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Wanted: One State for a Political Experiment

Wanted: One State for a Political Experiment
Trish Anderton, 2003-06-23

For decades, Libertarians have warned that big government is eroding basic American rights. The Libertarian party advocates low taxes and a bare minimum of laws and regulations. Now some activists have formed the Free State Project to demonstrate that such a government would work. Their plan is for 20-thousand members of the organization to move to the same state. With that critical mass, they'd try to reshape how that state is run. New Hampshire Libertarians are holding events all week to convince the Free Staters to make the Granite State their political Laboratory.

[RealAudio and Windows Media files of interview available at link]

http://www.nhpr.org/view_content/4899/



NHPR's Trish Anderton reports.

listen:
Did we forget something? Tell us what we missed!

Below is a rough transcript
for your convenience only.
It is not word for word accurate.

IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A UTOPIAN SETTING, IT'S HARD TO BEAT THE WHITE MOUNTAINS ON A SUMMER AFTERNOON. AT THE ROGERS CAMPGROUND IN LANCASTER, ABOUT FIFTY PEOPLE HAVE GATHERED FOR A SERIES OF EVENTS BEING BILLED AS
"ESCAPE TO NEW HAMPSHIRE." HERE THEY'LL MINGLE, ADMIRE THE VIEW, AND
LISTEN TO SPEECHES.

38 I'd like to say this is a celebration but the title is escape to nh which I think belies the seriousness of the project.

MICHAEL BADNARIK IS A LIBERTARIAN CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT IN 2004.

I think the fact we have to escape implies we have let fed govt get way out of control.

THE FREE STATE PROJECT DOESN'T REALLY HAVE A PLATFORM. ITS MEMBERS DON'T LIKE TO BE PIGEONHOLED. BUT THEY BELIEVE PROPERTY RIGHTS AND FREE MARKETS CAN SOLVE MOST PROBLEMS. THEY GENERALLY OPPOSE DRUG LAWS AND GUN CONTROL. THEY TEND TO SUPPORT THE RIGHT TO GAY MARRIAGE. GARY NOLAN IS A TALK SHOW HOST AND ANOTHER PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL. HE SAYS IF THOSE PRINCIPLES BECOME REALITY IN JUST ONE STATE, SUCH AS NEW HAMPSHIRE, THEY'LL SPARK AN EXPLOSION OF PROSPERITY.

businesses will relocate here. manufacturing will be here. for massachusetts and delaware and ohio to be viable, they'll have to follow your lead. if they follow your lead, canada's in trouble, europes in trouble, the world is in trouble, bc no one can compete with Americans when they're free.

THE FREE STATE PROJECT IS YOUNG. IT WAS LAUNCHED AFTER THE 2000 ELECTIONS. FOUNDER JASON SORENS IS ALSO YOUNG. HE'S JUST FINISHING UP HIS PhD DISSERTATION AT YALE. SPEAKING FROM HIS SUMMER HOME IN NORTH CAROLINA, SORENS SAYS HE WAS DISSATISFIED WITH THE LIBERTARIAN PERFORMANCE IN THOSE ELECTIONS. HE BEGAN WONDERING HOW MANY LIBERTARIAN-MINDED PEOPLE WOULD BE WILLING TO CONCENTRATE THEIR IMPACT BY MOVING TO THE SAME STATE TOGETHER. HE THOUGHT HE COULD GET 20-THOUSAND PEOPLE.

46 130 Later I researched what 20k people could expect to accomplish and judging from political data I gathered that in states of 1.5 million or less they could have a significant effect.

SORENS FLOATED THE IDEA ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB. WITHIN A WEEK, 200 PEOPLE
HAD EMAILED HIM SAYING THEY WERE WILLING TO MOVE. THE GROUP CHOSE TEN
POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS BASED ON SMALL SIZE, A DECENT JOB MARKET, AND FRIENDLINESS TO LIBERTARIAN PRINCIPLES. THE LIST INCLUDES FOUR IN THE EAST: NEW HAMPSHIRE, VERMONT, MAINE, AND DELAWARE. THERE ARE FIVE IN THE WEST: WYOMING, MONTANA, NORTH DAKOTA, SOUTH DAKOTA, AND IDAHO. ALASKA ROUNDS OUT
THE LIST.

bbq/kids amb

BUT WILL 20-THOUSAND PEOPLE IN MODERN AMERICA REALLY UPROOT JUST FOR POLITICAL REASONS? AS MEMBERS' KIDS SCAMPER AROUND AT A BARBECUE LATER THAT EVENING, SEVERAL FREE STATERS SAY YES. AMANDA PHILIPS LIVES IN MASSACHUSETTS. SHE'S A SINGLE MOM WHO WORKS FOR A COMPANY THAT MANAGES NURSING HOMES. SHE ADMITS IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO REARRANGE HER LIFE. BUT
SHE SAYS SHE DOESN'T MIND.

for what I'm getting out of it -liberty and a free society - I'll uproot. its worth it.

OTHERS AREN'T READY TO COMMIT YET. JOE POMPEI IS A HIGH-TECH ENTREPRENEUR WHO'S SOMEHOW HOLDING ONTO HIS VIEWS IN THAT HOTBED OF LIBERALISM, CAMBRIDGE MASSACHUSETTS. HE'S VERY TEMPTED BY THE IDEA OF A FREE STATE, BUT HE'S STILL DEBATING WHETHER TO SIGN UP.

20 00 its mostly just considering the practicality. how much my lifestyle needs to be adjusted. all the little nuts and bolts things.

NEW HAMPSHIRE LIBERTARIANS ARE PULLING OUT THE STOPS TO CONVINCE FREE STATERS THIS IS THE PLACE TO BE. THEY'RE SPENDING THE WEEK SHUTTLING PROJECT MEMBERS TO SOME OF NEW HAMPSHIRE'S MOST BEAUTIFUL SPOTS. THEY TOUT THE LACK OF SALES AND INCOME TAXES HERE. AND, AS LOCAL LIBERTARIAN DAN BELFORTI POINTS OUT, THERE'S THE FAMOUS STATE MOTTO.

live free or die. its part of our culture to be independent rather than rely on govt.

BUT NEW HAMPSHIRE'S NOT ALONE. THE WESTERN STATES RECENTLY HELD A MEETING IN MONTANA TO MAKE THEIR CASE. AND ARGUMENTS ABOUT THE RELATIVE BENEFITS OF EACH STATE RAGE ON THE PROJECT'S WEBSITE. JOHN BARNES, CHAIR OF THE NEW HAMPSHIRE EFFORT, FEARS THE COMPETITION COULD PULL THE YOUNG ORGANIZATION APART.

the westerners don't want to move west, the easterners don't want to move west. so the trick is to convince people they have to stick together and put aside preferences and all go to whtever state is chosen. itll be interesting to see if that ever really develops.

THE GROUP MAY FIND OUT SOON. IT'LL VOTE ON A STATE ONCE ITS ENROLLMENT REACHES 5-THOUSAND. ORGANIZERS EXPECT THAT TO HAPPEN THIS SUMMER. IF AND WHEN THEIR MEMBERSHIP REACHES 20-THOUSAND, EVERYONE WILL HAVE FIVE YEARS TO MOVE TO THE CHOSEN STATE. ONCE THERE, THE PLAN FOR GAINING POLITICAL CONTROL IS TYPICALLY, FREESTYLE. ELIZABETH MCKINSTRY IS VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FREE STATE PROJECT.

there will be some who are politically active and there will be some who don't buy into the political machine at all and prefer to work outside of it. // we're not going to direct that. we trust that once people have right info they'll do the right thing, that's what this is all about

FREE STATERS KNOW MANY AMERICANS ARE SKEPTICAL OF THEIR APPROACH. THEY KNOW SOME PEOPLE DON'T THINK SLASHING GOVERNMENT REGULATION WILL LEAD TO A CLEANER ENVIRONMENT. THEY UNDERSTAND OTHERS ARE ALARMED BY THE IDEA OF GUNS BEING CARRIED EVERYWHERE AND ANYWHERE. BUT, THEY SAY, ONCE THEY GET A CHANCE, THEY'LL PROVE THOSE WORRIES ARE MISPLACED. FOR NHPR NEWS I'M TRISH ANDERTON IN LANCASTER.
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