Our Most Important Decision
By Tim Condon, Director of Member Services
NOTE: This article is now obsolete! Please see Tim's follow-up
Mea Culpa, It's No Longer North Dakota!
The Free State Project
A recurring question for Free State Project "Porcupines" is "Which state?"
If we've heard it a single time, we've heard it a thousand times! It's no
wonder that this is one of the favorite topics of discussion and argumentation
among FSP members.
The final choice of "the Freestate" will be the single most important
decision made by the FSP membership. The decision will affect every member who
has signed the Statement of Intent, and it will affect many thousands of others
who follow the first FSP pioneers.
In fact, the Freestate choice will ultimately affect America...and quite
possibly the world. If the Free State Project pioneers can show America and the
world "what can be done" by people living in simple liberty, with both social
and economic freedom, then the template of freedom can be expected to grow and
spread. For whatever reason, it seems that people need to be reminded, every
few generations, of exactly what freedom means, and what exactly can be
accomplished by this seemingly simple social and economic alternative.
Consider Hong Kong, as a reminder of "what freedom can accomplish."
Consisting of less than 500 square miles of land, situated on a few rocky
outcroppings, subject to monsoons, mudslides, and earthquakes, this tiny
outpost had one of the largest, most powerful, and most vibrant economies in
the entire world until China took over in 1997. Sadly, the remarkable freedom
and economic strength that Hong Kong citizens enjoyed are now fading under the
control of the Chinese communists. The rest will be sad and predictable
Where else? At this point there doesn't appear to be anyplace in the world
that can even hope to follow the Hong Kong example of economic vibrancy and
That's where The Free State Project comes in. Unlike most of our peers in
the United States and virtually all of the rest of the world, Porcupines know
what simple individual freedom can mean. That's why we're signed-up members of
The Free State Project.
Given that the choice of "which state" will be the single most important
decision made by the Free State Project pioneers, and given that the choice may
well have historic implications, plenty of thought, analysis, discussion, and
argumentation is called for.
----The Analysis Process----
Let's start our analysis process with an examination of the two fundamental
schools of thought now contending among FSP Porcupines: On the one hand there
are those who argue that we should choose a state that's "nice to live in."
That is, a state that has beauty, as mild a climate as possible (or at least
"banana belt" areas), coastline, plentiful amenities, etc. After all, we're
asking people to uproot themselves and their families, to leave familiar
surroundings, jobs, and careers, to pick up and relocate. As the argument goes,
if the chosen state isn't a nice place to live, it won't be acceptable to many
FSP members, and if it isn't acceptable the requisite number of members won't
pick up and move, thus dooming our ultimate aim of making wide-ranging
political, economic, and social reforms in favor of individual freedom. The
problem with the "nice place" position is that nicer locales tend to have
larger populations (after all, they're..."nicer places to live").
The other contending school of thought maintains that while "niceness is
nice," it is far more important to choose a state that will enable the
Freestate Project to attain its ultimate goals of wide-ranging political,
social, and economic reforms. Thus, the most important two variables we must
consider are (1) the size of the general population, and (2) the size of the
voting population. Everyone will notice that the State Data Charts on
the web site are laid out according to this last most crucial variable, listing
the lowest voting population state, Wyoming, at the top and moving successively
downward to Maine as voting populations increase.
There are several reasons why voting population is the most important
variable. If there are too many people voting in a chosen state--even if the
population of the state can be said to be generally pro-freedom--the 20,000 FSP
immigrants risk being overwhelmed by a general population that won't support
the "radical reforms" necessary for true "liberty in our lifetime." Which in
turn could result in creating a discouraging atmosphere leading to diminished
participation and ultimately loss of interest. This scenario could be an
insurmountable setback if we fail to choose a very low voting-population
Given the above, the obvious alternative to the "pick a nice place to live"
position is to go for a low population state. This school of thought points out
that not only do "nice states" currently have higher than optimal populations,
but the situation can only be expected to worsen as time goes on. Why? Because
nice places to live will inevitably attract more residents from the general
population over time, creating the unsettling possibility that the Freestate
could start out successfully implementing liberty-enhancing reforms, only to be
reversed later as the population grows with residents not so enamored of
On the other hand, the "nice place" bloc counters that a larger population
isn't a drawback as long as the existing population is generally pro-freedom
anyway. But while the question of how "freedom-oriented" an existing state
population is may be an important one, the absolute numbers of existing and
projected populations must be counted as far more important. Let's face it:
Libertarians and other freedom-lovers are a small minority in the general
population (as shown by the vote tallies for the national Libertarian Party
over the past 20 years), and any choice that dilutes our already low percentage
could be fatal to our ultimate goals.
In other words, if a state population is small enough, there will be little
question about whether the FSP migration and reforms will ultimately be
successful, especially in view of the continuing influx of freedom-lovers that
will occur after the initial FSP-led migration takes place. A successful
initial move to a low-population state will greatly increase the chance of
successful implementation of freedom-oriented reforms, which in turn will
create an oasis of freedom in the United States, not to mention the rest of the
This is not to say that the other measures of state suitability should be
ignored. Far from it! But all other variables must be secondary to the most
important issue of voting population. Porcupines on the "nice place" side may
object that choosing a low population state will mean that we're choosing a
less desirable place to move to, thus making it an unacceptable option to more
FSP members, and thus endangering a successful migration when the time comes.
After all, low-population states are low-population states obviously because
fewer people want to live there, usually because both terrain and climate are
extreme and rigorous. In addition, goes the argument, a smaller population
means less economic activity, meaning that jobs and making a living may be more
difficult, especially for the first waves of FSP immigrants to arrive.
What can a low-population partisan offer to such objections? Are the goals
of a successful FSP migration doomed unless a state with plentiful amenities is
chosen? Must we choose "a nice place to live," even if it necessitates choosing
a state with a larger population that may dilute FSP voters? (Of the
larger-population but "nicer" states, think New Hampshire, Idaho, Montana, and
Delaware, in decreasing population order.)
The short answer to all the above is that such concerns are overblown.
Think about it: The members of the Free State Project are above all
"committed." By joining and "signing up" they are making it quite clear that
they do in fact want "liberty in their lifetimes." And to gain that priceless
prize they are willing to uproot themselves, and in many cases their families,
to leave the familiar and comfortable surroundings of their homes and
neighborhoods...just to have a chance at building and living in a free
Do such people sound familiar in history? They should: These are the
spiritual descendents of the millions of people who uprooted themselves and
their families from the lands of their ancestors, those who cast their lot in a
wild, unknown New World filled with uncertainty, all for a chance to live free
and breathe free...and for their children and grandchildren to do the same.
They risked death for only a "chance" to live free and succeed. There were no
guarantees of success or even help. Yet they did it anyway, arriving in the
millions to escape the stifling political, social, and economic straits of the
So here's a question: Are the liberty-lovers of the Free State Project any
less motivated? Any less courageous? Any less energized? I think not. No
matter which state we choose, we will not face even a tiny fraction of the
physical obstacles and dangers faced by our forebears. Thus, taking a look at
the lowest-population states, also presumably the "least nice" states to choose
from---Wyoming, Alaska, North Dakota, and Vermont---we can confidently say that
those places are a cinch compared to what America's earliest immigrants
faced, a "walk in the park" by comparison. So given the commitment of the
members of the FSP, it is not too much of an overstatement to say, "When we
choose it, they will come, no matter which state is chosen!"
But wait! What about the second objection to choosing a more rigorous
low-population state? Even if the FSP members are brave and courageous, it
makes little difference if they can't find a job, if they can't support
themselves and their families. What if the state's economic climate (in
addition to the meteorological climate) is so poor that we can't find jobs?
What if there's just not enough of a state economy to absorb our migration into
the state? This is a scary and legitimate question, a possible scenario that
must be faced, especially by those of us who support families and children.
The answer, again, if we think about it, is pretty clear. Consider what
happens anywhere when waves of talented, committed, energetic, educated,
independent, self-supporting, entrepreneurial people move into any geographic
area. Think back to tiny Hong Kong, virtually without resources other than its
people. How could such a tiny place at one time have had one of the largest
economies in the world? One word: "People." With virtually nothing else, Hong
Kong was able not only to economically survive but also to prosper to an
incredible degree. Are the committed people of the Free State Project any less
creative, hard working, or entrepreneurial?
Let's take another example, the relatively small island of Taiwan. Today it
has about the 20th largest economy in the world. In comparison with other
national economies which draw upon giant landmasses, such as the United States
(#1), China (#2), India (#5), Brazil (#9) and Russia (#14), it is astounding
that such a small place could generate such economic energy and wealth. But
there's no great mystery that Taiwan, and Hong Kong in its day, were the
beneficiaries of waves of migrants escaping communism, just as south Florida,
for another example, benefited economically from waves of Cubans escaping the
gulag of communist dictator Fidel Castro.
To those who understand the dynamics of social, economic, and political
freedom, the examples above provide no great mystery at all. Free minds, free
men and women, and free markets create great wealth. It's as simple as that. In
fact, no matter where the Free State Project members migrate to, that
place will enjoy a tremendous outpouring of creative energy and
wealth-creation. It will be the luckiest state in American history.
So, to revisit the original question, will the migrating Freestaters face
the possibility of not being able to support themselves and their families in
the Freestate? Not a chance! If the immigrant Porcupines can implement the
political, social, and economic reforms that they support and foresee, the
Freestate will be a fortunate place indeed. All of which is an additional
argument in favor of a low-population state. Only by successfully implementing
the major FSP reforms can such success be realized. To choose a
higher-population "nicer" state could mean ultimate failure. As voting members
of the Free State Project, we must face an all-important fact: We must choose a
low-population state for our best chance of success, and "the lower the
better." The voting populations of the 10 remaining FSP candidate states range
from 213,000 (Wyoming) to 647,000 (Maine). Four of the states have voting
populations of less than 300,000, while the remaining six range from 316,000 to
the most populous (in order from lower to higher, the higher-population states
are South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Idaho, new Hampshire, and Maine).
Thus, because of all of the above, I believe "the state" for the Free
State Project should be chosen from the four lowest-population states, those
with less than 300,000 voters: Wyoming, Alaska, North Dakota, or Vermont.
(This eliminates, incidentally, what have heretofore generally been regarded as
the "leading states": Montana in the west and New Hampshire in the east.) While
some may regard this as radical and uncalled for---especially those who
champion the more popular states---I see it as a net benefit, a chance for us
all to start with a "clean slate" and look at the remaining four candidates
with clear-eyed appraisal. (After all, among the lowest-population states, the
only one that seems to have a contingent seriously pushing for it is
----Analyzing the Final Four----
Now it's time to apply the state variables to the final four states under
consideration. (As an aside, when I completed the process described below no
one could have been more surprised at the outcome than me.)
As we know, the "final four" states, from least to most populous, are
Wyoming, Alaska, North Dakota, and Vermont. Only by choosing one of these very
low population states will the Free State Project be guaranteed at a better
than average chance of success in its ultimate goals. I should also mention
that my analysis involves using some of the FSP state variables while others
are rejected or downgraded as being less important or not even germane. I have
already explained why I reject what I call the "niceness" factors. In the
General Data FSP list, these include, for instance, population density and
By the same token, I downgrade some variables in the In the Economic and
Political Data matrix as being less than edifying. For instance, I don't
believe the median household income measure or the current unemployment rate
are particularly enlightening (particularly the last, in view of the economic
growth that will be generated when Freestaters begin moving into the state).
Similarly, I don't believe the "Gov1" (federal, state, and local government
spending as a percentage of gross state product) or "Gov2" (state and local
government spending as a percentage of gross state product) are particularly
valuable, partly because the numbers are skewed as to Alaska with its huge oil
revenues, and partly because Vermont, with it's highly socialist-tending
political culture, comes out "first" on both measures while coming out "worst"
on the more important measure of state and local taxes as a percentage of state
per capita income.
Finally, I do not recommend using the state "Rankings" without close
examination. A simple ranking "from top to bottom" fails to take into
consideration the actual differences between states for the various variables.
We need to look not only at what is being measured, but also how far apart our
final four states are on each one.
Fine. Then let's start. Vermont first, because it has the highest voting
population (although not the highest absolute population) of the Final Four. I
believe it can most easily be dismissed from our final list (and this despite
the fact that I have posted positive remarks on the FSP list in the past in
favor of Vermont). Although Vermont is home of the famous "Vermont
carry" rule, which means that anyone may carry any concealed firearm at any
time, in any place, Vermont uniformly comes out wanting on the most important
measures. As mentioned above, Vermont is not the most populous state of the
final four, but it does have the highest voting population, possibly reflecting
a very politicized citizenry resulting from the net influx of politically
left-oriented residents in the 1970's and '80's. Even worse, its overall
population is projected to outstrip all but Alaska of the final four by 2025.
Plus, because of its location in the east and its proximity to the population
centers of the eastern seaboard, its population may grow even faster than
projected. What follow are the projected population increases of the final four
states for the year 2025, gathered from the web site at
There are other factors that militate against Vermont as a wise choice.
Reflecting its generally socialist-leaning political culture, it comes up with
a zero on a 10-point scale regarding statewide land planning, while the other
three states all score a perfect 10. Of the four states, Vermont also has a
higher rate of state and local taxation measured as a percentage of income (in
fact, it scores worse on this measure than any of the other final 10 states
under consideration by the FSP). It also scores third to last among all the
final 10 states on the Economic Freedom Index. And it scores lowest among the
final 10 states on the percentage of vote for Republican, Libertarian, and
Constitution Presidential candidates in the last election (although,
paradoxically, it has the second largest number of state elected libertarians
in the country). Among the final four, Vermont only scores well with respect to
federal tax receipts versus amounts paid out in federal taxes; percentage of
state population employed by some level of government, and the fact that it has
a small border with Canada. However, those positives are not enough to lift the
state into "final contention." In addition, it should be noted that many Free
State members reject eastern states in general because of their proximity to
population centers and centers of government power and control.
We must reject Vermont as "out of the running."
Let's now search for the "next-least-attractive" state out of the final
four. Despite its vocal supporters and a culture very friendly toward
individual freedom, that state would have to be...Alaska. The reasons for this
are several: First, more FSP members "opt out" of Alaska than any other state.
Second, although we agreed we weren't going to worry so much about "niceness,"
Alaska is undeniably remote and subject to a very harsh climate. And those who
uproot themselves to move when the Free State migration begins are still going
to have mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and relatives in the
"lower 48." If Alaska is chosen, it will be hard to visit those we love who
have stayed behind.
In addition to parts of Alaska having extremely harsh winters, other parts
are among the rainiest places on earth. And for the areas in the milder weather
of the panhandle, travel is difficult except by boat or airplane. (In fact,
travel is difficult throughout the state, which is why it has a higher number
of licensed pilots per capita than any other state in the U.S.)
But those are small quibbles compared to other limitations of Alaska. It
has a huge amount of territory owned by the federal government, fully 67% of
the state. It also has rich natural resources that guarantee the federal
government will "watch very closely" everything that goes on in the state. In
addition, it is an expensive place to live, with a surprisingly low Economic
Freedom Index compared to the remaining two states. And finally, 29.6% of the
state's population works for some level of government, federal, state or local
government, which thus employs almost one-third of the state's population.
Alaska is a wonderful place, and I'd go there if it were chosen...but
ultimately it's not a good final choice for the FSP. In order to maximize the
possibility of success for the Free State Project, we must turn Alaska
And that leaves two. The lowest-population state in the nation, Wyoming,
and surprisingly, North Dakota, with no vocal supporters and which everyone
seems to be ignoring. There are some characteristics of Wyoming and North
Dakota that are quite similar. Like Alaska, both have very rigorous climates
featuring severe winter conditions. They both have what might be called
"medium" tax burdens for state and local government, 9.1% for Wyoming and 9.5%
for North Dakota (compared to Alaska's lower 6.8%). They are also similar in
that, in 20 years, as shown above, they will be the two least-populated states
in the U.S. Their campaign funds listings are both commendably low, for what
they're worth, and their population densities are both relatively low compared
to the other 10 states under consideration.
But there are several important "General Data" measures in which North
Dakota clearly outstrips Wyoming. First, Wyoming is totally landlocked within
the continental United States. North Dakota, by contrast, has a long, porous
border with Canada, divided about equally between the two freedom-oriented
provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. And secondly, Wyoming is burdened
because it has a huge percentage of the state owned by the federal government,
45.9% (more than any of the 10 finalist states except Alaska and Idaho).
When we look at "Economic and Political Data," we find that Wyoming comes
out ahead of North Dakota in the measure of the amount of money received back
for every dollar paid in federal taxes, $1.14 for Wyoming vs. $1.95 for North
Dakota (which is the highest for that variable of any of the 10 states,
probably the result of heavy farm subsidies flowing back into the state).
However, while the Economic Freedom Index is similar for both states (4.41 for
Wyoming, 5.00 for North Dakota), projected news jobs forecast between 1998 and
2008 are lower for Wyoming, 27,450, than North Dakota, 34,350 (although it
should be pointed out that Wyoming and North Dakota are the worst and
next-worst on this measure of all the 10 states under consideration).
Both Wyoming and North Dakota score perfect 10's in land controls, they
both have strong votes for ostensibly conservative presidential candidates
(69.9% for Wyoming, 61% for North Dakota), and they have similar gun freedom
levels (a -4 rating for Wyoming and a -5 for North Dakota). Wyoming, however,
scores somewhat lower on the percentage of its citizens who work for some level
of government---22% vs. North Dakota's 18.5%---and the crime rate in North
Dakota is the lowest of all the 10 original candidate states.
In the end, choosing between the final two states is a difficult
proposition. However, in two important factors one stands out clearly above the
other. First, a very large part of Wyoming, 45.9%, is owned by the federal
government, while only 3.9% of North Dakota is (thus making North Dakota a
"larger state" than Wyoming in terms of the land mass available for private
ownership). And second, Wyoming is totally landlocked within the 48 contiguous
states, while North Dakota has a long border with Canada. On two other less
important measures, North Dakota also has an edge over Wyoming, the percentage
of the population employed by government (18.5% vs. 22%), and in the projected
new jobs outlook, 34,350 vs. 27,450.
Even as I write this, I shake my head. "North Dakota"? And yet, the numbers
are there, the statistics are undeniable. And the fact is, most FSP members
have unjustly ignored North Dakota. It is a very attractive "stealth state"
that has been flying "under the radar" of the FSP membership (as such, it can
be hoped that the state will remain "under the radar" with respect to attention
from the federal government also).
Look this beautiful state up on the Internet, check out the amenities, and
check out the business-friendly atmosphere of the state. Examine a map of the
state with its huge border with Canada. In the end, it will be clear to you, as
it is now clear to me, that the Free State Project should choose...North
A note from the author: I wish to thank Amanda Maxwell for her
editing help on this article; despite the fact that North Dakota is not her
favorite state---yet---she was still kind enough to assist me. I also want to
point out to everyone that I believe every one of the 10 states under
consideration would be a good choice, and I will move to any one that is
chosen. I must also say that North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana are my current
favorites (with Alaska being edged out because it's too remote and Vermont
being set aside because of it's socialistic native political culture). Does my
decision in favor of North Dakota mean that I will vote all of my 10 votes for
North Dakota when the time comes? No it does not. Doing such a thing defeats
the purpose of "cumulative count" voting (and I urge everyone else not to fall
into the trap). I intend as of now to cast 4 or 5 votes for North Dakota,
perhaps 3 for Wyoming (it's a beautiful state!), and maybe 2 or 3 for Montana.
Things change, admittedly. So while the Free State Project is surging toward
our 5,000 memberships, I urge everyone to think closely about which state you
will choose, for it will be the most important decision many of us ever make.
State Climates Report
by Jan Helfeld
(See also Climate Report Addendum and Climates Report #3)
For many people a key factor in determining whether a state is livable or
not is the weather. The reason for this is obvious; the weather affects us
constantly and can be an important hindrance to our enjoyment of life and the
pursuit of our goals. Thus, rational people will take climate into
consideration when deciding whether or not to move to a free state.
Some people simply will not move to a state based on weather considerations
alone. That is why people don't live on the North Pole and also why Canada is
so sparsely populated. The purpose of this climate report is to present the
facts about the weather of various states so that we can all make a rational
It is true that not everybody agrees on what good weather is. However, it
is also true that there is a consensus among human beings worldwide and more
particularly US citizens regarding climate preferences. Thus, it is possible to
make some generalizations about what good weather is and what it is not, that
most people would agree with. In any event, I will provide the facts so that
you can make an informed judgment based on your personal preferences.
The premise of the analysis would be that cold and drastic climates are
worse than warmer and milder climates. The support for the premise that people
prefer warmer and milder climates is the fact that worldwide most of the
population lives in the warmer and milder climates which suggests a preference
in that direction. But more importantly for us in United States, it is clear
that based on population migration in the last forty years, people prefer
warmer and milder climates. That is why US population has consistently migrated
south and West where the temperatures are warmer and milder. A good example of
this principle is that people are unwilling to move to Alaska even though the
state pays people to live there. Things have to be pretty bad if you're
unwilling to move to place that pays you to live there. Another fact that
suggests the validity of this principle is the fact that all the northern
states have very low population densities as well as the in land Western states
that have drastic temperature variations. It is not a coincidence that they
have the worst weather and also very low population densities. People vote on
climate with their feet.
If warmer and milder temperatures are an objective criteria to
differentiate between states, as I have claimed, then Delaware would be the
best of thestate candidates as far as climate is concerned. As you can see from
the statistics presented in the graph, Delaware's climate is milder and warmer
than any of other six top candidates by far.
Lewes - Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
|Month ||Average High ||Average Low
||Average Precipitation |
|Jan. ||43 ||26 ||3.8 |
|Feb. ||45 ||28 ||3.3 |
|Mar. ||54 ||35 ||4.1 |
|Apr. ||64 ||43 ||3.6 |
|May ||73 ||53 ||3.8 |
|Jun. ||81 ||62 ||3.4 |
|Jul. ||85 ||67 ||4.0 |
|Aug. ||84 ||66 ||5.2 |
|Sep. ||78 ||60 ||3.1 |
|Oct. ||68 ||49 ||3.2 |
|Nov. ||59 ||40 ||3.3 |
|Dec. ||48 ||31 ||3.7 |
Concord, New Hampshire
|Month ||Average High ||Average Low ||Average
|Jan. ||31 || 9 ||2.7 |
|Feb. ||34 ||11 ||2.4 |
|Mar. ||43 ||22 ||2.9 |
|Apr. ||57 ||32 ||3.0 |
|May ||69 ||42 ||3.1 |
|Jun. ||78 ||52 ||3.0 |
|Jul. ||83 ||57 ||3.1 |
|Aug. ||80 ||55 ||3.3 |
|Sep. ||72 ||46 ||3.0 |
|Oct. ||61 ||35 ||3.2 |
|Nov. ||48 ||28 ||3.8 |
|Dec. ||35 ||15 ||3.2 |
The average low temperature in Concord, New Hampshire is 17 degrees lower
in January and February than in Lewes, Delaware. The average low temperature
for the month of January in Concorde New Hampshire is 9 degrees. In Lewes
Delaware the average low temperature for the month of January is 26 degrees.
That is certainly enough to make a big difference in the quality of life one
can expect. If this does not faze you, what about 33 degrees below zero, the
all-time January low for Concord? I don't know about you, but for me, below
zero temperatures are very difficult to live with.
These extreme cold temperatures make it more difficult to proselytize and
promote our political agenda. For most people these cold temperatures are best
dealt with by staying at home.
When it comes to average high temperatures, Delaware is not significantly
hotter than New Hampshire. For instance the average high temperature for the
month of July in Lewes Delaware is 85 degrees. Whereas in Concorde New
Hampshire the average high temperature for the month of July is 83 degrees.
Clearly Delaware?s temperature is milder and does not have the extreme
temperature variations that New Hampshire has.
The precipitation in both states is equivalent, but when it comes to New
Hampshire due to the cold temperatures this means lots of snow that will
certainly slow down activism.
Thus, no matter what weather factor is taken into consideration Delaware?s
climate is significantly better than New Hampshire?s. The same happens when you
compare Delaware?s climate to the other states.
When you compare Delaware?s climate to Vermont it is the same thing, except
that Vermont?s weather is even worse than New Hamshire?s. Take a look at the
|Month ||Average High ||Average Low ||Average
|Jan. ||26 || 8 ||1.8 |
|Feb. ||28 ||10 ||1.7 |
|Mar. ||38 ||21 ||2.2 |
|Apr. ||53 ||33 ||2.8 |
|May ||67 ||44 ||3.0 |
|Jun. ||76 ||54 ||3.3 |
|Jul. ||81 ||59 ||3.6 |
|Aug. ||78 ||57 ||4.0 |
|Sep. ||69 ||49 ||3.3 |
|Oct. ||57 ||39 ||3.0 |
|Nov. ||44 ||30 ||3.0 |
|Dec. ||31 ||16 ||2.3 |
The climate in North Dakota is even worse than the climate in New Hampshire
and Vermont. The average low temperature for the month of January is three
degrees below zero. It is probably the worst weather in the whole country.
Here are the facts.
Fargo, North Dakota
|Month ||Average High ||Average Low ||Average
|Jan. ||15 ||-3 ||0.6 |
|Feb. ||21 || 3 ||0.5 |
|Mar. ||34 ||17 ||1.0 |
|Apr. ||54 ||32 ||1.7 |
|May ||69 ||44 ||3.3 |
|Jun. ||77 ||54 ||3.1 |
|Jul. ||83 ||59 ||3.2 |
|Aug. ||81 ||57 ||2.4 |
|Sep. ||70 ||46 ||1.8 |
|Oct. ||57 ||35 ||1.5 |
|Nov. ||36 ||19 ||0.8 |
|Dec. ||21 || 4 ||0.6 |
The climate in Montana is also significantly worse than the climate in
Delaware. It has colder weather in the winter and warmer weather in the
summer. For instance, the average low for the month of January is 14 degrees
compared to 26 degrees in Delaware. Whereas the average. high for July is 86
degrees compared to 85 degrees in Delaware. Missoula has a climate similar to
that of Billings, but it is a few degrees cooler in both winter and summer,
with less precipitation. Here are the facts on Billings.
|Month ||Average High ||Average Low ||Average
|Jan. ||32 ||14 ||0.8 |
|Feb. ||38 ||19 ||0.6 |
|Mar. ||45 ||25 ||1.1 |
|Apr. ||57 ||34 ||1.8 |
|May ||67 ||44 ||2.4 |
|Jun. ||77 ||52 ||2.1 |
|Jul. ||86 ||58 ||1.1 |
|Aug. ||85 ||57 ||0.9 |
|Sep. ||72 ||47 ||1.3 |
|Oct. ||61 ||37 ||1.1 |
|Nov. ||45 ||26 ||0.8 |
|Dec. ||36 ||18 ||0.7 |
The temperatures in Alaska are similar to those in New Hampshire and
Vermont. In other words, it is very cold in the winter. The average low
temperature for January is 8 degrees. It is cooler in the summer than New
Hampshire but altogether as you would expect, much worse whether than
Delaware?s weather. Here are the facts.
|Month ||Average High ||Average Low ||Average
|Jan. ||22 || 8 ||0.8 |
|Feb. ||25 ||11 ||0.8 |
|Mar. ||33 ||17 ||0.7 |
|Apr. ||43 ||28 ||0.6 |
|May ||55 ||39 ||0.7 |
|Jun. ||62 ||47 ||1.0 |
|Jul. ||65 ||51 ||1.9 |
|Aug. ||63 ||49 ||2.4 |
|Sep. ||55 ||41 ||2.7 |
|Oct. ||41 ||28 ||1.9 |
|Nov. ||28 ||15 ||1.1 |
|Dec. ||22 ||10 ||1.1 |
|Month ||Average High ||Average Low ||Average
|Jan. ||39 ||26 ||1.2 |
|Feb. ||46 ||30 ||0.9 |
|Mar. ||54 ||34 ||1.0 |
|Apr. ||62 ||40 ||1.2 |
|May ||71 ||46 ||1.5 |
|Jun. ||79 ||53 ||1.4 |
|Jul. ||89 ||59 ||0.6 |
|Aug. ||88 ||58 ||0.8 |
|Sep. ||78 ||50 ||0.7 |
|Oct. ||63 ||41 ||1.0 |
|Nov. ||48 ||33 ||1.1 |
|Dec. ||41 ||28 ||1.1 |
Perhaps surprisingly, Idaho - in the lower elevations - is by far the
hottest state under consideration. The temperatures in Idaho are equivalent in
the winter time to those in Delaware but the summers are hotter than those in
Delaware. Boise is even hotter than Lewiston, with virtual drought in
|Month ||Average High ||Average Low ||Average
|Jan. ||38 ||15 ||0.4 |
|Feb. ||41 ||18 ||0.4 |
|Mar. ||45 ||22 ||1.0 |
|Apr. ||55 ||30 ||1.4 |
|May ||64 ||40 ||2.5 |
|Jun. ||75 ||48 ||2.2 |
|Jul. ||82 ||54 ||2.0 |
|Aug. ||81 ||53 ||1.6 |
|Sep. ||72 ||44 ||1.2 |
|Oct. ||60 ||34 ||0.8 |
|Nov. ||46 ||23 ||0.6 |
|Dec. ||40 ||18 ||0.4 |
Cheyenne, Wyoming has a better climate than most of the cities presented,
but it still has low precipitation, and it has the mildest climate in the
state. Casper is much colder in winter and much hotter in summer.
These statistics are taken from the
weather site. You can get the statistics for each state from this WebSite.
August 25, 2002
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those
of the Free State Project, its Officers, or Directors.
Child Protective Services Report
by Nev Moore
The table below presents comparative data on the Child Protective Services
regimes of the states under consideration, plus some of the worst states not
under consideration for comparison.
||Funding: state/federal (mil. $)
||Children removed from home
||Children in state care
||# of workers
||# of adoptions*
|Alaska DFYS ||13.072/10.460 ||14098 ||897
||1372 ||130 ||95 |
|California DSS** ||1023.742/937.011 ||452887
||61061 ||117401 ||7134 ||4418 |
|Delaware DHHS ||14.205/20.532 ||8330 ||N/A
||888 ||294 ||62 |
|Florida DCF** ||270.306/144.388 ||160105
||11906 ||23436 ||3837 ||1549 |
|Idaho DHW ||30.830/12.069 ||11161 ||497
||930 ||377 ||14 |
|Maine DHS ||36.318/20.566 ||9877 ||874
||N/A ||N/A ||125 |
|Montana DPHHS ||12.680/22.159 ||20315 ||2303
||N/A ||N/A ||149 |
|New Hampshire DHHS ||28.310/33.423 ||8833
||493 ||N/A ||N/A ||51 |
|North Dakota DHS ||12.569/8.887 ||6926 ||346
||930 ||N/A ||111 |
|South Dakota DSS ||17.678/10.999 ||4709
||685 ||654 ||N/A ||55 |
|Vermont AHS ||29.123/18.083 ||2456 ||236
||1188 ||245 ||118 |
|Wyoming DFS ||12.130/N/A ||3331 ||330
||N/A ||40 ||N/A |
* Adoption figures represent only children adopted out of foster
care after removal from their families by CPS.
** CA, FL, MA - represent high average states, included for comparison.
States compete for federal per-child cash adoption bonuses. A low
adoption figure represents states' prioritizing reunification with
families rather than competing for the federal adoption bonuses.
Budget figures do not represent state agencies total annual budget,
as they get funding from local and private sources in addition.
To interpret these figures for the purposes of state comparison,
we need to translate them into per capita numbers, of course. Once
we do so, Vermont, Idaho, and South Dakota look particularly good,
while Montana and to a lesser extent Alaska look particularly poor.
September 2, 2002
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent
those of the Free State Project, its Officers, or Directors.
by Jan Helfeld
Jan Helfeld lives in Falls Church, VA in the Washington, DC metro area. He
is an attorney and TV interviewer.
(See also Delaware Report #2.)
The rational conclusion from Jason Sorens' brilliant state comparison analysis is that Delaware is the
best free state candidate. There is a reason why an objective analysis puts
Delaware at the top of the heap. What is the point of studying, collecting and
integrating all the relevant data necessary to make a determination on which is
the best free state candidate, if the conclusion of this analysis is to be
ignored? I therefore urge you to examine the state comparisons and all the
relevant data that they integrate, so you can see for yourself.
Some of the highlights that make Delaware come up as the best free state
candidate in the state comparison analysis are the following.
The most important factor to consider when trying to implement the free
state project strategy is the voting population. The reason for this is
obvious: the fewer the voters, the more impact the 20,000 liberators will have
on the elections. If you look at the numbers carefully you will see that the
states fall in the following voting population categories: Wyoming has the
least amount of voters with 213,000, the next category includes Alaska, North
Dakota, Vermont, South Dakota and Delaware with voting populations of between
288,000 and 328,000, the next category his Montana and Idaho with voting
populations of between 411,000 and 488,000 and finally New Hampshire, New
Mexico and Nevada with voting populations of between 567,000 and 606,000.
The main conclusion that can be derived from this voting population
analysis is that Wyoming is definitely a candidate that should be examined
carefully. Secondly, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Nevada simply have too many
voters to be impacted decisively by a move of 20,000 liberators. Finally, if
Wyoming is not ideal, then we should look carefully at the second category of
Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, South Dakota and Delaware. Of this second
category, I think Delaware is the best for the reasons I will put forth in this
Delaware is ideal geographically, with ports and plenty of coastlines. It
is the antithesis of a land locked state. There's no obstacle for trade with
the rest of United States and or the world. This situation facilitates the
potential for autonomy.
Importantly, Delaware is close and accessible to major population centers.
It is a population hub. This is an often overlooked factor that would
facilitate the movement to the state by the liberators and make the move more
attractive because of the possibility of maintaining close contact with the
people from where the liberators originally came. Furthermore, this proximity
to major population centers (Philadelphia, Baltimore, southern New Jersey)
would make it easier for other activists that do not move to help in the
liberation of the free state - and helps us to get jobs in the early transition
Highest Income per Capita
Additionally, Delaware has the highest income per capita of any of the
candidates, indeed of any state in the U.S. This is an important factor in many
ways. First, the more money people make, the more money available for
investment and therefore the more economic opportunities for the 20,000
liberators. Secondly, the more money people make, the more they are harmed by
the redistribution of wealth policies of the federal and state government.
Thus, it is logically in their self-interest to have lower taxes because taxes
take disproportionately high amounts from wealthy people. Consequently, they
are more likely to support tax reductions.
Dependence on the Federal Government
Of the current candidate states, only New Hampshire and Nevada are less
dependent on the federal government than Delaware. As Sorens mentions in the data analysis, "Federal dependence is very
important. Research indicates that regions that receive more from the central
government in expenditures than they pay in taxes are less likely to seek
fiscal autonomy or sovereignty. Regions that pay more than they get back are
more likely to seek autonomy, because they have a genuine grievance against the
central government. Having a state that is on net exploited by the central
government would be a very important issue for us and would create a popular
demand for real federalism. (It will also make it easier for us to reject
federal funds when necessary.)"
Federal state and local spending as a percentage of state gross
Only New Hampshire has less federal, state, and local spending as a
percentage of gross state product than Delaware. Delaware's state and local
spending is 6.3% compared to New Hampshire's 6.8%. These percentages are both
far below the rest of the states and reflect a fundamental conclusion of the
citizens, namely that the government should not take a high percentage of the
citizen's income. This conclusion is instrumental for economic freedom and will
make our job much easier.
If that is not enough to persuade you that Delaware is the ideal candidate
here are a few other considerations that will help you reach the same
A factor that was not included in the state comparison analysis was climate
even though this factor will clearly impact on people's decision to move to and
live in the free state candidate. If you look at the weather and climate report you'll see that Delaware has
the best weather and climate of the states with under 330,000 voting
For many people a key factor in determining whether a state is livable or
not is the weather. The reason for this is obvious; the weather affects us
constantly and can be an important hindrance to our enjoyment of life and the
pursuit of our goals. Thus, rational people will take climate into
consideration when deciding whether or not to move to a free state.
Delaware is relatively small. This makes proselytizing and activism in
general easier than would be the case in a large state. 20,000 activists would
have a great impact and would be able to canvass the entire state easily.
There's no problem with ballot access in Delaware. The Libertarian Party is
a recognized party, and it is not necessary to waste time petitioning to put
candidates on the ballot. This is a great time saver, permitting us to spend
more time persuading Delaware citizens of the benefits of freedom.
The Political Situation
The state is more or less evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans,
the Democrats having the present edge. This even division makes it easier for a
third party to prevail.
The state is pro-business. There are more corporations incorporated in
Delaware than any other state in the union because Delaware has the most
favorable corporate laws. This is one example of its pro-business political
The favorable business environment has created a solid manufacturing
industry that assures the economy a good foundation. The unemployment is low,
and the prospects for jobs are good.
Favorable Tax Legislation
The state does not tax social security or pension benefits. Also there are
rebates on real estate and sewer taxes for senior citizens. This makes the
state very attractive to retired people, a very good source of activists and
One would expect that it is easier for retirees to move to a new state than
it is for people in the middle of their careers. Along with the people that are
just beginning their careers, retirees are a very good source that we should
try to tap in our efforts to meet the critical mass of 20,000. Delaware is
especially attractive to this group because of the favorable tax legislation,
the climate and the easy access.
Federal Land Ownership
Only Maine has less federal land ownership than Delaware. This is one more
obstacle that is absent in Delaware, but present in many other states.
When you take all the relevant information into consideration Delaware is
the best choice. If you do not believe that Delaware is the best choice for the
F.S.P., please feel free to debate me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 28, 2002
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those
of the Free State Project, its Officers, or Directors.
The First State Report
by William A. Shields
(See also Delaware Report #1
Nearly two years ago I told a few politically active friends of mine about an
idea I had called The Delaware Plan. The plan was similar to the Free
State Project, but I never considered that the plan would work in any state
except Delaware. I am still convinced (although willing to be persuaded
otherwise) that Delaware is the only state that will work for FSP purposes.
Having lived in Delaware almost all of my life, and having chaired a political
party here (Reform/Buchanan), I'm as close to the action as it gets. I am
delighted to be able to help the Free State Project by making this report, and
I truly hope it helps our members and supporters make an informed choice. If
you do not agree with any of my premises, please fire off an email to me at email@example.com.
Like I said, I'm willing to be persuaded.
Delaware is one of the easiest states in which to gain ballot access
The Libertarian Party has had ballot access and will surely maintain it easily.
All that is needed is a low number of registered party members and a form filed
with the Secretary of State. 240 Reform Party members got us on the ballot in
2000. Please keep in mind that easy ballot access helps libertarians by
enabling other parties like Greens (tree huggers), Natural Law (rug pilots),
and others, to siphon votes from the two big-government parties that I need not
mention by name.
It's as easy as one, two, three
A primary strategy that I have seen mentioned is to take over county
governments. The number of counties in Delaware is three (3). It doesn't get
any easier than that. As far as local (municipal/town) offices go, only two
Wilmington and Elsmere have partisan party elections. This means
you needn't have political party backing to get on the ballot. This makes
almost all local offices ripe for stealth campaigns if a candidate is so
inclined. Want to be Mayor of a State Capitol (Dover)? Put your name on the
ballot and hit the campaign trail.
Here are the statewide voting totals for the 2000 election cycle. This
represents the number of actual votes cast, broken down by party and the
percentage of registered voters that number represents
|| 145,829 (68%) |
|| 117,595 (69%) |
| All Others
|| 69,629 (59%) |
To crunch all of Delaware's election numbers for the Y2K cycle go to
As has been pointed out elsewhere, Delaware's voting population numbers are
among the lowest of states being considered, and the only state that
yields a low voter population and a livability factor you will find in no other
state with similar numbers.
Yes folks, size does matter, so let's talk about it. If a political activist in
Delaware has to travel to a meeting anywhere in the state, he or she has a trip
of 100 miles or less to make. One can make a trip from anywhere in Delaware to
the State Capitol (Dover), conduct a two-hour business meeting, and still be
home in time to watch TV. Let's face it, if we are going to organize and
mobilize liberty in our chosen state, we can do it more easily and more cheaply
in Delaware. Other states' vast wilderness areas may sound attractive to some,
and may look good on a post card, but a two-day dog sled run that yields four
signatures on a petition is not my idea of a workable organizing plan. You can
almost measure Delaware with a ruler, so here are the numbers:
Delaware ranks 49th in the nation with a total area of 1,982 square miles.
Delaware is 96 miles long and varies from 9 to 35 miles in width.
Castle County is 438 square miles.
Kent County is 594 square miles.
Sussex County is 950 square miles.
Delaware has a unique and important role in our nation's economy
Want us to be able to negotiate with the federal government from a position of
real power? Consider: nearly every Fortune 500 company is headquartered in
Delaware, as is nearly the entire credit card industry. Nearly all U.S.
flagged oil super tankers such as the infamous Exxon Valdez
ported in Wilmington, Delaware. The reason for this is the Chancery Court of
Delaware which is fast, predictable, and very pro-business. A political
party that takes over Delaware gains a small piece of the geographical pie, but
slice of the American economy. I promise you, should this happen
(FSP) in Delaware you will get the Feds' undivided attention. I'm not sure if
this is good or bad, but it's either really good or really bad. (Now that I
think of it, you couldn't write a movie script this interesting. All rights
There is no sales tax in Delaware which is why there are numerous
shopping malls strategically located to draw retail dollars from neighboring
states. The Christiana Mall, for instance, is located on I-95, equi-distant
from New Jersey (via the Delaware Memorial Bridge) and Elkton Maryland (to the
southwest). The retail industry is huge in Delaware and it provides many jobs
for entry-level types and semi-retired seniors. Help wanted signs are posted
everywhere, although most are for low-paying retail and fast-food jobs. Still,
one fact cannot be denied: tax freedom along with a strategic location amidst
population centers goes a long way toward achieving economic prosperity.
The job market in Delaware is favorable compared to the other states
being considered. The chemical, banking, and pharmaceutical industries are
thriving with no signs of a downturn, despite the presently dismal stock market
condition. I'll not go into too much detail here as Delaware's superior job
market, as compared to other FSP candidate states, has been established
Location, location, location
On the eastern seaboard of the United States, Delaware is bordered by the
Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay, as well as by the states of New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Delaware's location affords easy access to the
major metropolitan areas of the northeast. Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and
Baltimore are all within a 2-hour drive. According to legend, Thomas Jefferson
described Delaware as a "jewel" among states due to its strategic location on
the eastern seaboard. Hence, a sometimes used nickname, the Diamond
The Port of Wilmington, Delaware is number one in the nation for imports of
meat, frozen juice concentrates, and fresh fruit.
Taxes and retirees
Invest or Retire in Delaware?
Property taxes: Delaware's property taxes are among the lowest of any
state, ranking 43rd in the nation.
Retirement: The following table shows the total annual sales, property,
and income tax bill for a retired couple living in Delaware and surrounding
states. The couple is assumed to have $50,000 of annual income and live in a
home worth the median market value of 2,000 square-foot houses in their town.
|| Sales Tax
|| Property Tax
|| Income Tax
|| TOTAL |
|| $2,140 |
|| $5,078 |
| New York
|| $7,279 |
|| $7,363 |
| New Jersey
|| $7,555 |
Housing: Average price for existing three-bedroom house: $80-150,000 and
up. Mobile homes $25,000 and up.
Personal income tax: State personal income taxes for residents are
assessed on Delaware taxable income. Delaware taxable income equals Delaware
adjusted gross income minus personal exemptions and standard or itemized
deductions. Delaware adjusted gross income is derived by adding to the Federal
adjusted gross income and receipts from the securities of states or political
subdivisions other than Delaware and its political subdivisions. Income from
obligations of the United States, disability and/or elderly credits and
pensions up to $3,000 (age 60 and over) is then deducted from the federal
adjusted gross income. Nonresidents are taxed on the portion of income derived
from sources within Delaware. The current state tax rate schedule is graduated
and includes six rate reductions.
State taxes: Delaware has reduced its personal income taxes at all
income levels. The state has never had a general sales tax or an inventory tax.
There are no state real property taxes, and the local real property taxes are
very low. The total state and local tax burden is competitive with most other
County taxes: Sussex County taxes are based on a 1974 appraisal and
assessed at 50 percent of the 1974 market value. The county tax rate for the
year is $0.445 per $100 of assessed property value. This is the eighth year
that the rate has been $0.445. This tax includes the county's cost for general
obligation bonds, libraries, paramedics, and the general operation of the
City and town taxes: Municipal governments and school districts are
financed in part through real property tax receipts. Real estate in
incorporated areas is subject to local property taxes, school district property
taxes, and vocational school taxes. The total property tax burden depends on
the tax rate, the property assessment, and the assessment ratio.
Delaware always ranks high with publications catering to retirees. The primary
reason is the low tax burden. Consider this from CNBC:
Okay, we won't keep you in suspense any longer. It's no secret that
corporations love to set up shop in tax-friendly Delaware. Now retirees might
want to do the same. Our hypothetical retired couple in Dover, Delaware doesn't
spend a dime on sales taxes (there are none). Social Security benefits are
spared the state levy, and up to $12,500 per person of other retirement income
is tax-free. Our couple's only tax obligation is a $543 property-tax bill on
their $133,000 home, making the First State first on our list of tax-friendly
locations for retirees.
Next on the list is Alaska, but it's a distant second literally.
Although Alaska has no state income tax or sales tax, and the capitol city of
Juneau waives its 5% local sales tax for residents 65 and older, housing prices
have skyrocketed recently and so have property taxes. The median sale price of
a 2,000 square-foot home in Juneau last year was $240,000. Most residents would
owe more than $2,700 in property taxes, and even with a $150,000 exclusion for
senior citizens, our retired couple owes $1,032.
Other FSP candidate states ranked at the very bottom of this list (check the
site for yourself).
Better living through chemistry
When the Du Pont family arrived in Delaware in 1799, they saw potential power
in the flow of the Brandywine Creek. They turned their vision into a chemical
empire that survives today. Now it is time for the Free State Project members
to notice Delaware's special chemistry in the numbers that speak volumes about
Delaware's viability for our noble purpose. You don't need a degree in chemical
engineering to figure this one out.
Among the states being considered by the FSP, Delaware has a small number of
voters, combined with an acceptable livability rating, taking into
consideration the relatively moderate climate, and the favorable economic
Granted, if Delaware is chosen by the FSP, I won't have to move. And, my sister
would love to add 20,000 names to her real estate business Rolodex. However, I
want the FSP to work as envisioned, and not fail.
Delaware will give us our best chance.
December 11, 2002
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the
Free State Project, its Officers, or Directors.
Examining Population and Political Accessibility
By Keith Murphy
The author has directly managed nine campaigns for state legislative
office in Maryland, resulting in six victories. In addition, he has consulted
for numerous local races in Baltimore City. These services have included all
aspects of campaign management, from analyzing district demographics and voter
files to fundraising to production of literature and signs to organizing
volunteers and door-to-door. He is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to put
this experience to work for those who share his political viewpoints, in the
Boosters of small population states, such as Wyoming, Montana, Vermont, and
Delaware, will be happy to tell you that the population factor is crucial to
the success of the project. It is a cornerstone of the FSP.
But why? Why does population matter?
The typical answer is that the more people are in a given state, the more
difficult it will be to reach a required saturation point, a tipping point, in
order to achieve the political power it will take to put the state on a course
to liberty. Thus,
small-state boosters claim, 20,000 activists in New Hampshire are
equivalent to only 7,500 in Wyoming.
This is an extremely simplistic way of measuring the states against each other,
and could lead to an uninformed vote. It assumes that all other things are
equal. But the states are not equal, and there are real and distinct
differences between them. For example, isn't it logical that population is
only a concern to the degree that the native population leans against us?
Would the FSP have a better chance in a state with low taxes and a
live-and-let-live attitude, with a population of a million, or in a state of
600,000 with high taxes and onerous infringements on personal liberty? While
there inarguably is not yet a fully libertarian state, some are clearly closer
to the ideal than others. The closer a state comes to that ideal, the more
irrelevant the population factor becomes. This is why members spend so much
time weighing and arguing about tax rates, gun laws, drug arrests, and other
rough indicators of a state's "libertarian-ness."
But when considering the impact of population on the state choice, there may be
another factor that's even more important than political culture. From the FSP
The Free State Project is a plan in which 20,000 or more liberty-oriented
people will move to a single state of the U.S., where they may work within the
political system to reduce the size and scope of government.
Even more than population, this whole project is dependent on the
accessibility of the political system of the chosen state! Even
if the given state has a small population, and leans libertarian politically,
if the doors to power are closed to us by stifling election laws, all of our
efforts will have been in vain. Many of these election laws are directly
related to the population issue.
- Each state has different district sizes for their legislature.
- Some states allow multi-member districts, and some do not.
- Some have fusion, and some do not.
- Some have nonpartisan local races, and some do not.
- The ballot access requirement varies widely from one state to the next.
- From a logistical viewpoint, campaigns are more difficult in some states
than others, due to geographic features.
- The form of local government is very different from state to state.
- Finally, one state offers an executive council.
A brief overview of these features is provided here.
Population is only relevant to the state-choice issue for the effect that it
has upon our ability to influence the political reality of the chosen state.
But each state has very different systems, producing varying districts of very
different sizes. District size for each office is one of the key components of
understanding the relevance of population, as it provides some measure of the
work to be done to begin to take power from the existing political structure.
Even if you ignore differences in political culture, the overall population
number is only relevant for those select offices that have the entire state as
its district. For example, if you assume that Wyoming and New Hampshire are
equally libertarian, then it should be easier to win the governorship of
Wyoming than that of New Hampshire, as the number of votes required is
substantially less. The same would apply to other statewide offices, such as
state's attorney, treasurer, etc. Given the tremendous undertaking of running
a credible campaign for these statewide offices, in any of the ten states, it
is inevitable that our initial efforts will be concentrated on offices with
many less constituents, such as state legislative office and local offices.
The district size is (per the US Supreme Court's disastrous decision in Baker
v. Carr) decided by dividing the state's population by the number of seats.
This gives the "ideal" district size. Every ten years, following the census,
state legislators pore over voter demographic data, and (being careful to
include their major campaign contributors in their district and making it as
hard as possible for opposing parties) redraw the district lines to account for
shifts in population. Each district must be within 5% of the ideal district
size, a measure the Supreme Court apparently found under the sofa cushions. As
noted above, in general it is true that the smaller the district size the
easier it is to win, as the fewer voters that must be courted to achieve
victory. The smallest house districts in the nation can be found in New
Hampshire, beginning at 2,987 citizens. Vermont comes in next, with 4,059
citizens for its single-member districts. Wyoming can boast the smallest
uniform districts, with an ideal district population of 8,230.
State Legislative Districts
Idaho, North Dakota, and South Dakota all have two-member districts. Vermont
has a mix of single-member and two-member districts. New Hampshire is a
peculiar case, because of a state constitutional provision that prohibits
splitting towns without their permission. This results in multi-member
districts of varying size, as detailed below.
Multi-member districts may be "at large", meaning that all members represent
all constituents, or they may be broken into sub-districts. Multi-member
districts that are broken into sub-districts (A, B, etc.) usually cover large
geographic areas, the given rationale usually being that legislators should
live reasonably close to their constituents. Sub-districts usually operate
just like single-member districts, in that constituents go into the booth and
cast just one vote for that office. In comparison, in at-large districts
voters go into the booth and cast as many votes as there are seats. Idaho,
North Dakota, and South Dakota all have two-member house districts, some of
which are broken into sub-districts and some of which are not. In New England,
the unit of political power is not counties but towns, and districts are drawn
in such as way so as to avoid splitting towns wherever possible. The New
Hampshire Constitution actually forbids splitting towns without their
concurrence, resulting in a wide variety of district sizes. Where Vermont's
house consists entirely of one-member and two-member districts, New Hampshire's
house districts each have between one and fourteen seats, with the majority of
districts having between three and five seats. New Hampshire and Vermont have
no sub-districts, as do some of the larger western states.
The practical effect of at-large multi-member districts is that voters get as
many votes as there are seats. The major parties sometimes have difficulty
finding candidates to run for all the seats in a large district, and it is easy
to court the "extra" votes of a constituent. If a Republican has ten votes,
and only has eight Republicans to vote for, he is much more likely to give one
or both of his extra votes to a Libertarian than a Democrat. Of course, the
same is true of a Democrat. Party loyalists are much more likely to vote for
a third-party member than they are for "that other party." For example, in
2002 the Wyoming LP ran Marie Brossman for Secretary of State against an
incumbent Republican. The Democrats did not field a candidate. It was a
brilliant move that paid off handsomely, as Ms. Brossman received 17% of the
vote and gave the LP major party status in Wyoming until 2006.
Those states with at-large multi-member districts offer an electoral advantage
over those that don't. New Hampshire with its wide variety of district
sizes, offering constituents up to 14 votes each is particularly
attractive in this category.
Fusion allows a candidate to run for office under two or more parties
simultaneously. In the nineteenth century, fusion was a regular occurrence
throughout the nation, but it was such an opportunity for third parties that
the major parties worked in concert to ban it in most states. Of the ten
candidate states, it is only possible (with slight variances in application) in
Vermont, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, South Dakota, and New Hampshire. Of these six
states, it would appear that fusion only regularly occurs in Vermont and New
Hampshire. The other states could require an attorney general's opinion and a
court case to establish a modern precedent, and the first successful use of
fusion could trigger a belated effort by the major two parties to ban it.
When a third-party candidate runs under a major party banner, several important
things are accomplished. First, the major party includes the nominee on all
campaign literature, effectively paying to get the third-party's word out.
Second, the nominee benefits from straight-ticket voters in the general
election, that distinct subset of voters who don't even bother to look at the
candidates' names. Third, the very act of cross-nominating winners gives the
Fusion is always an electoral advantage, but when combined with multi-member
districts, especially large multi-member districts, it produces real
opportunity. This is explored in greater detail in the companion report
A Strategy for Achieving a Libertarian Caucus.
Nonpartisan Local Races
Delaware, Vermont, and New Hampshire have predominantly nonpartisan local
races. This is an important advantage, because most members who desire to run
for office will be cutting their teeth in the local races first. This is an
important way to build both name recognition for future political ambition and,
in a bigger sense, to build the political machine that elects party members
year in and year out. When the race is nonpartisan, the candidates cannot rely
on a party label. Instead, the focus is on the candidate's message and
arguments. This can only benefit those of us who wish to run as Libertarians.
To clarify, there may be other candidate states that possess this advantage,
but the supporters of those states have not brought that information forward.
To the best of the author's knowledge, only
Delaware, Vermont, and New Hampshire offer nonpartisan local
Some members have advocated that we subvert one or both of the existing major
party structures in the free state, while others have said that a new party or
the Libertarian Party is the way to go. If you find yourself in the former
group, then there is no advantage or disadvantage to the various states in this
regard. If you find yourself in the latter group, then this has a tremendous
impact on which state is the best choice.
- Alaska For major party status, a political party must either
have nominated a candidate for governor that received at least 3% of the vote
in the last general election or have registered voters equal to at least 3% of
the votes cast for governor in the last general election. There are no
provisions allowing nomination by petition.
- Delaware For major party status, a political party must
register at least 5% of the total number of voters in the state. A minor party
may nominate by convention as long as it has registered at least .05% of the
voters in the state. Alternatively, anyone may be placed on the ballot upon
submitting a number of petitions equal to 1% of the voters to be served by the
- Idaho Any party may qualify for major party status in one of
- Having three or more candidates for state or national office at a general
- A candidate receiving at least 3% of the votes cast for state or national
- Submitting a number of petitions equal to 2% of the number of votes cast
Anyone may file as an Independent by submitting the relevant number of
petitions: 1,000 for statewide office, 500 for congress, 50 for the state
legislature, or 5 for county office.
- Maine "Major parties" are defined as the two parties polling
the highest vote totals for governor in the most recent general election.
Third parties are blatantly shut out on this score. However, minor parties are
still qualified to take part in a primary if they hold municipal caucuses in at
least one municipality in each county of the state, if a state convention is
held, if the party's candidate for governor or President polled at least 5% of
the total in either of the last two general elections, AND if it was on the
ballot for either of the last two general elections.
- New Hampshire For major party status, a political party must
nominate a candidate for governor or United States Senator that obtains at
least 4% of the vote in a general election. A political organization (minor
party) may still have its name on the ballot for the general election by
submitting a number of petitions equal to 3% of the votes cast in the last
general election. Anyone can be nominated by submitting 3,000 petitions for
governor, 750 for state senator, or 150 for state representative.
- North Dakota A political organization may not nominate
anyone for statewide or legislative office unless it:
- Holds a caucus meeting in every voting precinct throughout the state by
May 15th immediately following a general election,
- Had a candidate for president or governor receive at least 5% of the vote
at the most recent general election, OR
- Submits 7,000 petitions to the secretary of state.
Independents must be nominated at the primary election, with a different ballot
clearly marked "No-Party." The number of people nominated for each office
through the no-party process is twice the number of seats. In other words, as
there can only be one governor, no more than two "no-party" candidates can be
- South Dakota For major party status, a party must submit a
number of petitions equal to 2.5% of the votes cast for governor in the last
preceding election. A minor party may have its designation on the general
ballot by submitting 250 petitions for statewide or federal office, or 5
petitions for legislative or county office. Independents may be placed on the
general ballot by submitting a number of petitions equal to 1% of the total
votes for the office of governor in the relevant district or subdivision in the
most recent general election.
- Vermont For major party status, a party must have received
at least 5% of the vote for any statewide office in the most recent general
election. Minor parties may not nominate someone for statewide office unless
town committees are set up in at least ten different towns. Anyone may be
nominated to be on the general election ballot by submitting 250 signatures for
statewide offices, 100 for state senator, or 50 for state representative.
- Wyoming For major party status, a political party must
nominate a candidate for statewide office that obtains at least 10% of the vote
in a general election. To nominate via petitions, the party must submit a
number of petitions equal to 2% of the votes cast in the relevant jurisdiction
for the office of United States Representative in the preceding general
The area of the candidate states, and their districts, is a factor that
deserves serious consideration. Some states have a larger rural population,
while the residents of some states prefer living in denser areas, mostly due to
climate issues. There are two primary reasons why the area of the state should
be a concern. First, the logistical difficulty of operating a campaign is
directly proportional to the distance that must be covered. Campaigns in
denser districts may be done on foot, whereas larger districts require hours to
canvass in a vehicle. Second, larger areas make influencing the political
process more difficult. There is much to be done in this regard, such as
testifying before senate and house committees and visiting legislators to
discuss issues. This is much easier when the state house is within easy
Geographic Rural/Urban Characteristics
||The area of the states in square miles.|
|| The area divided by the number of state house districts. This is merely
an average; it is important to remember that urban districts are quite small
while rural districts are much larger.|
|| The percentage of the population of the state that lives in urban areas,
as defined by the United States Census Bureau. |
|| The distance from the state capital to the population center of a given
state. This measure represents spatially where the capital is in regards to
the population of the state. (See here and here).|
In the western states and in Delaware, the primary form of local government is
based on county jurisdictions. Within each county there may be incorporated
areas that may enact their own ordinances, as long as they are in compliance
with the laws of the state and county. The end result of this system is to
have all citizens under a tiered system, with those living in municipalities
suffering from an additional level.
The three New England states are different. While they have counties, they
exist mostly as lines on the map. Most of the functions of local government
are performed at the town level, and the majority of the land area in the
states is incorporated. In general, courts are operated at the county level,
but all other functions, from roads to police to fire service to schools, are
administered at the town level. Issues are discussed at town meetings, giving
each citizen an opportunity to speak his mind.
This form of government has several important advantages. First, it is the
closest to the people, assuring that everyone in each town knows their elected
town officials personally. Remember, most power rests in the hands of town
officials instead of county officials administering vastly larger areas.
Second, it provides citizens amazing control over the town budget. In New
Hampshire, fifteen signatures is enough to place a budget item, called a
"warrant," on the ballot for referendum. If you don't want that new high
school, get fifteen signatures and vote it down. If you don't want the town to
get a new garbage truck because you think trash collection should be
privatized, get fifteen signatures and put it on the ballot. Many towns have
less than 1,000 people, and some have less than 100. Hart's Location, NH, only
has 37 residents. Each town is in control of all of its spending.
This brings me to the final advantage of the town-centered form of local
government. There are some areas of the New England states that are not
incorporated. These are very lightly populated, and residents contract with
the nearest town to provide those services that they do not provide for
themselves, such as schools. There is no constitutional provision in New
Hampshire requiring public schools, but there is a constitutional prohibition
against the state issuing unfunded mandates to the towns. Thus, there is no
reason why a small group of FSP members could not simply move to an
unincorporated area and incorporate as a new town. For this town, they could
write their own charter, prohibiting public schools, taxes, zoning, and
anything else they wish. They could even decide to not have a police
For that matter, there are even some low-population towns that a few dozen FSP
members would quickly overwhelm from sheer numbers. The current ordinances
could be repealed and the charter altered. The degree to which this
opportunity exists varies throughout the New England states. Vermont's
constitution does not protect towns from unfunded state mandates, while Maine's
constitution requires public schools to be maintained. New Hampshire offers
As noted earlier, population as a factor in the state choice is
only relevant because of the implications it holds for our ability to influence
the process and work within the political system. For elections, the
population of the entire state only matters when the entire state is your
district; that is to say, for statewide offices. There are very few statewide
offices. In most states only the governor, attorney general, and treasurer
come under the heading of "statewide," and these are the only offices for which
the state's population is an issue. As we will likely begin in local and state
legislative races, it is the size of those districts that should most concern
New Hampshire possesses an advantage in this regard: the ability to influence
the executive branch without winning a statewide office. The governor works
with an elected "Executive Council," which must approve any expenditure over
$5,000. They help the governor craft the budget, approve the placement of
roads, and otherwise direct the day-to-day operation of government. The
council has five members, elected from districts of roughly 247,157 persons
each. These districts are, then, each almost exactly half the population of
Wyoming, and would allow us to influence the executive branch earlier than is
possible in any other state.
It is extremely simplistic to measure the candidate states against each other
simply on the basis of overall population, as doing so assumes all other things
are equal, which is assuredly not the case. There are two primary complicating
factors that must be taken into consideration when weighing population. The
first is the degree to which the native population leans with or against us.
It is far better for the project to be in a state of a million people who lean
libertarian than in a state of a half-million that leans socialist.
The second factor, which is even more important, is the accessibility of the
given state's political system. There are many measures of accessibility, some
of which can be quantified and some of which cannot. They include such
measures as district size, whether the state has multi-member districts or
fusion, or both, ballot access, and other unique features.
Considering population as a factor through these lenses provides a much more
accurate picture of our chances of actually effecting change in the candidate
states. One state, in particular, leaps to the top of the pile, both in terms
of the libertarian leanings of the native population and, most importantly, in
openness of the political system. On every measure here reviewed, New
Hampshire comes out at, or near, the top. Of critical importance is the fact
that New Hampshire offers that which no other state can: fusion combined with
large multi-member districts. This crucial advantage is explored further in a
companion report, Towards
Victory: A Strategy for Achieving a Libertarian Caucus.
Climate Report Addendum
by Jason Sorens
This report serves as an addendum to Jan Helfeld's
state climates report. It includes data from an additional source and some
new data that are perhaps more interesting as a measure of extreme-ness of
The first section includes data on all the cities in the state climate
report from worldclimate.com,
apparently the most comprehensive and professional climate site on the
Internet. These data are for different elevations for Western states from the
elevations used for the data presented in Jan's report. The data on
worldclimate.com are the same for Lewes-Reheboth Beach, Concord, Burlington,
Fargo, Lewiston, Cheyenne, and Anchorage; data for different elevations were
available for Billings and Boise. Thus these two reports combined give a more
comprehensive feel for the Western data.
The second part of this addendum presents annual data on "Heating Degree
Days" and "Cooling Degree Days" from the same website. "Heating Degree Days"
are "the cumulative number of degrees in a month or year by which the mean
temperature falls below 18.3?C/65?F." "Cooling Degree Days" are "the cumulative
number of degrees in a month or year by which the mean temperature is above
18.3?C/65?F." Thus, Heating Degree Days measure the amount of cold in a year,
while Cooling Degree Days measure the amount of heat. A lower score on both
measures is better, indicating a mild climate.
Billings, Montana (Billings water plant, 3097 ft. above sea level; a
few degrees warmer highs than original report due to lower elevation, & less
precipitation in winter)
|Month ||Average High ||Average Low ||Average
|Jan. ||36 ||12 ||0.6 |
|Feb. ||43 ||17 ||0.4 |
|Mar. ||52 ||24 ||0.7 |
|Apr. ||63 ||32 ||1.3 |
|May ||72 ||42 ||2.2 |
|Jun. ||81 ||50 ||2.4 |
|Jul. ||89 ||55 ||1.0 |
|Aug. ||87 ||53 ||1.0 |
|Sep. ||76 ||43 ||1.3 |
|Oct. ||66 ||34 ||1.2 |
|Nov. ||49 ||23 ||0.6 |
|Dec. ||38 ||14 ||0.5 |
Boise, Idaho (Lucky Peak Dam, 2838 ft. above sea level; more
precipitation than at airport data used for interpretation in previous report)
|Month ||Average High ||Average Low ||Average
|Jan. ||38 ||22 ||1.8 |
|Feb. ||45 ||27 ||1.4 |
|Mar. ||53 ||31 ||1.5 |
|Apr. ||62 ||37 ||1.5 |
|May ||72 ||44 ||1.3 |
|Jun. ||81 ||52 ||1.1 |
|Jul. ||91 ||58 ||0.3 |
|Aug. ||89 ||58 ||0.5 |
|Sep. ||78 ||49 ||0.8 |
|Oct. ||66 ||40 ||0.8 |
|Nov. ||50 ||32 ||1.8 |
|Dec. ||39 ||23 ||1.5 |
Heating & Cooling Degree Days
|Lewes, DE ||4340 ||1066 |
|Concord, NH ||7553 ||328 |
|Burlington, VT ||7771 ||387 |
|Fargo, ND ||9254 ||536 |
|Billings, MT (airport) ||7164 ||652 |
|Billings, MT (water plant) ||6752 ||598 |
|Missoula, MT ||7790 ||279 |
|Lewiston, ID ||5269 ||814 |
|Boise, ID (airport) ||5861 ||752 |
|Boise, ID (dam) ||5708 ||830 |
|Cheyenne, WY ||7326 ||284 |
|Anchorage, AK ||10570 ||0 |
|Juneau, AK ||8896 ||0 |
August 27, 2002
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those
of the Free State Project, its Officers, or Directors.
A Short Report on Alaska
I have read many of the reports concerning the target states for the Free State
Project and I am compelled to offer a short report on my home state of Alaska.
This report will not throw statistics around nor is it a "for or against"
report. I am submitting it to dispel the somewhat rosy picture that the two
Alaska reports paint. This report is a "reality check".
The reports previously submitted are to be commended in regards to statistics
and facts. Mostly, they are accurate. Yet, neither report tells anyone "how it
really is" to live in Alaska.
Let me begin by saying that I am a resident of Alaska having moved here from
Nebraska in the fall of 1992. I am married with six children. At present, only
the youngest three remain at home.
I live on the Kenai Peninsula near a little place on the map called Anchor
Point. I live on the road system in a small cabin with my family. If you
live in a city you are an urban Alaskan. If you live on the road system you are
a rural Alaskan. If you live off of the road system you are a bush Alaskan.
I am a public speaker and travel "Outside" (anywhere outside of Alaska) twice a
year on speaking tours. The Kenai Peninsula is sometimes regarded as the
"Banana belt of Alaska" with winter temperatures that can get to 35 below zero
and as high as the low 80's in the summer, but it is usually not that extreme.
It is typically rainy in the late summer with large amounts (12-16 feet) of
snow in the winter.
The southern coastal area is called the South Central part of Alaska and the
climate is controlled by the Japanese current which carries much moisture and
milder temperatures to my area.
North and west of the Alaska range is considered the Interior of Alaska. It is
here that Alaska sees temperatures as low as 50-60 below zero (the record is
-100) with summertime highs in the 90's. It is a drier climate with less snow
The northern most part of Alaska (north of the Brooks Range) is considered the
"slope". It is here that the temperatures are the most extreme. It is not a
highly populated area.
One factor that affects some people are the long winter nights. The lengthy
darkness in the winter affects many people. The old timers call it cabin fever.
There is a medical term for it, but I can't recall what it is at the moment. It
is a depletion of the vitamin balance in your body that sunlight usually gives
you. It doesn't bother me at all. It can be treated by installing full spectrum
lighting in your home or going to a tanning salon. The long winter nights seem
to be particularly hard on the women. Where I live the sun rises just at 10
a.m. and sets just after 3 p.m. on winter solstice. The days are even shorter
the farther north that you go until you reach the Arctic Circle and beyond that
the sun doesn't even rise. The opposite is true in the summer.
At present Alaska does not have any state income or state sales taxes. This may
be changing in the not too distant future as Alaska is experiencing a runaway
budget. However, when, not if, these taxes are imposed they will most likely be
the lowest in the nation in the beginning. Many cities have a city sales tax
and many of the boroughs have a borough sales tax. (We have boroughs, not
counties). It is no longer true that mineral royalties pay for 85% of the
budget. A great part of the state budget is now carried by the rapidly
depleting Constitutional Budget Reserve, our state savings account.
Alaska is an "owner state", meaning that the people own the mineral rights
collectively and rarely individually. Very few landowners own their mineral
rights. Alaska does not control the destiny of its oil. It cannot be exported
by law. It is for domestic use only. My understanding is that this is a federal
thing and not subject to change.
Employment is a bleak proposition in Alaska. While professionals, construction
trades and those businesses supporting them flourish to a great degree, a very
large portion of the remainder of Alaskans struggle with seasonal work at low
wages. Here on the Kenai Peninsula we have a 4% unemployment rate in the summer
and a 14-17% unemployment rate in the winter. 58% of the kids at the local
school are at or below the poverty rate. It is a little better up north. All
industries, or what is left of them, are fully manned. Don't come here
believing that you will get a job on an oil rig or on the slope. It won't
happen unless you know someone. Fishing is a dying industry. Timber is
history. This year's tourism numbers are down 30%. Far too many jobs are
seasonal service jobs at minimum wage. The opening of ANWR will not create a
boom economy for Alaska like the pipeline did in the 70's.
Our legislature is predominately Republican, with most of those being
moderates. The Alaskan Independence Party would be sympathetic to the free
state cause, but the agenda of all AIP members is a new statehood vote with
many AIP members embracing secession and nothing else. I believe that the AIP,
as well as the Libertarian Party, would expect FSP'ers to join their ranks and
not the other way around. Many AIP'ers reject the Libertarian Party because it
is a national party, while the AIP is only a state party. They are not as
chummy as they would have you believe.
Contrary to what you may believe, there is no free land in Alaska. 97% of the
state is publicly owned. Do not expect this to change, even with 20,000 new
voters. The Natives hold a great portion of it and they eagerly prosecute
trespassers. The Homestead programs are history. All state land is disposed of
by lottery or over the counter sales, with prices based on current assessments
and requires a survey and sometimes some type of development at the cost of
several thousands of dollars before title is given. Bush land is incredibly
expensive to access. Some good wilderness land is available this way, as well
as some rural and urban parcels. But, it is not free. Right now, real estate in
Anchorage is at an all time high. House prices in Anchorage are through the
roof. If you are a seller, good for you. But, if you're a buyer, good luck.
Bring lots of cash. Lots.
Agriculture is a tough proposition. However, many folks do grow awesome gardens
due to the long summer days, but many things require early starts in the house
as well as a green house. It can be done and done well, but it requires a lot
of attention. The Matanuska Valley is the agricultural center of the state.
Dairy farming is one of the leading agricultural industries. Hay production
also ranks right up there. Current hay (timothy grass) prices are $300 per ton.
Alfalfa is shipped in from Canada. Pricey.
Hunting regulations are tough and strictly enforced. Poachers are scum here and
few Alaskans think twice about reporting them. If you poach, be prepared to pay
thousands in fines and confiscated equipment. Getting to game is the most
difficult and expensive thing that I have ever experienced. The terrain does
not favor the hunter. Fishing is very regulated and competitive as well.
There is lots of water here. Half or more of the state is marsh. Much, but
certainly not all of the subsurface water has a high sulfur and iron content.
My well is 18 feet deep and I have great water. My neighbor down the road had
to go 100 feet and buy a filter system to make it potable.
Homeschooling is a breeze here, but will be facing local and state monitoring
and accountability challenges in the near future. The public school system is
good at the elementary level. Above that it's like anywhere else. If you live
in a bush community it will be a native community and they can be very
prejudiced against whites.
Yes, there is a dividend program here. This program pays each state resident a
percentage of the mineral revenues received annually. This year's dividend will
be about $1,100 for each Alaskan man, woman, and child. It can take up to two
years to qualify. The politicians are trying very hard to take it away to cover
budget deficits. They will succeed someday in eliminating it or diminishing it.
DO NOT MOVE HERE FOR THE DIVIDEND! You will starve before you are eligible to
Prices can be comparable to Outside (except housing). Anchorage has every store
known to man, including Costco and Wal-Mart. A gallon of milk is near $3 in
Anchorage. It's more where I live, close to $4. Gas is $1.81 a gallon. Propane
is $2 per gallon.
I know that I do not paint a good picture of Alaska. I do this on purpose.
What I want to impress upon everyone who considers Alaska as their state of
choice is that they need to understand that this is a tough place to live. Do
not come here expecting to live like Jeremiah Johnson. I tried. it didn't work.
You will be separated from your family in the lower 48. You may not see them
for a long time. Some of you will be resented by your family for leaving and
taking the grand kids away. When you get here you most likely will not have
family here or know any one. It will be tough to find affordable housing. It
will be tough to find work. 20,000 people looking for work in Alaska at once or
even over a long period may cause problems. People will distance themselves
from you for a while; first to see what your game is, secondly because very few
people here stay and folks are reluctant to make friends when they might leave
next year. The town of Homer has a turnover rate of people moving in and out of
65% annually. If Alaska is chosen as the state to go to expect half to return
back to their original homes.
The military presence is here to stay. They contribute greatly to our economy
and are very welcome by nearly all Alaskans.
On the bright side, Alaska is like no other place on earth. It is the living
embodiment of wild. You can live how you want with little criticism from
anyone. The man with a $250,000 log home may live next door to a family that
lives in a school bus, with no sense of arrogance. If you pull your own weight,
you're OK. If you're on welfare, you're out. You can walk across the yard and
encounter a mama moose and her calves. You may go fishing at the river and
encounter a grizzly. With one inexpensive hunting license you can hunt moose,
black bear, blacktail deer, caribou, sheep, and goats in some areas, without
special permits. If you love to fish, there's no place like it. If you love to
hike it cannot be beat. If you think earthquakes and volcanoes are cool (I do),
then this is the place.
The people of Alaska are fiercely independent. Much of the "code of the north"
still remains, but is being diluted by newcomers. Our famous Senator Ted
Stevens does an awesome job of bringing Federal money to the state, but the
state has become dependent upon it and sadly, all this federal money has made
Alaska dependent upon the Feds. A lot of Alaskans want this Federal money. (I
One thing that I found very unique to Alaska was the ease of buying property.
A very large percentage of property, including turnkey homes are owner
financed, making it much easier to buy your own place here than any other
place. I would have never been able to buy my own place Outside, but here I own
10 acres with a cabin and a house slowly under construction.
Some of the discussion on the forum talks of secession. There seems to be quite
a bit of support for it by some of the Alaska advocates. Let me say this:
forget it. While there are some here in Alaska that are secessionists, they are
few in number. It is not as prevalent of a sentiment here as some would lead
you to believe. Everyone I know and talk to is an American first and Alaskan
A voting force of 20,000 people will make a huge difference and thwart the
moderate and liberal influences at work here in the state. Spread out in
strategic areas, these voters will turn the tide of power away from those
influences and establish a very welcome relief for many Alaskans. Forget the
arguments of which party to join. There will be enough to start a new party,
the Free State Party. (Just a thought.) Every election will reflect this
influence. Personally, I pray for it to happen.
But, let me remind you all, IT WILL BE DIFFICULT.
If Alaska becomes the state of choice, let me help you move here. I can tell
you what to bring and what to leave behind. I can tell you how to get your guns
here. DON'T BELIEVE ANY STORIES ABOUT GUNS! I cross the international border
eight times a year. I know. I can tell you what you need when you get here. I
could write a book on how to move to Alaska.
If you all decide to come, count me as your first friend and neighbor. But,
really think about it first. It's not like moving across the county.
Analyzing the Freedom Orientation of Existing State Populations
The political predisposition and climate of each of the 10 FSP candidate
states is an important element, worth tracking and factoring in to our overall
decision. One FSP member opined that, "EVERY state in this country contains a
large majority too disgusted/apathetic to vote. And an overwhelming majority of
those that DO vote are too confused/ignorant to make a consistent expression of
their political disposition."
Like a good many generalizations, there is a degree of truth to that
statement that should be acknowledged, but like all generalizations, it is best
not to make life-changing decisions based on it.
Most people would question the assertion that the "overwhelming majority"
(itself an inherently subjective term) in this country falls under the
"confused/ignorant" characterization, but trying to prove or disprove the
veracity of the statement is not a worthwhile exercise. Suffice to say that
there are many people today who make conscious decisions not to
participate and/or vote. Many people today proudly proclaim that they neither
register nor vote, and have ready-made reasons why. Whatever their reasons, and
whatever we individually may think of their reasoning, it indicates that at
least some thought went into their decision.
However, all of this is peripheral to my central theme. Voter "apathy,"
"disgust," "ignorance," and "confusion" are not correct factors to focus on or
gauge. We must discover a method of measuring a voting population's
"predisposition." And while it would be helpful, indeed great, to know
why the non-voters chose not to vote, such an investigation could
easily become a rabbit hole diverting us from more important measurements.
In short, it is the voters amongst the voting age population (VAP) in
the candidate states who warrant scrutiny.
Let me throw some numbers out. In the United States, the numbers breakdown
- 196 million eligible voters.
- 146 million registered voters.
- 96 million who actually voted (49 percent of eligible voters).
The above figures are helpful, but have limited utility. Let's move on to a
more important subset of information. In the 2000 elections, the voter turnout
within the 10 FSP candidate states breaks down as follows (from highest turnout
percentage to the lowest):
Why would Maine and Idaho, two states with quite similar voting age
populations (VAP), have such a marked disparity in voter turnout?
Proportionately, approximately 130,000 (10.7%) more decided to vote in Maine
than in Idaho. Were the voters in Idaho "apathetic"? "Disgusted"? Were they
disenfranchised or less civic-minded? What does this raw difference in
numbers, some 130,000, mean for the FSP? Can we capitalize on this? If so, the
information should certainly be factored in.
Better yet, and more salient to the issue regarding political
predisposition/climate of each of the 10 candidate states, what can we conclude
from those who did vote? Consider these figures (collected from
Now, these numbers are telling, but before I go on, let me say this: While I
would definitely agree with those who warn against automatically assuming that
voting for a Republican is better than voting for a Democrat---the equivalent
of, say, picking between two lethal poisons---that was not the perceived case
in the 2000 elections. Indeed, I think it's safe to say that going into the
elections (regardless of what has happened since), few imagined the Bush/Cheney
ticket to be greater "Statists" (Big S) than the Gore/Lieberman duet. And fewer
still were prepared to argue that Gore, given his horrid record during the
Clinton years, would be a better protector of liberty than the politically
untested and relatively unknown Bush. One man was the sidekick of a president
who did all he could to grow the central government more than any other in the
history of the Union. The other was the son of a previous president and was
being pitched as a Reaganesque figure who believed in smaller government.
Reality has proved different, to be sure, but that was the "tale of the tape"
going into the 2000 elections. From a Libertarian point of view, there was
little choice in 2000: Few of us opted to vote for Gore.
But what do the numbers above say? For the sake of consistency, let's look
again at the two states with the similar VAP numbers, Maine and Idaho:
First we need to do some rudimentary grouping: Grouping together Al Gore
(Democratic Party), Ralph Nader (Green Party), and Dr. John Hagelin (Natural
Law Party) yields a total of 357,708 votes for discernable Statists in Maine.
Similarly, lumping George Bush (Republican Party) together with Pat Buchanan
(Reform Party), Howard Philips (Constitution Party), and Harry Browne
(Libertarian Party), shows that there was a total of 294,710 votes for
discernable Small-Government candidates in Maine. That's 357,708 votes for "Big
G" candidates versus 294,710 votes for "Small G" candidates, a difference of
21%. That is, 21% more people voted for recognizably "Statist" (Big G)
candidates in Maine, a state that already has a larger percentage of the
population voting than the national average (67.4% in Maine vs. 49% for the
national average). Not promising for FSP goals is it?
Now contrast the above with Idaho, which had 144,869 votes for the
"Statists" while 349,601 voted for "Small G" candidates. That's 141%
more votes for recognizably "Small G" candidates in the State of Idaho
than for "Big G" candidates. That's almost 2 Ã‚Â½ times as many people in a state
that on average (adjusted) had 10.7% less of the VAP participating than
in Maine. Not only does this make Idaho a promising candidate for the FSP to
begin with, but there is also room to gain additional supporters from the block
of non-voters who, for whatever reason, chose not to vote. (Incidentally, Idaho
VAP, although much less active than Maine's, still outperformed the national
average---53.7% in Idaho to the 49% national average.)
The same analysis could be applied across the remaining 8 candidate states,
giving us an additional lens through which to look at our candidates and
measure our real chances of success. In short, the "political predisposition"
of a state can make a huge difference for us, and these voting figures,
measured together with other known factors such as gun control, home schooling,
etc. can help us significantly. Thus, with additional number crunching across
the 10 candidate states, a picture begins to emerge.
|VT||63.7%||169,042 votes||122,685 votes||37% Big G
|ME||67.4%||357,708 votes||294,710 votes||21% Big G
|DE||56.3%||188,463 votes||139,044 votes||35% Big G
|NH||62.3%||288,504 votes||279,211 votes||3% Big G
|MT||61.5%||162,292 votes||248,791 votes||53% Small G
|SD||58.2%||118,804 votes||197,458 votes||66% Small G
|AK||64.4%||102,530 votes||174,596 votes||70% Small G
|ND||60.4%||105,510 votes||183,211 votes||73% Small G
|ID||53.7%||144,869 votes||349,601 votes||141% Small G
|WY||59.7%||60,908 votes||152,851 votes||151% Small G
Here we can see that the statement made by politicos and election
analysts---that the western "fly-over" states tend to be more conservative,
small government states---is certainly true with our candidates. Indeed, the
numbers are most revealing when compared against the FSP candidate states in
Although there are Libertarian Party (LP) constituencies in states like
Maine and New Hampshire, the overall numbers are more telling. In fact all the
eastern states except NH have a strong statist predisposition. And while New
Hampshire is putting up a good fight, it would appear their days are numbered
as the ongoing influx of statist voters from Massachusetts looking for more
affordable homes continues unabated.
There is another way to measure political predisposition in a state, and
that is political party registration. Consider these VAP figures for,
variously, Alaska, Maine, Delaware, and New Hampshire as of 2000 (with a
separate analysis for each state).
(NOTE: * All data is for September, October or November 2000, except Maine,
which is for June 2000.
** The parties in the "Other" column are: In Alaska, 19,346 Alaskan
Independence and 2,094 Republican Moderate.
*** Dashes mean that the voters are not permitted to register into a particular
party, since the particular party is not, or was not, qualified in that state,
and the state won't let people register into unqualified parties. A question
mark means that the state has not tabulated the number of registrants in a
NOTES: Typically independents (Indep) could be nullified, as they tend to
split down the middle and cancel each other out. However, sometimes a
particular state's registered "Independent" voters tend to lean heavily towards
Statist or non-Statist platforms which can be measured again and again. This
gives us an indication of the "political predispositions" of the registered
Independents as a voting block of the state in question. So let's start:
248,374 Registered Independents.
- 80,828 voters registered with "Big G" parties.
- 144,453 voters registered with "Small G" parties.
- Raw registered voter numbers: 78% more predisposed to "Small G" parties over "Big G" parties.
- Raw 2000 Presidential numbers including Independents: Alaskans voted 70% more for "Small G" candidates.
- Difference between 70% and 78%: Margin indicating Independent split
between Big G and Small G candidates; that is, in the election Independents
tended to vote 8% more in favor of Big G candidates than raw voter
registration numbers would indicate. If Independents had split the same way
the political party registration numbers had split, then the vote in the
presidential election would have been 78% more for Small G candidates
instead of 70% more.
330,430 Registered Independents.
- 283,139 voters registered with "Big G" parties.
- 268,768 voters registered with "Small" G parties.
- Raw Registered Voter numbers: 5% more predisposed to "Big G" parties over "Small G" parties.
- Raw 2000 Presidential numbers including Independents: Maine voted 21% more for "Big G" candidates.
- Difference between 5% and 21%: Significant percentage indicating Independents lean towards Big G candidates.
115,228 Registered Independents.
- 215,322 voters registered with "Big G" parties.
- 172,771 voters registered with "Small" G parties.
- Raw Registered Voter numbers: 24% more predisposed to "Big G" parties over "Small G" parties.
- Raw 2000 Presidential numbers including Independents: Delaware voted 35% more for "Big G" candidates.
- Difference between 24% and 35%: Significant percentage indicating Independents lean towards "Big G" candidates.
>>>>>> The most interesting so far is New Hampshire.<<<<<<
224,564 Registered Independents.
New Hampshire Totals:
- 224,564 voters registered with "Big G" parties.
- 302,138 voters registered with "Small" G parties.
- Raw Registered Voter numbers: 34% more predisposed to "Small G" parties over "Big G" parties. (great!)
- Raw 2000 Presidential numbers including Indpendents: NH voted 3% more for "Big G" candidates (that's a killer).
- Difference between 34% and a 3% swing: Significant percentage indicating Indpendents leaned heavily towards Big G candidates.
Here is a classic example of Independents reversing the Big Party fates and
fortunes, and subsequently the fate and fortune of the state. In this case, NH
independents made a conscious decision to vote for Al Gore---who was understood
to be a hard core left-winger, big government, and UN (New World Order)
advocate---over George Bush, who at the time was portrayed as a small
government, "local empowerment," anti-NWO advocate.
Looking at the numbers again, this time from the "Registered Voters"
perspective, we get similar results where the states in the East appear to have
insurmountable Big Government/Statist leanings. The one state that was not East
coast, Alaska, registered similar numbers to those of my previous analysis
using the raw 2000 Presidential numbers.
I suspect running the "Registered Voter" figures against the western based
"fly-over" states would also look similar to the previous numbers. The
important thing to note here is that, when using the "Registered Voter"
numbers, the eastern states indicate an even heavier bias toward Big Government
parties than our first analysis using the total presidential vote numbers.
Either way, there are no conflicts between the raw presidential vote totals
and the "Registered Voter" numbers. In fact, the figures support and
corroborate each other.
In the end, the FSP must pick from amongst those states that offer a real
chance of succeeding in its audacious plan. Population size is critical but
political predisposition, judging from the evidence so far, may be just as
important. We cannot expect to effect a major change in the prevailing attitude
(read "political predisposition") of the existing population in a state. We can
only hope to make incremental changes over time. Therefore, the FSP must seek
out those groups of people who are most amenable to our beliefs.
The FSP can work with those states that have a large percentage of
non-voters (call them the "disgusted," the "disenfranchised," or the "moral
abstainers"). They are fodder for our canon.
But far more important are those voters that get out and vote in every
election. With respect to them, this much is true: The greatest chasm between
the FSP and success is that between between a Libertarian and a Democrat. And
the shortest distance between us and success is that between a Libertarian and
a Philips supporter (Constitution Party), followed closely by a Buchanan-ite,
and then, most importantly, by a Republican.
Choosing which State to Liberate
By George Cunningham
In Tim Condon's article Our Most Important
Decision he identifies the Final Four States by utilizing the all-important
criteria of a low state voting population. In his article, Tim correctly
identifies the single most important factor to our success as the State voting
population. With this in mind it is difficult to dispute the final four
suggested, those being Vermont, Alaska, Wyoming & North Dakota. Moreover,
the suggested final two Wyoming & North Dakota seem to be our best chance
But with consideration to Wyoming, several important points need to be
Job markets within commuting distance of Wyoming vs. North Dakota
- Wyoming is considerably smaller than North Dakota by 77,000 voters or nearly 1/3.
- In Wyoming 20,000 activist voters would constitute about 9.3% of the
213,000 voting population.
- In North Dakota 20,000 activist voters would make up only 6.8% of the
290,000 voter population.
- Wyoming already has a larger conservative voting population than North
- Wyoming may have a much better job outlook than North Dakota, if you
take into consideration the commutable job market.
- From Wyoming
- Evanston in southwest Wyoming is local to...
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Ogden, UT
- West Valley City, UT
- Sand City, UT
- Orem & provo, UT (a stretch)
- Cheyenne in southeast Wyoming is local to...
- Fort Collins, CO
- Greeley, CO
- Longmont, CO
- Boulder, CO (a stretch)
- Denver & suburbs (a stretch, but achievable for freedom)
- Beulah, in east Wyoming is local to...
- Rapid City, SD (a stretch)
- Sheridan, in north Wyoming is local to...
- From North Dakota
- No cities of appreciable size are commutable (unless you own a plane or
Concerning the other issues raised about Wyoming.
- Land owned by the federal government
- This may make things difficult and costly if "parting company" becomes
necessary, but should not hinder our initial bid for freedom
- Concerning geography
- If the USA/UN decide to hinder our trade, Canada may assist in that
hinderance. The border may not make much difference concerning restricted
trade, commerce (i.e. smuggling) might be as easy in Wyoming as in North
Dakota. In this "New World Order" we may find North Dakota just as
land-locked as Wyoming.
- The climate is about 20 degrees more hospitable in Wyoming and the
landscape considerably more beautiful than North Dakota
- Wyoming is more centrally located for travelers
- "Flying under the radar" may be easier from North Dakota, but after
wrestling control of the State legislature we will certainly appear on
In the final analysis, it seems that Wyoming may be the best choice, if we
are to prevail against the forces of darkness.
In the movie "The Patriot" as the French come to our aid Mel Gibson states
"Viva le France" and the French soldier aptly replies...
Views that are expressed here are not those of the Free State
Written by George Cunningham