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The Free State Project in the Washington Post

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The Free State Project's "Porc Fest" gets written up by Associated Press in the as printed in the Washington Post. Some excerpts on how this attempt to centralize libertarians in one state (New Hampshire) in order to more swiftly move it in a libertarian direction is handled by AP. the Post:

The group now has 9,400 participants. About 450 have moved to New Hampshire, joining 250 already there.

The small band of Free Staters in New Hampshire has been trying both conventional and more novel strategies to curtail it government's role.

A number have run for office. Four have won seats in the 400-member state House of Representatives, the largest in the country. Free State activists have campaigned furiously against measures perceived as emblematic of excessive government, like a mandatory seatbelt bill and budget hikes.

Meanwhile, a group of mostly younger Free Staters have decided the best way to keep government in its place is to needle it.

One Free Stater spent 58 days in jail after filming in a courthouse lobby and refusing to give police his name. Behind bars, he preached the message of less government to fellow inmates.

Others have organized a crew to pick up garbage around a Manchester playground with handguns strapped to their hips, to test the right to bear arms. They've filmed police officers on patrol and judges on the bench.

They've even filed each other's nails on a public sidewalk, defying state requirements that manicurists be licensed, their cuticles defying the heavy hand of government.

The piece ends with a deadpan bit that seems to me clearly designed to make the typical American newspaper reader Post reader a little nervous about Free Staters, though reasonable folk I suppose could disagree:

Down to her last target, shooter Alicia Lekas nails it, although she seems an unlikely citizen soldier. Lekas makes a living teaching Scottish folk dancing. Her America is embodied in a story of the time a tree fell on a friend's house near Concord and, instead of waiting for government, neighbors responded with their own chain saws.

She says she can't imagine shooting a living creature, but she'll do it if the need arises.

"A bad guy might be the individual crook," the new rifleman says, "Or it might be somebody who's taken over government."

Either way, she's ready.

My December 2004 Reason magazine feature on the Free State Project.

UPDATED to reflect that it was not copy unique to the Post, but an AP story the Post ran.

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  1. Governments (and all government employees) should be scared of their people.

  2. The Fox News version of the AP story was quite a bit more skewed, with this fair & balanced title: “Free Staters Go Camping in New Hampshire — With Rifles, Swords and Defiance.” They also describe the event’s location, a campground, as a “tent colony.”

  3. I agree in principle with the idea of centralizing libruhtarians in one state, but I do have a minor quibble: N.E. is almost as good as the S.W. While I generally rank the states there ME, VT, and then NH, NH is still good despite being last.

    How about AR or TN? Hey, even better: FL! It’s sunny there, and libruhtarians would fit right in. Plus, the alligators would… oh, sorry, said too much.

  4. An AP reporter wrote the long article. It was published in around 200 different places including the front page of Yahoo News, FoxNews and MSNBC.com.

    About Why NH was selected. The ten freest states with a low population were looked at. When the FSP reached 5000 participants, a vote was taken. NH was selected by the vote.

    NH is the freest state in the nation. It’s interesting that 24AheadDotCom mentioned AR and TN. I used to live on the TN/AR border and moved to NH for greater freedom. NH is far more free than AR, has a lower population, and a much more direct form of government.

    Try these on for size:
    101 Reasons to Move to NH http://www.freestateproject.org/101Reasons
    Why NH? http://whynewhampshire.org/
    The Freest state, NH http://www.mercatus.org/PublicationDetails.aspx?id=26154

  5. Her America is embodied in a story of the time a tree fell on a friend’s house near Concord and, instead of waiting for government, neighbors responded with their own chain saws.

    The government will remove trees for you?

    And here I am using the private sector like a sucker.

  6. Shut the fuck up, LoneWacko.

  7. Yes, but AR and TN are much, much better states. You libruhtarians would like it better there. They’re both fine states; one was even the birth place of a recent president! No, really, you’d like AR or TN much better.

    OT: here’s a video of Howard Kurtz misleading the CNN audience.

  8. you should talk: you rail against Mexicans and live in Southern California, lonewacko.

  9. “designed to make the typical Post reader a little nervous about Free Staters, though reasonable folk I suppose could disagree”-The two do seem mutually exclusive, don’t they?

  10. What is hurting the Free State Project is an issue near and dear to Lonewacko:

    Immigration. Too many Massholes have moved to NH.

  11. NH ought to feed thos Massholes to the alligators.

  12. OK I give up. You keep referring to some “Lonewacko” and I don’t see any commenter with that name. Who the heck is Lonewacko…

  13. OK I give up. You keep referring to some “Lonewacko” and I don’t see any commenter with that name. Who the heck is Lonewacko…

    LoneWacko is the old handle of the current “24AheadDotCom”, though it has gone through many permutations between then and now. But to us, he will always be LoneWacko (the capital W is important there). Whenever he changes his handle, he is nonetheless easy to recognize because of his claims to being the last true defender of liberty against the encroachments of IllegalMexicanImmigrants, ForeignPowersAndPrincipalities, and apparently, against the humble spacebar. He hates us all, but most of all the Reason staff, who he believes is in the tank for these nefarious forces.

  14. FWIW, my fiancee’s father lives in Southern NH, and is sympathetic to the *goals* of the FSP, and he thinks they are fucking nuts. They are apparently locally very unloved; something about being, essentially, carpetbaggers.

  15. OK I give up. What the heck is the sound of one hand clapping …

  16. They are apparently locally very unloved; something about being, essentially, carpetbaggers.

    Everybody has a little LoneWacko in them, I guess.

  17. Everybody has a little LoneWacko in them, I guess.

    The difference being that illegal immigrants usually come to the US in search of a job with a decent wage. In contrast, the FSP people are moving to NH with the explicit intention of upturning the existing political order. It’s not paranoia if they flat out tell you that’s what they’re up to, no?

  18. I don’t think I will be a true Reason poster until I get in the honorary “shut the fuck up LoneWacko.”

  19. While I generally rank the states there ME, VT, and then NH, NH is still good despite being last.

    What the hell are you talking about, LoneDipwad? Maine is not a particularly free state; it’s just that its size and low population density makes it seem “free”. NH has vicious property taxes to compensate for no income tax. And VT, while being quite beautiful, has a lot of restrictions to keep things beautiful.

  20. What is hurting the Free State Project is an issue near and dear to Lonewacko:

    Immigration. Too many Massholes have moved to NH.

    This is a real problem. New Hampshire is becoming a suburb of Boston, which is part of the reason why it has turned left over the years. Wyoming would be a better choice. It has the lowest population in the US, and little immigration from people who like taxes and government.

  21. Episiarch,
    The property taxes weren’t particularly bad until a state supreme court decision redefined the meaning of the word “cherish” in the state constitution and decided that it meant “fund” in regards to education. Once the legislature passes some better language things will be golden… hopefully…

  22. FWIW, Milton Friedman endorsed the Georgian (Henry George) notion that real property should be the only thing taxed. Looks like NH followed that – it’s not antilibertarian. It’s anti-anarchist, but not all libertarians ascribe to that particular piece of fantasy.

  23. While many of the folks from MA drive aggressively, the movers from MA to NH tend to be more likely to vote for small government candidates than the average person in NH. Many of the NH/MA border towns are the most Republicans places in NH.

    Research shows that because of NH’s great economy (compared to the rest of the Northeast), many people from the Northeast are moving to NH. These people tend to be like a lot of other people in the Northeast and vote for big government candidates. But even not all of them are bad.

    About locals not liking FSP movers, I haven’t personally experienced anything negative (though lots of positives) but I know other movers that have. Most folks I’ve met in NH seem to be glad that I’m working to keep taxes very low (compared to most states), work to legalize medical marijuana, help keep people from being fined for not wearing a seat belt (as is the law in the other 49 states) and volunteer in my local community.

  24. Choey | July 27, 2009, 9:28pm | #

    OK I give up. You keep referring to some “Lonewacko” and I don’t see any commenter with that name. Who the heck is Lonewacko…

    The shorter answer: Reason-libs’ obsession, a clich

  25. I can’t and won’t speak for anybody else, but my family and I moved to NH for the Free State Project and have been absolutely thrilled with the state, the geography, the economic opportunity, and the people we have met here. Nobody is promising a rose garden, but if you’re interested in living free and keeping the fruits of your labor, you should at least consider NH and the FSP as an option.

  26. TAO,

    A georgist property tax would tax the undeveloped land, not any of the developments.

    So, if you and I each owned an equivalent acre next door to each other and I had a 800 sq ft shack and you had a 3000 sq ft mansion, we would both pay the same Georgist property tax.

    That isnt exactly how NH does it.

  27. “That isnt exactly how NH does it.”

    That is very far from how NH does it. Developments are most definitely taxed. Tax assessment is based on a supposed market value which includes land and buildings (I assume that this is how it is in most places). If you have a large piece of land which is undeveloped, you can generally pay almost no taxes on it. You can also do well with taxes if you find a cheap house in a rich town.

    I am curious, what property tax rates do people pay in other states? I have always been told that our property taxes are high, but I have never seen a direct comparison to other states.

  28. Um, when and where did Milton Friedman endorse Henry George?

  29. I can’t quote the millage rate but I do know that here in Alabama, property is taxed on 10% of the assessed value. I know a person with 3 acres of land. He has a 2400 sq ft doublewide mobile home. There is a pond, a 1000 sq foot shop, and an in ground pool. He pays less than 200 dollars a YEAR in property tax.

  30. I am curious, what property tax rates do people pay in other states?

    I happen to have my car registration renewal notice on me, and it breaks down the property tax I owe on my car:

    State 0.4500
    County 0.1660
    Co School 0.5850
    Fire Dist 0.1000
    ——
    Total 1.3010%

    I think my house is the same – however, my 2nd city taxes my house (I live in two cities, the primary one is listed about as “county”), but not my car.

  31. Oh, that is Kentucky, if you werent aware.

  32. The government will remove trees for you?

    Indeed they do, and in my experience, fine you for not being sufficiently prepared treewise to avoid the issue.

    I think that is considered to be akin to the practice in Tucson of charging citizens for emergency rescue if you drive into a wash.

  33. ” I’m working to…legalize medical marijuana”

    If you really believe in freedom, you wouldn’t condition MJ use on a medical need.

    1. Or you could believe in freedom and take steps incrementally to get to the desired outcome.
      Legalizing MJ for medical needs is one step on the path to making it legal period.
      Small steps are not as scary and more likely to to become reality.

  34. “I am curious, what property tax rates do people pay in other states? I have always been told that our property taxes are high, but I have never seen a direct comparison to other states.”

    About $2K/year on an average home in Minnesota.

  35. Elemenope | July 27, 2009, 11:20pm | #
    …the FSP people are moving to NH with the explicit intention of upturning the existing political order. It’s not paranoia if they flat out tell you that’s what they’re up to, no?

    Indeed, and that’s what finally decided me about the FSP. Well, that and the whole New Hampshire thing; who the hell would move to a small NE state and really expect to change anything?

    But my big objection was the presumptuous goal of gathering in one place in sufficient numbers to overwhelm the current population and then proceed to shimmy the political process to please themselves. Why, one wonders, would the current residents object to that? For that matter, what’s even slightly libertarian about that? Isn’t that essentially using the coercion of the state to force residents to be more free, or something?

    The biggest single reason I don’t self-identify as a Libertarian is their stubborn faith in the political system. But no matter my affiliation, if I were a NH native I’d fricking hate the FSP. Go home, carpetbaggers.

  36. “Isn’t that essentially using the coercion of the state to force residents to be more free, or something?”

    So you understand why democracy is a sham, then? As it is, it is a particular tool that is legally available to this group of people, and by god they’re going to use it if it will help them enjoy a freer life in their lifetime. Besides, anybody can do this. Why not have an opposing group of people move to NH in response to balance the state? At least this isn’t a violent coercion like would normally be necessary to radically change the government.

  37. Huh??
    “Lekas makes a living teaching Scottish folk dancing.”
    I’m picturing the American type of folk dance named ‘Clogging’, minus the rhythm, precision footwork, and coordination.

  38. Isn’t that essentially using the coercion of the state to force residents to be more free, or something?

    Removing coercive instruments from the arsenal of the state via democratic action isn’t forcing anyone to be anything.

  39. The New Hampshire Motto is “Live Free or Die”. So, in theory, the State of New Hampshire is already forcing resident to be free, under penalty of death.

  40. I am far more interested in the Free Lunch Program.

    http://www.freelunchproject.com/

  41. This doesn’t explain a whole bunch of stuff but is a very simple explanation of how property taxes work in NH.

    The property taxes are made up of very low state (for schools) and county taxes (roads, courts, sheriffs).

    Additionally there is a local school portion of property taxes. The local voters decide how much the school taxes will be but there are lots of mandates from the state so they only have so much leeway.

    Finally, around 30 to 50% of property taxes are voted on by the voters in town hall meetings and on ballots. The voters can set this rate at just about any rate they want. In some towns the voters decided to make the rates so that the overall average property taxes for a household is around $4000 per year, while other towns have decided on an average tax bill which ends up meaning around $1800 in overall taxes.

    As you can see, property taxes vary widely in NH. This isn’t always along party lines, either. In some towns highly dominated by Republicans the average household pays around $3200 per year, while it’s a third less or so in some towns dominated by Democrats.

    In the cities, the voters don’t get to vote on the budget line by line in town hall meetings (this does happen in most of the towns), so the voters have less control over property taxes.

    In the cities, the voters elect city councils which help decide the property taxes. However, cities are allowed to have spending caps which limit spending to around the increase of the CPI. Some cities, even Democrat dominated ones, have voted to have a spending cap.

  42. I think it is funny that people are anti FSP on the reason board.

    @Betty Blue.. the total decrim bill failed this year.. so they are going after medical mj first.

    Many NH people don’t like certain things that some FSPers do.. but that is life. I met someone in an anti tax group that was railing against how the FSPers are ruining NH… then I told them I was one they said oh not your kind others.
    Not all FSPers are the same.

    oh and no income tax or sales tax.

  43. geniusiknowit | July 28, 2009, 3:17pm | #
    I am far more interested in the Free Lunch Program.

    http://www.freelunchproject.com/

    A website run by a freestater.

  44. You guys have HUGE PR issues. NH is a reasonably old and paranoid state. Traipsing around smoking bongs ain’t gonna help you at all. Every time somebody finds their kid with a joint, they’re gonna blame you guys. Another thing you have to get out in front of is the gun nut issue. Second amendment is second amendment. NH is very gun friendly (perhaps the most friendly outside the south and west). Drop the screeching about bringing your howitzers into the state house. It is counterproductive and once again makes people think of your movement when the true buck-toothers are showing their guns off. Live and let live is a great motto. Stress that more and be a little less juvenile and you won’t have your movement held hostage by the loons.

    Humbly submitted advice from a person who would like to see you guys succeed… in the best ways.

  45. Being a NH Native myself I personally am glad the Free State Project exists.
    The more like-minded individuals they bring in the better.
    I wish for NH to have more freedoms and to maintain the ones it already has. The FSP has already helped in some ways…
    Now I hope to see more as the movement grows.

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