Come to California and Travel Freely!

Paul Krugman is blogging about Cato’s latest Freedom Report, so I went over to take a look. California, once again, is ranked a dismal 48th:

Our low ranking, of course, is due to the fact that our taxes are high and we look poorly on businesses polluting our air and water. But as I browsed the various categories, I came across this:

What’s this all about? We were an absolute travel hellhole through 2012 but then suddenly jumped to paradise status in a single year. We currently score 0.007062 on travel freedom, whatever that means, but I guess it must be pretty good since it makes us #5 in the nation.

Drilling down, it turns out that our overall travel score jumped from -0.00707 in 2012 to 0.003676 in 2013. But why? Drilling down even further, their downloadable spreadsheet records only one change: our score on “Finger or thumbprint required for driver’s license”—although I can’t quite tell precisely what caused this since there seem to be two columns with two different numbers and only one of them changed. What’s more, as far as I know we still require a fingerprint to get a driver’s license. Can anyone help me out here?

In any case, what’s really weird about this whole thing is that apparently our travel freedom rank can skyrocket from #49 to #10 due to one change that’s somehow related to fingerprints on driver’s licenses. What the hell kind of travel freedom ranking is this, anyway? Texas is currently #50 and I’m afraid to even look at their raw data. Speed traps? Lots of civil asset forfeiture? Passports required if you enter the state driving a Prius? Lingering memories of Chuck Norris constantly kicking ass on Texas highways? It is a mystery.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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