Migration to libertarian state
|Title:||Migration to libertarian state may solve big government|
|Publication:||Arizona State Univ. Web Devil|
Migration to libertarian state may solve big governmentBy Scott Phillips 05/02/03
At a time when the Bill of Rights is heading toward a merely ornamental status, espousers of civil liberties are increasingly finding their voices falling upon deaf ears.
What can be done, you ask, to counter this trend of growing government and the shrinking individual? Jason Sorens and the Free State Project have an interesting - albeit radical - solution: move 20,000 like-minded individuals into a state with a low population and see what happens.
The aspiration of this proposed libertarian migration is a society of limited government that would make Robert Nozick and Adam Smith proud.
According to the Free State Project Web site, www.freestateproject.org, the group is seeking anyone wishing to "cut the size and scope of the government by about two-thirds or more," including the repealing of drug prohibition laws, the decentralizing of government and the promotion of free trade and privatization.
Once the project has gathered 5,000 members, a vote will be taken on which state to move to among ten options, all with a population under 1.5 million and tendencies towards minimal government interference: South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont and North Dakota, with the latter four being the frontrunners.
Currently, there are 3,373 signatures since the project's inception on Sept. 1, 2001.
The final move will take place after the accumulation of 20,000 people willing to uproot their lives in what can only be called the ultimate pursuit of liberty. Founder and president Jason Sorens expects the project to reach this goal by fall of 2006.
As far-fetched as this ambitious undertaking might seem, it is the opinion of this writer that the country's current political environment needs a movement like this to make us come to our senses.
Wasteful government spending has led to budget shortfalls in 27 states and a projected debt of $53.5 billion for the next fiscal year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Arizona's well-publicized budget deficit is sitting at over $1 billion.
A progressively more invasive and punitive criminal justice system has gone unchecked for too long. Now we are left with a disastrous drug policy, harsh sentencing laws and an over influential victims' rights movement, all dating back to the Reagan administration's "war on drugs."
The only things we have to show for this misguided policy are clogged courts and jails overcrowded with nonviolent drug offenders.
More recent legislation aimed at strengthening national security, i.e., the 2001 Patriot Act, has assaulted individual liberty and widened the federal government's powers of domestic intelligence gathering and law enforcement to undesirable levels.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act empowers the FBI to legally keep tabs on whomever it wishes simply by citing that it is related to an investigation of terrorism.
If that wasn't overreaching enough, Sen. Orrin Hatch has proposed eliminating the act's "Sunset Clause," the section that puts a five-year expiration date on the executive powers bestowed by the act. If Hatch's proposal goes through, the Patriot Act will be extended indefinitely.
Worse yet, the proposed sequel, dubbed the "Patriot Act II," would broaden the definition of terrorism still further and increase governmental ability to spy on its own citizens - without disclosing that it is doing so, of course - to include credit and library records.
Just to keep in step with the executive and legislative branches, the courts have offered yet another kick in the teeth by upholding bad legislation and contributing to a more litigious America with recent rulings like the affirmation of California's draconian three strikes law or allowing the record industry to pursue its outrageous $98 billion lawsuit against four college students who ran file sharing Web sites.
Taking all of this into consideration along with the growing frustration it has caused among proponents of minimal government, one can't help but think the Free State Project has at least a fighting chance at success.
After all, 20,000 people is only about half of the registered members of the Libertarian Party and a small fraction of the approximately 3.2 million votes for Libertarian Party candidates in the last election.
At the very least, it's an intriguing idea. There is something undeniably appealing about the prospect of living in a libertarian utopia where individual rights are unequivocally the rule rather than the exception and the only legal monopoly, government, is quashed by the abolition of taxes and widespread deregulation and privatization.
Keep in mind also that neither a mass migration nor virtual control of a state by one group is unheard of. In fact, Orrin Hatch, who hails from Mormon-controlled Utah, is a perfect example. Of course, a state where drinking and debauchery were encouraged would be a hell of a lot more fun to live in.
Is a libertarian state a way to give people freedom or a utopian ideal? Post your opinion in the forum below. [Forum link not included.]
Scott Phillips is a justice studies junior. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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