Yalie suggests radical free state idea
|Date:||15 Oct '02|
|Title:||Yalie suggests radical free state idea|
|Publication:||New Haven Register|
Yalie suggests radical free state ideaBy Associated Press 15 Oct '02
CHEYENNE, Wyo. Wyoming and New Hampshire are leading candidates in a Yale graduate student's proposal to take over a state by the ballot box and wean it from federal control.
Jason Sorens, 25, a political science doctoral candidate at Yale University, Libertarian and founder of the Free State Project, plans to enlist 20,000 "liberty-oriented individuals" to move to a state and reform its laws, from criminal codes to tax structure.
The government's only role should be to defend citizens from force and fraud, he believes.
Drug and gun laws would be repealed, and asset forfeiture and abuses of eminent domain would end, the project's Web site states. Utilities would be privatized, and inefficient regulations and monopolies would be eliminated.
The plan includes opting out of federal mandates and ultimately negotiating with the federal government for appropriate political autonomy. The threat of secession would be used, if needed, as leverage.
"We think government is too large, too distant, and we also think that we need to get back a bit more to our constitutional principles and start to take the Constitution seriously," Sorens said recently from his home in North Carolina.
Sorens said his group, which has 1,220 members, faces a self-imposed deadline of September 2006 to recruit 20,000. He hopes to entice 5,000 members by September 2004, which is when a state will be chosen.
"I think we have a good shot at it," he said. "But if we were unable to reach 5,000 by then, we would really have to consider whether to pursue the project."
The other states on the list are Delaware, New Hampshire and Alaska.
Population is the critical factor, the group says. With 20,000 activists, it could influence only states with fewer than 1.5 million residents or states where less than $10 million is spent on political campaigns in any election cycle, project research has shown.
Other criteria include coastal access for trade, lack of dependence on federal funds, a decent job market and a certain Libertarian streak.
"We're looking at states that are already pro-freedom and pro-small government," he said. "Of course we will be interested in making some changes; however, these aren't going to be drastic changes, and we're going to start very humbly.
"We're not going to come in like gangbusters, obviously."
He said secession is not the goal but the bargaining chip.
"I doubt that any American state would actually go through with that, but the very idea of the possibility should make it easier for us to achieve concessions with the federal government," Sorens said.
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