1: Intro, welcome, arm story, personal background
2: FSP overall purpose, LF Theme – focus on “attaining”
3: The problem – What is and isn't freedom? stories
4: The solution
4a: Identifying the problem
4b: The FSP strategy (history etc)
4c: Upcoming improvements to the FSP strategy
5: Call to action
1: Intro, welcome, arm story, personal background
Good morning! I'm Varrin Swearingen, President of the Free State Project and it's a pleasure and an honor to welcome you to the New Hampshire Liberty Forum. It's going to be a great event and I'm really looking forward to hearing all of the speakers we have lined up. I have to apologize in advance for reading this. Being a jazz musician, I like to improvise, but I wanted to write this out so we can publish it on the FSP website, allowing people who couldn't be here the opportunity to read it online.
How many of you were at the state house yesterday? Great stuff, isn't it? How about the ski trip? Anyone go skiing? Snowboarding?
Snowboarding, it turns out, is dangerous. I think it should be illegal actually. It causes people to get in fights, and we all know how libertarians feel about violence. I'm not normally a violent person but I was sucked into a fist fight a couple weeks ago while learning to snowboard in Alaska. I wound up in this repetitive fit of rage. Eventually, though, despite the countless blows I delivered against my much-larger foe, ... the earth finally prevailed and punished me with this broken arm.
Please know, though, that it's feeling significantly better and I can shake hands relatively normally. I say that because I really would like to meet each and every one of you at some point this weekend. I'll be around all weekend. If we haven't met yet, please come introduce yourself. With a name like Varrin, I should be good with names, but I'm not, so don't be afraid to say your name a couple or ten times until I finally get it.
The reason I was up in Alaska relates to my job as an airline pilot. I'd like to tell you a bit more about myself, but first, let me tell you about another airline pilot.
An airline Captain decided to start dating again. He managed to talk this pretty girl into going out on a date with him. He took her to a fancy restaurant and they sat down for a meal. The Captain started to talk. They ordered. He talked. He talked more as they ate. He talked and talked, and all about himself. The girl enjoyed the first hour or so of one-way conversation, but it went on and on for two hours, then three. She became more and more irritated with the fact the Captain was talking a blue streak and only about himself. Finally, the sly Captain observed her distress and figured out he better stop talking about himself. So he turned to the girl and said, with a smile, “That's enough about me, let's talk about airplanes.”
So, I'll try to keep this relatively short. By way of personal introduction, I'm originally from the land of fruits, nuts, and the governator, California. I grew up in Fresno and was exposed to ideas about liberty at a fairly young age. I grew up in a small, stable, Christian, freedom oriented family. I was well on my way to a career as a professional musician when I met my wife, Edi, in High School. I took a hard left and went flying. I knew a lot of poor starving musicians and people kept telling me I had my head in the clouds so it all made sense at the time. I still play music actively, but my day job is flying all over the world in the MD-11, which is a three-engine widebody jet.
Edi and I got married right after I finished flight school and we now have a 6 year-old son and a 5 year-old daughter, both of whom are homeschooled. We've lived in Florida, Kentucky, California again, and now New Hampshire.
My interest in freedom is at least partly natural. While I generally am glad to receive advice, I'm allergic to being forced to do something. My parents forced me to do certain things, much of which was truly for my own benefit, and was for the purpose of preparing me to be an adult. And, I have had a few encounters with 'ordinary' criminals along the way. But even before becoming an adult, it became clear to me that the overwhelming majority of force is initiated by government. I'm not opposed to government, but I am opposed to adults initiating force on other adults.
Growing up, I had some convenient opportunities to promote individual liberty and to develop myself into a more effective torch bearer for the cause of freedom. I worked early on with the Advocates for Self-Government and later the Alliance for Separation of School and State. I graduated from high school from Pioneer Christian Academy, an experimental non-accredited school modeled partly after the Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts and run by Advocates founder Marshall Fritz. After establishing my airline career, I resumed my pro-freedom activism as a volunteer, donor, and leader for various organizations, ultimately bringing me to where I am right now.
So that's enough about me, let's talk about freedom.
2: FSP overall purpose, LF Theme – focus on “attaining”
I'd like to take a minute to explain what the Free State Project is and isn't, and to give a bit of a disclaimer. I also want to introduce the New Hampshire Liberty Forum and explain how it fits into the mission of the Free State Project.
The Free State Project, as it currently exists, seeks 20,000 pro-freedom activists to agree to move here to New Hampshire, where -they- will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property. That is essentially the first half of our mission statement.
I should first point out that the Free State Project itself simply seeks the agreement of those 20,000 pro-freedom activists. Those pro-freedom activists, not the Free State Project, are the people who will work towards the creation of a Free State. Consequently, the FSP does not take positions on issues, legislation, or candidates.
Having said that, we do describe in general terms some of the basic changes that might reflect a more free society. The second half of our mission statement reads: “The success of the Project would likely entail reductions in taxation and regulation, reforms at all levels of government to expand individual rights and free markets, and a restoration of constitutional federalism, demonstrating the benefits of liberty to the rest of the nation and the world.”
We also occasionally report on the activity of FSP Participants to give the rest of the world a feel for what -they- are actually up to. That doesn't constitute endorsement of them, their positions, or their actions, but does provide a feel for how successful the project is and can be.
The Liberty Forum's theme is “Attaining Personal and Economic Freedom in America's Freest State.” While there's currently no objective measurement for “America's Freest State”, I've been to almost all of them and happen to agree that New Hampshire is America's Freest State. Though it's good to start at the top, the goal is clearly stated: Personal and Economic Freedom. Most important is the first word in the theme, “Attaining.” I know, that is the most unlikely candidate for 'most important word', but I'd like to focus your attention on that particular word with the hope that you'll keep these thoughts in mind as the weekend unfolds.
First, attaining means we aren't there yet. I cannot stress enough the importance of that fact. New Hampshire may be the freest place in America, but it doesn't represent the maximum practically attainable level of personal and economic freedom. I could cite many examples of freedom not present in New Hampshire that could be attained. If New Hampshire had already attained the maximum practical level of personal and economic freedom, there would be no need for a Free State Project. We're not there yet.
Second, attaining means we're actively working to achieve the goal of personal and economic freedom. This forum is a part of that work. We can sit here and listen to great speakers like John Stossel, Don Gorman, Michael Badnarik, Ron Paul, and even mediocre ones like me, and bask in the glory of ear tickling, but if we fail to -do- something, we'll never attain success. Attaining success requires active work, hence the Free State Project's focus on activists.
Third, attaining implies that we can someday consider the goal attained. It's true that we might not all agree on every minute detail of what a Free State would look like. In fact, it might look a little different than any of us expect. However, I believe pro-liberty activists share substantial portions of the vision of a free society. I imagine a place where voluntary funding of government is maximized, forced regulation of economics, business, and finances are minimized, and social or personal behaviors are governed by self-control and voluntary interaction rather than government imposed standards. We might not all agree on when we've arrived, but I believe it's possible to get to a point where many of us would consider this project successful. I believe we'll know it when we see it... and so will the rest of the world.
Attaining is the important word in the Liberty Forum theme. It's the action word of the weekend. The Free State Project is a strategy for attaining freedom. This weekend is a part of that strategy. My hope is that this weekend educates, motivates, and inspires you... so that you will work to attain freedom in New Hampshire. If you go away from this weekend with a new or increased commitment to join us in creating a Free State, we have done our job. I believe I'll go away with just such a commitment and I hope you will too. In a few minutes I'm going to suggest 5 specific actions you can take this weekend, but first, I want us all to start off with a fresh understanding of where we are right now with respect to freedom.
3: The problem – What is and isn't freedom? stories
I'd like to start with an honorable mention to non-governmental thieves and thugs. Thomas Jefferson said “The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.” Those criminals who commit acts of aggression, whether it be physical, economic or fraudulent, do indeed infringe on the liberty of other people. It's important that we remember that anyone can be an enemy of liberty. Ordinary criminals, religious fanatics, and organized crime rings have affected us all in some way, some of us personally.
Having said that, I focus my attention mostly on government as the most common and influential enemy of liberty. It's true that government is not always an enemy of liberty. Indeed, government laws are passed against common criminals and governments sometimes punish such criminals. In as much as government defends liberty, it is certainly no enemy to it. However, throughout human history, the overwhelming majority of government action has been contrary to the liberty of individuals – frequently the very individuals it pretends to protect. In fact, sometimes even while government is defending of liberty it is simultaneously acting aggressively, often in the form of coerced funding for that very defense. This is not just a historical truth, it is true today, right here in America, and around the world.
On the global scene, I think of homeschooling families, maybe 40 of them or so, in Germany who are in an intense battle with their own government over the manner in which they educate their children. Homeschooling is illegal there and the government has recently initiated action to punish parents who educate their own children themselves. In some cases, government police have even kidnapped children from their parents to prevent them from teaching their own children. Some families have fled the country to prevent this from happening and others do not even know where their own children are. The aggressive behavior is clearly on the part of government. The German government, not often thought of today as aggressive, is no friend of freedom. Fortunately, homeschooling is legal in New Hampshire, and is more free today than it was just a couple years ago, thanks to the hard work of FSP participants.
Here in America, a recent well-known example of government aggression happened a couple states south of here. The city of New London, CT, decided to use eminent domain power to take possession of private citizens' homes in a non-consensual transaction. Eminent domain is, for better or worse, a legal power of government. Eminent domain, even for public use, is aggressive, at least if you believe that property owners truly own their property. What made the New London case so noteworthy was that the property would not be used for an obvious public purpose such as a road, airport, or even a park. It was given to a land developer for redevelopment for commercial purposes. That is not only theft, it is theft without a public purpose. The city of New London is no friend of freedom, and the state of Connecticut is no friend of freedom. Fortunately, eminent domain for private redevelopment is illegal in New Hampshire, and the citizens here overwhelming supported clarifying that in the State Constitution this last election.
Even here in New Hampshire, the government acts aggressively and threatens more aggression each year. Property taxes are the most complained about tax in New Hampshire and they are unquestionably not voluntary. New Hampshire Towns regularly initiate action to take peoples' property from them if they do not pay the property tax. Now, due to recent court decisions, education funding issues, and a more tax friendly government, there is the very real threat of a new broad based tax, likely an income tax. Failure to pay would likely be met with some form of aggression initiated by the government. Despite all that, New Hampshire is still the most fiscally responsible state in the nation.
Though things are better here than in other places, government infringements on liberty are all around us and they're getting worse. This is indeed a serious problem and I believe is the reason we're all here. Of course, it's easy to get depressed about all that. Though I can't say I've had too many truly great interactions with government, I have been able to laugh at a few of them.
We decided to build a house in New Hampshire before actually moving there. The place we picked out was a wide but very shallow lot. It's a two-story colonial with an attached 3-car garage to the side. Because the lot is so shallow, there's really only one obvious way to build the driveway.
So when my builder called me and asked me where I wanted the driveway, I was a little puzzled. I thought it was a dumb question, but I didn't want to insult him, so I just explained that it should connect the garage with the street, hoping that would somehow make sense to him.
When he asked a second time, as though I was the idiot, I became even more confused. I explained with, I hoped, greater clarity that the driveway goes from the garage right straight out to the street in a straight line. He then asked if I wanted it to be on the left or the right. That really confused me. Then, he made it all clear. My garage is 30 feet wide. He said that the driveway could only be 20 feet wide at the property line. He wanted to know which side I wanted it to taper on.
I asked him if it was possible to get a waiver. He said that takes an act of God. Coincidentally, I know him, but apparently that wasn't good enough in this case. He explained that there was no way he was going to even try to get a waive. Unfortunately, I wasn't there, so I couldn't do it either.
When I arrived, but before the driveway was poured, I asked if the City Engineer could come out and maybe we could come up with a clever solution. He was a nice guy, but obviously a bureaucrat who was just following the law. The way I had proposed we construct the driveway was 30 feet wide all the way to the property line, a 90 degree corner there resulting in a straight line across the property line to 20 feet wide, then to the sidewalk, and finally to the street. That left about three feet of gap, 10 feet wide between the driveway and the sidewalk.
I asked the City Engineer if we could just widen the sidewalk there. Of course, he said “no”. That's city property and we have to do what they say there. So I asked if I could fill it in with some kind of material... maybe concrete? He laughed. He said it had to be grass. I'll note at this point that he didn't say what kind of grass it had to be.
That brought up an interesting problem, though. If it had to be grass, and they're enforcing that rule on the basis that it's their property, I asked who maintains it. He said, “you do.” I told him I'd be happy to maintain it with concrete. Of course, that didn't fly. But I did ask what would happen if I didn't mow it. He said he had never had anyone ask him that before. Maybe the city would come by once or twice a year?
We wound up pouring the driveway with the 10 foot chunk missing. Edi, the wiser of the two of us, not only nixed my idea of planting weed there and calling the DEA to tell them the City of Keene was growing pot on their land right in front of my property, but she also made me mow it.
The story doesn't end there, though. Once we got settled, I decided it was time to get the waiver so I could tear up the brand new sidewalk we poured for the city and finish the driveway correctly. This waver first goes before the City Council. The committee that votes on such things approved this highly controversial driveway issue by a razor thin margin of 4-3. One member said my house was too big for the lot. This is in the public record, by the way. Another commented that my driveway “looks stupid the way it is.” Believe it or not, she was on my side, favoring letting me finish it.
But since one bureaucratic body clearly isn't enough for such an important issue as 10 feet of driveway, it had to go to the planning board. They denied the permit for unspecified reasons. The Planning Director was baffled and didn't know what to tell me about how to proceed. He tried for several months to streamline the process unsuccessfully. Finally, I told him that I was ready to take action and that I'd like to do so legally. He said my best bet would be to go back to the planning board again. This was now a full two years after I first discovered there was going to be a problem.
I didn't make it to the City Council meeting or the first Planning Board meeting. I figured it'd be best for me to make it to this next one but my schedule wouldn't allow it. So what I did can serve as a lesson in how to get your local government to work for you. The City Councilor who said my driveway looked stupid happens to be one of the ones representing my ward. I figured since she is 'my' councilor, and she was in favor of my plan in the first place, maybe she could go represent me before the planning board. I called her to propose that plan and she agreed.
She came over and I gave her all the information she would need to get the job done. She was extremely helpful. The planning board voted on the issue and when I asked her how it went, she explained that it passed 4-3 with the Mayor casting the deciding vote, obviously relenting to the “evil eye” she sent his way. And that, she says, is how government works.
More than two years later, the 'assault driveway' is finally finished. Though it should never have gone on that long, you just have to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Being a pilot, I could tell probably a dozen TSA stories that would get a laugh or two. Then there's the stories about my interaction with government schools, a few of which are rather humorous. I sometimes laugh about this one Kentucky police officer I met under less than optimal circumstances. But I'll save those for another time.
Whether we laugh at government oppression, cry over it, or get angry about it, the fact remains it's there. America has a rich history of freedom, but today we have lost sight of the light of liberty which shined brightly here and has inspired the rest of the world to work towards freedom as well.
4: The solution
4a: Identifying the problem
If we're going to re-light liberty here, a key question we could ask is: why is liberty being extinguished?
Many people and organizations have done much excellent and even effective work to promote freedom here in America. Here at the Liberty Forum, we'll be hearing from individuals and leaders of several important organizations that often come to my mind when I think of important pro-freedom efforts. But in spite of the important and effective work they do, the overall trend is still backwards. Why is liberty being extinguished?
I believe the answer, though maybe complex in its details, can be expressed this way: too many bad guys, not enough good guys. In other words, there are not enough people who both understand freedom and are ready to work to defend it. Those who actively oppose freedom, either because they don't comprehend it, or are simply evil, are more numerous, more effective, and have a bigger toolbox... you know, jack hammers, wrecking balls, dynamite... The price of liberty is eternal vigilance and our vigilance was not eternal. Defenders of liberty have become a rare novelty these days rather than the norm.
Until now, no organization has made a serious effort to fix the underlying problem – not enough of us, too many of them. The Free State Project seeks to solve exactly that problem. As a bonus, we liberty lovers have some tools of our own and we're exposing you some of them this weekend.
There are outreach organizations like the Advocates for Self-Government, who I'll talk about in a few minutes. There are organizations that train activists, like the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance. There are single issue champions like LEAP, MPP, the Alliance for Separation of School and State, CNHT, and several gun rights oriented groups, all of whom you'll hear from this weekend. There are pro-freedom media personalties and organizations we'll hear from this weekend, including John Stossel, the Union Leader's Joe McQuaid, Free Talk Live, and Gardner Goldsmith. There are lobbying and grassroots activist organizations like DownsizeDC and the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance. There are think tanks and public policy institutes like the CATO Institute and the Reason Foundation. And there are even politicians, candidates, and parties, including Michael Badnarik, the Republican Liberty Caucus, a whole panel of NH State Senators and Representatives discussing ways to work together, and we're pleased to have Congressman Ron Paul here on Sunday.
So we've got the tools. The people you'll hear speak will motivate, educate, and inspire you as they unfold the details of what they're up to. But we still haven't solved the underlying problem – not enough of us. That's where the Free State Project comes in.
4b: The FSP strategy (history etc)
The FSP was founded in 2001 by Dr. Jason Sorens who will be here to speak to you at the close of the Forum. Research for his doctoral thesis led him to study the relationship between activists and the population as a whole. It's quite obvious there aren't enough of us to keep America free and he knew that. He wondered, though, what it might take to make just one state free. Are there enough of us to even do that much?
He suggested the idea of a Free State Project. If enough pro-liberty activists migrated to a single, low population state, they ought to be able to heavily influence its populace and, ultimately, its government. If a State government had as its maximum role protecting life, liberty, and property, that state would be far more free than any state is today. Based on his research, he believed 20,000 activists would be enough to have that kind of sway in roughly any of the 10 smallest states in the U.S.
Out of those ideas came the Free State Project. Participation in the project means committing to the migration plan. The plan is, upon reaching 20,000 such commitments, the Participants will move to the chosen state within 5 years. The first 5,000 Participants voted on the state among the 10 candidates and New Hampshire won the vote.
Since then, two unexpected things have happened, one of which presents us with a challenge, and the other with a greater gift than we could have ever imagined.
The challenge comes in the form of a reduction in the rate at which people are signing up to participate in the project. The rate of growth prior to the vote, especially just prior, was fairly brisk. Since the vote, in late-2003, the project has steadily grown, adding over 3000 new participants. Even so, the time projection to reach 20,000 is still years away. We are well aware of that and have been working hard to meet that challenge. Of course, we're ready for lots of help!
The unexpected gift is far greater, though. It comes in the form of people moving prior to the 20,000-signer deadline. Immediately after the vote, FSP Participants started moving to New Hampshire. Is Mike Pelletier here? When did you move? I moved here from California 1 year after the vote and over 60 other people had already moved. Keep in mind that none of us were bound by a commitment to move. In fact, until just a couple months ago none of the FSP Participants were committed to move even though about 200 have already.
What is so significant about that is that those people who have moved here have turned this idea, this dream, into a reality. For the first two years of the project, before the state vote, it was merely an untested idea. We had no hard evidence that an organized project like this would actually work. We didn't even know which state we'd end up in. We didn't know if anyone would actually move. And we didn't know if, after moving, there would be any measurable positive impact.
Since the state vote, we have established what could not have been established previously. We have proof now that pro-freedom activists will actually move to New Hampshire, in fact without even being obligated by a commitment to do so. Even more importantly, those who have already moved to New Hampshire have given us proof that that they can actually change things for the better. You'll be hearing a lot about that over the course of the weekend, but frankly it's downright exciting.
Realizing the importance and persuasiveness of the impact FSP movers have had on New Hampshire, we decided to see if we could do anything to accelerate the flow of pro-freedom activists to the state. In early 2006, we announced the First 1000 project. It was a more aggressive commitment – to arrive by the end of 2008, and the goal, though lofty was, we thought, attainable. Mid-year I challenged the attendees of the Free State Project's 2006 Porcupine Freedom Festival to imagine, given what just a couple hundred people have accomplished so far, what this place would be like with 1000 pro-freedom activists.
It is with great pleasure that I report that the First 1000 pledge goal was met and exceeded and, with any kind of luck, we won't have to use our imaginations in a couple of years. For the first time in the history of the FSP, we now have a body of Committed Participants whose pledge conditions have been met - 1000 of them. Those 1000+ people are now committed to moving to New Hampshire by the end of 2008.
I believe the First 1000 success is reason to celebrate, but it's also important that we remain realistic and we learn from what has happened so far. It's entirely likely that some of those 1000 people will wind up unable to move, though I should point out that we've received even more commitments since the deadline and..... I hope we have more this weekend. But we would be foolish not to learn from and build on the First 1000 success by improving the FSP as a whole. So how do we do that?
4c: Upcoming improvements to the FSP strategy
I see two areas that the FSP can improve on in order to increase our chances of ultimately meeting that challenge of the creation of a Free State. The First is we can improve the basic structure of the project. The second is an idea for a new additional focus in our recruiting efforts.
Regarding the structure of the project, the 'early' movers and the First 1000 signers have taught us that the original structure of 20,000 signatures first, and then move within 5 years, doesn't meet everyone's needs. The people who have moved already simply needed the destination identified, which we've done. The First 1000 signers needed that particular structure and some outreach, which we've given them. But as we progressed through the year in 2006, we encountered many people who are ready to commit to something, but couldn't commit to the First 1000 structure. In fact, we even have people who can't commit to the 20,000 pledge but would commit to something else – different commitment criteria and/or other forms of activism all together.
Since its inception, the Free State Project has assumed that we know how many like commitments are necessary and what time frame for moving is suitable. The truth is, we don't know those things. Nobody knows how many movers it will actually take and, we don't know how many movers any participant thinks it will actually take. Prospective participants, though, do know what criteria needs to be met for them to commit to moving. What we're considering now is figuring out how to formally put the plan together exactly backwards from the way it's currently set up. Instead of us dictating numbers and time frames, you, the customer, the activist, the mover should be setting the pace. Obviously we'll suggest sooner rather than later.
As a brief announcement, we're going to have a meeting on Sunday after the feedback session that is not on your schedule to discuss ideas relating to that kind of improvement to our structure. It will be at 2:00 in the Capitol room. If you'd like to be involved in that discussion, show up. I'll be there along with other FSP leaders. That's 2:00 Sunday in the Capitol room.
The second area I see as an opportunity to improve relates to who we reach out to and how. So far, we have had fairly good success recruiting within environments that are presumed to be relatively saturated with freedom lovers. We've reached out based on ideology first and foremost. The project is naturally appealing to libertarians but there are a couple of significant disadvantages to recruiting among the existing pro-freedom community.
First, 'natural' libertarians tend to have personalities that are independent, introverted, and sometimes contrary. The herding cats metaphor has been used more than once and I can personally attest to its truth. Ideologically, they're right on the money, and many of them are relentlessly dedicated to freedom. Nevertheless, there is a tendency for people with those personality traits to be less interested and less talented at leading and, in fact, following good leaders. The independent types are essential, but I can say from experience that organizing a coordinated migration of independent libertarians is quite the paradox and I suspect that the leaders of other pro-freedom organizations have similar challenges, even here in New Hampshire with the world class resources we have available.
Consequently, it occurred to me that we might want to test out a new and different recruiting strategy. The idea is simply to focus on people who are already successful leaders and give them the 1, 2 punch. 1) We give them the vision of freedom, which they may not already have or understand. 2) We give them the project with essentially unlimited leadership opportunity – the creation of a Free State – the Free State Project. That gives a leader something to lead which they need.
I should point out that I have no actual plan right now, this is just an idea. By saying it out loud in front of all of you, I'm hoping someone will beat me with a stick in a few months if I haven't done anything about it. Better yet, maybe one of you would like to... ahem... lead such a program. That might be a job for a few people to work on, but...
5: Call to action
The big picture is this: Come to New Hampshire, pick up some tools, and work effectively, along side countless other pro-liberty activists to build a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property. Let's give America and the rest of the world an example that demonstrates, again, the benefits of freedom.
There are some things that every one of you can do. I focus on doing because that is what's required to attain personal and economic freedom in America's freest state. This weekend isn't about feel goodism, it's about action.
Here's your chance to take notes. When I was learning to fly, I had to go to ground school. One of the first things we learned was when the instructor stomps his foot, it's time to wake up and pay attention – this stuff is on the test. Here are 5 specific actions, that I'd like each of you to take. These are things you can consider over the course of the weekend and I hope you'll leave here committed to doing as much of this as you can:
1: Join the Free State Project. If you haven't already done so and don't live in New Hampshire yet, sign the Free State Project's Statement Of Intent to move to New Hampshire. In order for there to be a Free place in the world, the concentration of activists needs to be significantly increased. The opportunities and tools are here. You'll see that this weekend. What we need now are the activists to work them. Signing the Statement Of Intent means you're committing to move within 5 years of reaching 20,000 signatures. That is not an aggressive schedule and I hope after this weekend you won't be able to imagine not signing it. You can sign up at the registration table... but wait until I'm done with this list.
2: Put yourself to work here in New Hampshire. Whether you live here or not, and regardless of what your focus of activism is, you can work towards attaining persona l and economic freedom in America's freest state. I know people who do that from all the way across the country. Obviously some of that work has to be done by people who live here, and if you don't move here, you won't get to enjoy first hand the hard-earned benefits of that work. But every one of you can do something to help build a Free State.
3: Contribute money. This is not primarily a fundraising event, neither for the FSP, nor for any other organization here. But the truth is, it takes money to run the FSP and every other organization you'll hear from. Even though we're currently an all volunteer organization, myself included, we do have expenses. The Free State Project is running this event because it fits our mission and we hope it attracts more pro-freedom activists to New Hampshire. All of our operations, including this event, do cost the FSP money and aside from a small amount of merchandise sales, we run entirely on donations. We're ready to receive them this weekend or any time you're ready. That is also true of many of the other organizations here this weekend. We appreciate your generous donations and I know they do, too.
4: Move to New Hampshire. If you don't already live here, move here. You don't have to wait until the FSP gets 20,000 signatures to move here. I didn't. Many of the people sitting around you didn't. Moving is a huge undertaking and I can attest to that personally. But it's far easier than it was even in the recent past, and in the big scheme of things it's a small price to pay for a real, realistic chance to create a Free State.
5: Invite others to participate in the Free State Project. Many people have joined us because a friend introduced them to the project. Some joined because they came here to New Hampshire to visit. Some heard about us on a talk show, in a newspaper or magazine article, or through the mail. If you want to work together with others to promote the Free State Project, we have limitless volunteer opportunities available within our organization. Some people prefer to work independently and that's great, too. We'd like to help you either way. We have our own toolbox – resources you can use, from fliers, to event speakers and materials, to merchandise that you can use to help grow the project.
So, again, as the weekend progresses, I hope you'll be inspired and motivated to increase your commitment to helping build a Free State here in New Hampshire. Consider signing the Statement Of Intent, putting yourself to work promoting freedom here in New Hampshire, contributing money to the FSP and/or other New Hampshire-focused pro-freedom organizations, moving to New Hampshire, and inviting others to participate in the Free State Project.
I've done all five of those myself and haven't regretted a minute of it. The same can be said of many others in this room. I hope someday it will be said of all of us and that we'll all be here together in a state in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property. Then we will enjoy the benefits of freedom and be able to demonstrate them to America and the rest of the world. Thank you.
Intro to Gardner Goldsmith:
I mentioned I'd talk about the Advocates for Self-Government earlier and would like to take a minute to do that now. We originally scheduled Sharon Harris, President of the Advocates for Self Government, to come and speak today. I was really looking forward to having her here and I'm very confident she'll be up here at a future event of ours to make friends and share some of her toolbox with us. Unfortunately, a family medical situation came up a couple days ago and she needs to attend to that. There are a lot of families in the Free State Project so I know we can understand her excellent commitment to her family. She did express that she has been looking forward to this event even before its announcement last summer.
The Advocates have developed some outstanding outreach tools that I have personally used effectively for over 20 years now. Sharon wanted me to mention, in her absence, one of them that is timely right now. Each year, the Advocates gives out Lights Of Liberty awards. These awards are given to people who present the word “libertarian” and the libertarian idea to the public. There are three categories of award: speeches, letters to the editor, and Operation Politically Homeless booths.
The 2006 Lights Of Liberty awards are going to be sent out soon. To receive an award, you must have: 1) given at least three public speeches talking about libertarianism, 2) had three letters to the editor or op-ed's published using the world libertarian, and/or 3) participated in operating at least three Operation Politically Homeless booths. Every one of you can receive an award for doing any one of those three things, and can receive awards in one, two, or all three categories. I am a past Lights of Liberty Award recipient and will be again this year.
In order to receive a Lights Of Liberty award for 2006, Sharon needs to know that you did one of those three things. She asked me to take names, so if you've earned a Lights Of Liberty award, please tell me sometime this weekend and I will get that information to Sharon next week. I think it would be excellent to see the names of lots of NH residents and FSP participants on the list of Lights Of Liberty awards, so see me sometime this weekend and make it happen. Also, keep in mind, we're only two months into 2007, so there's plenty of time to earn your award for this year.
So now I get to introduce someone who is not Sharon Harris. Almost a year ago my dad handed me an issue of The Freeman magazine. He was impressed with a particular article about professional licensing, written by a guy from New Hampshire. Some of you know more of the story which I won't go into now. My dad was particularly surprised that someone who clearly 'gets it' could be a radio talk show host anywhere. I explained that New Hampshire is one of the few places where the 'gets it' crowd has any significant play in the media.
As luck would have it, we get to present to you, for the first of several times this weekend, that very author. He comes to us with a background in script writing and journalism with experience covering politics in Washington DC, and script writing gigs on some well known TV shows. He has written in several newspapers and magazines, is the man behind the Liberty Conspiracy blog, and the host of one of several New Hampshire based pro-freedom radio shows, Against the Grain. He has a book coming out in about 3 months called “Live Free or Die”, and will be appearing several more times this weekend, including on the broadcast media panel, moderating several other panels, and discussing a critical issue right now in New Hampshire, education, later today. But now, to open things up, please welcome to the microphone, Gardner Goldsmith.