A study released by the Merecatus Center at George Mason University tells us that California ranks second-to-last among all states when it comes to personal, individual freedom. The study, which considered more than 200 policies to grade the states in dozens of categories, shows the state ranks so low because it taxes and regulates its economy more than 46 other states, and not coincidentally interferes aggressively in the personal lives of its citizens.

Among the findings is that California also ranks 49th in overall economic freedom, 44th in fiscal policy, and 50th in regulatory policy.

It also spends significantly more than the rest of the country on general administration, housing and community development, utilities, and employee retirement. Beyond that, government interference in the land market is rife, and California's zoning laws are among the toughest in the country.

We bring this up because Thursday in the Wall Street Journal, Arthur B. Laffer (originator of the Laffer Curve, which shows that as taxes rise, total tax revenue falls), and Stephen Moore (member of the Journal's editorial board) point out that red states (dominated by conservatives) are where economic growth in the country is going on, and blue states (dominated by liberals) are where that growth is stagnant. And, not surprisingly, population growth is also growing in red states, and shrinking in blue states.

Laffer and Moore note that among the 10 fastest-growing metro areas last year were Raleigh, Austin, Las Vegas, Orlando, Charlotte, Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio and Dallas. All are in low-tax, business-friendly red states. Blue-state areas such as Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo, Providence and Rochester were among the biggest population losers.

Further, "Red states in the Southeast and Sunbelt are following the Reagan model by reducing tax rates and easing regulations. They also offer right-to-work laws as an enticement for businesses to come and set up shop. Meanwhile, the blue states of the Northeast, joined by California (of course), Minnesota and Illinois, are implementing the Obama model of raising taxes on businesses and the wealthy to fund government 'investments' and union power."

So it's absolutely no surprise that the Merecatus study puts California among the least-free states in the union. Here, more and more people are heading north, east and south, beyond California's borders, because they just can't abide the regulatory, tax-prone people in Sacramento.

California's legislature, of course, is overrun with lawmakers who believe that the primary purpose of government is to redistribute income from rich to poor. If they keep up this attack on free enterprise and capitalism, the day will come when there'll be no "rich" people here to redistribute from. They'll all be living in red states. Unshackled by government. And prospering.