Once again, the internet has yet another silly list that is fun to chat about precisely because there is no point in it.
Indiana, the WalletHub website tells us, is the sixth worst state in the Union for the independence of its citizens, better than the terrible quintet of Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina and the ‘Alaska. Using a set of measures including the state’s dependence on federal money, bad habits of individuals (such as opioid abuse and social media addiction) and bankruptcy and foreclosure rates, the site says we Hoosiers are just not a self-sufficient lot.
Utah, according to the same survey, is the most self-sufficient state, which struck me as odd. As recently as this morning, that state’s governor was on television, bragging to a mischievous newsreader of his pride in the state’s compliance with COVID rules and the long-term plan to combat it. climate change. It sounds like sucking both Washington and the whole world at the same time.
Outraged on behalf of my beloved Hoosier state, I set out in search of other rankings.
According to cheatsheet.com, which only considers the percentage of a state’s general revenue coming from the federal government, North Dakota is the most independent state at 16.8%. Indiana doesn’t do as well on this list either, ranking 10th at 38%. Perhaps Governor Holcomb will keep that in mind the next time he is inclined to complain about federal interference. Chains, governor, chains.
On thetopten.com, a different criterion is used: what would a state do if it was cut off from the rest of the country? Texas, with a strong economy, a diverse and energetic population, and a National Guard capable of defeating the armies of many countries, came out on top followed closely by California and New York.
Logic. The bigger the better, no matter how screwed up their current politics might be.
Both intrigued and perplexed, I then looked for the ranking of states on libertarianism, which seems to me to be the guiding philosophy of autarky.
The Cato Institute claims that the most libertarian state, based on the degree of personal and economic freedom enjoyed by its citizens, is Florida, followed by New Hampshire and – hurray for us! – Indiana. On the Mises Institute’s list, Florida and New Hampshire are first and second, but Indiana falls to 10th place, still not bad.
How can Indiana be both one of the least independent states and one of the most libertarian?
Because, remember – silly and unnecessary. Autonomy is, by definition, something that individuals possess or lack, and not a quality that can easily be applied as a whole to an entire people.
And it’s a state of mind. Most of the things that give most of us a sense of independence are, ironically, things that also connect us to others, like our cars and the ubiquitous smartphone. Because my parents had to buy so much on credit, I feel naked without a certain amount of money in my pocket, no matter my debit card is almost universally accepted.
But what if we were suddenly cut off from everyone like, well, like Texas or California drifting from the union?
My brother has the right idea. He has several weeks of emergency water and food, and he would likely lose his mind if someone took him away.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends that we all have at least a three-day first aid kit at home, which includes food and water and everything, from a flashlight and a radio to batteries to a first aid kit and garbage bags. How many of us do it? How about an emergency car kit in case it breaks down in the middle of nowhere in the dead of winter?
Show me this list – of who’s ready to jump in and who isn’t – and I’ll tell you whether the state is “independent” or not, silly as that may be.
And remember, there is a fine line between “self-reliant” and “self-destructive”.
In other words, if I can refer to an old episode of “Twilight Zone”, if you don’t have a fallout shelter, you should really be friends with a neighbor who does.
Leo Morris is a columnist for the Indiana Policy Review Foundation.