crasch (crasch) wrote,

New Hampshire named Free State

The Guardian article regarding the FSP's choice of New Hampshire was amusingly biased. The AP report is more balanced:

If you haven't read much about the FSP before, the FSP FAQ is a good place to start:

Why Jason Sorens (project founder) thinks the FSP could be successful:

By Kate McCann, Associated Press Writer, 10/1/2003

CONCORD, N.H. -- CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A group of libertarians planning to bring 20,000 liberty-minded Americans to a "free state" announced the winner Wednesday: New Hampshire.

New Hampshire, whose motto is "Live Free or Die," beat out nine other finalists as the battleground for what members of the Free State Project call the biggest experiment in democracy since the Revolutionary War.

"We won. That's fantastic," said state Libertarian Party Chair John Babiarz. "It's like New Hampshire has won a nationwide popularity contest based on its fundamentals."

Though some project members belong to the Libertarian Party, many are lower-case libertarians, people who believe in minimal government and maximum individual freedom. But all are committed to being politically active in their new state, including by running for local offices such as school board.

Some favor repealing laws against so-called victimless crimes such as prostitution and using illegal drugs. The project's Web site calls for "rolling back gun control and drug prohibition," but also focuses on mainstream goals such as lowering taxes and eliminating wasteful spending.

New Hampshire was ranked first in votes from every region in the country except the West. Wyoming was runner-up, but still 10 percentage points behind New Hampshire, The Associated Press learned.

Following Wyoming, in order, were Montana, Idaho, Alaska, Maine, Vermont, Delaware, South Dakota and North Dakota.

The project already has more than 5,000 members committed to relocating to the "free state." They hope to have 20,000 by 2005.

The campaign got widespread news coverage in New Hampshire because it, along with Wyoming, had been considered the front-runners.

Susan Campbell of Wolfeboro said she wasn't surprised by the vote.

"I'm concerned about what this will do to a state that already is a little on the lean side as far as supporting programs that I think benefit people," said Campbell, a Democrat.

"I'm concerned, but I am not sure how much is hype and how much will become reality."

Former prosecutor John Kissinger of Manchester questioned the reception the free-staters would receive.

"People in New Hampshire tolerate a wide range of politcal views. That said, I think people are naturally suspicious of someone who belongs to a group with a set agenda, particularly where they try to impose that agenda on a local community," Kissinger said.

Project Vice President Elizabeth McKinstry of Ann Arbor, Mich., said New Hampshire won because it "boasts the lowest state and local tax burden in the continental U.S., the leanest state government in the country ... a citizen legislature, a healthy job market, and perhaps most important, local support for our movement," she said.

Project members also like the state's constitution, which protects the rights to revolution and secession.

Half the project members have college degrees. Seventy-five percent are under age 50 and nearly half earn $60,000 or more annually.

The state already has more than 100 project members, who plan to ease the transition for the others with an "Explore New Hampshire" tour and by pointing free-staters to real estate offices.

The planned migration is supposed to begin in earnest when membership reaches 20,000 members, expected by 2005. New Hampshire has 1.3 million residents.

Two northern counties, Grafton and Coos, appear to be the favorites.

"Those counties are ideal because I think the people are strikingly independent," said Babiarz, who lives in the town of Grafton.

Doug Hillman, 39, is looking forward to leaving Graham, Ala., and moving his wife and four young children somewhere near Littleton or Lancaster.

Hillman was most impressed with Republican Gov. Craig Benson's attitude toward the project -- "Come on up, we'd love to have you," he said last summer.

"That led me to believe that libertarian thought and libertarianism is more accepted in New Hampshire," he said.
© Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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