NYS-without.jpgTerry Stoops helps New York Post readers make sense of the new First in Freedom Index, which ranks New York 50th among the states in freedom.

The United States might be the “land of the free,” but some states are clearly freer than others. Based on a new national ranking, New Yorkers have the worst claim to the benefits of a free society.

This week, the North Carolina-based John Locke Foundation published its inaugural First in Freedom Index. Using more than 60 data points, we calculated fiscal, educational, regulatory and health-care freedom in the 50 states.

New York ranked last.

Yes, this means that the state has the dubious distinction of having less freedom than California and even New Jersey.

Between high taxes and onerous regulations, New Yorkers are squeezed more than residents of other states, on top of the high cost of living.

This endeavor was no mere academic exercise. A sizable body of empirical research suggests that fiscal freedom drives economic growth, educational freedom raises student achievement, regulatory freedom promotes entrepreneurship, and health-care freedom improves quality of life.