Libertarians aim to create haven
|Title:||Libertarians aim to create haven|
Libertarians aim to create havenby Morgan Kelly 02/27/04
Washington As the 2004 elections near, Libertarians have their eyes on New Hampshire, not as a political platform, but as a paradise. A campaign called the Free State Project aims to move 20,000 Libertarians to the Granite State to create a state more independent of the federal government that will inspire other states to limit their ties with Washington as well.
Supporters of the project say it will succeed because Americans want fewer taxes and smaller government, both of which Libertarians strongly support.
Started in 2001, the project's goal is to lower taxes and scale back government in New Hampshire by increasing Libertarian political influence.
Once that is achieved, people from other states will move to New Hampshire, said Jason Sorens, the project's founder and director. To stop residents from leaving, other states will reduce their taxes and government, too.
Richard Vedder, an economics professor at Ohio University who supports the project, said people already are moving to low-tax states that represent the Libertarian ideal. All their project does is speed up the process with organized migration.
Since 2001, more than 1.8 million people have migrated to low-tax states such as New Hampshire from high-tax states such as New York and California, he said. As a result, taxes in high-tax states have fallen considerably, he said. In the same period, New Hampshire's population has increased by 70 percent, or 52,000, he said.
New Hampshire was chosen because it has a strong economy and small population, Sorens said. Also, a large portion of the Libertarian membership lives in New Hampshire.
Currently, 5,000 people are registered to move and 20 have actually done so, Sorens said. He hopes to have the full 20,000 by 2006 and have everyone moved and employed by 2011.
New Hampshire Gov. Craig Benson supports the project, but citizens are concerned that 20,000 more people, particularly political activists, will have a detrimental effect on a state already dealing with unemployment, under-funded public schools and normal population growth.
Sorens said that with the state's population growing by 52,000 every three years, including almost 7,500 foreign immigrants, Libertarians are nothing to worry about.
Most of those in the project are above the national averages in wealth and education, with a small majority of poor college students, he said. Also, the majority are single men, age 18 to 35, with a very small number of couples with children. Because of their opposition to anything federally funded, Libertarians often support home schooling and private schools, Sorens said, and none will be on welfare.
'Built on trust'
But the project does not do criminal background checks, said Sorens, adding, "This is built on trust."
Other Libertarian projects have been suggested for Alaska, Delaware and Wyoming, among other states, but New Hampshire is the first active migration. Sorens stressed that Libertarians are not "taking over" New Hampshire. They have no plans to secede and will live throughout the state avoiding large, "left leaning" cities, such as Concord, New Hampshire's capital.
Sorens plans to move eventually, but, as a lecturer at Yale, says it will be hard to find a teaching job in New Hampshire.
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