Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Give them libertarianism, and a moving van
The Christian Science Monitor ^ | October 17, 2003 | Seth Stern

Posted on 10/17/2003 4:08:18 PM PDT by RJCogburn

It wasn't just the cheap rent and quiet living that convinced Justin Somma to move from the suburbs of New York City to the southwestern corner of New Hampshire last month. Equally appealing to this libertarian-minded 20-something is his new state's lack of an income tax or even a motorcycle-helmet law.

Mr. Somma's migration is just the first of many encouraged by the Free State Project (FSP), which has set out to flood New Hampshire with 20,000 people bent on shrinking government. This month, FSP members chose the "Live Free or Die" state as their destination in an online vote.

They don't lack ambition: Not since the Mormons moved west and Utopians built communities in the 19th century has a single group attempted a migration of this scale. Their goal: Use a concentrated presence to make one of the nation's most fiscally conservative and small-government minded states even more so.

How many FSP members actually make the move - and how much influence they exert once they arrive - is far from clear. But few here are surprised that their state beat out its New England neighbors and western competitors, given New Hampshire's frugality, "live and let live" social policies and tradition of local rule.

"The appeal is almost obvious," says B. Thomas Schuman, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire. "New Hampshire has a tradition of low-tax, low-service politics and government, and their hatred of broad-based taxation is fairly legendary."

Birth of an idea, rise of a movement

At first glance, the other northern New England contenders might seem appealing, too. Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire share the "live and let live" attitude that puts privacy first in social policies such as gay rights or abortion, says Dartmouth College professor Richard Winters.

Yet what libertarian wouldn't prefer a state where legislators take such pride in their own thrift that they haven't raised their $100 annual salaries since 1889?

Sure, Wyoming and Idaho residents may mistrust government more than most New Englanders. But New Hampshire's small size has forced citizens since the Revolutionary War to work together.

The byproduct is perhaps the nation's most accessible government, with local rule by town meeting and a 400-person House, the largest in the country. Plus, as home to the nation's first presidential primary, New Hampshire offers greater national visibility than any prairie state.

If those criteria sound too fuzzy, the FSP conducted statistical regression analysis of each of the 10 nominees - based on factors such as tax burden, dependence on federal dollars, projected job growth, and crime rates.

That academic approach isn't surprising for a political movement born in a Yale graduate student's online journal article. The author, Jason Sorens, argued "liberty-oriented people" could have the biggest impact by concentrating in a single state. Once there, they could work to roll back gun-control laws and drug prohibitions.

His message struck a chord with 4,800 people who've signed on to relocate to New Hampshire - though only a handful have actually moved. The group hopes to recruit an additional 15,000 people by 2006, at which point members will have five years in which to relocate to the state.

Somma didn't even wait for the vote before moving to New Hampshire. New York's high taxes and cost of living had convinced him and his wife, who both work in publishing, to move. He liked what he read about New Hampshire on the FSP website and was excited about an alternative to the two-party system.

"I like seeing somebody who isn't owned by the two big names," he says. His wife was more drawn to New Hampshire's camping, hiking, and proximity to their families in New York.

Within a month, they'd settled in Keene, a college town and the rare liberal outpost in New Hampshire where a "Dennis Kucinich for President" banner hangs and a hemp-clothing store sits right off Main Street.

After migration, an action plan

In many ways, Somma is a typical New Hampshire transplant. Just as liberal migrants reinforce Maine and Vermont's political cultures, more conservative types have tended to make New Hampshire more conservative.

Observers say that pattern may make it hard for FSP members to distinguish themselves in a state where the dominant Republican Party already looks like what libertarians might advocate elsewhere.

The Democratic Party hasn't been much of a presence here since the Civil War. And an antitax platform has been a GOP staple here for half a century - a view loudly reinforced by the state's leading conservative voice, the Manchester Union Leader newspaper.

"I'm somewhat dubious about how much different this might be from what we already have," says Professor Schuman.

The New Hampshire Libertarian Party could certainly use a boost. Their candidate for governor got just 13,028 last November and the number of Libertarians in the legislature have fallen from three to zero.

Here in Keene, at Lindy's Diner, where President Bush cooked up a hamburger on a campaign stop four years ago, waitress Denise Vachon says she never even heard of the Libertarians before their gubernatorial candidate showed up last year.

Mr. Sorens stresses FSP members are not just libertarians - that the group attracts people of any - or no - ideological stripe.

The group has received a mixed reception from New Hampshire's political establishment. Republican Gov. Craig Benson welcomed the group during a June picnic and released an enthusiastic press release after they picked New Hampshire. A Concord Monitor editorial labeled them nothing more than an "amusing curiosity."

Free State Project leaders say they realize that even 20,000 newcomers can't, by themselves, take over politics in a state of 1.3 million people. Instead, FSP organizers envision participants as a core of activists and volunteers, who will join the Lions Club or push for more private-school options long before they ever run for elected office.

Somma has already sat through his first three-hour city council committee debate on Keene's parkland and is helping a fellow FSP member run for the city council.

Still, he says he has a more immediate concern than politics. The Brooklyn native is adjusting to the slower pace of life. And then there's the weather "It's getting cold," he says.


TOPICS: Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: freestateproject; fsp; nh; porcupines

1 posted on 10/17/2003 4:08:18 PM PDT by RJCogburn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: archy
ping
2 posted on 10/17/2003 4:14:33 PM PDT by jmc813 (Ron Paul for President in '08!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: RJCogburn
EVERY TIME A GROUP LIKE THIS MOVES SOMEPLACE THEY TRY TO CHANGE THE RULES TO MAKE IT MORE LIKE THE PLACE THAT THEY CAME FROM.

LOOK OUT,NEW HAMPSHIRE!!!!!
3 posted on 10/17/2003 4:16:28 PM PDT by Mears
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: RJCogburn
Not since the Mormons moved west and Utopians built communities in the 19th century has a single group attempted a migration of this scale.

Not true: The Somalians and Lewiston, Maine.

4 posted on 10/17/2003 4:16:47 PM PDT by xrp
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mears
Is your shift key broken?
5 posted on 10/17/2003 4:22:42 PM PDT by John Farson (Cthulu for President -- why vote for the lesser evil?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: RJCogburn
"How many FSP members actually make the move...is far from clear."

How many? None. That's how many.

The entire thing is a PR fantasy made up out of whole cloth.

No one's moving anywhere. Certainly not 20,000 stoners who don't have the wherewithall to get their sorry butts to New Hampshire.

P.S. They don't have any minivans either. Maybe a couple Volkwagon busses with pictures of Mr. Happy and Monsieur Zig-Zag on them.

NPR treats this like the second coming. Puleeze!

6 posted on 10/17/2003 4:24:21 PM PDT by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mears
They could've picked Beaver Island.

http://www.beaverisland.net/History/A_Rich_History/index.htm
7 posted on 10/17/2003 4:25:17 PM PDT by Catspaw
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: John Farson
No,but I'm such a slow typist that when I finished it and noticed it was all caps I just let it go. Can't get away with anything these days.

Sorry!!!
8 posted on 10/17/2003 4:25:51 PM PDT by Mears
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: billorites
Provide evidence that all 20,000 of the Free State Project are stoners.
9 posted on 10/17/2003 4:26:21 PM PDT by xrp
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: xrp
There aren't 20,000 FreeStaters!

That's the point.

They don't exist.

It's a (ahem) "pipe dream."

10 posted on 10/17/2003 4:28:56 PM PDT by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: billorites
5,000 people aren't a pipe dream.
11 posted on 10/17/2003 4:30:55 PM PDT by John Farson (Cthulu for President -- why vote for the lesser evil?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Catspaw
Beaver Island sound neat,I'll have to go check my map.
12 posted on 10/17/2003 4:31:13 PM PDT by Mears
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: billorites
You failed to respond to my challenge.
13 posted on 10/17/2003 4:31:54 PM PDT by xrp
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: billorites
You might wish to reconsider your FReeper name.
14 posted on 10/17/2003 4:35:26 PM PDT by jmc813 (Ron Paul for President in '08!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Mears
EVERY TIME A GROUP LIKE THIS MOVES SOMEPLACE THEY TRY TO CHANGE THE RULES TO MAKE IT MORE LIKE THE PLACE THAT THEY CAME FROM.

Please check your assumptions. The story is about a New Yorker fed up with high taxes and moving to a place that boasts about its small government and fiscal conservatism. Libertarians don't flee places like New York to make other places more like New York; in fact, they explicitly hope to make New Hampshire more libertarian.

15 posted on 10/17/2003 4:38:18 PM PDT by coloradan (Hence, etc.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: RJCogburn
"They don't lack ambition"

Well of course they do.

Take, for example, this piece's poster child Justin Somma.

Does he have a job?

Does he work?

I must have missed it in the piece. Maybe, God bless him, he doesn't need a job

Apparently he has the means to have "already sat through his first three-hour city council committee debate on Keene's parkland," and is "helping a fellow FSP member run for the city council."

Thanks for considering New Hampshire, but we'll do fine with folks who have something constructive and productive to offer our state.

16 posted on 10/17/2003 4:38:31 PM PDT by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: billorites
How many? None. That's how many. The entire thing is a PR fantasy made up out of whole cloth. No one's moving anywhere.

You're really straining: the whole article is about someone who did move. Or is the Christian Science Monitor just DNC propaganda? Here is the first sentence of the article:

It wasn't just the cheap rent and quiet living that convinced Justin Somma to move from the suburbs of New York City to the southwestern corner of New Hampshire last month.

17 posted on 10/17/2003 4:40:47 PM PDT by coloradan (Hence, etc.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Mears
Check the middle of Lake Michigan.

It's a neat place. I know someone who lives there, a former college classmate.

18 posted on 10/17/2003 4:44:38 PM PDT by Catspaw
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: RJCogburn
I'll be living in NH in 6 years and three months. I'll have retired from my corporate job and will have become certified to teach middle-school science. It's the perfect place and job for this low-tax, 2nd amendment loving, small "L" libertarian.
19 posted on 10/17/2003 5:30:06 PM PDT by muir_redwoods
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: xrp
They don't lack ambition: Not since the Mormons moved west and Utopians built communities in the 19th century has a single group attempted a migration of this scale. Their goal: Use a concentrated presence to make one of the nation's most fiscally conservative and small-government minded states even more so.

This paragraph is pure hype. The left pushed people to move to Vermont in the 80's. It appears to have been pretty successful. Look who represents Vermont in the House (a self identified socialist, Bernie Sanders) and at Howard Dean. This seems to have a lot of promise.

20 posted on 10/17/2003 5:35:27 PM PDT by marktwain
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: muir_redwoods
I would bet that the crime rate in N.H. is EXTREMELY low. My guess is that the populace is 98% white.

I'd also guess that head injuries in motorcycle accidents in N.H. are no greater than those in more populous and diverse states WITH helmet laws.

21 posted on 10/17/2003 6:19:55 PM PDT by gg188
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: RJCogburn
My bet is that the growing season is too short, and the climate too cold, to prompt many libertarians to move there. I doubt N.H. be good for much pot growing.
22 posted on 10/17/2003 6:21:26 PM PDT by gg188
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: billorites
It has been 16 days since NH was announced as the state. Exactly how many people are supposed to move there in less than 3 weeks? If it remains like this 5 years from now, then you have a point. Right now your point is the only fantasy made from whole cloth...JFK
23 posted on 10/17/2003 6:27:55 PM PDT by BADROTOFINGER (Life sucks. Get a helmet.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: billorites
There aren't 20,000 FreeStaters!

Right now there are over 5k. If you would bother to read the information plainly laid out on the website, the plan is for 20k. The plan outlined by this 'fantasy' is actually well AHEAD of schedule. Not too shabby for a 'pipe dream'...JFK

24 posted on 10/17/2003 6:30:48 PM PDT by BADROTOFINGER (Life sucks. Get a helmet.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST; A.J.Armitage; archy; austingirl; BADROTOFINGER; Baseballguy; bc2; Beck_isright; ...
Right now there are over 5k.

Just under, actually, around 4800 last time I checked. It was over 5500 prior to the state selection vote, but some 800 listed NH as an *opt-out* choice indicating that they would NOT be moving there- no big deal, so long as the FSP organizers don't incorrectly figure them as in with the others who are planning on making the move to NH; the FSP has in the past picked up 300 new pledged porcupines in as little as a single week.

But even better, many of those 800 are Western residents or western FSP inclined, and have begun their own *Free West Project* looking at the possibility of mirroring the FSP effort in a Western state or states- Wyoming, the #2 choice in the recent FSP runoff is at present most popular, but Montana and Idaho are very much in contention...and contiguous; most of those Western alternatives already have their own individual discussion groups and existing residents, so they have a good start. It's entirely possible that they'll have porcupine [or other mascot/symbol] enclaves in multiple western locales.

Just think: a return to a love of individual liberty and basic American principles could be breaking out all over....

-archy-/-

25 posted on 10/18/2003 1:01:20 AM PDT by archy (Angiloj! Mia kusenveturilo estas plena da angiloj!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: billorites
There aren't 20,000 FreeStaters!

That's the point.

They don't exist.

It's a (ahem) "pipe dream."

Your information isn't up-to-date. In the year 2000 they didn't exist; the signups began around this time of the year in 2001, beginning with founder Jason Sorens. About a year later, they had the first thousand. A year after that, 5000 [now]. The projection for the immediate future, based on the expansion of the numbers at a very conservative doubling of those 5K members now present will have 10K by this time next year. And a year after that, doubled again, they'll begin making the move once that 20,000 number is reached; some are not waiting, and at least two FReeper Porcupines are hoping to be resident in the Granite State before New Years. But once there are 20K, they have 5 years in which to make the move; assuming 20,000 are signed on by 30 October 2005, the migration should be complete by the end of the decade.

But the recruitment of new Porcupines will NOT be halted once 20K are signed on; and as it continues that will ensure that at *least* 20K make the move at a minimum. But supposing those numbers continue to double annually- and to date, they've more than doubled.

2000- No FSP
Oct 2001- 1 member
Oct 2002- 1000 pledged FSPers
Oct 2003- 5000 pledged FSPers; NH state picked for project;
Oct 2004- 10,000 Porcupines [projected- if the 2003 # [only] doubles]
Oct 2005- 20,000 Porcupines [projected- double the 2004 figure. And with that 20K goal reached, it's time to move!

With a period of five years to actually make that move. And in that time, if the numbers continue at the previous rate [and don't actually increase!]

Oct 2006- 40,000 Porcupines
Oct 2007- 80,000 Porcupines
Oct 2008- 160,000 Porcupines
Oct 2009- 320,000 Porcupines
Oct 2010- 640,000 Porcupines- at least a half-million plus. And of course most of the children who were 10 years of age in the year 2000 will be of legal age to vote in the 2008 November elections; certainly by 2010.

But just going back to those 20,000 voting Porcupines:

For a start, let's just see what can be done with 20,000 new FSP NH Porcupines. And, of course, a quarter-million NH *Undeclared*:

NH State voter registration, September ’02 2001 [after list purge]

REPUBLICANS 245,791/ 37.3%
UNDECLARED 242,028/ 36.8%
DEMOCRATS 170,405/ 25.9%

And if the NH Porcupine numbers do happen to reach a half million or more by the end of the latter half of the decade, there'd be enough Porcupine voters to outnumber the Republicans and Democrats combined.

In practical terms, I think it more likely that should that point be reached, some of those would more likely assist the Western effort, or begin building another nest of Porcupines in a second Eastern seaboard location; hopefully contiguous to NH. But what if the increase remains the same as it did from 2002-2003 and increases fivefold? Or even grows beyond that figure? What then?

-archy-/-

26 posted on 10/18/2003 1:42:08 AM PDT by archy (Angiloj! Mia kusenveturilo estas plena da angiloj!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: muir_redwoods
I'll be living in NH in 6 years and three months. I'll have retired from my corporate job and will have become certified to teach middle-school science. It's the perfect place and job for this low-tax, 2nd amendment loving, small "L" libertarian.

We'd be very pleased to have you as a FSP member.

In any event, I think it's safe to say we'll certainly enjoy having you for a neighbor.

-archy-/-

27 posted on 10/18/2003 1:44:40 AM PDT by archy (Angiloj! Mia kusenveturilo estas plena da angiloj!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: xrp
Not since the Mormons moved west and Utopians built communities in the 19th century has a single group attempted a migration of this scale.

Not true: The Somalians and Lewiston, Maine.

The Hmong in Missoula, Montana are another such group, a matter of considerable interest to *FSP West* researchers. They're not *quite* libertarians, but treasure their freedom and citizenship particularly.

28 posted on 10/18/2003 1:47:35 AM PDT by archy (Angiloj! Mia kusenveturilo estas plena da angiloj!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: xrp
Provide evidence that all 20,000 of the Free State Project are stoners.

Well, we are moving to a locale called the Granite state....

-archy-/-

29 posted on 10/18/2003 1:49:59 AM PDT by archy (Angiloj! Mia kusenveturilo estas plena da angiloj!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Mears
EVERY TIME A GROUP LIKE THIS MOVES SOMEPLACE THEY TRY TO CHANGE THE RULES TO MAKE IT MORE LIKE THE PLACE THAT THEY CAME FROM.

LOOK OUT,NEW HAMPSHIRE!!!!!

I can't wait to see what the Porcupines from New Orleans do by way of a Granite State Vieux Carre....

-archy-/-

30 posted on 10/18/2003 2:05:32 AM PDT by archy (Angiloj! Mia kusenveturilo estas plena da angiloj!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: archy
bttt
31 posted on 10/18/2003 7:53:52 AM PDT by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: gg188
Helmet laws are pointless. People who don't want to wear head protection when they ride have nothing to protect anyway.
32 posted on 10/18/2003 10:23:48 AM PDT by muir_redwoods
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: billorites
Well, your assertion is patently false in at least one case - my wife and I have sold our house in San Jose, California, and will be moving to the Manchester area by Thanksgiving.

As for "wherewithall" - I make a six figure income.
33 posted on 10/18/2003 10:28:17 AM PDT by mvpel (Michael Pelletier)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: billorites
Well I've never been a stoner, and will move in the next five years....luckily New Hampshire was my first pick. We have had a warm welcome in New Hampshire from the GOP...the demontocrats think we're kooks.
Hmmm....considering your statement regarding the FSP, who do you more closely align with.
34 posted on 10/18/2003 11:54:50 AM PDT by Katya
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: mvpel
Well, your assertion is patently false in at least one case - my wife and I have sold our house in San Jose, California, and will be moving to the Manchester area by Thanksgiving.

As for "wherewithall" - I make a six figure income.

BTW, you'll have a respectable amount of Porcupine company:

A surprising number are not going to wait until 20,000 members join the Free State Project and choose to move to New Hampshire:

When > 20k have joined-46%
In 0-3 years- 54%

info *here*

35 posted on 10/18/2003 8:29:52 PM PDT by archy (Angiloj! Mia kusenveturilo estas plena da angiloj!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: Katya; mvpel
My father and I are planning on moving before 4 or 5 years, as well.

We'll see you there :)
36 posted on 10/20/2003 5:18:37 PM PDT by bc2 (http://www.thinkforyourself.us)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: billorites
"How many FSP members actually make the move...is far from clear."

How many? None. That's how many.

Then you're proven wrong. A few have already moved. And the bulk of the internal conversation among the others right now is where to move to.

37 posted on 10/21/2003 1:01:46 PM PDT by pupdog
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: pupdog
" A few have already moved. And the bulk of the internal conversation among the others right now is where to move to. "

I'd like to believe it's true. I'm very sympathetic to the goals and values expoused by the Free State Project people. I'd like to believe that UFO's exist too.

But I can't. The FSP, like Leprechauns, are an agreeable fiction.

But they're not real.

38 posted on 10/22/2003 6:43:06 PM PDT by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: billorites
But I can't. The FSP, like Leprechauns, are an agreeable fiction.

But they're not real.

Sure, and ye'd best be haltin' your fibs, or one of us unreal porkiepine little people will be a-comin' for to crack yer shins a good one with a shillelagh....

39 posted on 10/25/2003 9:45:10 PM PDT by archy (Angiloj! Mia kusenveturilo estas plena da angiloj!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: archy
I very much wish to be proved wrong about the whole FSP thing.

We could use some here in Cheshire county.

40 posted on 10/26/2003 5:00:20 AM PST by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson