Look out, folks
|Title:||Look out, folks: We may need to be liberated|
Look out, folks: We may need to be liberatedBy Bill Nemitz 04/25/03
Copyright ? 2003 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
Hang on, fellow Mainers. After 183 years of governmental oppression, help may be on the way.
The Free State Project, which aims to "liberate" one lucky state from all of its needless laws - including those that take the fun out of drugs, prostitution and gun ownership - is in the market for a new home. And Maine is on its list of 10 best locations.
"Any of the 10 states would be a good choice," Elizabeth McKinstry, the project's vice president, said Thursday from her home in Michigan. "Maine is a good choice . . . although it might not be the best choice at this point. But you know, there's just no way to know right now."
The Free State Project hit the national news wires this week, but it's been hard at work for months in pursuit of its ultimate goal: Select a state with fewer than 1.5 million residents and, within five years, move 20,000 "minimalists" there who will dedicate their lives to slashing the size of local, county and state government by anywhere from half to two-thirds. What's more, they'll delete laws that impinge on a citizen's right to live life the way he or she sees fit.
Thus Maine could become the kind of place where you could grow a crop of marijuana without hearing helicopters hovering over your back forty. Where you could stock up on guns without all that irritating paperwork. Where you could hire a prostitute and, just like that, build a woman's self-esteem.
"Making prostitution legal is an empowerment tool for women," McKinstry explained. "It allows them to get the protection under the law that everyone deserves."
To be fair, McKinstry insists that The Free State Project is about a lot more than sex, drugs and lock-and-load. Drawing heavily from Libertarian Party philosophy, it also advocates things like lower state taxes, privatization of schools and utilities and, of course, the end to asset forfeiture and eminent domain. In short, it's about almost anything that makes big government smaller.
It's also about mathematics. The fewer people already living in the selected state, the easier it will be for 20,000 newcomers to set that state "free."
The list of out-of-the-way finalists will be voted on when the project reaches a critical mass of 5,000 members later this year. In addition to Maine, they include New Hampshire, Vermont, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Alaska.
From there, it gets complicated.
The project's Web site (www.FreeStateProject.org) contains all kinds of rankings by which free-staters might choose their utopia. Among the 19 categories that range from private land ownership and dependence on federal money to low membership in the National Education Association, Maine managed only one first (coastal access), one second (low urbanization) and three fourths (low crime rate, high livability and relatively few tax-sucking government employees).
Still, there's hope.
The Web site also includes "state reports" written by project volunteers. A woman named Amanda Maxwell wrote Maine's report - and as far as she's concerned, this state empitomizes The Way Life Without Government Should Be.
Maxwell, who lives in Texas but summers here, loves all kinds of things about Maine: The 3,500 miles of picturesque coastline. (Should we tell them it's not "free?") The lengthy border with Canada. (Have they seen all the guys with machine guns?) Legislative term limits. (Do they know John Martin's back?) A one-of-a-kind citizen-initiative and referendum process. (Do they like casinos?) And a huge land mass. (Should we mention the black flies?)
"Some have said that a smaller number of square miles will be advantageous and easier for us to conquer," Maxwell wrote in her Maine report. "I challenge that notion. I feel we will be very, very glad for all that territory when people from every place on the globe start flocking to our state."
The Free State Project considered a number of alternatives, including an overseas invasion. But its board ruled out the takeover of a foreign country as "too difficult and costly."
"We couldn't get a lot of people to move there," the Web site explains, "and then we'd have to get citizenship."
Besides, there's a big difference between Maine and, say, Iraq.
Iraq's already been liberated.
Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at: email@example.com
These media articles are maintained on a non-commercial basis by The Free State Project, a non-profit organization, for historical, educational, scholarship, and research purposes. (For information regarding "Fair Use", see US Code Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 107).