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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.

Airwaves Ring with News of Liberty Forum

FSP early mover, super-doer, and former Goffstown State Rep. Mark Warden (R) joined Girard at Large to discuss the FSP's upcoming Liberty Forum conference, which starts Thursday, March 5, 2015 through Sunday, March 8, 2015. Two-Day and One-Day passes are still on sale.

FSP president, Carla Gericke, joined Ernie Hancock of Declare Your Independence to talk about Liberty Forum, PorcFest, life, liberty, and the pursuit of whatever direction the conversation flowed.

"Tour NH" Kicks Off in Portsmouth

Shire Liberty News, one of the many excellent independent media outlets created by Porcupines, covers the Portsmouth kick-off of the self-guided, statewide tours being offered prior to Liberty Forum, which starts on Thursday, March 5. The goal of "Tour NH" is to showcase different regions and Porcupine communities within New Hampshire to prospective FSP signers and movers. Click here for a schedule of the remaining tours.

"Following the tour, the Praxeum hosted a cocktail party for Liberty Forum attendees. The Praxeum is a flexible use space for liberty oriented people which opened last September. Similar venues have opened in Manchester and Keene, and a new one is under construction in Concord. The existence of physical social clubs throughout the state, owned and operated by libertarians, is one of the many things that makes New Hampshire unique." Read more at Shire Liberty News.

Debate Over Bitcoin Payments for Taxes and Fees

CoinDesk covers the recent testimony at New Hampshire's legislative hearings about whether the state should accept Bitcoin for payment of taxes and fees.

Says early mover, and the bipartisan bill's primary sponsor, Eric Schleien: “If New Hampshire can lead the way in the primary process, and we can lead in other ways, why don’t we lead the way to being the first state to actually implement a process? It’s going to happen, all 50 states are going to do this. Why don’t we be the first?” Read more here.

February 8 2015 Board Meeting Minutes

FSP Board Meeting
Sunday, Feb 8, 2015
Google Hangout

Meeting called to order at 3:09pm

1. Approval of minutes from 12/7/14
2. New Board Members
3. Carla status as contractor vs. employee
4. President’s Report
5. Treasurer’s Report
6. Trigger the Move status and strategy
7. Our new outbound approach
8. Efforts regarding direct mail campaign
9. LibertyForum updates
10. PorcFest updates


Police Militarization Reform Bill Advances in New Hampshire

Remember when the Concord Police Department fraudulently called Free Staters a domestic terrorist threat? Remember when the Concord Police apologized and amended their grant application? Now, a bill to reduce the militarization of police has advanced from the New Hampshire House to the New Hampshire Senate.

On February 18th New Hampshire Rep. Hoell's HB 407 as amended advanced to the Senate. HB 407 is a repeat of Rep. Hoell's bill from last session, HB 1307 failed in the NH House last year. However, the bill made national news, leading to the creation of similar bills in MT, TN, and a much more narrow federal bill.

The idea of police militarization reform legislation was inspired by the coalition of liberal activists and Free Staters that attempted to convince the Keene and Concord, New Hampshire city councils to vote against acquiring Department of Homeland Security BEARCATs. While Rep. Hoell is neither a liberal nor a Free Stater, he decided to lead the national legislative effort to bring about reform. The tragedies of Ferguson, Missouri further intensified the issue. Unfortunately, opposition to BEARCATs didn't pick up much steam outside of NH and the University of Berkeley. Instead, critics were mostly concerned about a different federal program that distributed much larger military vehicles called MRAPs to local governments.

NH is Best Case, One Chart

Nothing like running across an article entitled: "The Case for Moving to New Hampshire, In One Chart." Boom, my work here is done! From the article, which can be read at Vox: "The OECD — a club of various rich, developed countries — recently unveiled a new dataset on well-being across the world, which they measure holistically, taking into account everything from the murder rates to unemployment levels to broadband access. Conveniently, they broke the numbers down not just by nation but by region. Adam Carstens conveniently graphed the US state data. New Hampshire comes out on top, followed by Minnesota and Vermont." Full "Well-Being User Guide."

Libertarianism: Bow Ties & Slam Poetry

Bloomberg covers last weekend's International Students for Liberty conference in DC. In the lengthy article, "Bow Ties and Slam Poetry: This Is Libertarianism in 2015," the Free State Project and PorcFest get a mention (which is great considering the FSP pioneered many of the "cool" things heralded in the article): "In recent years, as the duo of Ron and Rand Paul spread the libertarian gospel into Republican politics, reporters have noticed sub-cultures like New Hampshire’s Free State Project and its annual PORCfest, a 'libertarian Burning Man' where Bitcoin and silver pieces are preferred to 'fiat currency.'” Read more at Bloomberg.

December 7, 2014 FSP Board Meeting Minutes

FSP Board Meeting
December 7, 2014
Google Hangout and Aaron’s house
Meeting started at 2:25pm

1. Officers of the board
2. Board Composition
Varrin and Sharon leaving the board
Criteria for new board members
3. Policies
4. President’s Report Strategic Plan, Budget, Fundraising
LibertyForum budget and update
PorcFest and future events
5. List of Projects for Donors
6. Scheduling of Board Meetings


Who Represents the Minority?

Early mover, Conan Salada weighs in on the question of "representative government" after a small group of fiscally responsible residents went head-to-head with the tax hungry education industry at a deliberative session last weekend. From Salada's LTE: "As was expected, they were completely outnumbered, ridiculed and ultimately silenced. School board member Susan Hay summed up the proceedings perfectly, 'We don’t need a very small minority of people in this community — that do not in any way represent the will of the people — telling us how to do our job.' This brings up a very important question. Who, then, represents me? If I have no voice because the powers that be disagree or outright refuse to hear me, why then should I be forced to pay into such an institution? What happened to deriving their powers from the consent of the governed? Well, I officially renounce the consent I never swore to in the first place.

Get Your Mush On!

Bored with the simple joys of skiing and snowshoeing this winter? Why not take the dogs out sledding? Or maybe try some winter fatbiking? Or, better yet, unleash your inner lumberjack with some adult axe throwing. Check out some of the unusual and fun stuff you can do in New Hampshire during the winter at Visit White Mountains. Photo credit: Bretton Woods.

Packing Heat: Not Just for Men

There is a growing trend in New Hampshire: More women are learning to shoot and arming themselves. “When the government started talking about gun control," said Dan Gebers, president of the Major Waldron Sportsmen’s Association and a Dover police officer, "There was a major influx in [female] membership, young and old.” Several FSP early movers, and founding members of the Women’s Defense League of New Hampshire, are quoted in the Seacoast Online article. Photo credit: Foster's Daily Democrat front page. (They ran a story about this trend over the weekend as well.)

Uber City: Portsmouth, NH

In an unprecedented move, the taxi commission for Portsmouth, NH, voted unanimously to ask the City Council to eliminate all taxi medallions and end city inspections and the regulation of taxi fares in order to level the playing field between regulated taxis and Uber rides. Said Lt. Chris Cummings, the Portsmouth Police Department’s liaison with the Taxi Commission: “I guess it’s going to come down to what consumers want to do.” Indeed. Read more at the New York Post, which has dubbed Portsmouth, NH, home of the FSP early mover initiative the FreeCoast, "Uber City." For more coverage, see Seacoast Online. Photo credit: Christopher Sadowski


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