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L. Neil Smith's
Number 664, April 1, 2012

"The glue that holds the Left together"

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Freedom in One State: The Free State Project
by Bill Walker

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Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

In the last legislative session, New Hampshire cut its state budget by more than 12%, and stopped the out-of-control borrowing of the previous legislature. Over the last few years, the state has reduced bureaucratic controls on everything from beer brewing to switchblades (NH in fact has no knife laws whatsoever; the entire body of 1800s-era anti-Scotsman dirk laws has been tossed). This session, bills for everything from school tax credits to marijuana decriminalization have been introduced.

These pro-liberty political winds blew into the 2012 presidential campaign, giving Ron Paul a second-place finish in the nation's first primary. If the Free State Project had reached its modest goal of 20,000 movers, Ron Paul would have won the first primary by a landslide and had a real shot at the nomination.

Unfortunately, like Abraham at Sodom and Gomorrah (modern-day name: "ManchVegas"), we didn't reach our quota of righteous citizens... so instead of 20,000 activists, we have a dozen overworked state reps, a few school board members and selectmen, and a few hundred "irregulars" who show up for the Revolution's battles when we can.

Government unions and pro-corporate-welfare politicians blame the pro-liberty storm on "Ron Paul radicals from the Free State Project". They're right... but what they don't mention is how few activists it took to roll back government. 1,000 libertarians have moved to New Hampshire so far, but only a few are regular activists. Unlike pro-government forces, we all work for a living.

There are a dozen state reps and one state senator who are Free State Project movers. They have worked incredibly hard to help the pro-liberty legislators who were already here (New Hampshire was chosen because it arguably had the most pro-liberty culture of any state). This little group has terrified the government unions and the pro-corporate-welfare legislators alike.


The New Hampshire Liberty Alliance is the driving force behind legislative accomplishments in NH. It provides the 400+ citizen legislators (NH state reps and senators are only paid $100) with information on upcoming bills and publishes a newsletter that is distributed directly to the legislature. This newsletter, the Gold Standard, is a unique resource that gives NH government more transparency than any other state.

The NHLA also rates legislators based on their votes, using the pro- or anti- liberty bill ratings. This gives voters a way to track their representatives. Finally, the NHLA has an active PAC. The PAC is strictly nonpartisan, donating to candidates according to their fiscal conservatism and support for personal freedoms rather than party affiliation. (Yes, for two terms there was actually a pro-liberty Democrat in New Hampshire; it can happen). Of course the NHLA ratings are just as useful for "progressives" as for fiscal conservatives... for people who believe that North Korea is the ideal, they can simply vote for legislators with an "F" rating.

The Future of the Free State Project

The Free State Project has not officially even begun. The original idea from Jason Sorens was that AFTER we got 20,000 activists to sign up, then the move to the chosen state would begin.

The results of our tiny band of early movers show that the full-scale Free State Project would work if it were really tried. Libertarians and ancaps around the country should consider joining us and actually winning elections and repealing laws, rather than fighting outnumbered and unheard, or worse yet just yelling at your TVs.

With 20,000 activists, the state-level barriers to liberty would be blown away. Public "education" is the single biggest barrier to freedom in the world, and it's controlled at the state and town level. The Drug War would be hard to implement if every state and local official opposed it. Finally, the Federal government is printing its currency into oblivion. The state governments may be a lot more important in the near future, especially in states that manage to stay solvent.

And of course, state politicians turn into Federal politicians. The next crop of NH congressmen and senators could come from the ranks of pro-liberty state legislators.

A state with a healthy economy that privatized education and eliminated Prohibition would be an unanswerable argument to Progressives: "Well, New Hampshire doesn't have program "X", yet they're getting along fine". (Any HONEST Progressive would want a "control group" state, and support us... let me know if anyone finds one).

That's the benefit to the country and the world. The benefit to YOU if you move here is that your business or your job will be located in a free-enterprise-friendly area. And you'll live among people who speak your language... and don't expect you to give up your beliefs.

So... Just Do It!

New Hampshire is truly beautiful, if you like the outdoors. The kayaking, hunting, fishing, hiking, skiing etc. is as good as you could want. If on the other hand you don't like bears and moose in your yard, Manchester is a fine place to live as well. Manchester airport has Southwest Airlines and short entry lines, you can get to most places from Manchester as fast as from anywhere. And the Internet looks the same in New Hampshire as anywhere else... so why not live with lower taxes and a falling level of government?

Come visit New Hampshire and try it out. Drop in on Murphy's Taproom in Manchester. The Live Free or Die rally is lots of fun. PorcFest is "Woodstock for Libertarians" (and it is in the White Mountains, if you get policy seminar overdose you can just go hiking). If you come by the Dartmouth area, let me know and we can hike up Mount Cardigan or Ascutney.

If you have such a secure job that you just can't leave (?), then you can still move to the Free State virtually. Contact the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance and volunteer for bill review (it helps to have a degree from Miskatonic U to do bill review, but it's not required). Listen to Free Talk Live, the nationally syndicated libertarian call-in show out of Keene NH.

Donate to the FSP itself, or to the NHLA PAC. Or fund a pro-liberty legislator like Jenn Coffey, Seth Cohn, or Mark Warden, or one of the other 'A' rated reps from the NHLA ratings. You'll be helping create a Free State where you can work or retire.... And an example of freedom for the whole country.

Bill Walker [send him mail] lives and works in New Hampshire, where he is active in the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance. Visit his Facebook page.

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