Free State Project will come to N.H.
|Title:||Free State Project will come to N.H.|
Free State Project will come to N.H.
by Shir Haberman firstname.lastname@example.org 10/02/03
PORTSMOUTH - The vote is in and the porcupines are coming!
There is no indication yet how many will come or when they will arrive, but members of the Free State Project - who name themselves after the prickly rodent - voted last month and New Hampshire was the choice of 55 percent of them as the place to settle where they could make the most impact politically.
"Our members' philosophy is that being free and independent is a great way to live, and that government's maximal role should be to defend individuals from force and fraud," the group's Web site at www.freestateproject.org notes.
In answer to the question of what the Free Staters plan to do once established in New Hampshire the answer is, "a great deal," according to the organization's Internet site.
"They could repeal state taxes and wasteful state government programs," the Web site states. "They could end collaboration between state and federal law enforcement officials in enforcing unconstitutional laws. They could roll back gun control and drug prohibition. They could end asset forfeiture and abuses of eminent domain. They could privatize utilities and end inefficient regulations and monopolies. Then they could use their political leverage to negotiate appropriate political autonomy for our state."
One of the overriding considerations in choosing New Hampshire was a welcoming statement Gov. Craig Benson gave at a picnic hosted by the New Hampshire Libertarian Party in June aimed at enticing the porcupines to come to the state. In a statement issued Wednesday, Benson reiterated that welcome.
"Since colonial times, people have come to New Hampshire seeking individual liberty and limited government. In my previous meeting with leaders of the Free State Project, they said they were small-business owners and entrepreneurs who believe in low taxes and limited government," Benson said after the vote was announced Wednesday morning. "I am excited they are for the rule of law, against prejudice and eager to be engaged in the political process. As with all new citizens, I expect they will be positive contributors to New Hampshire, and I welcome them."
FSP Vice President Elizabeth McKinstry said the reasons why the 5,300 people who have already committed to move to whatever state the organization members voted to settle in, voted overwhelmingly for New Hampshire are obvious.
"The state boasts the lowest state and local tax burden in the continental U.S., the leanest state government in the country in terms of spending and employment, a citizen legislature, a healthy job market and, perhaps most important, local support for our movement," McKinstry said.
And according to a FSP survey, those who will be coming to New Hampshire will be assets to the state. An estimated 50 percent of the porcupines have college degrees, with 18 percent having done post-graduate work.
The vast majority, 75 percent, are under the age of 50, and 38 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34. Forty-four percent are currently earning $60,000 or more, the survey indicated.
"The clear picture that emerges is one of a largely young, well-educated, upwardly mobile group," said the organization's Membership Director Tim Condon of Florida.
The goal is to have 20,000 Free Staters recruited by 2006, and then to give them five years to relocate to New Hampshire, the organization's Web site stated. However, there are already 150 Free Staters living here and many have committed to moving to New Hampshire before the membership goal is reached.
Not everyone, however, is happy about a large number of Libertarian-minded people coming to the state. New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Kathy Sullivan earlier this month called Free State Project "sort of very fringe group that can best be described as anarchists."
Sullivan questioned Benson's decision to welcome the group to the state.
"Is Craig Benson for legalized prostitution?," Sullivan asked. "He's for legalizing drugs? Is he for eliminating public schools? "He doesn't understand what these people stand for."
However, what impact even 20,000 Free Staters would make in this state of approximately 1.3 million people is questionable. Libertarian John Babiarz got 13,028 votes for governor last November, nowhere near the 5 percent of the popular vote needed to put his party on the ballot for the upcoming state and national elections.
Several years ago there were three Libertarians in the New Hampshire Legislature. Now there are none.
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).