FSP will likely fizzle
|Title:||Free State Project will likely fizzle|
Free State Project will likely fizzle
The patient Free Staters say they'll wait until they have 20,000 advocates before they'll move in.
We're not holding our breath for the moving vans to arrive in Wyoming or Montana. It is a kooky idea and much overblown.
You've no doubt read about the Free State Project, an effort to persuade 20,000 like-minded advocates of limited government to move to a lightly populated state and, essentially, take over the workings of government, putting a Libertarian stamp on the machinery of state.
Keith Carlsen, a spokesman for the project, visited Wyoming last week talking up the initiative and why the Cowboy state is an attractive option for the group, which boasts about 5,000 members across the nation.
"We like Wyoming," Carlsen told reporters during a stop in Cheyenne. "it's not only a beautiful state, but it has the lowest population. It's easier to persuade less people."
If Gov. Dave Freudenthal is representative of Wyoming residents' opinion of the idea, the Free Staters may not be welcomed with open arms. He said organizers "are overestimating the receptivity of their ideas in the state."
No hanging chad, yet
Voting is under way to determine which of 10 states the Free Staters will target. Joining Wyoming in this sweepstakes are Montana, Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Vermont. Balloters are asked to rank all 10 in order of preference. The ballot says votes will not be counted if received after Sept. 8.
Carlsen says in an online report to members that "several critical factors combine in Wyoming to make it one of the most likely states to succeed."
- 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 candidate state without a budget deficit.
- Access to large metropolitan areas (Denver, Salt Lake City).
- No personal income tax, low property tax rates and low sales taxes. And those sales taxes, Carlsen says, are often avoided by residents who use "planned purchasing strategies" and drive two to three hours to Billings or Bozeman where there is no general sales tax. And in Wyoming, he writes, "people routinely barter for goods and services."
Glacier or Tetons?
In head-to-head competition, Montana doesn't fare well against Wyoming in this beauty contest. According to Carlsen, Montana has stronger labor unions -- apparently a bad thing. Wyoming has a "more pro-freedom" ideology -- a good thing.
And this: "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."
Given the natural beauty and great lifestyles enjoyed in both Wyoming and Montana, we expect both to do well in the balloting. And both states would welcome with open arms people who'd like to move here to create well-paying jobs and help move their communities forward.
But a Free State haven? We think a 10th place finish in this horse race may not be such a bad thing.
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