Study: New Yorkers Enjoy Less Freedom Than Residents In Any Other State In U.S.

Conservative Think Tank Goes After Empire State's Taxes, Business Regulation

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — New York may be first in taxes, but a survey has ranked it dead last in one important characteristic: freedom.

That’s the verdict from one conservative think tank, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.

Young visited the Byram River on Friday. It is one of the many borders that separate New York and Connecticut. A new study says the New York side of that river is part of the least free place in America; seriously.

“I think it depends on what criteria you’re using, you know? You talking about taxes? You talking about civil rights?” Ridgefield, Conn., resident Jane Davila said.

The study in question is talking mostly about taxes and business regulation. The libertarian think tank at George Mason University in Virginia says New York is dead last in freedom. Most people seem to think that’s a stretch, but many said they see the point.

“I think there is a grain of truth to it. We’re not living in a police state. We happen to live in a very safe state. But the economics of New York clearly don’t work and then you see things like Mike Bloomberg and his Big Gulp sodas and we’re going to tell you what kind of cups you can use and what kind of bags you can use, that kind of day-to-day almost silly trivial “nanny”-type regulation; you can laugh about it but it starts to add up after a while,” White Plains attorney John Murtagh said.

And New York businesses can sometimes have to navigate oceans of red tape — like the sudden need to renew a state sales tax license after 27 years in business. One merchant, though, said he’ll live with it.

“It’s a small pinprick, not enough to make me feel I’m not free in the great state of New York,” Donald Roloff said.

The survey also looked at restrictions on vices like gambling and fireworks, as well as alcohol and tobacco products, with massive state tax burdens, like shackles for one seller.

“For every $100 we have to pay $75 in taxes. Less free,” cigar shop owner Dominick Tortortello said.

The buyer isn’t so sure.

“I don’t like to say we’re less free,” Sean Patrone said.

The study gave New York points for allowing gays to marry, but did not consider freedoms like women’s access to reproductive services.

Yeah, we got problems, but New Yorkers, it seems, don’t like being judged by someone else’s standards.

“Taxes are a way the government you choose to be governed by operates that government and if you like a lot of services then you have to pay and if you don’t you can live somewhere where there are fewer services,” said Steve Keltz of Larchmont.

Yes, New York has big government and we know the taxes are high but it has a lower crime rate than most states, and less alcohol and substance abuse, and one of the lowest divorce rates in America.

So, paraphrasing a great American songwriter, freedom, perhaps, is another word, for having nothing left to lose.

New Yorkers have exercised one freedom in the past decade or so. Census figures indicate the state’s population has decreased by 9 percent, as people move out.

That’s a trend Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vowed to reverse.

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