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Videos: Ten most free American states -- and why Colorado is falling

How can freedom be quantified? The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has tried to do just that with Freedom in the 50 States, a project that attempts to combine rankings for economic and personal freedom to determine which American states are the freest -- and using its metric, whose ideology (or lack thereof?) can be read a number of different ways, Colorado is falling, and falling fast. Look below to count down the top ten, complete with graphics, analysis excerpts and videos for each -- and then continue to see where Colorado wound up and why. Number 10: Utah Utah joins the top 10 freest states for the first time, having moved up in each year coded for this book--from 28th in 2001 to 23rd in 2007 to 17th in 2009 to 10th in 2011. As one might expect, the state performs better in the fiscal and regulatory policy dimensions than on personal freedom, and certainly has some idiosyncrasies that affect its performance.

Utah performs particularly well in the economic realm, ranking eighth out of all the states. In terms of fiscal policy, Utah remains a low-tax state with better-than-average fiscal decentralization and government employment. However, the state could do a lot better on spending and debt....

Number 9: Georgia Georgia is an urbanizing Deep South state, which makes for a decidedly mixed personal freedom situation, but the state's rapid economic growth reflects a strong economic freedom environment.

The state and local debt ratio is one of the lowest in the country, at 15.6 percent of income. Its overall tax burden, at 8.6 percent of personal income, is as low as Florida's, and the state is relatively fiscally decentralized. However, government employment, at 13.0 percent of private employment, ranks only about average....

Continue to keep counting down the ten most free American States -- and see where Colorado landed.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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