Free State Project - Free State Porcupine Visiting!
NOTE: The opinions and commentary expressed in this essay are those of the author and are an exercise of free speech. They do not necessarily represent the views of Free State Project Inc., its Directors, its Officers, or its Participants.
Free State Porcupine Visiting!
By Tim Condon March 30, 2006
From the alligator-infested swamps of the southern Everglades to the rolling hills of north Florida, every once in a while the cry goes up: "There's a Free State Porcupine visiting! Let's get together!"
That's exactly what just happened. The word quickly spread over the Florida Free State Project email list that Free Staters Denis and Irena Goddard were in Florida on vacation to visit relatives. The wonderful pair of Porcupines were kind enough to announce their presence, and that they'd love to get together with Florida Free Staters who have not yet "made the move."
The messages on the Florida Free State Project email list flew thick and fast: "Are the winters really as cold as they say? What are the people like up there? How many Libertarians are there? Is there a network to help people moving into the Free State?" All questions promised to be answered by a couple who actually "went and did it."
Within a few days a venue had been agreed upon: the Longhorn Restaurant in Sarasota. Directions went out over the FSP-Florida list, and quick arrangements were made to Be There by Free Staters from everywhere nearby. A half dozen of us showed up on short notice to visit and hear about what it's like to live in the Free State from Denis and Irena, who moved to New Hampshire from California with their 2-year-old son, Maxwell, just 8 months ago(!).
Appearing at the restaurant on Wednesday, March 29, 2006, were a deeply committed group of Free State Project Porcupines. Ian Bernard and Mark "Manwich" Edge, the on-line Porcupine personalities of the Free Talk Live Radio Show (now syndicated on 14 radio stations all over the country, and podcasted every night from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. eastern time) were there. Also present were Menno Troyer, vice-chairman of the Sarasota County Libertarian Party; Diane Hults, secretary and membership director of the Sarasota County Libertarian Party; myself, and non-Porcupine (but thinking about it) libertarian lawyer, Fred Vollrath.
Denis and Irena talked to us about what it's like to land in the middle of an increasingly and inexorably "libertarianizing" state, and participate in politics there. "The really amazing thing is the whole aspect of person-to-person democracy in New Hampshire," said Denis, who also maintains a website called Chronicles of Progress Toward Freedom in New Hampshire. "All the state-level politicians are very accessible, to say the least. You can find yourself talking directly to a state representative or a state senator without even having an appointment, about important issues of individual freedom that are being debated at the same time in the State House."
As an example, Denis told about how a group of about a dozen Free-Staters from all over New Hampshire recently committed to telephone every one of the 400 members of the NH General Court (as the state House of Representatives is known) in order to fight a juggernaut anti-smoking bill which is highly violative of property rights. Although the bill was expected to pass easily without significant opposition, thanks of the efforts of the activist Porcupines, the measure barely passed in the General Court by a margin of only 17 votes.
Denis explained that with such a small-margin loss in the General Court, the group of Porcupines has now shifted their attention to the state Senate Commerce Committee which is currently considering the bill. Once again, the group of activists is calling and educating every member of the committee, as well as all 24 members of the state Senate if it becomes necessary.
Will the liberty-loving Porcupines be able to protect property rights and prevail in the New Hampshire senate? The portents are good, since the group of telephoning Porcupines takes pains to explain to the state lawmakers how and why the anti-smoking bill violates individual rights, including those relating to privately owned businesses.
What about the cold winters? we Floridians wanted to know. "It's not that big a thing," said Denis and Irena, especially in view of the fact that the winters have been getting milder over the last few years.
In the meantime, back at the Sarasota lunch, I went around the table asking everyone, "When do you intend to move to the Free State?" Almost everyone at the table had plans to move. Ian Bernard and his radio program sidekick Manwich will be moving themselves and their Free Talk Live radio show to the Free State within 3 months. Their estimated time of arrival is June 2006.
Menno Troyer, the LP vice chair of Sarasota County, originally said he was "about 90% sure" that he would "probably move in 2007." By the end of the lunch however, he told me, "Change that 90% figure I told you. Make it 100%." Whaaat?!? "Just being here and hearing Denis and Irena talk has convinced me that New Hampshire is the place to be, as soon as possible," said Menno.
All I could (lamely) tell the group was, "I'll move as soon as family responsibilities allow me to." For the time being, though, I'm committed to doing all I can personally for recruitment in my own state of Florida.
The other libertarian lawyer, Fred Vollrath? It turns out that he doesn't like the idea of cold weather and snow. However, by the end of the lunch, as we drove back to Tampa, we started talking about the possibility of setting up a law-related business in the Free State (probably in Manchester), which would employ paralegals and legal draftsmen giving us long-distance legal support services. Will it happen? Stay tuned for a future report.
Our thanks go out to Denis and Irena for getting in touch while they were in Florida and agreeing to come to lunch and talk to us about the experience of living in freedom in their own lifetime, in the free state of New Hampshire.