, and the state has an almost-useless medical marijuana exception. Maryland’s impositions on personal freedom also include extensive auto and road regulations, tight gambling laws, a ban on raw milk, a law allowing police to take DNA from certain felony arrestees, burdensome private and home school laws that require private school teachers to be licensed and effectively subject curricula to government approval, very high drug arrest rates (though incarceration and other victimless crimes arrest rates are low), lack of same-sex marriage or equivalent status (since enacted by the legislature and confirmed by popular vote), high tobacco taxes, and an airtight, statewide smoking ban. The only personal freedom on which Maryland is better than average is the freedom to consume alcohol: taxes on booze are low.
The low taxes on alcohol are just common sense; drinking heavily makes it easier to deal with the gross impositions on personal liberty.

How does my new state of residence, the Commonwealth of Virginia, fare? A vastly superior ranking of 8 out of 50.

What's most interesting about this survey is the direction each state is trending. Virginia went from 9th to 8th since the previous survey in 2011. Maryland, of course, went the other way - dropping from 42nd to 44th.

Looks like I made my move just in the nick of time.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Escape from the People's Republic of Maryland

I was a resident of the People's Republic of Maryland (motto: if you can imagine it, we can tax it) for 26 years - longer than I lived in my birth state of Idaho by 18 years, longer than I lived in my adopted home state of California by 8 years...bottom line, a long time. I like Maryland. It's quirky, like me.

But Maryland has......issues.

In the 26 years I lived in Maryland, I worked inside of the state for barely 3 years. The rest of that time I worked in DC (1.5 years) and Virginia.

See, the PRM isn't a business-friendly kind of place. Hell, even the federal government prefers to expand further and further into Virginia rather than attempt to expand in that tax-gouging "workers paradise".

So I've spent the better part of 26 years enduring commutes of 1-2 hours each direction - simply because that's where the work was. I put up with it as long as I did because I liked where I lived.

But then insult began to be heaped on top of injury. As I posted one year ago, Governor O'Malley and the state legislature decided that those of us in the state still actually working needed to pay still more in taxes (or, as Iowahawk put it, "Maryland raises taxes on $100k+ earners stupid enough to live in Maryland").

I'd had enough, but, more importantly, Deadeye had had enough of me getting home late, exhausted from a hell commute. She pushed for us to sell the house and move to Virginia, and, after a six month adventure, we have done so. We're now residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Bottom line, we love it here. My commute now is under 20 minutes each way. And we're not subject to punitive taxes for the crime of being successful.

Blue states like Maryland view people as static actors who won't change their behavior or circumstances regardless of how much their tax policies punish them and drive away employers. They think wrong. As much as I loved living in Maryland, it wasn't enough to justify a perpetual hell commute and punitive taxation.

I'm a Virginian now, and I'm thrilled about it.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Is it back?

It's been over six months since I last posted. Hard to believe. I mean, I didn't even post during the 49ers Super Bowl run!

For a while I thought I'd hung up my keyboard for good. But as circumstances have evolved, I started to get the itch to write again, if for no other reason than to blabber about said changes.

Yes, the world is still going to hell on a rocket sled, and there's nothing we can do about it, which, as a point of fact, was the primary reason I stopped posting; the way I saw it, why try to persuade others to embrace libertarian principles when it's already too late to salvage what's left of the Founders' vision?

But that doesn't mean I can't make fun of the mental midgets driving the rocket sled, or otherwise make a nuisance of myself, right? So, I'm gonna give it another shot. Don't expect a torrent of posts out of me, at least not initially. A post every few days, once a week, at odd steps. Let's not strain something here!

The Vulture is back. You've been warned.