Just how free are we as Americans?

A few days ago I stumbled across a report published by Mercatus center. As I read thru  "Freedom in the 50 States 2013 | Mercatus Center"  I found it to be very interesting.  

As a tease, here are the top ten "Free States"and the Worst State for individual freedoms. By the way, my State did not make the top ten South Carolina was #15 up from #18.
50   New York

1     North Dakota                7     Missouri
2     South Dakota                8     Virginia
3     Tennessee                     9     Georgia
4     New Hampshire           10    Utah
5     Oklahoma
6     Idaho

Freedom in the 50 States Index   
    The overall freedom ranking is determined by combining scores for fiscal, regulatory, and personal freedom.
Fiscal Policy (35.3%)
The fiscal policy dimension consists of the following categories: Tax Burden (28.6%),Government Employment (2.8%), Government Spending (1.9%), Government Debt(1.2%), and Fiscal Decentralization (0.9%).
Regulatory Policy (32.0%)
The regulatory policy dimension consists of the following categories: Freedom from Tort Abuse (11.5%), Property Right Protection (7.6%), Health Insurance Freedom (5.4%), Labor Market Freedom (3.8%), Occupational Licensing Freedom (1.7%), Miscellaneous Regulatory Freedom (1.3%), and Cable and Telecom Freedom (0.8%).
Personal Freedom (32.7%)
Personal freedom dimension consists of the following categories: Victimless Crime Freedom (9.8%), Gun Control Freedom (6.6%), Tobacco Freedom (4.1%), Alcohol Freedom (2.8%), Marriage Freedom (2.1%), Marijuana and Salvia Freedom (2.1%),Gambling Freedom (2.0%), Education Policy (1.9%), Civil Liberties (0.6%), Travel Freedom(0.5%), Asset Forfeiture Freedom (0.1%), and Campaign Finance Freedom (0.02%).
This section contains all the subcategories in the Freedom in the 50 States index.
Economic Freedom
Economic freedom is calculated as the sum of the fiscal and regulatory policy indices.
Freedom from Tort Abuse
The liability system is a ranking of state tort systems based on a survey of business owners and managers. This is what the US Chamber of Commerce calls a state’s “lawsuit climate.” It captures risks and costs that businesses must pass on to consumers as higher prices.
The category contains the following variables: Ranking of state liability systems
Property Right Protection
The property rights category includes eminent domain reform and land-use regulations. Almost all its weight comes from two variables: local rent control laws and an index of residential land-use regulations. The remainder takes into account whether compensation or an economic assessment is required before a regulatory taking, an index of eminent domain reform, and whether free speech is mandated on private property.
The category contains the following variables: Local rent controlRegulatory taking restrictionsMandated free speech on private propertyWharton Residential Land Use, and Eminent domain index.
Health Insurance Freedom
Health insurance includes state-level health insurance mandates, small group rate review, guaranteed issue regulations, individual market community rating, mandated direct access to providers, individual market rate review, and a host of lower-impact regulations on managed care organizations (HMOs). State-level health insurance mandates, the second most significant variable in this category at 1.7 percent of the freedom index, impose direct costs of nearly $9 billion a year.
The category contains the following variables: Financial incentives to providers banned,COBRA continuation : small firmsGroup conversion rating limitsGroup conversion coverage : small firmsIndividual policies: elimination riders bannedIndividual health insurance mandateIndividual guaranteed issueCommunity rating: individuals,Individual rate reviewMandated external grievance review“Mandate-free” or “mandate-light” policiesHealth insurance mandates indexDirect access to specialists mandatedCommunity rating: small groupsSmall group rate review, and Standing referrals mandated.
Labor Market Freedom
Right-to-work laws make up more than half of the labor regulation category and nearly 2 percent of the entire freedom index. They are valued at over $10 billion a year. Other policy variables in this category, in descending order of importance, are short-term disability insurance requirements (costs being lower labor productivity and administrative expenses for businesses), policies dealing with workers’ compensation (funding mechanisms and mandated coverages), state minimum wage laws (figures adjusted for median private wages), requirements for employer verification of legal resident status, mandated paid family leave, and regulations prohibiting discrimination in employment (or employer-provided insurance) between smokers and non-smokers.
The category contains the following variables: Workers' comp coverage regulations,Workers' comp funding regulationsShort-term disability insurancePaid family leave,Minimum wageRight-to-workEmployer verification of legal status, and Smoker protection laws.
Occupational Licensing Freedom
Almost two-thirds of the occupational freedom category’s weight is made up of two variables: a measure of occupational licensing extent and the sum total of education and experience requirements for all included occupations. Rounding out the category are regulations that limit the practice of nurses and nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and dental hygienists.
The category contains the following variables: Dental hygienist independent practice,Education and experience requirementsEmployment-weighted licensureExam requirementsFees for licensed occupationsNurse licensure compact membership,Nurse practitioner independent practice, and Physician assistant prescribing authority.
Miscellaneous Regulatory Freedom
Miscellaneous regulations include certificate of need (CON) requirements for hospitals, state auto insurance rate filing requirements, state homeowners’ insurance rate filing requirements, membership in the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Compact, and state rate classification prohibitions for some classes of insurance. CON regulations land their first-place slot based on the over $3 billion in extra costs they impose on hospitals, customers, and potential market entrants.
The category contains the following variables: Certificate of need for hospitalsRate filing requirements: homeowners' insuranceInterstate insurance product regulations compactRate filing requirements: personal auto insurance, and Rate classification prohibitions.
Cable and Telecom Freedom
Telecommunications deregulation accounts for roughly two-thirds of the weight for this category, and the remainder is accounted for by statewide cable franchising, which eases the entry of telecom firms into the video cable market. Telecommunications deregulation accounts for roughly two-thirds of the weight for this category, and the remainder is accounted for by statewide cable franchising, which eases the entry of telecom firms into the video cable market.
The category contains the following variables: Statewide cable franchising, and Telecom deregulation.
Victimless Crime Freedom
The most heavily weighted category in the personal freedom dimension—after direct victim costs have been calculated and constitutional factors taken into account—is the law enforcement statistics category, which consists of data on incarceration rates adjusted for violent and property crime rates, non-drug victimless crimes arrests, and the drug enforcement rate. This category is worth over one-quarter of the personal freedom index.
The category contains the following variables: Arrests for non-drug victimless crimes: % of all arrestsDrug enforcement rateCrime rate-adjusted incarceration rate, and Arrests for non-drug victimless crimes: % of population.
Gun Control Freedom
Gun control measures the direct costs of gun laws to gun owners and dealers as evidenced in sales, price, and ownership figures, as well as original analysis about how concealed-carry restrictions and costs are associated with the number of people who seek permits in each state.
The category contains the following variables: Gun control.
Tobacco Freedom
Tobacco freedom includes taxes on tobacco, smoking bans, Internet sales bans, and vending machine regulations. The freedom index also takes into account taxes paid by smokers, which are excluded from the taxation category used in the fiscal policy dimension, as well as the deadweight costs of the taxes.
The category contains the following variables: Tobacco freedom.
Alcohol Freedom
Alcohol distribution system makes up 1.2 percent of the whole index on its own. Research shows that state distribution of alcohol imposes significant costs on consumers in time and inconvenience. Indeed, the hypothetical losses from nationwide state control of alcohol distribution have been estimated at about $20 billion. Beer, wine, and spirits taxes each make up about 0.4 percent of the index as a whole, followed by other minor alcohol regulations: blue laws, keg registration/bans, mandatory server training, and “happy hour” bans. Blue laws (bans on Sunday sales) would, if implemented nationwide, reduce consumer welfare by more than $4 billion.
The category contains the following variables: Alcohol distributionBeer taxesBlue lawsHappy hour lawsKeg regulationsSpirit taxesMandatory server training, and Wine taxes.
Marriage Freedom
Almost all the weight of the marriage freedom category is tied to the availability of same-sex partnerships, both civil unions and marriage. The remainder is tied to waiting periods and blood test requirements. States that prohibit same-sex couples from entering private contracts that provide the benefits of marriage (whether termed “marriages” or “civil unions”) take away an important contract right from these couples.
The category contains the following variables: Blood test requirementSame-sex partnerships, and Total waiting period.
Marijuana & Salvia Freedom
This edition of Freedom in the 50 States uses a much more sophisticated index of medical marijuana policies than previous editions and combines this index with the other marijuana policy variables—decriminalization and legalization of the first offense of “low-level” marijuana possession, misdemeanor status for “high-level” possession or “low-level” cultivation or sale, mandatory minimum sentences for “low-level” cultivation or sale, the logarithm of the maximum possible prison term for a single marijuana offense—and using principal component analysis yields a sensible index of marijuana policies.
The category contains the following variables: MarijuanaSalvia ban
Gambling Freedom
This category is dominated by an estimate of the loss to consumers because of gambling restrictions. The category also includes measures for whether social gaming is legal, whether “aggravated gambling” is a felony or misdemeanor, and whether there is an express ban on online gaming.
The category contains the following variables: Gambling felonyGaming revenues,Internet gaming prohibitionSocial gaming exception
Education Policy
Within education policy, mandatory licensure of private school teachers appears to be the most destructive regulation, and it alone constitutes slightly more than half of the overall educational freedom weight. Other variables are years of mandatory schooling, extent of private school curriculum control, tax credits and deductions for private or home schools (for parents or as contributions to scholarship funds), mandatory government approval of new private schools, home school curriculum control, standardized testing or other evaluation requirements for home schools, extent of home school recordkeeping requirements, teacher qualifications for home schools, an index of home school notification requirements, mandatory kindergarten attendance, the existence of a statute explicitly permitting homeschooling, and mandatory registration of private schools.
The category contains the following variables: Compulsory schooling years,Homeschooling curriculum controlHomeschooling lawHomeschooling notification requirementsHomeschooling recordkeeping requirementsHomeschooling standardized testingHomeschooling teacher qualificationsMandatory kindergarten,Private school approval requiredPrivate school teacher licensurePrivate school registrationPrivate school curriculum control, and Tax credit/deduction.
Civil Liberties
The civil liberties category is a grab bag of mostly unrelated policies, including raw milk laws, fireworks laws, prostitution laws, physician-assisted suicide laws, religious freedom restoration acts, rules on taking DNA samples from criminal suspects, trans-fat bans, and laws that can be used to prosecute people who audiorecord public officials in the performance of their duties.
The category contains the following variables: DNA taken from arresteesFireworks lawsPhysician-assisted suicide legalProstitution legalRaw milk sales legalTwo-party consent for recordingReligious Freedom Restoration Act, and Trans-fat bans.
Travel Freedom
Seat belt laws and mandatory uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage are the two most important variables in the travel category, based on estimated costs in terms of tickets and uncompensated premiums to drivers who do not prefer to perform such activities. After that come motorcycle helmet laws, bicycle helmet laws, bans on driving while using a cell phone, open container laws, and sobriety checkpoints, in that order.
The category contains the following variables: Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance requiredSeat belt enforcementBike helmet lawsCell phone driving ban,Motorcycle helmet lawsOpen container laws, and Sobriety checkpoints.
Asset Forfeiture Freedom
The calculation for the ease of civil asset forfeiture is based on results reported in the Institute for Justice study Policing for Profit. This index basically reflects the extent to which a state’s tight asset forfeiture rules encourage revenue-sharing with the Department of Justice. Tight rules are indeed better, since the government should not take private property simply because it was allegedly used in a crime or allegedly constitutes proceeds of a crime, unless the owner of the property is found culpable in a court of law and the seizure is used to compensate victims. But as the Institute for Justice study found, tight rules simply encourage forfeiture by the federal government.
The category contains the following variables: Asset forfeiture rules.
Campaign Finance Freedom
The campaign finance policy category covers public financing of campaigns and contribution limits (individuals to candidates, individuals to parties, an index of individuals to PACs and PACs to candidates, and an index of individuals to PACs and PACs to parties). While these policies receive “constitutional weights” boosting them by a factor of 10 because of their First Amendment implications, they receive low weights even so because there is not much evidence that contribution limits reduce private actors’ involvement in politics, unless the limits are extremely low (and Vermont’s extremely low limits were struck down by the US Supreme Court in 2006).
The category contains the following variables: Grassroots PAC contributions to candidatesGrassroots PAC contributions to partiesIndividual contributions to candidatesIndividual conributions to parties, and Public financing.

Where does your State rank? http://freedominthe50states.org/overall

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On Being Politically Correct

A few days ago I received an EMAIL from some who said sometimes I have not been politically correct when I addressed certain issues.  
Well, I guess I’ll have to agree with that statement.  I try to be polite and thoughtful. But the truth is I don’t worry about being politically correct. 
There was a time speaking your mind, sharing the truth, calling out someone who is a flat out liar, a thief, an opportunist, a scumbag, a pervert or whatever was considered a trait of the torchbearer of truth. 
Whatever happened to the time you could say the truth, share your opinion, or ask a question without having to worry about the ramifications of the ACLU,  skin-heads, various  ethnic groups, religious groups, animal lovers, animal haters, or a host of other people and groups including politicos and politicians. 
These days you have to worry about gang retaliation, crooked politicians and politicos with “contacts and friends in high places”, terrorists and our own government officials and courts when you dare speak out. 
People now sit on two different sides of the fence on this issue. 
On one side, they don’t like you for telling the truth, making commentary or asking questions, especially if it concerns them. It’s okay for them to say what they want to say, do what they want to, but don’t you respond with an honest opinion or disagree with them or their actions.  
The other side feels they are being run over, mistreated, falsely described as takers, moochers, lazy, dishonest, or a host of other adjectives that they consider demeaning even if it describes them to a T. 
I have personally been threatened and warned to back off or to be careful more than once in my career as an outspoken individual, news-talk host, columnist and political blogger. I have somewhat worried about this on a couple of occasions, but not for very long. 
I read a story over the weekend by Phil Valentine, a well know colleague in this industry,  which said, “It’s one thing to fear for your life in the midst of radicals who would just as soon slit your throat as look at you, but here in America?”  
Phil Vaentine went on to say, he’s “often joked that the only two groups we in talk radio can get away with offending are the deaf and the Amish.  
Now there is an offense from which you may never come back and that is offending a Muslim "terrorist" (referring to the whole paper tiger of a movie, Innocence of Muslims thing),” which started out being an excuse – a scapegoat – but has now become its own cause against the infidels.  
I’ll tell you this right now and without any remorse, Bill Pickle believes in the Constitution of the United States and the First Amendment, as well as every other part of that document. I also believe in the Constitutions of our great States. 
Those of us whose whole existence hangs by the time-worn threads of the First Amendment naturally, whether it be news-talk radio host, political bloggers, TV reporters, columnists, or whoever else who works to get to the truth and to protect our rights should throw a fit and yell from the highest point in their area when anyone gets too close to its fragile framework. 
Recently, in my humble opinion, there have been many instances of domestic terrorism right here in South Carolina. Right here in the Pee Dee and Florence. 
The way I see it terrorism’s target is not kill people for the sake of killing.  It’s to change behavior.  It’s to change policy.  It’s to force whole societies to relinquish long-held standards of freedom in order to comply with the radical wishes of the terrorists.  And South Carolina and America has complied. 
There have been those who have obstructed the rights of individuals to run for public office. In turn they have prevented the citizens of South Carolina and Florentines in this city and county the right to vote for the person of their choice to hold various offices. Elections everywhere are under attack.
There are those who have used the courts as a huge chess set to stop the advancement of people who wish to serve our community and state and the courts have gone along with these terrorists. 
There are those telling straight out lies and half-truths as they seek to political office so they can serve us (as they try to get us to believe). 
In my humble opinion, these people are the ones who are currently attacking our rights to have free and open elections.  They are the terrorists who are attacking our right rights to vote free and open elections. They are the ones trying to prevent our rights of free speech and expression. 
On the national front, when our president publicly apologizes for a movie he has never even seen and he asks YouTube to review and remove the trailers of a movie critical of Islam, we’ve lost free speech. 
I admit I have never seen the trailers, nor the movie. But I don’t have to, nor do I want to. That too is my right. Therefore, I say the current POTUS is also trying to block, or take away our rights as citizens of this great country.  
But, at the end of the day, who cares?  So what if comments of a few news-talk hosts, journalists, voters and want-to-be candidates are taken away or threatened? What does it really matter?
It matters to me and it means a lot! 
We want to enjoy the luxury of our freedoms but, unlike our founders, we are no longer willing to sacrifice, fight or die for them.  Which begs the question... 
"Do we really deserve them?"

You and I can only answer these questions for ourselves. 
Join me Monday-Friday at 8AM-10AM EDT "In the Pickle" on American Patriot Radio where we talk the issues and politics that affect all of us. We spend our time trying to find a way to get out of the proverbial pickle barrel.
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Shouldn't We Do Our Part

All across this great nation people have given well deserved praise to the thousands who braved the cold in the 43rd annual March for Life in Washington, DC.  Like many others I believe that life is a precious gift from God; but, I realize that life for unwanted children is not always precious.

For some classic examples let us look back at the Texas  mother who drowned her children in a bathtub and the SouthCarolina woman who drowned her children in a lake.  How about the fatherwho slammed the infant against the living room wall? Or the many infants and children who are beaten reviving broken bones and fracture skills? Were those children wanted? Did those women and fathers want to be parents?

One can say these "parents" had some form of mental illness or depression. Perhaps they were under a lot of stress. It is possible some other mind altering issue existed.  Whatever the cause of their actions, their children became part of a statistical number.

State laws vary on laws regarding abuse and neglect. Several States (South Carolina being one) will get involved if a newborn has illegal drugs detected in its system. Other States take action if a parent abuses a child at one week, one month, or one or more years of age.

In either situation the child may be placed in protective custody and/or foster care, and the parent could be prosecuted.  Therefore, why force a woman who does not want to be a mother to have a child she does not want?

To God and pro-lifers like me, the fetus becomes a human life at conception; to recreational sex partners, the fetus is an unwanted mistake. If inadvertent egg and sperm donors utilize abortion to eliminate a precious fetus, will they love, cherish and nurture the precious infant who they really do not want?

As a compassionate Nation committed to defending the most vulnerable among us and fighting for the millions of children who were not given their God given right to life we have a moral obligation to be a voice for those who are not given the opportunity to speak.
Image result for photo of unborn child
Like a fetus in the womb, an infant cannot report abuse if necessary. Unlike an infant born into this world, an unborn fetus is sinless and therefore spiritually home-free.

Whatever your conscious tells you about the abortion issue I want you to also consider the children not aborted. Should we as compassionate individuals and/or parents do everything possible to eliminate the abuse and neglect of innocent children? Should we be willing to support orphanages and/or open up our homes for the unwanted, abused and neglected children who were willingly given birth?

How about the children who may have been aborted by unwilling parents? After all, can we expect irresponsible sex partners to be responsible parents?

Each of us have an opportunity to render support and love for these children. Each of us should consider getting involved in making sure these children are given a chance by volunteering to become fosterparents, Big Brothers or Big Sisters. Becoming adoptive parents is another commitment of love and compassion.

Another way you can help and be part of the solution, volunteer to become a Guardian ad LITEM working thru the courts to help those in need. 

Be someone who can speak on behalf of a child's needs and desires.
Part of caring is taking action.

Bill Pickle

Join me Monday-Friday at 8AM-10AM EDT "In the Pickle" on American Patriot Radio where we talk the issues and politics that affect all of us. We spend our time trying to find a way to get out of the proverbial pickle barrel.