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Entries in Freedom (2)

Wednesday
Jun082011

New Jersey, New York Ranked Worst for 'Individual Freedoms'

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Live free or die? New Hampshire may be on to something, according to researchers at George Mason University's Mercatus Center who used a variety of statistics to rank the 50 states for their just-published report on which are the freest -- and least free -- from taxes and government regulation.

Their horserace has ranked New York as the "least free state in the Union" followed by neighboring New Jersey. New Hampshire and South Dakota were in a virtual tie for most "free" state.

The professors who authored the study believe that this freedom as they define it makes a lot of difference to the happiness and well-being of the governed.

Many people "don't want to have their lives dictated by people in their state capital," says William Ruger, political science professor at Texas State University-San Marcos, who co-authored the report with Jason Sorens, political science professor at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York.

"As academics, we were first interested in the scientific question of how states differ, why, and with what implications," said Ruger. "It was natural to then compare them in terms of their respect for individual freedom given how important this is to both of us."

Ruger, who is in the reserve component of the Navy, served in Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009. He said his project was not related to his time in Afghanistan, though "those who love freedom ought to take it upon themselves to defend and uphold our individual rights."

"Sometimes we do so with the pen, sometimes with the sword," he said.

New York was ranked dead last in part because it has the highest taxes in the country, including those on property, selective sales, individual income, and corporate-income, according to the report. They cited New York's spending on "other and unallocable" expenses, including public welfare, hospitals, electric power, transit, and employee retirement, as another reason for its ranking.

The report created four other lists ranking freedom based on fiscal policy, regulatory policy, economic freedom and personal freedom.

Maryland was ranked last based on personal freedom, though it was #43 in overall freedom. The report cited Maryland's gun laws, which are the second-strictest in the country, as well as "fairly harsh" marijuana laws, extensive auto regulations, harsh gambling laws, "burdensome" homeschooling laws, high drug arrest rates and lack of status for same-sex partnerships.

Beyond making policy recommendations for each state, such as proposing that Maryland legalize same-sex civil unions and strengthen medical-marijuana law while decriminalizing low-level possession, Ruger said there were two critical policy implications from the study.

First, freer states are attracting citizens from other states while less-free states are losing citizens -- and their tax dollars.

"This is true for both economic freedom and personal freedom," Ruger said. "People are voting with their feet and moving to open, tolerant, and economically free states and away from nanny-states."

Second, Ruger said that economic freedom is associated with income growth. The study results showed that a 0.25 unit increase in economic freedom increases the average annual growth rate in personal income by about 0.25 percentage points.

Statistically speaking, South Dakota should have a growing population and increasing incomes because the state ranked first in economic freedom and second in overall freedom. Census Bureau data shows more people at least moved to South Dakota from other states (29,631) than left for another state (25,950) in 2009.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb212011

Teen Speaks Out About Alleged Rape by Cruise Line Employee

Photo Courtesy - Dylan McCord/U.S. Navy via Getty Images (file)(MIAMI) -- When Darla and Enoch, who asked that their last names not be used, took their teenage daughter on an eight-day Caribbean cruise, the family never expected their dream vacation would turn into a nightmare.

After having trouble falling asleep one night during their 2009 Carnival cruise, Taylor, who was then 14, said she left her parents' cabin and went alone to an upper deck of the ship "Freedom" to write in her journal. It was there, she said, that Heri Krispiyanto, a 30-year-old Carnival cruise line employee from Indonesia who waited on the family during meals, found her and then raped her.

"He pulled me into an employee-only room," she said. "I asked him what he was doing and he told me that he was going to take care of me.

"He raped me, I kept saying, 'No,' but he didn't care," she said of the alleged rape. "He told me not to tell my parents, and he just unlocked the door and let me go."

After it was over, Taylor said she was shaking and afraid as she returned to her parents' cabin, but she didn't tell them what had happened. Even after returning home to Oklahoma, Taylor kept the incident a secret from her parents for the next three months until she became severely depressed.

After Taylor finally told her parents in August 2009, they were horrified. When Enoch heard about his daughter's alleged rape, he called the FBI but, by then, Krispiyanto was back in Indonesia. Nine months passed before the FBI located him at a U.S. port, while he was working for a different Carnival cruise ship.

Charles Lipcon of Miami, a cruise ship litigation attorney who represented Taylor and her family, said when the FBI first interviewed Krispyanto, he denied any wrongdoing.

"The FBI gave him a lie detector test and the waiter flunked the lie detector test," Lipcon said. "Then the waiter said, 'Oh, yeah, I did have sex with Taylor, but it was consensual.' Well, you can't have consensual sex with a 14-year-old. They're too young to consent and that's what led to the prosecution."

Lipcon and Taylor's family sued Carnival for sexual assault committed by a crew member. Krispiyanto later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of sex abuse of a minor and is serving a 3-year prison sentence in Seminole County Jail in Orlando, Fla.

A Carnival cruise line representative released a statement to ABC News apologizing again to Taylor and her parents: "We go to tremendous lengths to ensure a secure and enjoyable vacation environment for the more than 4 million passengers who sail with us each year. ... We are truly sorry that this tragic crime occurred and again want to express our deepest apologies to the victim and her family.”

Safety on cruises has become such a huge issue that Congress held hearings in 2006 and 2007 where they asked victims of alleged cruise ship crimes to testify. In July 2010, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act was passed and signed into law.

The law now requires cruise ships to report all allegations of crimes to the U.S. Coast Guard and the FBI, maintain functioning electronic surveillance cameras and use rape kits to collect evidence in cases of sexual assault.

Taylor, now 16, and her family settled their suit out of court with Carnival, and agreed not to disclose the settlement amount. However, they refused to sign a gag order, because, they said, they wanted to speak out about their ordeal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio