New Pilgrim Chronicles:
One man's story of the trials and rewards of moving to Free State
Week Seven: Back to the Future
by Brian Wright (copyright 2005)
So many uncertainties when you walk out to hold hands with people on the leading edge of the freedom train. This week I've finished my business in Michigan, cleaning up some loose ends and prepping myself for an extended residence in the southern Free State hills. "Come Home to New Hampshire." (Someone at the festival thought this would make a good slogan, and I like it.)
Because of the uncertainties, pledgers and movers realize the nature of the choice they're making. It's a life-altering commitment, especially if you're accompanied by family. For almost anyone, though, the decision to be part of this project rises above practical benefit into a morality plane, where the focus is on the long-range conditions that make any practical benefit feasible.
Was talking to Steve Cobb and others regarding other leading libertarians' varying perspectives on the FSP. With exceptions, my experience has been many of the celebrities in the movement (including Harry Browne, Mary Ruwart, Carla Howell, to name a few) have been at best cool to Jason's concept. The same is true of the LP national leadership, I do believe, but I haven't read much in the LP News lately, whether it's taken an official position.
I also had the experience in Michigan of one local LP activist dissing the FS generally because apparently one FS representative in Michigan denied him a literature table one dayI think I mentioned this in an earlier column. He succumbed to a fit of pique, as it were. "Oooh, cocktails on the veranda, dear?" But what of the esteemed people I've mentioned who have major skin in the liberty game already? Is it a NIH (not invented here) thing?
Personally I've seen many instances of people wanting to stay comfortable as big fish in a small pond, then being averse to ideas or people that would make the pond bigger. In the case of FSP, the pond stands to become substantially bigger, which may make them feel unacceptably less vital to the future of freedom. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Also, the Free State is going to happen naturally, without a lot of repeat fundraising. My problem with several of the existing LP-peripheral movements is they continually tap the seed corn for sustenance, keep coming back to the well of stalwarts who always send money. Instead of self-financing through constant influx of new blood.
I'm pretty sure Free State solves the new blood problem, because you have so many willing bleeders, so to speak, on the ground. Relatively speaking that is. A great thing already about the Free State is you can fall out your back door any given morning, then turn around and join a meeting of libertarians or near-libertarians on the lawn. It was only that way for me back in Michigan during the Clark-Crane phenomenon (Ed Clark, LP presidential candidate 1980; Ed Crane, current CEO of the Cato Institute) roughly, 1975-1985. And I do love it so!
Why don't more of the elevated ones see FSP as complementary to their work, rather than detracting? Indeed, FS is a microcosm of what's going on nationally in any given organization. It stands to reason the Free State is the best soil for the growth of all these pro-liberty efforts. Because, relative to the surrounding population, there are so many of us! As Paul Gere mentioned to me at the festival, if we get 1,000 active people moving here, the state is done like a dinner.
That's true. According to the site, we have 377 here now. The political establishment in New Hampshire, such as it is, is already at the point of being unable to ignore all the pro-liberty people who continually "act up" through various groups. FSP is serving as the fireman stoking these groups with good, solid people. So we freedom people, especially the FSP, are close to the threshold of common public perception right now. Critical mass is just around the corner.
That being said, readers should know that in response to the letters I recently sent to my new senators and representatives at both national and state levels, not one responded. I had high hopes that when I returned from Michigan after three weeks, I'd be picking up several responses from these poobahs. My letters regarded the depleted uranium issue, which is potentially a massive public health problem. (Well actually, it already is a massive public health problem, it will become a catastrophic public health problem.)
And no one wants to even talk about it!
Scary, isn't it?
My point isn't to revisit the horrifying topic of DU. Rather I'm just sharing the observation that beyond the local town level, it you have an issue pertinent to general liberty, let's just say public officials aren't going to beat a path to your door to find out more.
New Hampshire has a land area of 8969 square miles with 1,235,786 people, per the 2000 census. This works out to approx. 140 people per square mile, of whom 377/8969 = 0.04 are FSP, let's say 1000 active liberty types are here = 1000/8969 = 0.11. So we have probably roughly one tenth of a libertarian per square mile!
What legislator or public official is going to give two hoots about a measly 1/10 of a libertarian?
But if you get that ratio to 20 or 30 thousand per 8969 square miles, that means you're going to have a full two or three liberty gadflies in every nook and cranny of the state! Believe me, that's going to make some movers and shakers out of these otherwise recalcitrant politicos. We'll have their full attention. They're going to need to do some real thinking and some real work to hold their crummy jobs.
Also, don't underestimate the effect on the media, on the information systems that typically block the flow of pro-liberty data both from the street to the reader and from the reader to the street. You think the Onion Reader will squash stories on the negative effects of government aggression on the people when 20,000 angry people threaten to use it for birdcage liner? Not likely. In the meantime, we early movers have to keep up the good work.
Talked with Joel Rauch, who runs the Merrimack Valley Porcupines, he's a young man, one of the earlier early movers. He shared some thoughts with me that early people are tending to be overloaded with more groups than they can properly support, either from the leadership or from the membership perspective. I know what he's saying, check out this wonderful page from the site. This gives you a lot of great information, especially about the pro-liberty groups who are working here.
It's impossible to support all of them effectively. And depending on one's goals, one may not be into any of them, or may want to start one's own. So a lot of these groups are going to seem low attended. Just keep in mind, the day is young. It's all relative. Back in Michigan, you have a tenth of the libertarian activity you have here, if that. Stay the course and develop individually as you wish, prioritizing your action so as not to burn out. Oceans of people are coming behind you.
Well, at least a tsunami or two. My friends, we are the thin edge of the wedge. The breaking open of the chains in New Hampshire is going to happen quickly in political timescape. Stand by for some serious excitement.
I don't have a lot more for you this week. My trip across Highway 90 was uneventful. I do want to comment on a peculiar New York state roadsign saying it's a state law to turn on your headlamps when you turn on your windshield wipers. Also, I believe in Pennsylvania it's a state law you have to turn on your headlamps in construction zones. (!) Does anyone issuing these Cider House rules really think people will take time to noodle them all out, much less conform to them?
Remember ignorance of the law is no excuse (unless, of course, the law you're ignorant of is the Bill of Rights).
By the way, here's a comical rule from our own Free State: I've joined the YMCA in Goffstown. In the locker room it tells you that it's a state law you have to take a shower before you swim in the pool. Good Gawd, what if I showered at home? They going to check up on me there? Is it a felony? These are important issues, folks, government at work for you.
Speaking of important issues, I find I do like the front license plate in New Hampshire. It's very artistic, as you can see from the following photo. See the vanity phrase: BWRIGHT, get it? As in "be right" with living free or dying. Oh well, you have to appreciate the laid-back subtlety of my approach to automotive signage. I don't want anyone here actually knowing who's writing all those letters nobody's reading or publishing.
I just don't think such an attractive license plate should be mandatory in front. When I finally receive my plates and am looking for attachment bolts, I go to a local auto parts store.
By the way, I think I've stumbled on another quiet truth of New Hampshire, at least southern New Hampshire: besides ice cream parlors and Dunkin Donut franchises, every third store is an auto parts supplier. I'll bet the Free State supports more than its fair share ofnote, I did not say redneckNASCAR aficionados. Funny, I never imagined oval-track race fans would go for the mountains around here; but it sure ain't Formula 1 they're interested in. Maybe some hard core rally (dirt surface and other irregular tracks) racing fans, I could see that.
Since the screws are for the back plate, I ask the young clerk at the counter, "Why front license plates?"
He says, "It's a communist plot."
"Well, what constituency could possibly support such a wasteful use of funds," I inquire.
He concludes, "Every law enforcement officer knows you have to have a front license plate to quickly identify a perpetrator as he's driving away from you."
(to be continued)