The "Free State" isn't so free anymore

Maryland has long cherished its nickname of "The Free State." However, based on a recent ranking by the Mercatus Center at Virginia's George Mason University, Maryland is actually near the bottom of states nationally — 44th out of 50 — in overall freedom.

The center's report, "Freedom in the 50 States," provides an aggregate index of how the states' public policies impact economic, social and personal freedoms. Overall personal freedom in Maryland ranks just above that of Illinois.

While it is hard to get worse when you're already near the bottom, that is exactly what has happened with Gov. Martin O'Malley at the helm of state government.

A further discouraging statistic cited in the report is that Maryland is experiencing a net negative migration rate, meaning more people are leaving the state than becoming residents here. That does not bode well for economic expansion.

Anyone want to suggest a new nickname?

Michael Vance Ernest Sr., Catonsville

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