June 13, 2011

New Hampshire — ranked #1 in freedom — ranks 50th in the level of education of its legislators.

Hmmm. Interesting.
The Mercatus Center at George Mason University undertook a study of personal liberty in each of the 50 states, based explicitly on “an individual-rights framework.”...
New Hampshire is, by our count, the freest state in the country.... New Hampshire does much better on economic than personal freedom and on fiscal than regulatory policy. Under unified Democratic control in 2007–2008, the state saw a respectable increase in freedom. A smoking ban was enacted, but so were same-sex civil unions. Taxes, spending, and fiscal decentralization remain more than a standard deviation better than average, and government debt actually went down slightly. Gun laws are among the most liberal in the country, but carrying a firearm in a car requires a concealedcarry permit. Effective retail-tax rates on wine and spirits are zero. Marijuana laws are middling; lowlevel possession could be decriminalized like it is in Maine, while low-level cultivation could be made a misdemeanor like it is in both Maine and Vermont. New Hampshire is the only state in the country with no seatbelt law for adults. It lacks a motorcyclehelmet law but does have a bicycle-helmet law and authorizes sobriety checkpoints. State approval is required to open a private school. Homeschool laws are slightly worse than average; standardized testing and recordkeeping requirements are stricter than those in most states. Eminent-domain reforms have gone far. The state’s liability system is one of the best, but campaign-finance regulations are quite strict. The drug law-enforcement rate is low and dropping, while arrests for other victimless crimes are high and dropping. Asset-forfeiture law is definitely subpar, with potential for abuse.
And then, here's the study by the Chronicle of Higher Education:
The Chronicle has looked at where each of the 7,000-plus state legislators in America went to college—or whether they went at all. In doing so, we got a glimpse of how the citizens who hold these seats reflect the average American experience.
New Hampshire is dead last, with only 53.4% of legislators having earned a bachelor's degree or higher. It's also 48th in the ranking of legislators who have law degrees. At 5.5%, only Delaware and North Dakota have state houses less packed with lawyers.

Do you think it's funny that the level of freedom in the state is inversely correlated to the number of lawyers making the laws? I don't. And I went to law school. Went to law school, went back, and can't seem to leave. I've been in law school for 30 of the last 33 years. And it's easy for me to see why lawyers would produce laws that make us less free.

The layperson's idea of freedom is more free. Or... to be fair... more closely correlated to the definition of freedom used in the George Mason study.

57 comments:

Original Mike said...

I consider it likely that the more education a person receives, the more she thinks she's smart enough to run other people's lives.

It's for their own good, you know.

pbAndj said...

South Dakota ain't bad either.

Fred4Pres said...

There is a degree of nanny statism in some of those laws, although I like a lot of the thingsd stated about New Hampshire. I agree lawyers are generally a pain in the ass, but my impression of New Hampshire's politics is they are driven by refugees from Tax-a-chuttes and the People's Republic of Vermont.

pbAndj said...

More.

AJ Lynch said...

Hammers tend to sees nails everywhere. That said, our legislators tend to think legislation cures all our ills. But in many cases, it adds to the problems.

The Drill SGT said...

State legislators are paid $200 for their two-year term, plus mileage, effectively making them volunteers. The only other benefits are free use of toll roads and of state-owned resorts. A 2007 survey found that nearly half the members of the House are retired, with an average age over 60.

Retired average citizens interested in good governemnt, meeting sparingly. what's not to like :)

Seriously, I'm struck between the difference between Vermont (very Blue 30th in freedom) and NH (1st in freedom)

(Just got back from Burlington, where the news was the passing of a universal health care law, with no estimate of how much it will cost and no identified funding source)

roesch-voltaire said...

Correlation is not causation-- other factors at play in NH that include an economic base sprung from cotton and ship building to making The Felton Brush requiring good skills, they have great mechanics in that state, but not advanced college degrees.

Henry said...

Education isn't intelligence.

chuckR said...

I live in the 6th least free state. I don't find the slightest thing funny about lawyer-legislators or any other legislators.
It takes a lot of educatin' to develop the certainty that you know what's best for all of us.

Phil 3:14 said...

This has me wondering what would a state and its laws look like if its government was dominated by:

-doctors. Universal health with wide coverage for "new" therapies? "Medicalization" of social problems? Liberal or strict drug laws?

-engineers. Greater spending on infrastruction? Multiple "study" groups?

-teachers. More child-oriented programs? More schools and less prisons?

-MBA's. "Newer, better and more out of the box" programs every two years? More public service announcements of the value of the government programs?

And finally, if I understand polling correctly, the US public doesn't hold lawyers in very high esteem. So why do we keep elected them to public office?

AllenS said...

What Henry said.

raf said...

I have often thought that lawyers should be barred from legislatures on the grounds of massive conflict of interest.

wv: hesemart. That's the problem, he's too smart for our own good.

gerry said...

And the "most-educated" legislature: California.

Well, it will likely be the first state to go belly-up. It figures.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Fred4Pres said...

...but my impression of New Hampshire's politics is they are driven by refugees from Tax-a-chuttes and the People's Republic of Vermont.

Unfortunately, while many of them are fleeing the consequences of liberalism, they are trying to bring with them the policies of liberalism, blind to the fact that one leads to the other.

AJ Lynch said...

Drill Sgt said:

"......news was the passing of a universal health care law, with no estimate of how much it will cost and no identified funding source)"

Heh. I bet they actually believe this will be budget neutral and successful so that next they they will give everyone a free home.

wv= butrobs

MaggotAtBroad&Wall said...

For the first 150 years after the country's founding, generally speaking, lawyers were conservative and freedom loving Constitutionalists.

But then lawyers figured out that the less free/more regulated society is, the better it is for their business. They're needed to advise how to comply with increasingly complex regulations (like 2000 page healthcare laws and 2500 page laws that trasform the banking industry), and they're needed to defend clients when the government decides a party has not complied with the regulation.

Kylos said...

So if Palin is sane but (relatively) stupid, she sounds like the perfect candidate.

Glenn Howes said...

I moved to New Hampshire for its reputation for personal liberty and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. A man can live here in peace.

The NH House is one of the largest legislative body in the world. We also pretty much neuter the governor with a 5 member Executive Council. Government officials are humble by design.

No income tax, no sales tax. The property tax is just a bit more than Massachusetts, which has both an income and sales tax.

We are in trouble with our state pension funding, and the state supreme court has seriously messed up education funding. Still all in all we are decent shape compared to most states.

Rube said...

New Hampshire property taxes are extremely high, but the money has to come from somewhere. New Hampshire was a red state among the blue for many years until the Mass holes moved up and drove the housing market through the roof. Demanded more services now they are struggleing. Northern New Hampshire, survival of the fittest still rules, southern NH, pussy Bostonians.

Bruce Hayden said...

I have often thought that lawyers should be barred from legislatures on the grounds of massive conflict of interest.

I am conflicted here. Obviously, those of us with law degrees are so much smarter than the rest of you, that we should logically lead. If you were as smart as we are, you would be lawyers too (ok, maybe some of you would be doctors instead).

On the other hand, lawyers are extremely dangerous in the legislature (and, apparently even more so in the Presidency, esp. with nothing except a law degree behind you). There are, I will submit, several interrelated reasons for this.

Average IQ of a holder of a doctorate degree (excluding doctorates of education) is approximately 1 std. deviation above the norm, according to the very controversial Bell Curve. The IQs of lawyers are statistically almost indistinguishable from those of doctors and others with doctorate degrees. One of the things that they found that was highly correlated with IQ (whatever that means) is the ability to handle, and indeed, enjoy, complexity.

Well, the type of complexity that lawyers revel in is complexity of the law. They enjoy implementing complex schemes through legislation, that they, coincidentally, write. And, collectively, they think that they can do this well, and, as a result, can solve societal problems through it (or, just make a lot of money for their friends and constituents).

This might not be a problem, if it worked. But, it seems that so often they ignore the 2nd order consequences of their legislation. These laws apply to humans, humans act rationally selfishly, and the smarter ones can always hire more and better lawyers to exploit these new laws. For the rest of the people, so sorry.

EDH said...

New Hampshire has a low paid, part-time legislature.

Is the grass greener for part-time legislatures?

California's full-time Legislature has considered offbeat bills over the years to regulate the amount of water in a dishwasher, make being poor a crime and prohibit pet stores from selling un-weaned parrots.

Such legislative peculiarities prompted Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) casually to tout a part-time Legislature last month as a way to stop wasting time on "strange bills"...

So far political scientists haven't proven a connection between enactment of strange laws and legislators spending more time under the capitol dome. But serious differences exist between part-time and full-time legislatures including salary level, staff size, length of session, time in the home district and conflicts of interest when lawmakers are forced to have outside jobs.

Part-time legislatures also called traditional or citizen legislatures - have shorter sessions, employ small staffs, and pay lawmakers an average salary of $15,984, necessitating outside income, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Among the lowest paid are part-time lawmakers in New Hampshire, $100 a year; South Dakota, $6,000 a year; and Rhode Island, $11,236 a year, according to NCSL's compensation table. Some states also cover daily expenses, and some only pay a certain amount for each day in session.

Only California, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania have full-time legislatures...

California lawmakers, best-paid in the nation, earn $99,000 a year. Voters approved a full-time schedule in 1966...

Titus said...

I did it in Portsmouth at a park callled Strawberry Bank.

New Hampshire has tons of adult bookstores too.

Boston and Mass have like none.

And you can be in New Hampshire in 30 minutes without traffic.

The downside is fags can get married.

cokaygne said...

Mostly, this is junk, but we Mainers are keenly interested in NH. Almost always NH comes out better when comparisons are made. Maine's GOP always points out how much better off NH is with its low taxes, while Maine's liberals claim that NH is better off than Maine because if is closer to "the hub of the universe." Doesn't look as if there is much difference when one compares the educational levels of each state's legislature.

Context is so important. NH's current governor and legislature are like the one that governed Maine for a long time until now, while Maine's current legislature and governor are like the one that governed NH for a long time until now.

Also interesting that Mercatus ranks NH only 11th on personal freedom while Maine ranks 7th. One thing that people in both Maine and NH agree on is that the state to our south is governed by "Massholes". It shows because Mercatus ranks MA 47th in personal freedom and only 43rd in economic freedom compared to NH at 2nd and Maine at 39th.

Glenn Howes said...

While there are many Massachusetts refugees in southern New Hampshire, the people I know tend to be immigrants--we have a surprisingly large Chinese population for instance--who tend to be entrepreneurial and tax hating. Please don't characterize us as Bostonians.

From Inwood said...

Mad Anthony Weiner is not a lawyer!

MarkG said...

Bruce, I thought law school is for people who are bad at math but otherwise "smart." I think we'd be better off without the bad-at-math legislators.

From Inwood said...

Henry & A S

Education isn't credentialism either.

From Inwood said...

Prof A:

Great post. Brilliant analysis.

Bruce H & & Phil 3:14

Incisive comments.

I just sent all the above, with my comments, to my list of people who suffer through my thoughts.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Hoosier's are #3!

Hoosier Daddy said...

Original Mike hits it pretty close to the mark with the opening comment.

Bruce Hayden said...

Bruce, I thought law school is for people who are bad at math but otherwise "smart." I think we'd be better off without the bad-at-math legislators.

Well, not always. My undergraduate degree is in mathematics, as is that of my lawyer brother. And, on occasion you can find some great mathematical puzzles over at Volokh.com, as the Volokh brothers' father was apparently a mathematician, and they seem to have picked up a lot of that ability from him. Those puzzles always get great response, and the answers are often well above my abilities, despite my undergraduate degree.

That said, I think that you are right. And, lawyers also tend to not know business or accounting very well either. One of my father's biggest complaints about other lawyers was just that, that most of them couldn't read a balance sheet (he has a business degree, along with his law degree, and his mother taught accounting at the college where I got my MBA).

I would suggest that lacking a business math background is worse, really, than the fact that so many attorneys lack a math background or aptitude.

Phil said...

I'm not accepting the Chron's figures. Their numbers don't add up. Specifically, a total of 75% of NH legislators have "No College, Some College, Bachelor's, or Beyond Bachelor's" for their level of education.

What other level of college is there? Double Secret College? Nunya College?

ricpic said...

There are actually many conservatives in Vermont. The reason they seem invisible is that they don't want to express what they believe and be rendered internal exiles. That's the New England way. It's a little better in New Hampshire but not that much better.

Peter said...

Is this supposed to be a reference to the quote attributed to William F. Buckley, "I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University." ?

David said...

So the stuff on that list is what we think freedom is now?

Yuck.

Pogo said...

90 years ago, most states would have thought the present New Hampshire was nearly communist.

Woodrow Wilson and FDR really screwed this country up but good.

Only a highly educated postmodern man could believe in economic homeopathy and that state coercion to buy health care is freedom.

Freeman Hunt said...

If your degree is not in economics, how does it make you more qualified than anyone else to make domestic policy decisions?

Being a lawyer makes one, perhaps by virtue of knowing legalese, more qualified to write laws, but it does not make one more qualified to decide their content apart from checking to see if it conflicts with constitutional law.

Freeman Hunt said...

The real problem is that the current culture in higher education tends toward inculcating hubris rather than humility.

JackOfClubs said...

The inverse correlation between education and freedom shouldn't surprise anyone who studies American history. 150 years ago, everyone knew that legislators were servants of the people. They also knew that you shouldn't educate your servants, lest they become uppity.

The Drill SGT said...

Phil 3:14 said...-MBA's. "Newer, better and more out of the box" programs every two years? More public service announcements of the value of the government programs?

I think you are confusing marketing, HR or communcations majors with quant MBA types, (Finance or us Operations Research types).

We'd want to see the Business Case and want to look for product mix optimization algorithm.

Pogo said...

Here's the test:

If you believed the Gay Girl in Damascus story, that QE2 would work, that homeopathy works, that nationalizing GM was a good ide, or that McCain-Feingold was a good law,

...then you are too stupid to be in the legislature.

edutcher said...

As they once said in the California Gold Rush, "We never needed law until the lawyers came".

PS What Pogo said.

MadisonMan said...

There's Wisconsin, right in the middle.

avwh said...

You're onto something, Althouse.

California, that great nanny state of the West, is first in lawyers, 48th in freedom.

Basically the opposite of New Hampshire.

Of course CA would be low in freedoms, since the labor unions essentially own the legislators, and Dems have controlled the legislature for as long as I can remember.

The Drill SGT said...

MadisonMan said...
There's Wisconsin, right in the middle.


Hey, don't knock it says Goldiocks

Baby Bear, not so much...

Phil 3:14 said...

New Hampshire has tons of adult bookstores too.

Boston and Mass have like none.


Well is "none" or "like none"?

Phil 3:14 said...

Drill;
I think you are confusing marketing, HR or communcations majors with quant MBA types, (Finance or us Operations Research types).

Well, that's why I put the questions marks there. In my limited experience the business CEO's are concerned about 1) bottom line and 2)what the competition is doing 3)how to do it better. But I've found them gullible to the idea that "we can be just as successful as the Jones with their better mousetrap" (even if it turns out the Jones were lucky and/or by year #3 the Jones abandoned their mouse trap.)

gerry said...

The real problem is that the current culture in higher education tends toward inculcating hubris rather than humility.

Perfect.

AJ Lynch said...

We will know the conservative movement has won when Harvard's Kennedy School of Government shuts its doors for good.

"School of Government" WTF do we need that for.

Karnival said...

There is no study...anywhere...which can show that having spent more time in a classroom gives one the ability to better make laws for those who spent less time in the classroom. I think, empirically speaking, we can see the opposite might be true. Having spent more time in real-life situations (i.e. starting up and running a business...you know...actually employing people for instance) might actually give someone the necessaries to 'govern'. But, of course, there is no actual study to prove that either.

But...let's take a poll: would you rather have a random person on the street as your current congressional representative, or would you rather have your current representative (who, odds are, has a law degree)? If you knew your current representative had an advanced degree, would that change your opinion of him/her?

Michael Ryan said...

NH has 400 members in their House for a total population of 1.3M. Joined to a "salary" of $200/yr, the obvious result is going to be more citizen legislators.

Is this somehow bad? Are only lawyers fit to vote on laws? If laws are so complex that only lawyers can understand them, then why should the rest of us be expected to obey them?

mariner said...

The layperson's idea of freedom is more free. Or... to be fair... more closely correlated to the definition of freedom used in the George Mason study.

To be even more fair, the George Mason study's definition of freedom is well correlated with the beliefs of a growing number of Americans.

mariner said...

The Drill SGT,
Seriously, I'm struck between the difference between Vermont (very Blue 30th in freedom) and NH (1st in freedom)

Vermont is closer to New York.

paul a'barge said...

Unless you study something technical (like sciences, engineering, etc) education doesn't mean sh*t to a tree.

Jim Bullock said...

"Education" measured as degrees. Interesting.

I've been out-performing degreed individuals in a professional field for my entire career. I've coedited a book twice used as a college course text and guest lectured at a university.

What's educated?

David said...

Actually, the post doesn't present a correlation, it just presents two facts about New Hampshire.

When you do look at the correlation between the freedom index and legistor education, it's a modest -.2, which is hardly correlated at all.

Jim Bullock said...

Oh, yeah. I don't have a bachelors. Also, the worst problem I've had in my professional career is working with credentialed incompetents.