Free State in the Times

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Today's New York Times has an article about the Free State Project. Some nice points: The author doesn't go out of her way to make the group sound kooky, and even seems to take it for granted that readers will know what a "libertarian" is, mentioning specific libertarian positions only several paragraphs in. Still, some of the quotations make me think that the FSP should start running a media training workshop for folks who are going to talk to reporters.

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  1. Makes it seem almost REASONable

  2. The Times’ ethnographic style which can occasionally be cloying, was perfectly appropriate for this piece.

    It’s not a story about libertarians unless it has one or two people saying EXTREMELY cranky things. I was actually impressed by how *normal* the first guy sounded.

    What was really annoying was that the founder of the project, Jason Sorens (who seems like a smart guy what with his Yale Ph.D. and all) uttered this gem:

    “”once we have control of the county sheriffs’ offices, we can order federal law enforcement agents out, or exercise strict supervision of their activities”

    What planet is he living on?

  3. New Hampshirite Mark Steyn thinks the idea has some legs, but can’t resist bringing up the Blue Guy (scroll down to “Are You A Libertarian?”)

  4. as good an article as you are goning to get out of the dumb grey lady]

    all libertarians should have media training, not just free staters but they came across well enough

  5. as good an article as you are goning to get out of the dumb grey lady]

    all libertarians should have media training, not just free staters but they came across well enough

  6. I spoke with quite a few residents and they are not happy that a bunch of corporations are going to rape the enviroment on behalf of a few gun crazy cranks. Yeah all we need are lower wages and gun violence. Please stay away!

  7. “Yeah all we need are lower wages and gun violence.”

    What about higher employment and the ability to defend yourself? Were they opposed to that, too?

  8. So people think the idea *didn’t* come across as the scheming of crackpots? The Times was fair enough in its language, but the quotes they chose were pretty bad.

  9. What about higher employment and the ability to defend yourself? Were they opposed to that, too?

    It’s not reasonable to contend that the minimum wage raises unemployment in some regions, but New Hampshire is affected less by the minimum wage than probably any state other than Hawai’i. It is almost perpetually in a condition of labor shortage (i.e., well-below-NAIRU unemployment rates) and prevailing wages are well above national averages, not to mention the minimum wage. Going to New Hampshire to avoid the minimum wage law would be a largely theoretical enterprise, as if you were going there to avoid the law against hunting manatees.

  10. Ok, so NH already has labor shortages and high wages… meaning that a minimum wage is redundant below the prevailing rate, or harmful above it.

  11. Libertarian principles include the major idea of “Decentralization.” The FSP is moving in the opposite direction.

    That is, all the good guys (libertarians) will be concentrated in on spot, New Hampshire.

    With the Davids confined to one area, the Goliaths will be thrilled! Statists, like Sec.of State, Ken Blackwell of Ohio, won’t have to seek devious ways to screw Libertarians. That SOB will have a much easier way to becomming U.S. Vice-Pres. if all the Ohio Libertarians move to NH.

  12. I think Bern is a little paranoid, but I’m more than a little skeptical about the FSP’s chance for meaningful success. They say they’ve got 5000 libbers “pledged” and hope to get 20k. First, where’s this extra 15k gonna come from? Next, it’s a lot easier to make a “pledge” than actually do what you’ve pledged to do, in this case lifting yourself up and moving across the country for a thoroughly idealistic notion. I can see the excuses coming in now, oh well, things are different now, I have a kid, the economy’s bad, etc, etc. And even if they get the full 20k, that’s still not nearly enough to take over the governorship or the legislature, and we’ve seen on H&R that it’s tough to get libbers to agree on where to throw what weight we may have. I suppose they may succeed in electing one or two state legislators who would have the ability to be swing votes every once in a great while, we can only hope…

  13. “So people think the idea *didn’t* come across as the scheming of crackpots? The Times was fair enough in its language, but the quotes they chose were pretty bad.”

    Based on the FSP people I’ve met it was probably on the better end of the quotes they could have selected — he could of started asking about the Fed Reserve or the UN or starting bordellos or something…

  14. Jay,

    It’s not just Mr. Silver Blue but a succession of characters.

    From the Charlotte Observer:

    “After reading Libertarian mayoral candidate Carlton Harvey’s contention that a spell was placed over Charlotte in the wake of a ritualistic dance 15 years ago, Mecklenburg County Libertarian Party Chairman Christopher Cole called The Observer to set the record straight.”

    “Although I’m a pagan, the Libertarian Party does not believe in spells,” said Cole, also an at-large candidate for Charlotte City Council. “I just wanted to make that clear.”

    Crystal clear.

  15. The 2000 Census reported New Hampshire’s population as 1,235,786. You’d still be a blip.

    Perhaps a “Free Town Project” would have been a better idea.

  16. joe:

    The is some fairly sophisticated reasoning that led to the numbers FSP chose. A lot of game theory. You can see their assumptions on their web site. I forget the URL (sorry).

    fyodor:

    I have similar misgivings, but I have come to believe that if they can get the 20,000 to actually move, they will make a difference. I don’t think they need to be utopia to be considered a success. What if they manage to roll back a few laws and lower taxes, introduce school choice in some form, and so forth? How many states are even close to moving in that direction? I’d call it a modest victory if they stall government spending for a couple of election cycles. Also, I don’t think they all have to agree on a policy, just on the idea that certain existing policies are undesirable. You have to keep the quacks out of the media at first, though. Ideally, they move there, then just actively oppose government expansion without functioning as a named group for the media to blast.

  17. http://www.freestateproject.org

    It might work. Libertarians tend to be educated and entrepruneral – it would probably boost the local economy.

    Let’s not forget that libertarianism isn’t just a moral theory, it is also very often practical. If they can slightly improve the economic policies of the state they gain support from both locals and others looking for a better life.

    I might just move there to open a libertarian bookstore — Ayn Rand, Rothbard, Heinlein. Gold mine!

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