NH for Porcupines?
New Hampshire for Porcupines?
Tim Condon, FSP Member Services Director
Speech at Lancaster, NH FSP Gathering
Before we get started, I just want to ask all of you: Have all of you been having as much fun looking through this (hold up atlas) as I have? I mean, I'm lying around reading this thing like a 12-year-old boy reading a secret copy of Playboy. Checking every little twist and turn (hold up a state like a Playboy centerfold). Woo WWOOOO! It's a book of *maps*! We must be crazy!
Okay, okay. First, "What am I doing here?" I'm the guy who wrote an article for the Free State Project saying that North Dakota would be the best state to choose for the Freestate (!). THEN I wrote another article changing my mind, and saying "Mea culpa! *Wyoming* would be the best state for us to choose! And here I am giving a speech saying, "No, no, let's choose New Hampshire!"
Actually, I'm here because I got in trouble with all the rest of the Free State Project leadership. Every one of the rest of them has been scrupulous and I mean *scrupulous* about being evenhanded and secretive about what state or states they favor. I mean, *I* don't even know what states Jason likes...or Elizabeth...or Debra Ricketts...or any of the rest of the FSP leadership.
Of course, it wasn't an *announced* policy...it was just sort of agreed upon among everyone else. But...as you may have noticed...I love to get out there in the middle of the fray, and flail away (and haven't we been doing some *flailing* lately...). So I couldn't resist writing about what state *I* thought we should choose. The problem was, I didn't know all about the previous history where the FSP leadership had first been accused of being "pro-eastern." And then later on they got loudly condemned for being pro- *western*. And then back to the East. And then the West again. Once I found out about it, it was like watching a ping pong match. East, West, East, West.
And so into that mess I threw my hat. Then Whoa! Here comes the rest of the leadership at me! "You blew it Condon! You were supposed to keep your opinions to yourself! We're supposed to be publicly neutral!" Blah, blah, blah. Of course I'm saying "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" Hell, I didn't know the conspiracy-nuts were going to say "AHA! That *proves* it, for once and for all! They're Pro-West!" Oh sheesh. I offered to remove my Wyoming mea culpa article, but Elizabeth said, "It's too late, you've already let the cat out of the bag."
And even *that* remark was seized upon: "AHA! That proves that the whole leadership is pro-Wyoming! Condon let the cat out of the bag!" Oh man...I felt terrible.
But then I had an idea. Jason and Debra went to the Grand Western Conference. Why not have me go to the New Hampshire Conference along with Elizabeth? Not only could I visit, but I could and would talk about what a great choice New Hampshire would be! Easy for me to do, too! Because I've been very public that I will move to *any* state that is chosen. I like them *all*! And not because they are "equal" in desirability, but because I cannot imagine a better place to live than the Free State. No matter *where* it turns out to be, it will be a place where people are left alone to pursue their own happiness.
What, I ask you, is so hard about that? There must be *something* hard about it...because it seems so...*radical*.
So that's what I'm doing here. I want to talk to you about just how *great* a choice New Hampshire would be for the Free State! And in saying that, I thank Rich Tomasso, Michele Dumas, and *all* your activists who have been so tireless in promoting New Hampshire. Remember, the *national* libertarian executive committee refused to endorse the Free State Project after a full presentation by Jason Sorens. You all, by contrast, have stepped right up to the plate, and I am both impressed and thankful for what you're doing.
So onward. The first thing I thought of when I discovered I was reeeeally going to talk about New Hampshire was to re-examine my own thoughts and prejudices. What I found was that my whole position was based upon giving overwhelming weight to population. Anyone who has read my North Dakota and Wyoming articles is aware of that.
Well then, I thought, what better thing to do than tear off my population-centric blinders, and take *another* look *without* thinking about population first, last, and always. A very interesting thing happened. I found myself looking at New Hampshire through new eyes. My new view related more toward "Niceness," whereas my former view had been concentrating almost solely on population numbers. "Niceness versus numbers." I like that. All of a sudden, New Hampshire starts looking better, and better, and *better*.
There's another reason it was pretty easy to get rid of my population- centric view. As I realized, really *all* the 10 Free State Project candidate states are "low population." Including New Hampshire! Only when we look at New Hampshire in relation to the other 9 candidate states does it become "high population." But in relation to the other *40* states in the U.S., it's *low* population. And that is why I say that *any* of the 10 states will be a good choice, and I'll move to whichever one is chosen.
So let's take a look at New Hampshire now without an emphasis on population. How does it stack up then? Quite well, as it turns out, especially when given the weights of characteristics that *I* think are important. Let's talk about them now.
The Free State Project "state data lists" are divided into two parts:
The "General Data" which includes stuff like population, land area, geography, crime rates, urbanization information, etc. We've all pored over all the variables forever, so I don't need to list them all.
The *second* data list is labeled "Economic and Political Data." To my mind it includes much more important variables such as federal, state and local government spending; dependency on federal monies flowing back into the state, taxes as a percentage of income, levels of 2nd amendment freedom, etc. Again, we've all seen them all.
In total, there are 24 separate variables, and that doesn't count the constant drumbeat of debate and further information supplied through the forums and email lists. No matter which state wins, this is going to be an extremely well *informed* vote.
Now let's take a look at some of those variables individually. First the general information list. Other than population, I don't think most of those variables are very important. Big state? Little state? Who cares, as long as we're free? Many people argue that a small state gives freedom-fighters an upper hand, I know; but socialists and other statists have the same advantages and disadvantages that we do, so we're all on pretty level ground. Out of these 12 variables, I'll only mention four that I think are important other than population:
Many people argue that a coastline and/or an international border are extremely important features. I do not, although I will say that they're both nice to have. New Hampshire is the only state other than Maine that has both, other than Alaska, which is just. Too. Far. Away. So that's a nice feature of New Hampshire, but not dispositive in my mind.
Insularity is another piece of data that I think is more important than most of the other variables. We try to measure this by looking at how many people living in a state were *born* in the state. If the percentage is high, they're probably not going to welcome "outsiders" with open arms. If there's a large non-native population, they'll probably be more welcoming. New Hampshire comes out nicely on this measure: It has the third lowest percentage of native-born residents, after Alaska and Wyoming, so it's definitely in the running.
Another somewhat important variable is the "livability" rating. New Hampshire comes in first out of all the 10 candidate states.
Crime statistics. *Again* New Hampshire comes in first. Not bad! In the general data specifics that I regard as most important, New Hampshire shows as very strong; it's either solidly in the running, or is first among the 10.
But let's take our leave of the General Data list and go over to the Economic and Political Data list. To my mind these variables are far more important. And BOY! does New Hampshire *shine*! Out of 12 variables, it comes in #1 five times (tied for first place in two of them), #2 three times, and #3 in two more. That means that out of 12 variables New Hampshire comes in in first, second, or third place TEN times, or 83.3% of the time! NO other state racks up a score like that.
Let's just stroll through a few of these, often the ones I think are the most important, and see how New Hampshire scores on each one. Remember, these are the variables that *I* think are most important, after we put aside the population and voting population variables:
Federal, state, and local government spending as a percentage of gross state product: First place.
State and local government spending as a percentage of gross state product: First place.
Dependence on federal monies; that is, the amount of money that comes back into the state for every dollar sent to Washington: First place. (This is a variable that I originally didn't think was that important; but now I see that it can have a huge effect on Liberty in our Lifetime.)
State and local taxes as a percentage of income: Second place, and that only behind Alaska, which is too far *out* there. So *really* we can call New Hampshire first in this variable also.
New jobs generated. Lots of people argue that this is a crucial dataset; I'm not so sure, because I believe it's a sword that cuts both ways. However, it's worth noting that New Hampshire comes in #2.
Gun freedom. Okay. I admit it. I'm a "single issue voter." I'm not a big hunter, and I don't even shoot that much for fun. I haven't been to a shooting range for *years*. And yet...I will never under any circumstances vote for a candidate who doesn't support the 2nd amendment..no matter *how* good they are on other issues. New Hampshire comes in #2 in this measure, and only behind its next-door neighbor Vermont. Not bad!
Percentage of state population employed by state and local government. Well, I don't think that this is one of the more important measures, because there are going to be Porcupines who work for government; gotta make a living, and there's got to be *some* government, with good people working in it. Nevertheless...New Hampshire is #1 along with Delaware, of all places.
And finally, NEA and AFT membership. Teachers unions are a huge mainstay of socialist political candidates in America. Along with other public employee unions, they are one of the most important constituencies of the Democratic Party. And I am proud to say that I'm married to a public school teacher in Florida, who is a flaming conservative Republican...and she refuses to join the teachers union. New Hampshire? #1 along with Idaho.
There are two other variables that don't show up on the state data lists, but they're worth mentioning here. One is the incredible energy and dynamism of the libertarians and Porcupines already in this state. My hat is off to you all. And the second is the "political angle," that is things like fusion voting, small legislative districts, part-time representatives, etc. As a result, New Hampshire has far more libertarians who have already been voted into office than any of the other candidate states. Hats off to you again!
Only in government land control schemes and presidential voting does New Hampshire fall back in the pack. We'll just have to work on those.
All in all, I must say that New Hampshire has great advantages to offer a movement seeking Liberty in our Lifetime. As someone wrote recently on one of the FSP email lists, "What's not to like about a state that has Live Free or Die as its state motto?" I can only echo that feeling.
The state motto may be part of what we might call "intangibles." People "feel" better about one state or another, and often plan to vote accordingly. I must say, after driving through some of the state yesterday, it's one of the most beautiful states in the country, bar none.
Summing up...New Hampshire has got a real shot at it. No question about that. But it's not a slam-dunk either. Keep that in mind. I think it's clearly "the choice" on the east coast of the U.S. In the meantime, Montana and Wyoming are fighting it out in the west. And that brings me to the last part of my talk. I want to talk to you all about unity. I want to repeat the mantra here, "united we stand, divided we fall." I have been preaching that for several weeks now on the FSP email lists, and I am gratified to see that at least Ben Irvin has piped down, and even extended an olive branch by saying that he would be here if he could be, and he wishes he could attend.
In the meantime, it seems like many of the Porcupines are just going crazy on the email lists and forums. All of us in the leadership have noted how touchy and explosive people are getting. It's obvious that people are getting itchy as "The Vote" approaches. Possibly the most important vote in the history of America.
As I have written, the state chosen as the Free State is going to be the luckiest state in the history of our country. It is going to be a beacon. It is going to be a model. I like to refer to it as "America's little Hong Kong." It will foster an explosion of human potential, creativity, economic energy, and entrepreneurial activity such as has never before been seen in the world. It is going to be extraordinary.
But in order for it to happen, we must unite under the banner of the Free State Project. Not a Free State east. Or a Free State west. But THE Free State. We have to do it together. Why? Because lots and lots of people don't think it can be done. Even libertarians, as we have seen, are pooh-poohing the idea. And if we split our forces now, if we weaken ourselves by dividing our numbers...we. may. *not* succeed.
For those of you who don't want to move out of the east, I say that's fine. I say the same thing to those who won't move out of the west. But listen to me, Porcupines: "There will be a second Free State." But there will only be a *second* Free State if we are successful in the *first* Free State! If New Hampshire is chosen, give us five or six years to start the transformation, to show some results, and *then* we can look west, to start the second Free State, probably either in Montana or Wyoming. If a western state is chosen, give us five or six years to make some changes, win some elections, and show what can be done, and *then* we can cast out eyes east, and look to starting up a second, eastern Free State.
But today we must all unite in the Cause to ensure our success in the *first* Free State. I wasn't able to get Ben Irvin to commit to moving east if an eastern state wins. More's the pity, even though I got in his face online about it. And I'm sure there is a core of eastern state supporters who have opted out of all the western states. They will not move west no matter what. And that is within the rules; that's why we allow you to opt out of whatever states you want, as long as you don't opt out of them all. All I can say, to those who won't move east, and those who won't move west is, at least keep on supporting the Free State Project. At least don't fracture and divide us at this crucial juncture. At least be supportive of those pioneers who *are* moving to the Free State. For if we do all of us---then our movement for freedom, human dignity, and Liberty in our Lifetimes can spread everywhere...from the mountains...to the prairies...to the oceans...and from sea to shining sea.
Thank you all.