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No Raised Eyebrows Here, Only Liberty Forum 2015

Freelancer Livia Gershon writes a piece for VICE about the FSP's recent Liberty Forum 2015 conference.

"It's an early spring weekend in Manchester, and Emily Smith is sitting in the Radisson Hotel with her baby, selling goods from her northern New Hampshire farm. There are jugs of maple syrup in various sizes laid out on the table, and also guns, .308 caliber rifles, lovingly hand-assembled for improved accuracy. The combination would raise eyebrows in most company, but not here, at the annual gathering of the Free State Project, a libertarian movement to create a limited government utopia in the Granite State."

Why Paternalism Is Undesirable

John Stuart Mill

Paternalism means forcing someone to do something, or not to do something, for that person's own good. For instance, a vigilante paternalist might go around slapping cigarettes out of people's hands. The government often engages in paternalism to deny adults the right to possess substances in their own home, to forbid "immoral" exchanges, or to prevent people from making their own decisions about health care, education, or other services.

The famous essay by John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, argues that paternalism is wrong. A person’s own good is not a good enough justification for using force to restrain or punish that person – at least, so long as we’re talking about sane adults. Instead, Mill proposes the “Harm Principle” to regulate the use of coercion, even by the government. The government should get involved in regulating people’s behavior only when that behavior causes “harm to others.”

State of the FSP

At the Free State Project's 8th annual Liberty Forum, founder Jason Sorens, treasurer Seamas O'Scalaidhe and president Carla Gericke gave a presentation about the "State of the Free State Project."

Here are the slides from that talk:

New Hempshire?

The Tenth Amendment Center does a write-up of the 16-0 committee vote in the New Hampshire state house to approve a bill to remove the ban on industrial hemp in the state, effectively nullifying the federal prohibition on the same. Read more here.

"Moved by Liberty": President's Wrap Up

Liberty Forum 2015 has come and gone. Were YOU "Moved By Liberty"? I certainly was! The event drew more than 500 attendees--thank you for coming! We garnered 44 signers, and inspired at least 7 movers (that I know of). We built liaisons and forged new relationships with other liberty organizations, locals, the media, and more.

So many highlights, from the new venue at the Radisson in downtown Manchester, to the impressive amount of local media coverage, to the surprise visit from Vermin Supreme.

Is Doing Good for Others an Enforceable Moral Duty?

Theory of Moral Sentiments

Let's assume that we have a moral duty to help others from time to time, at least when it is not too costly for us to do so. That's what I really believe. Now, is such a moral duty enforceable? Is it OK to use coercion to make someone do good for others? Not usually, I believe. And Adam Smith's moral theory tells us why.

According to Smith, you know an act is right when an impartial spectator would sympathize (or empathize) with the emotions motivating your act. Smith says that an impartial spectator will always empathize with both the kindness of someone who acts to benefit others and with the gratitude of the recipients of that kindness. So, as Smith sees it, acts of beneficence are always right.

A simple example is that of a friend who usually brings you coffee in the morning. If he fails to bring you coffee one morning, are you justified in resenting him? Has he acted immorally?

There is a clear answer here using Smith’s logic. An impartial spectator wouldn’t empathize with your resentment against someone who merely failed to be generous one morning. And an impartial spectator would never want to force someone to be kind.

ItsLikeThisToo - Ep 14 - Mattheus von Guttenberg

Mattheus von Guttenberg chose to move to New Hampshire, not for the great economy, the four seasoned climate, or the independent people, which are all great reasons, but for the Free State Project. In Mattheus' own words, "To the people who aren't living in New Hampshire, that are libertarian: you really can't capture or calculate how valuable it is to have that community." This statement rings true with so many people who have moved to New Hampshire as a part of the Free State Project. As we do more interviews for It's Like This Too, community is one thing that everyone continues to comes back to. It's amazing how such a cross section of diverse people have picked up their lives, moved to NH for freedom and found a thriving community of liberty lovers.

Keeping NH Awesome!

New Hampshire's largest newspaper, The Union Leader does a write up about the state of the Free State Project, and the positive influences the influx of Free Staters are having on the Granite State.

From the article: "Some of those movers will be at the Liberty Forum, which opens today in Manchester, checking out the state and deciding whether this is the place for them. As most Granite Staters have done (more than half the population was born outside the state), they are likely to decide that it is. And who can blame them?

Gericke says that even if only a few thousand Free Staters move here, 'with the mindset and the energy we can still keep New Hampshire awesome.' The State of New Hampshire has hired professional marketers to come up with slogans that will attract tourists. Gericke came up with one on her own that carries more punch than any of the pricey state gimmicks: 'Keep New Hampshire awesome.'

Yes, let’s."

Photo credit: explodingdog.com

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