State Report WY 2: Wyoming Report # 2
Wyoming Report # 2Free State Project members)
Disclaimer: This report covers many of the political aspects of Wyoming in detail but, it does not cover all areas because it is intended as a supplement to the 1st and 3rd Wyoming Reports. However, since it was written at the same time as the 3rd Report, there is some overlap. The author of this report has put over 400 hours of research and thought into the question of which candidate state is best for the Free State Project. The author is from a large eastern metropolitan center (Memphis, TN) and originally opted-out of every state west of the Mississippi, but has since developed a bias towards Wyoming and opted-back-in every state except North Dakota.
I. Ability to SucceedThere are currently 10 states under consideration by the FSP. These are (alphabetically):
Alaska (AK), Delaware (DE), Idaho (ID), Maine (ME), Montana (MT), New Hampshire (NH), North Dakota (ND), South Dakota (SD), Vermont (VT), and Wyoming (WY).
Several critical factors combine in Wyoming, to make it one of the most likely states to succeed. These factors are:
- Overall population
- Number of voters
- Expense of elections
- Political climate
- Citizen ideology
- Cost of living
The first five factors are some of the most important factors for determining which candidate state should prevail, while the last factor is the trump card.
Wyoming is the only state where these six factors combine in such an FSP-friendly way. Look at the data for yourself:
- Overall population for selected states
WY 498,703 Best of all 10 states SD 761,063 MT 909,453 NH 1,275,056 ID 1,341,131 Worst of all 10 states
- Number of voters (in 2000 election) for selected states
WY 213,000 Best of all 10 states SD 316,000 MT 411,000 ID 488,000 NH 567,000 Worst of all 10 states
- Expense of elections (highest recent election) for selected states
ND $4,300,000 Best of all 10 states WY $4,700,000 3rd of all 10 states ID $7,700,000 MT $10,900,000 SD $18,800,000 NH $19,600,000 Worst of all 10 states
- Political climate (% small government vote for President in 2000) for
WY 70.0% Best of all 10 states ID 68.0% SD 61.0% MT 59.0% NH 48.5% DE 42.0% VT 41.5% Worst of all 10 states
Citizen ideology towards small government principles
ID 73.7 Best of all 10 states AK 66.9 WY 66.1 3rd of all 10 states NH 63.7 MT 56.9 SD 53.2 DE 47.9 ND 45.3 ME 35.5 VT 25.8 Worst of all 10 states
Interpretations: Out of the five factors most critical to the success of the Free State Project, Wyoming is the best state three times and the third state two times. Idaho is the worst state once, and both New Hampshire and Vermont are each ranked the worst state two times. According to the five most important factors, no other state is even in the same ballpark as Wyoming. Wyoming has around one-half the population, voters, and expense of elections as compared to the large states and is much more small-government friendly than all of the small states (except Alaska). In this regard, Wyoming has the best of both worlds.
Source: All of the statistics come from Jason's spreadsheet.
- Cost of living
What about the trump card cost of living?
Having a high cost of living hurts a state. The reason? Not everyone who wants to help the FSP will be able to move to the chosen state. Some people will have to take care of their elderly parents; others might not be able to move because the cold exacerbates the arthritis in their knees or they are divorced and want to be near their children; some people might think that they are making progress towards liberty in warm, dry, and sunny New Mexico. There are many other possible reasons. However, these folks might still be willing to help the FSP's chosen state out, financially. Should the FSP just give up on these people? NO! We should encourage them to help us out the only way they can, by financially supporting the various freedom projects that will be going on in the chosen state.
Right about now, you maybe saying, "That does make sense, let them help us. However, what does that have to do with cost of living?" Simply this: money goes further in a state with a low mean household income than in a state with a high mean household income. The people that choose to stay in New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, or Atlanta and make $100,000 per year, are likely to give the same amount of money to the freedom movements of the chosen state no matter which state is picked. That money will go much further in a state like Wyoming where the cost of living is low, than it will in New Hampshire or Alaska where the cost of living is very high. It is not a coincidence that Wyoming and North Dakota have lower costs of living than New Hampshire and Vermont do. Wyoming's cost of living is around 93% of the national average, which compares very favorably to 103% for Delaware, 108% for New Hampshire, and 123% for Anchorage AK.
Housing costs must also be considered as part of this equation. If a family owns 50% of a house that costs $300,000 in California and sells that house, they will have around $150,000 to buy a new house in the chosen state. Now, would that $150,000 buy a better house and more land in a state like Wyoming with low housing and land costs, or in a state like New Hampshire with high housing and land costs? The answer is clear: the family benefits more by moving to Wyoming than it does by moving to New Hampshire.
What about the opposite? For example, if an average family from Alabama or Oklahoma wants to move to the chosen state and owns 25% of their $100,000 house, this money goes further in the low housing cost environment of Wyoming than in the high housing cost environment of New Hampshire. It might be so hard for the family to get a house in New Hampshire they are forced to live in a low-quality apartment. I know this is not the end of the world (I currently live in an apartment) but it is still an issue for that family.
Wyoming does not have a low average household income, either. Wyoming's average household income is only around $1,000 below the national average, or $38,000. However, after Wyoming's average household income is adjusted for cost of living, it is slightly higher than the national average. Four of the other candidate states have higher mean household incomes than Wyoming while five have lower ones. This puts Wyoming about in the middle. If you want to take this strategy to the extreme, Montana is lowest with an average household income of $33,000. However, in my opinion, that is too low. Wyoming, on the other hand is just around the national average. This is good, because this means the money coming to Wyoming will be worth more in the local economy than the money would be in Alaska or New Hampshire, but at the same time the people from Wyoming will be able to afford to buy out-of-state products and travel out of state.
Alternative theory on ability to succeed Robert Hawes, a fellow Porcupine posted an alternative list of major factors for success to the FSP Forum. He goes about it a different way but still picks Wyoming as the top candidate state.
Population, again Let me go back to the most important factor: population. This is the most important factor because we have to assume that none of the states are as liberty and small government oriented as the FSP members are, otherwise the FSP would have never been created. The candidate states have been chosen based on one main factor, population. Lots of Jason's original research dealt with the Parti Quebecois of Quebec, Canada. Jason, the founder and President of the Free State Project, described how the PQ had 100,000 paying members in a Canadian province with around 6,200,000 residents when it gained a parliamentary majority in 1976. This makes one PQ activist for every 62 Quebec residents. The FSP would need 20,000 activists in a state with fewer than 1,200,000 residents to attempt to duplicate the PQ's success. If you never read Jason's article or want to read it again, you can find it here.
How do the candidate states measure up to this important barrier?
by 20K Activists
WY 498,703 24.9 VT 616,592 30.8 ND 634,110 31.7 AK 643,786 32.1 SD 761,063 38.0 DE 807,385 40.3 MT 909,453 45.4 NH 1,275,056 63.7* ME 1,294,464 64.7* ID 1,341,131 67.0*
* Over the limit of 62
Jason has speculated that if the FSP does not get 20,000 members the project will fold and a new, looser-organized project will take its place and probably decide to move to a small state like Wyoming. If people move to the selected state before the project has 20,000 members, this might be a disaster for the FSP. These people will be unlikely to move again; after all, they just spent thousands of dollars to move to the chosen state. This means the FSP members will be split between the chosen state and Wyoming and neither group will succeed. The other possibility is that most people will decide to move to the chosen state anyway, and the project will fail because it will lack enough members to make changes in the chosen state. If Wyoming is not picked, then the project might not even get off the ground. However, if Wyoming is picked and 20,000 members do not sign up, Wyoming will still be the back-up state when Jason shuts down the project. This means that people can move early to Wyoming and not have to worry about moving again, or inadvertently splitting the project, unlike all of the other states.
I have studied the data and talked with people that have lived or currently live in the states. There is nothing that makes the more populous states such as New Hampshire and Idaho two and one-half to three times as good as Wyoming. Given these numbers, the real question seems to be, why should we not pick Wyoming, as opposed to why should we pick a more populous state?
What if a large amount of people drop out of the project in a few years? The project will be doomed in a large-population state like Idaho, but it will likely still succeed in Wyoming. A quote on the FSP Forum, by a fellow Porcupine, says, "After we finally make the vote, chances are a good chunk of us will bow out; estimates on the initial loss of membership range from 10% to 25%. This will happen regardless of which state is chosen." It just makes sense to err on the safe side. Remember, this is our future and the future of our dream freedom. If we bite off more than we can chew, this unique opportunity for "freedom in our lifetime" might be forever lost. We must start small and work from there. We should not fool around with freedom and pick a state because it has a beach, a casino resort, or a Chinese restaurant in every town! Sure, these are factors that deserve a small amount of consideration, but they are not as important as freedom.
II. Government and Taxes
The Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian Party are the only major political parties in Wyoming. Wyoming, unlike six other candidate states (including Alaska, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Idaho) actually has term limits for its legislature. Wyoming has a ballot initiative process, unlike New Hampshire, but it is regulated more than it should be.
- District Sizes
Wyoming's House has 60 members: 45 Republicans and 15 Democrats, each representing around 8,200 residents. This compares favorably to most states, including Montana, South Dakota, Alaska, and especially Idaho, which has huge districts consisting of over 36,500 residents per district. New Hampshire has some districts with over 21,000 residents but also has some very small districts. This means the 400 members of the New Hampshire House have much less influence than the 60 members of the Wyoming House.
House District Sizes
Reps VT 4,059
150 WY 8,230 60 ME 8,443 151 MT 9,022 100 SD 10,783 70 ND 13,106 98 AK 15,673 40 DE 19,112 41 NH 3,089
400 ID 36,962 70
Source: Joe Swyers
The Wyoming Senate has 30 members with a party breakdown of 20 Republicans and 10 Democrats, each representing around 16,500 residents. This compares very favorably to most states. For example, Montana has 18,189, Alaska has 32,189, Maine has over 36,500, Idaho has over 38,300, Delaware has over 38,400, and New Hampshire has over 53,000 residents per Senate district.
Senate District Sizes (rounded)
ND 13,500 WY 16,500 MT 18,100 VT 20,500 SD 21,700 AK 32,100 Only 20 Senators ME 36,500 ID 38,300 DE 38,400 NH 53,000 Only 24 Senators
When both House and Senate district sizes are considered, Wyoming is about equal to Vermont for small district sizes. When you consider Wyoming has term limits and a ballot initiative process, it moves even farther ahead of the pack. Wyoming is clearly one of the easiest states to access as far as state legislative assembly is considered. When all four factors are considered, New Hampshire, Delaware, and Idaho stand out as being the hardest to access as far as state legislative assembly is considered. These states are hindered by not having term limits, and New Hampshire does not even have a ballot initiative process.
- State Deficit
Wyoming is one of the few states in the country with no deficit. Wyoming had a surplus in 2002 and has a reserve fund. On the other hand, Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire, and South Dakota have growing debts. This has caused some parts of Alaska to start collecting a general sales tax and a growing fight in New Hampshire between groups that want to raise the income tax and groups that want to raise the property tax. This issue is important because the residents of a state will be much less likely to lower taxes (like the FSP wants) if the state is experiencing a growing budget shortfall.
State Budget Deficits ($Millions)
State 2003 Deficit
2002 Deficit WY 0.0 0.0 ND 7.6 7.4 SD 36.1 19.6 VT 38.0 67.1 DE 41.8 0.0 NH 54.6 19.7 ID 75.0 221.0 MT 118.0 0.0 ME 243.0 150.8 AK 842.7 777.4
What about the overall tax issues? Wyoming is already one of the most appealing states in the nation for tax purposes. Only three of the candidate states have no personal income taxes, and Wyoming is one of them. Only one of the candidate states has absolutely no corporate income tax, Wyoming is that state. Wyoming's property tax rates are about half of the national average. Even the sales taxes are low in Wyoming, but many Wyoming sales taxes can be avoided by using planned purchasing strategies. Much of Wyoming is only two to three hours away from Billings or Bozeman MT where there is no general sales tax. In Wyoming, many people routinely barter for goods and services. Usually these barter activities go unreported to the IRS. In addition, most goods may be bought over the internet or second hand and are not subject to sales taxes.
Here are rankings for the major tax rates:
WY, AK, SD None NH, ND Low DE, MT, ID Average VT, ME Very High
MT, DE, NH, AK Very Low ID, VT, ME, WY, SD Low ND Average
Corp. Income Tax* NH also has a Business Enterprise tax
WY None SD, MT Low AK, ID Average ME, DE, ND, NH*, VT High
WY DE ID MT AK SD VT ME NH Best Worst
(I am not sure if I am using the best source for this table. However, I am certain that WY has the lowest and NH the highest). No info for ND.
- Other tax issues
States typically get most of their revenue from personal income, corporate income, sales, and property taxes. However, some states do not even tax one or two of these categories. The states that limit the types of taxes they impose on their citizens deserve extra recognition from FSP members. Tax cutting strategists and theorists have long recognized certain principles that are common to most state governments. One of the commonly recognized principles notes that all tax rates generally increase over time. Because of this, anti-tax groups tend to think that limiting the types of taxes is the best way to control government growth.
Wyoming stands out as the only state that does not collect two different types of taxes. The citizens of Wyoming have done a better job controlling their state government's desire for more taxes than any of the other candidate states, according to this train of thought. In addition, Wyoming has no capital gains or death taxes, as some states do. Even Wyoming's gas and electric utility taxes are low.
Absence of Taxes
DE, MT, NH No state or local general sales tax WY, AK, SD No personal income tax WY, SD (only taxes financial companies) No corporate tax NH No wage tax, but: interest, dividend, and indirect income taxes (also see) ID, VT, ME, ND Tax their citizens every which way they can!
What is the difference between states with no income tax and states with no sales tax? Which is better? According to economists from the Austrian school (the best known libertarian economic school), not having an income tax is better than not having a sales tax. In addition, a sales tax, or consumption tax, is fairer than an income, or production tax. An income tax is more likely to hurt production than a sales tax is likely to hurt consumption. In fact, the Cato Institute, a leading libertarian policy organization, authored a policy report that explains why the federal government should end the national income tax and replace it with a national sales tax. Constitutional Republican Alan Keyes believes that a sales tax is more in line with Constitutional principles than an income tax. The Republican Liberty Caucus, a libertarian organization founded by Ron Paul (former Libertarian Party presidential candidate and the only libertarian U.S. Rep. in Congress), believes that a sales tax is more inline with freedom principles than an income tax. Also, the National Taxpayers Union is against both progressive and income taxes. This same principle holds true on a state level. In addition, sales taxes tend to be more in line with libertarian thought, because they are usually flat. On the other hand, state income taxes tend to be anti-libertarian because they usually have progressive rates. Again, the Cato Institute agrees with this train of thought.
Not only that, but all of the candidate states except for North Dakota and Delaware are tourist hotspots. The tourists that visit these states are subject to state sales taxes but are not subject to state income taxes. This means that a state, which relies more on sales taxes receipts, places less of a tax burden on its citizens. For these reasons, states that do not have income taxes (like Wyoming) have an advantage over states that do have income taxes (like Idaho, New Hampshire, and Montana.)
- Low-tax strategies for individuals
Low-tax strategies are important to some FSP members. These FSP members do not like to pay many taxes, and adjust their lives so that they may avoid as many taxes as possible. Wyoming is one of three candidate states without an income tax on wages, interest, or dividends and the only state that has no corporate tax. Wyoming, like many states with large rural populations, has a great deal of trade and barter activity. This activity usually goes unreported and is not counted as income. Wyoming has very low property taxes and borders sales-tax-free Montana. In fact, the metropolitan and shopping center of Montana (Billings) is less than two hours away from Sheridan, Cody, Lovell, and Powell WY. Wyoming residents from Gillette, Buffalo, Worland, and Jackson often shop in sales-tax-free Montana. These towns offer the unique opportunity (found no where else in the country) of no inventory, corporate, wage, interest, dividend, or sales tax, and very low franchise and property taxes. All of this, in addition to the barter trade, makes Wyoming the best state for low-tax strategies.
III. Guns, Laws, and Resistance to the Federal Government
Wyoming is a pro-gun state and has one of the most active gun cultures in the country. Wyoming passed a law that allows the state government to prevent lawsuits against the gun industry. Wyoming is tied with Vermont for having the least restrictive hunting laws. Joe Swyers, an individualist and elected city council member, ranked the 10 states hunting laws as:
Hunting Laws (10 = best, 0 = worst)
WY VT MT AK ID ME ND NH SD DE 10 10 9 8 7 3 3 2 1 0
Many different animals are hunted in Wyoming, including black bear, cougar, coyote, turkey, jackrabbit, elk, antelope, deer, bighorn sheep, geese, duck, gray wolf (soon to be, if Wyoming gets its way), etc.
Wyoming has "peaceable journey" laws. Even though there is no exact way to determine gun ownership rates, the best research estimates that 88% of households in Wyoming own a firearm. This is the highest percentage in the country and much higher than most of the eastern FSP states. The three lowest FSP state levels are Maine (48%), New Hampshire (36%), and Delaware (29%). [Source]
A Wyoming resident does not need a permit to carry a handgun unless he or she wants to carry concealed. Many states legally allow open carry of handguns but in most of these states, open carry is not practical like it is in Wyoming. In Wyoming, even the tourists do not get scared when they see guns carried openly. The tourists just think it is part of one of the Old West shows, which are performed in many of Wyoming's towns during tourist season. Many people in large cities (especially east coast cities where handgun ownership rates are low, e.g. Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Providence) are afraid of guns. These people tend to react poorly when they see guns being carried openly. This is true of the Boston MSA (which includes much of southern New Hampshire) and of Delaware. This is also a problem in eastern South Dakota, which is one of the reasons so many people have concealed carry permits in South Dakota. I know open carry is also frowned upon in very liberal Burlington VT. My uncle, an NRA member from Burlington, even frowns upon concealed carry. Most likely, this is also a problem in Boise ID, Anchorage AK, and Portland ME.
Wyoming has the third-highest rate of gun retailers in the nation, with 147 gun retailers per 100,000 residents. In fact, Wyoming actually has more gun retailers than the much higher population states of Maine and New Hampshire. Out of all 10 states, Wyoming has the second-highest rate of machine gun ownership, only behind New Hampshire. Wyoming has more machine guns in the hands of its citizens than Montana, South Dakota, or Alaska.
Gun Retailers per 100k Residents
AK MT WY ND VT ID SD ME NH DE 186 154 147 93 81 79 78 50 44 18
Gun Shows per Year
Shows Shows per
WY 493,782 50 10.00 MT 902,195 54 6.00 ID 1,293,653 49 3.75 SD 754,844 27 3.50 DE 783,600 16 2.00 NH 1,235,786 17 1.50 ME 1,274,923 14 1.00 ND 642,200 7 1.00 AK 626,932 4 0.75 VT 608,827 3 0.50
The people of Wyoming value their freedom; it is part of their culture. For the most part, the people of Wyoming tend to be some of the most individualistic people in the country.
Wyoming has less of a need for the federal government than most states. It has no metropolises, no cesspools of crime, and no welfare ghettos that think of the government as the answer to every problem.
Wyoming does not have a huge problem with farmers demanding aid from the federal government (unlike North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho).
Even Wyoming's animals are free from the confines of a zoo. The entire state is a zoo! With wolves, cougars, bears, bison, bald eagles, and wild horses.
Wyoming is already one of the most free, least restrictive states in the country. If we move to Wyoming, we will already be a few years ahead of where we would be in most of the other candidate states, as far as freedom is concerned.
- Wyoming is a right-to-work state (unlike Montana, New Hampshire,
Delaware, Alaska, Maine, and Vermont).
- Wyoming is one of the 15 states in the U.S. (five of them are FSP states)
that allow most class C fireworks. New Hampshire and Idaho are more
restrictive, while Vermont and Delaware outright ban fireworks.
- Wyoming requires motorcycle helmets for children, but it does not
require bicycle helmets like Delaware and parts of Montana.
- Wyoming has some of the least restrictive window tinting laws in
the country, whereas New Hampshire, Delaware, and Alaska are more restrictive.
- Wyoming has the least restrictive smoking laws in the country,
while all of the other FSP states are much more restrictive. Delaware has the
most restrictive smoking laws in the country.
- Wyoming, South Dakota, Idaho, and Montana have the least restrictive
speed limit laws out of the candidate states. The interstate speed
limits are generally 75 mph in the above states, but only 65 mph in New
Hampshire, Alaska, and Delaware.
One former resident of Evanston WY, said that many of the cars traveling
between Salt Lake City UT, and Evanston WY go 80-85 mph without fear of being
- Wyoming has no laws regarding extra-high minimum wages or living
wages, unlike Vermont, Maine, and Montana.
- Wyoming has no statewide land-use planning laws, unlike Idaho, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.
- Wyoming is a right-to-work state (unlike Montana, New Hampshire, Delaware, Alaska, Maine, and Vermont).
I did some research on both economic and social freedoms in all 50 states and produced a report based on the research. I used a total of 15 different easy-to-compare factors for the report. The report listed Wyoming, South Dakota, and Alaska, three of the least-populated states in the country, as the freest states in the country. The conclusion to the report stated, "The most free states in the country tend to be the western states with very low population density rates." Wyoming and Alaska are the farthest west, low population density states in the country.
Wyoming openly and actively resists federal laws. Many of Wyoming's citizens believe that Wyoming law trumps federal law. Sometimes the state tries to resist or ignore federal laws, while other times, the state takes the federal government to court:
- Wolf case The U.S. Department of Interior reintroduced wolves into
northwest Wyoming in 1995. The wolves have caused so much damage and have
grown in such numbers that they are no longer an endangered species. Wyoming
passed two bills that guarantee that farmers and ranchers will be allowed to
shoot wolves on sight, hunting of wolves will be encouraged, and the federal
government will have to reimburse Wyoming for all damages caused by the wolves.
The Wyoming legislature is sick of the federal government and resents the lack
of foresight it demonstrated prior to reintroducing the wolves into Wyoming.
See here and
- Wyoming was the last state in the country to raise the minimum drinking
age to 21 years of age and did not pass zero tolerance laws until 1998.
Wyoming did not pass a law preventing drivers from drinking while they drive
until 2001. However, this bill did not prevent passengers from
drinking. This law is not in accordance with federal law, which states that
the passengers cannot have open containers. Because Wyoming chose not to
follow the federal mandate, it lost some of its federal highway funds. Here's
how the states stack up:
Minimum Drinking Age Set to 21
WY SD MT ID VT NH ME AK DE ND 1988 1988 1987 1987 1986 1985 1985 1984 1984 1936
Year of Zero Tolerance for Under 21
WY SD VT ND AK MT DE ID NH ME 1998 1998 1997 1997 1996 1995 1995 1994 1993 1983
- County sheriff in charge - County sheriffs in Wyoming demanded that all
federal law enforcement officers and personnel from federal regulatory agencies
clear all their activities in a Wyoming county with the Sheriff's Office. In
addition, Wyoming sheriffs demanded to see all of the BATF's and IRS' records
relating to Wyoming. Wyoming took the federal government to court and won
because it argued that the state was in charge based on the 10th Amendment to
the United States Constitution. Sheriff Mattis, the main sheriff representing
the Wyoming Sheriffs' Association, said, "I hope that more sheriffs all across
America will join us in protecting their citizens from the illegal activities
of the IRS, EPA, BATF, FBI, or any other federal agency that is operating
outside the confines of constitutional law." The courts ruled," Wyoming is a
sovereign state and the duly elected sheriff of a county is the highest law
enforcement official within a county and has law enforcement powers exceeding
that of any other state or federal official."
here, here, and
- Wyoming sued the federal government over control of its forests and won
the case. The federal government wanted permanent and complete control over
the federal forests in Wyoming. Wyoming knew that the federal government
refused to actively manage forests and that this would hurt tourism, traveling,
and lead to more and larger forest fires. See
- Even Wyoming's citizens sue the federal government. Wyoming's citizens
have the right to sue the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. It was previously
thought that the BLM was somewhat immune from lawsuits, just like the IRS used
to be, but that is now changed because of
one brave Wyoming man.
- Wyoming reads the federal fine print and is able to lead other
states in fights against the federal government. Wyoming started a water
rebellion when it read the fine print in a federal government water rights
scheme. Wyoming noticed that the scheme would give the federal government
final control over all government and private water in Wyoming, and the state
knew that was unconstitutional. Wyoming was able to influence other state
governments to join the water rebellion. In fact, both government and private
organizations from various Western states joined together, to fight the federal
government. See here and here.
- The federal government's National Park Service tried to prevent people
from climbing Wyoming's famous Devils Tower during June. June is supposedly a
sacred month to some of the Native American tribes from South Dakota. The
Native American tribes and the National Park Service worked together to stop
the climbing. The Nation Park Service called for a voluntary ban on all
climbing during June. The Wyoming Friends of Devils Tower and the Mountain
States Legal Foundation fought the action. The federal courts agreed, they
ruled that the National Parks Service violated the First Amendment to the
United States Constitution and Devils Tower National Monument's own management
policies. The United States still means something in Wyoming because its
people care about freedom. See here.
- Wyoming's State Supreme Court keeps state and local governments, and the press in check. Laramie tried to restrict newspapers, but the Wyoming State Supreme Court said that violated the First Amendment. The Wyoming Department of Health thought that it would help children by making it mandatory for them to get vaccinations. The Wyoming State Supreme Court found mandatory vaccinations unconstitutional. The Gillette News-Record wanted to release the names of concealed carry permit holders. The Wyoming State Supreme Court said that would violate the privacy of the permit holders. After all, open carry of firearms has always been legal in Wyoming. The only reason Wyoming passed concealed carry laws in the 1990s was so people could carry a firearm without other people knowing about it. In Wyoming, you are innocent until proven guilty and must be treated as such. See also here and here.
IV. Groups That Could Work Against FreedomThese groups include: the Green Party, labor unions, teacher unions, religious groups, and Native Americans.
- The Green Party
Ralph Nader, the Green Party presidential candidate for 2000, was not able to even get on the ballot in Wyoming. He could not get enough signatures to be on the ballot, even though the standards were not very strict. The Libertarian, Constitutional, Reform, and Natural Law parties were all able to get their presidential candidate on the ballot in Wyoming. This compares very favorably to many other of the FSP candidate states where Ralph Nader not only got on the ballot, but also won a substantial number of votes.
Green Party voters in the 2000 presidential election
WY 0 0% SD 0 0% ID 0 0% DE 8,288 3% Almost half as much as the expected FSP membership ND 9,530 3% Almost half as much as the expected FSP membership VT 19,810 7% Almost as much as the expected FSP membership NH 22,156 4% More than the expected FSP membership AK 22,789 10% More than the expected FSP membership; 1 in 10 voters MT 24,487 6% More than the expected FSP membership ME 37,842 6% Almost double the expected FSP membership
- Labor unions
Labor union members form another group that might oppose increased freedom in the chosen state. A significant percentage of the budgets of labor unions are spent on contributions to the campaigns of statist politicians. According to the Labor Research organization, only New Hampshire and Wyoming resisted voting for a "big-labor"-supported candidate in the whole nation during the last election cycle. Of all 10 states, only Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Idaho have right-to-work laws.
Union membership rates tend to be less in right-to-work states, but the rates are also influenced by the presence of certain jobs which unions prefer to organize, as well as other factors:
Labor Union Membership (in thousands)
SD WY ND VT ID DE MT AK NH ME 19 20 21 30 42 45 48 59 60 72
Would you rather have 20,000 union members oppose the FSP (like Wyoming), over twice as many (like Idaho and Montana), or over thrice as many (like New Hampshire and Maine)? If New Hampshire is picked, union membership will be three times as large as the FSP membership.
Of course, this is not to say that all union members would oppose us. Some states' own set of circumstances could play into our hands, even with union members opposing us. It's just that given the track record of labor unions in this country (and how very few members opt-out of seeing their contributions going to support statist politicians), it might be desirable to have fewer union members in the chosen state. Even if the union members wanted to help the freedom movement, in the six states that are union controlled, including New Hampshire, union members would still be forced to fight against the freedom movement, with at least their union dues
- Teacher unions
On the FSP Forum, Joe Swyers said, "Total teacher numbers is a crucial factor for the FSP just like total voter numbers. In Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, and Montana, the teachers would outnumber the 20,000 Free State activists Teachers, especially union teachers, are activists if for no other reason than they daily reach a large number of students and their parents." Joe makes a compelling argument. Teacher unions routinely fight against: tax cuts, the liberalization of home school laws, any changes in school curricula, and any type of cutback in funding for government schools. Wyoming stands out as the only state the does not give teacher unions monopoly power or forced dues. Wyoming has the third-lowest percentage of NEA teachers, behind only South Dakota and Idaho. In addition, Wyoming has the smallest number of teachers and the smallest number of unionized teachers.
Joe also categorized the 10 candidate states based on how much their laws restrict teacher unions. Restricting teacher unions is a good thing, and so the states listed first should be considered best, and the states listed last should be considered worst, for this criterion.
% of K-12 employees in the NEA (2000)
State % in NEA Teacher
WY 38 no no SD 36 yes no ID 38 VT 51 ME 53 ND 64 NH 41 yes yes DE 60 MT 66 AK 74
- Religious Groups
Wyoming is the fifth least-religious state in America, and is likely the second least-religious candidate state, according to this report. In addition, Wyoming has much more religious diversity than most states.
WY Religious Preferences
No religion 20% Catholic 18% Christian 17% Baptist 9% Lutheran 9% Other 7% Latter-Day Saints 7% Methodist 5% Presbyterian 4% Episcopalian 4%
Wyoming has better religious diversity than the nine other candidate states. If the major religions of one of the other candidate states stood united against freedom, we would have a very difficult time trying to help the state break free. That's why religious diversity is important. In a state like Wyoming, all of the religions would have to stand against us to have a substantial impact against the FSP, but in states like New Hampshire, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, Maine, and Montana, just one or two major religions might be able to break the FSP.
Religious Monopoly Control
(% of state residents in the 3 major religions for that state)
(Lower % is better)
WY 36% (18% Catholic, 9% Lutheran, 9% Baptist) ID 38% (15% Catholic, 14% Latter-Day Saints*, 9% Baptist) MT 43% (22% Catholic, 14% Lutheran, 7% Methodist) NH 47% (35% Catholic, 6% Baptist, 6% Congregational) DE 48% (20% Methodist, 19% Baptist, 9% Catholic) ME 48% (24% Catholic, 15% Baptist, 9% Methodist) VT 50% (38% Catholic, 6% Methodist, 6% Congregational) SD 65% (27% Lutheran, 25% Catholic, 13% Methodist) ND 72% (35% Lutheran, 30% Catholic, 7% Methodist)
* The Mormon Church claims that 26% of those living in Idaho are LDS.
[Source]. No data for AK.
- Native Americans
Wyoming has one Indian reservation the Wind River Indian Reservation. Most of the reservation is in Fremont County (whose largest city is Riverton). However, most of the people in Riverton are not Native Americans. Native Americans, both on and off the reservation, make up 2.3% of Wyoming's population and represent the second-largest minority group in Wyoming. (The largest minority group in Wyoming is Hispanics at 3.2% to 6.4% of the population, depending on how you define Hispanic).
Native American population %
NH VT DE ME ID WY ND MT SD AK < 1 < 1 < 1 < 1 1.4 2.3 4.9 6.2 8.3 15.6
When compared to Wyoming, the other western and mid-western states have both more Indian Reservations and a larger Native American population. Native Americans might work for, against, or indifferent to the principles of the FSP. Many Native Americans are unemployed and rely on government subsidies. However, because they are unemployed they have plenty of free time to be activists. If the FSP members are able to convince the Native American population of Wyoming, or any other states, that we are on their side, there could be thousands of new freedom activists!
V. Miscellaneous FactorsMiscellaneous factors include such things as: pro-business environment, climate and weather, livability, friendliness, gambling, private schools, jobs, "firsts", and location.
- Pro-Business Environment
According to the 1999 Economic Freedom Index which ranks all 50 states, Wyoming has more economic freedom than eight of the other candidate states. The Index ranks Wyoming better than New Hampshire, Delaware, Montana, and Alaska:
Economic Freedom Index (1-50)
ID WY SD NH DE ND MT VT AK ME 1 4 5 6 7 21 26 34 38 42
The 2002 Small Business Survival Index ranks Wyoming as the third-best state for small businesses in the entire country. Wyoming bests such states as Florida, New Hampshire, Texas, and Delaware. The candidate states of Idaho, North Dakota, Montana, Vermont, and Maine are all ranked as part of the worst 25 states in the country for small businesses.
Expansion Management Magazine ranked Cheyenne as a Five Star Community for quality of life. (These rankings were done so that small to mid-sized companies would have a basis to compare different cities for relocation purposes).
Many people have companies that are financial, electronic, or mail order related. No matter which state is picked, the profits of these companies will not change much. However, the dollars made from the company will mean less in Alaska or New Hampshire than they will mean in Wyoming, because of its low cost of living. Likewise, if one of these companies moves from New Hampshire or Delaware to Wyoming, the dollars will be worth more and the company owner will be able to help the FSP out to a greater degree. Most business owners prefer a general sales tax, like Wyoming has, to personal and corporate income taxes, like New Hampshire, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, and Vermont have. Businesses find that sales taxes are easier to comply with than personal and corporate income taxes. This is because sales taxes are straightforward and easy to understand, unlike corporate tax laws.
According to the Fiduciary Group, Delaware and Wyoming are the only two candidate states that have a worldwide reputation for being business-friendly. (See the Fiduciary Group's report on Wyoming). According to a report by CRA of America, Wyoming might be a better state for LLCs than either Nevada or Delaware. In 1977, Wyoming became the first state to authorize Limited Liability Corporations. Wyoming has some of the most liberal LLC laws in the country, and continues to attract both national and international companies.
Wyoming is much less regulated than most states. Wyoming has many advantages for companies (in addition to being personal and corporate income tax free). You do not even have to get a business license in many parts of Wyoming. For example, Johnson County (with its towns of Buffalo and Kaycee) has no business license requirements. Although the state of Wyoming just created a standard set of building codes (the Universal Building Codes standard), many of Wyoming's counties do not have any laws relating to the UBC standard and do not enforce the state law. The northeastern states, especially New Hampshire and Maine, have many 19th century farmhouses. Many people want to see these houses preserved even if it means that property owners cannot renovate the houses, as they see fit. Environmental regulations are hurting the mining business in Montana, the fishery and logging businesses in Maine, and even the housing market in Vermont.
- Livability and Crime
Out of the 10 candidate states, Wyoming has the second-highest livability ranking. In fact, according to a 2002 report by Morgan Quitno Press, Wyoming is the eighth-most livable state in the country. The report also claims that Wyoming has the sixth-lowest crime rate in the country. Wyoming helps prove the libertarian point the private prisons do not automatically mean high crime because Wyoming is a very low crime state.
Percent of prison population in private prisons:
North Dakota, 5.1%
South Dakota, 1.7%
Delaware, New Hampshire, and Vermont, 0%
State: NH WY SD ME ND VT DE ID AK MT Rank: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Wyoming is a friendly and welcoming place to outsiders. Several million people travel to Wyoming on a yearly basis. These tourists spend money in Wyoming and help support Wyoming's economy. Wyoming's tourists come from all walks of life and have made Wyoming's residents accustomed to interacting with all types of people. Most people that live in Wyoming are not even from Wyoming. In fact, only 42.5% of Wyoming's population is native, making it the second-best candidate state for that factor. Wyoming is far enough west that people do not care about the North-South division that is more prevalent in the East. Wyoming welcomes both Northerners and Southerners.
- Private Schools
Wyoming has the third-highest percentage of children enrolled in private schools. According to the following report, the percent of children in Wyoming's private schools is around 250% higher than New Hampshire's.
% of School-Age Pop. in Private Schools (Elementary and Secondary)
ME ID WY DE MT AK SD ND NH VT 16.2 14.6 14.3 12.6 11.8 9.4 7.7 5.5 4.1 2.0
[Source] 1994 (sorry, latest figures I have)
After looking at the above report, a Porcupine gave the following insightful observations on the FSP Forum: "States like Wyoming have a political disadvantage over states like Delaware. In Delaware, everyone in Wilmington who can afford to do so sends their kids to private school because of the center for drugs and violence that some of those big city public schools have become (or at least are perceived to be). Whereas, Wyoming schools seem clean and safe, and even some of the richest families send their children to public schools."
Wyoming is expected to produce fewer jobs in the next 10 years than any of the other candidate states. This topic bears extended discussion.
- Wyoming's past and future growth
According to the 2000 Census, Wyoming's population grew from 453,588 residents in 1990 to 493,782 in 2000. This means that Wyoming was able to handle 40,194 new residents in 10 years. Currently, Wyoming has a lower than average unemployment rate, which means that all of the people who moved to Wyoming in the 1990s were able to find jobs. Wyoming's per-capita income is growing much faster than the nation as a whole, and has progressed from 36th in the nation (1996) to 28th in the nation (2000) and is currently 20th in the nation (2001).
Cheyenne WY is the northernmost city in the Rocky Mountain's Front Range region. This region has around 2.5 million people, many high-tech companies, and good transportation lines. Over time, more and more Colorado companies are moving to Wyoming. They choose Wyoming because of its low crime and very low taxes. If the FSP is able to prove to these companies that we are a pro-business organization and have a skilled workforce, then we will be able to attract even more companies to Wyoming.
- Out-of-state jobs
Wyoming is better positioned than most states, including all of the western states, for out-of-state jobs. Wyoming should have enough jobs for the FSP, by itself. However, some members may want very specialized jobs that are not available in relatively small MSAs, like Cheyenne WY. Ft. Collins CO, for example, is larger than Billings MT, and is only 40 miles from Wyoming. Wyoming is close to both the Salt Lake City/Park City/Ogden and the Ft. Collins/Longmont/Denver areas. Wyoming is even closer to Montana's largest population area, Billings, than almost all of Montana itself is. Wyoming is less than one and a half hours from Billings, MT. Parts of western Wyoming are much closer to two of Idaho's four largest cities than almost all of Idaho is. Even the Black Hills region of Wyoming is not isolated. In fact it is closer to the second-largest MSA, and entertainment center, of South Dakota than almost all of South Dakota is. Also, Wyoming is only 30 minutes away from the largest city in western Nebraska Scottsbluff.
All of these cities and metro centers offer some jobs that may require only a few days per week of actual in-office work. Pilots, marketers, advertisers, investors, writers, healthcare professionals, truck drivers, telecommuters, and franchise expanders will have no trouble finding work in these out-of-state cities. It should be noted, that all of these jobs are available in Wyoming, as well.
Front-range MSAs near Wyoming:
- Ft Collins/Loveland - distance 40 miles, population 260,000+
- Greeley - distance 63 miles, population 200,000+
- Longmont/Boulder - distance 71 miles, population 300,000+
- Denver - distance 94 miles, population 2,200,000+
- All of the above - population 3,000,000+
- All of the above - 2025 projected population 5,000,000+
- The Ft. Collins MSA is one of the 10 fastest growing MSAs in the country
- The Ft. Collins MSA expects 215,000 new jobs between 1997 and 2010
- ? Median Income is $58,200
- ? Major Employers: Colorado State University, ConAgra Beef, Hewlett-Packard, Agilent Technologies, Poudre Valley Health Systems, Eastman Kodak, Wal-Mart, State Farm Insurance, StarTek, Inc., Woodward, Advanced Energy, Teledyne WaterPik, McKee Medical Center, Anheuser-Busch, and Celestica
- Job growth
Let us consider the notion of "more jobs is better" (the assumption made in the spreadsheet concerning the Jobs variable). We can make a list of advantages and disadvantages of a high-growth state and a low-growth state:
High job-growth state:
- More jobs might mean the state is probably already experiencing heavy
immigration, which may lead to hostility towards newcomers. Add to that a
political agenda, and we may have a difficult time in the area of acceptance.
- More jobs might mean the economy in the state is already healthy. This
means FSP influence will be harder to prove in "turning things around", thus
making the Free State model less attractive to other states. FSP may thus be a
- More jobs, above the needs of FSP and Friends-of-FSP, will draw economic
refugees from other states. These will dilute FSP efforts to free the states,
particularly if the refugees are from nearby statist states that are exporting
jobs due to poor economic policies.
- More jobs means a fast-increasing population, so FSP may have difficulty
staying on top of things, and may find itself more in a defensive role, rather
than making progress in increasing freedom.
- More jobs might mean the choice in places to live would be wider, although
jobs do tend to be concentrated in larger cities.
- More jobs might mean easier access to occupations for FSP members who are
- More jobs might mean the state is probably already experiencing heavy immigration, which may lead to hostility towards newcomers. Add to that a political agenda, and we may have a difficult time in the area of acceptance.
- Wyoming's past and future growth
- Fewer jobs, especially at the lowest levels, will effectively shut off all
statist immigration for the period that FSP members are immigrating to the
state. This will give us time to get up-to-speed politically, and start
influencing things particularly in the area of providing other
disincentives for statists to move to the state, which will be needed as FSP
policies gradually improve the economic picture.
- Fewer jobs might mean the economy is flat. Thus, we should be able to
subsequently make a convincing demonstration of the benefits of freedom to the
economy. This demonstration will help spread freedom to neighboring states,
particularly those that are languishing.
- Fewer jobs might mean more difficult access to occupations for FSP members
who are not retirees (the retirees should have no problem). It will take more
years for all our member-population to move to the state. However, uniquely in
Wyoming's case, its status as the default backup state (in case FSP fails to
reach 20,000) means members can start moving there immediately after the vote
is taken, so members will have more years to immigrate to Wyoming.
- Fewer jobs might mean that more FSP members will have to go to tech or
vocation school to learn a new skill.
- Fewer jobs might mean that more FSP members might want to travel out of state for a job. (Wyoming is one of the best candidate states for this. The Ft. Collins MSA starts only forty minutes from Cheyenne and expects 215,000 new jobs between 1997 and 2010.)
A further factor to this equation is that it will become generally known that a large block of business-friendly people will be moving to the chosen state. In addition, this block of people will have diverse skills. These facts might make corporations reconsider Wyoming in a new and positive light, for location of new facilities.
The above shows that, far from being an unalloyed good, a high jobs number serves to ease initial FSP entry into the state, while likely making things more difficult for us, later on. For that reason, in the large FSP comparison spreadsheet, Paul Bonneau pegged an intermediate number of jobs (60,000) as ideal for the FSP, rather than just using it as a simple "more is better" measure, as Jason did on the regular spreadsheet.
Wyoming is a trend setting state and the first state in the nation in several different categories. I am not sure how important this factor is; certainly, it is not as important as the first five factors I discussed in this report. However, this factor was brought up on the FSP Forum, when it was mentioned that New Hampshire has the earliest, or first, primary in the nation. This is true, although any state, at any time, can change when it has its election primary. Wyoming has an impressive list of firsts, itself. Some of these may be good while others might be looked at as bad, but one thing is for sure, these trends did catch on in the rest of the country. Many people think that the FSP might spread to other states, in much the same way that Wyoming's firsts have.
- First state to allow women to vote
- First woman Justice of the Peace
- First all woman jury
- First woman bailiff
- First woman elected to a statewide office (Superintendent)
- First woman governor
- First town to be governed entirely by women
- First national park
- First ranger station
- First national monument (Devil's Tower)
- First national forest
- First American rodeo
- First state to allow limited liability corporations
Wyoming is centrally located between the northwestern, southwestern, and mid-western states. Because of this, Wyoming's interstate roads travel from Canada to Mexico and through New York City, Chicago, Omaha, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. Wyoming is located less than two hours from large airline hubs in Salt Lake City and Denver. Wyoming is surrounded by the low-population, liberty-friendly states of South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. When the FSP is successful in Wyoming, any of these candidate states would make a good second state to liberate.
Wyoming is one of only two FSP candidate states which does not share a border with Canada. Some people have tried to claim this is a strike against Wyoming. However, I feel that this factor is a plus for Wyoming. Having a border with Canada gives the federal government more Constitutional power in a state. Especially now, with the Homeland Security Department, a growing international terrorist threat, US Patriot Acts I and II, and increased border controls, having a Canadian border could be a hindrance to a candidate state.
Kelton, a fellow Porcupine, published a series of very interesting articles dealing with land-locked states, border security, and economic freedom of neighboring states. After the articles, he summed up the articles with the conclusion: "The Myth has been debunked! 1) A border with Canada is a potential liability. 2) A long coastline is not necessary or even desirable for a free state to exist."
Even if all of the problems the U.S. government might bring on a Canadian-bordered Free State are ignored, it should be noted, that the Canadian government would likely be against the Free State. The Canadian central government is anti-freedom, in general. It is against many of the things the FSP member love, like guns. Even the provincial governments are against freedom. According to Economic Freedom in North America, all of the Canadian providences, except for one, have less economic freedom than even the least-free American state. Canada might try to blame all of its future crime, gun, drug, and moral problems on the Free State. These issues were discussed in detail on the FSP Forum thread titled, Border with Canada? Bad Idea. Canadian Government is not a friend.
- Comparison Spreadsheets
Both Jason and Paul Bonneau made spreadsheets that compare the FSP candidate states on various factors. Jason tried to limit his spreadsheet to the factors that he thought were most important for the FSP members to consider. Paul's spreadsheet includes many of the same factors. Additionally, he added a large number of useful but less important factors to the spreadsheet. Both spreadsheets place Wyoming well ahead of the rest of the states.
- State-by-state Comparisons
- Wyoming vs. Alaska
Some of the FSP members feel Alaska is the best state. However, in my opinion, Wyoming surpasses Alaska. Wyoming is located near the center of the country, whereas Alaska is almost a week's drive from the lower 48. The groups that would oppose the FSP are more powerful in Alaska. It has a larger percentage and amount of government, labor union, teacher union, Native American, and Green Party members than Wyoming. Alaska is the coldest and most isolated of the candidate states, whereas Wyoming is the third-warmest and is very close to two major metropolitan centers. Alaska has more opt-outs than any other state and is likely to lose many more people after the first winter, than Wyoming is. Alaska has a much higher percentage of people receiving government assistance than Wyoming. Alaska has a reputation for attracting criminals and is the ninth-highest violent crime rate in the country, whereas Wyoming is one of the safest states in the country.
Campaigning would be very hard during Alaska's cold season because: the daylight hours are very short, much of Alaska is to cold to go outside (for many people), and it literally takes four to five days to drive from Alaska's largest city to its capitol city. Out of all the low population states, Alaska has the largest state legislative districts. This is because Alaska only has 40 members in its state house and 20 members in its state senate. This compares very poorly to Wyoming, which has the second-smallest state legislative districts in the county. In addition, Alaska has a large budget deficit problem, whereas Wyoming is the only candidate state that does not have a budget problem.
- Wyoming vs. South Dakota
Some of the FSP members have suggested that South Dakota is the best compromise state for the FSP project. While this is an interesting point, I believe that Wyoming actually is the best compromise state. South Dakota is very dependent on farming and the federal subsidies that come with it. Wyoming is near two major metropolitan centers but South Dakota is not near any. Wyoming has better religious diversity than any of the candidate states, but in South Dakota the combined numbers of Lutherans, Catholics, and Methodists make up 65% of the population. Wyoming has a very low native-born population while South Dakota has the second-highest native-born population. Wyoming has warm areas spread all across the state, but the only remotely warm part of South Dakota is in one section of the Black Hills. Wyoming has both windy and non-windy areas while all of South Dakota is quite windy. Wyoming has mountains, hills, and valleys, but almost all of South Dakota is very flat.
- Wyoming vs. Montana
In many ways, the same group of FSP members is attracted to both Montana and Wyoming. However, Wyoming has many advantages over Montana. Wyoming's population is much more likely to vote for small-government candidates for President, and its citizen's ideology is more pro-freedom. Montana has much stronger opposition groups in the way of stronger labor union (because of no right-to-work laws), teacher union, Green Party, and Native American groups. Montana has a big problem with liberals from California moving to the entire western part of the state; as opposed to Wyoming, where California liberals are only moving to Jackson Hole. Montana's farmers are very dependent on the federal government; and many of the people are on welfare. Montana has a large border with Canada, which opens it up to all types of homeland security, border control, and terrorist prevention laws and federal regulations. Montana has the lowest mean household income in the country, whereas Wyoming's is more in line with the national average. Montana is heavily regulated with parts of it having bicycle helmet and living wage laws, unlike Wyoming, which does not have such laws. One Porcupine even said that they think of Montana as, "the Maine of the West." In fact, in Wyoming, many places do not even have business licenses or building code laws. Wyoming has lower property taxes than Montana and also has no income or corporate taxes.
- Wyoming vs. New Hampshire
Although New Hampshire is better for the FSP than some states, it does not seem to compare favorably to Wyoming. For starters, Wyoming's population is only 39% as large as New Hampshire's. Wyoming has inexpensive elections at $4,700,000, whereas New Hampshire has the most expensive elections, at a whopping $19,600,000. If these numbers hold, the FSP members will have to come up with well over four times as much money to run campaigns as successfully in New Hampshire than in Wyoming. New Hampshire has a very low estimated rate of gun ownership, at only 36%. Wyoming, on the other hand, has the highest estimated rate of gun ownership in the country at 88%. In addition, Wyoming has 10 gun shows for every 100,000 people, whereas New Hampshire has only 1.5. New Hampshire has large state legislative districts (especially senate) and no term limits or ballot imitative processes, while Wyoming is just the opposite. New Hampshire is not a right-to-work state, and because of this, it has both a large number of members in both labor and teacher unions.
New Hampshire is surrounded by very statists states (Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Providence Plantation, and Canada), while Wyoming is surrounded by many liberty-friendly states (Montana, South Dakota, Idaho, Colorado, and Nevada). This means that if New Hampshire was picked it would likely attract the few freedom activists that are left in its surrounding states. This would leave the freedom movements of the surrounding states in even worse shape and prevent the FSP from expanding into New Hampshire's neighboring states. However, something even worse is already happening in New Hampshire: statists from Boston are moving to New Hampshire at an alarming rate. This growth is expected to increase, and even more so if the FSP selects New Hampshire and de-regulates business laws.
- Wyoming vs. Idaho
Even though some people consider Idaho a superior candidate state over New Hampshire, this does not necessarily mean that Idaho is superior to Wyoming. Wyoming has several very important, distinct advantages over Idaho. Idaho's current population is over 2.68 times the size of Wyoming's, and is expected to grow so fast that it will soon be three times. This is a major concern, because it could indicate that Idaho needs three times as many committed and dedicated freedom activists as Wyoming, in order for the entire project to be a success. Wyoming's state house and senate districts are much smaller than Idaho's. Wyoming's districts are 8,230 and 16,000 people, while Idaho's are 36,962 and over 38,300, respectively. Wyoming does not tax personal or corporate income, and it has low property tax rates. On the other hand, Idaho taxes its citizens every which way it can, including personal income, corporate income, sales, and property taxes. Idaho has a very large and powerful Latter-Day Saints contingent that is whole-heartedly against such trivial activities as smoking, drinking, and using products that contain caffeine. The Mormon population of Idaho is estimated at being anywhere from 14% to 26% of the state's entire religious population. In Wyoming, on the other hand, as one Porcupine said, people just want to be left alone.
- Wyoming vs. other low population states
Wyoming stands out as the best low population state. Wyoming is in a class of its own, as far as population is concerned. Many people consider South Dakota and Delaware to be low population states, but their respective populations are over 50% larger than Wyoming's. Even though Alaska and Delaware are low population states, their state legislative districts are very large, whereas Wyoming has the second-smallest district sizes in the country. Wyoming voters were more likely to vote for a small government candidate during the 2000 presidential election than voters from any other state, including all of the low population states. In addition, the ideology of Wyoming's citizens is more pro-freedom than every low population state except for Alaska. In fact, the ideology of Wyoming's citizens is, figuratively, light years ahead of Vermont, Delaware, and North Dakota. Wyoming is not very dependent on federal subsidies, unlike North Dakota, South Dakota, and Alaska. Out of all low population states, Wyoming has the second best weather. In fact, the weather is so bad in Alaska, North Dakota, and many parts of South Dakota, that many of the FSP members might abandon one of those states after their first winter there.
- Wyoming vs. other western states
There are many reasons to believe that Wyoming is the best western state for the FSP. Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska are the four western states the FSP is considering. Wyoming's population is anywhere from 140,000 to 842,428 less than any of the other western states. Wyoming has fewer labor union and teacher union members than any of the other western states, which means less opposition to the principles of freedom. Wyoming does not have a Green Party movement, unlike Alaska and Montana, which have both a strong, growing Green Party, and other pro-regulation, environmental groups. Wyoming receives less federal aid than any other western state. Wyoming has a higher mean household income than any of the other western states, except for Alaska (which has a very high cost of living). The state house and senate districts are smaller in Wyoming than in any of the other western states, and they are much smaller than in all of the western states, except for Montana. The city governments in Wyoming are smaller and impose fewer regulations than the city governments of all other western FSP candidate states. Wyoming is the least isolated western state; it is closer to major metropolitan centers than any of the other western states.
- Wyoming vs. Alaska
- Smallest number of people, registered voters, and actual voters
- Smallest number of teachers and unionized teachers
- Highest vote for small government candidates
- Highest percentage of gun ownership and gun shows
- Only FSP candidate state without a budget deficit
- Most libertarian members of Congress
- 2nd Best
- 2nd lowest percentage of native residents
- 2nd highest livability ranking
- 2nd most economic freedom
- 2nd lowest number of labor union members
- 2nd smallest state legislative district size
- 2nd most centrally located state
- 3rd Best
- 3rd least expensive elections
- 3rd most freedom-friendly citizen ideology
- 3rd best gun laws (and 1st in hunting laws)
- 3rd warmest winters
- Near two major metropolitan centers (Denver, Salt Lake City)
- Western individualist culture
- State government actively resists the federal government
- Very low taxes (no income, capital gains, or death taxes; lowest property taxes)
- No US/Canadian border federal regulation/homeland security issues
- Internationally recognized for very liberal limited liability corporation laws
- No Green Party or socialist presence
- High speed limits and few police
- Excellent outdoor recreational opportunities
- Two wonders of the world: Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons