What they really care about
I think this clears it up:
The Mercatus Institute, a libertarian-oriented — and Koch brothers-affiliated — think tank based out of George Mason University (a public university, for whatever that’s worth), regularly releases its ranking of American states in terms of “Freedom.” Their definition of “freedom” largely adheres to the standard American libertarian conception of “liberty,” which is to say it is oriented almost entirely around private property ownership and low taxation. As a result, America’s freest state this year turns out to be North Dakota.
Ok, but who cares about a bunch of bitches anyway. They're staunch defenders of civil liberties, right?
North Dakota has also been in the news for another reason recently. What was it, again? Oh, right, it passed the most restrictive antiabortion laws in the country. Including a law specifically aimed at shutting down the state’s lone abortion provider. It passed this law knowing it was unconstitutional.
The data Mercatus used, as far as I can tell, are largely from 2011. But these laws wouldn’t do a thing to change’s North Dakota’s ranking, because Mercatus doesn’t take reproductive rights into account at all. In fact, no issues specifically related to women’s rights are taken into account. Same-sex marriage is included, but not housing employment anti-discrimination rules. They do weigh “‘smoker protection’ in employment,” though.
Well, sort of:
“Economic freedom” is of course their most important freedom, and so it is weighted the heaviest, with fiscal and regulatory matters making up a bit more than two-thirds of each state’s score. Which is how their No. 1 freest state is ranked 39th on the “Civil Liberties” list. Though that list is fairly useless, as their definition of “civil liberties” is “unrelated policies, such as fireworks laws, prostitution laws, and trans-fat bans.” On the list taking into account “incarceration rates, non-drug crime arrests, and drug enforcement,” Freest State North Dakota is at 24. (Second-freest state South Dakota is 48.) And Arizona has climbed to No. 11 on the overall list, because at no point are the rights of immigrants or people whom the police may suspect are immigrants taken into account.
This is what it's all about folks. It's also why, despite the fact that there exist a fair number of real live Democrats who vote against wars, care about privacy and civil liberties and oppose the drug war, libertarians are most definitely not a swing vote. They are Republican voters. This is because what they really care about is low taxes, unfettered capitalism and private property. (Also too, guns.) The rest is apparently just window dressing so they don't look like mirthless, right wing drudges.
I'm a big believer if finding your friends where you can and if there are issues on which libertarian office holders can work with liberals to improve our lot and protect our freedoms, I say more power to them. But the libertarian "movement" will have to forgive me if I remain a little bit skeptical of their commitment to freedom in general. After all you'd have to be something of a fool to trust people who claim to be the supreme protectors of property rights and personal freedom when they won't grant that half the population even owns their own bodies or is free to control their own procreation.
But making manufacturers label their junk food poison? That's an infringement of liberty that will not stand. I just can't take that seriously.