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Wanted: One State for a Political Experiment - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Jun. 25th, 2003

12:47 pm - Wanted: One State for a Political Experiment

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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.

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:gentlemaitresse
Date:June 25th, 2003 09:57 am (UTC)
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I signed on to the FSP over a year ago. :-)

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From:crasch
Date:June 26th, 2003 10:50 pm (UTC)
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Right on!
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From:chutzpahgirl
Date:June 25th, 2003 10:47 am (UTC)
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If I was a good libertarian (which of course I'm not) I think I'd have serious objections to FSP. I know that no one is being forced to join, but there seems to be a fundamental dilemma: do I put up with a climate I dislike in a state that has laws with which I agree, or do I stay in beautiful California and then put up with laws with which I disagree?
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[User Picture]
From:gentlemaitresse
Date:June 25th, 2003 10:50 am (UTC)
(Link)
How does that cause you to have a problem with the FSP? Life is full of tough choices, and nobody said it was
fair.

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[User Picture]
From:ehintz
Date:June 25th, 2003 12:33 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Right there with you. Though I've found a different way out: New Zealand. Perhaps not the epitome of the good libertarian country, but an acceptable compromise and preferable to remaining in CA. While it remains to be seen if the FSP final product will be as sweet as it could be, NZ is comparable to CA but cheaper, and seems to lack the fundamentalist wackos we have down behind the Orange curtain and out in the Valley. As an example of one of the many things they've done which will never happen as long as the fundies are around, just today they legalized prostitution... Of course their basic lack of military, and the fact that they get a fair amount of services for the taxes they pay helps to temper the burden of taxation. I'd prefer the libertarian dream of little taxes, little government, but on a pragmatic level I'll take the taxes if I get sufficient value for my money. Here in the states I feel as if I pay lots of taxes and recieve precious few services in return (as I don't consider smart bombs to be doing anything for me).
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[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:June 26th, 2003 10:54 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I like NZ too. If the FSP doesn't pan out, it's one of the top countries I'd consider expatriating to.
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[User Picture]
From:ehintz
Date:June 26th, 2003 11:13 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Well, assuming we make it, you're welcome to a couch or whatever is convenient... ;-)
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From:crasch
Date:June 30th, 2003 09:47 pm (UTC)
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Cool! Thanks! Likewise. Though I suspect that if I end up in the Free State, Amanda will always have a bit of couchspace as well.
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[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:June 26th, 2003 10:53 pm (UTC)
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It depends on what's most important to you. For me, it's worth trading off a less optimal climate for much greater levels of liberty. Besides, I like the snow, if I don't have to drive far in it.
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From:greendalek
Date:June 25th, 2003 11:22 am (UTC)
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I find it significant that NH Governor Benson is actually meeting with the FSP folks (including 2 declared Libertarian presidential candidates) this week. Sounds to me like he'd REALLY love for NH to be selected...

http://www.freestateproject.org/nhagenda.htm
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From:crasch
Date:June 26th, 2003 10:54 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I think Benson is a closet libertarian.
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From:mindwalker
Date:June 25th, 2003 01:03 pm (UTC)
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Did you go to Escape to NH? I think I read that you prefer Wyoming, is that still the case, and if so what are your reasons for preferring it over other states?
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From:crasch
Date:June 26th, 2003 10:57 pm (UTC)
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No, alas, I didn't go to Escape to NH. I'd be happy if either New Hampshire or Wyoming were chosen. I think the FSP has a slightly higher chance of achieving major reforms in Wyoming than NH due to better demographics (1/3rd NH's population, 69% vs. 48% voting for "pro-liberty" candidates in the last presidential election). However, I defend Wyoming more vigorously in order to needle amanda42 who is a NH partisan.

Which state do you favor?
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From:mindwalker
Date:June 28th, 2003 02:35 pm (UTC)
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I like Wyoming, and will probably vote for it. I've been there a few times (to Jackson Hole) and really enjoyed it there. It is so beautiful and peaceful. I like the vibe I get from the people there. Of course, being a visitor there for just a few days is not quite the same as being a resident, so I don't really know what life like there would be like.

On the other hand, the case for New Hampshire seems pretty strong. I will not be upset if its get chosen as the state. I think I'd like it there very much, even though I've never been there.

My concern with either of those states (and for that matter, the rest of the states on the list) is the lack of tech jobs. It's true that I prefer to telecommute anyway, but there are not many telecommuting jobs available in the current economy. However, it is also true that I moved to expensive L.A. for job opportunities and they are lacking here as well. So there is not that much benefit to living in a big city, and lots of drawbacks. A cheaper more rural place would be preferable. As long as there are available high-speed internet connections, a nice large bathtub, movie theatres, and B&N/Starbucks nearby, I can be content.
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From:jesurgislac
Date:June 26th, 2003 08:30 am (UTC)
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//Did we forget something? Tell us what we missed.//

Roads. To achieve a true libertarian state, you will have to get rid of that nasty socialized system that built the Interstates: ideally, I suppose, rip them up right down to the New Hampshire border, and only permit roads that are built by businesses that see a profit in doing so.
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[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:June 26th, 2003 11:00 pm (UTC)
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I think that roads would be better provided by individuals and voluntarily supported organizations. I'm not sure how best to make the transition, but one idea that seems promising is to deed the roads next to privately owned land to the land owners, and auction the rest. (I see no point in destroying existing roads.)
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