Skip to comments.Thinking small, Free State Project hopes for big things
Posted on 09/24/2003 12:15:27 PM PDT by archy
Thinking small, Free State Project hopes for big things
By Kenric Ward
Press Journal opinion page editor
September 22, 2003
On Thursday, a group called the Free State Project begins its countdown to freedom. That's when balloting closes for selection of a "free state."
Over the past year, the libertarian-minded organization has been gathering members, mainly in cyberspace, with a goal of designating a single state as a new home. Not since the Mormons' transcontinental migration of the late 1840s has there been such a large, organized effort to move an entire group of Americans to one location.
But Utah is not one of the 10 states in the running for a libertarian-style invasion. And, relax, neither is Florida. That's because size matters most, and the smaller the better. Free Staters have winnowed the field by targeting states with a maximum population of 1.3 million so their group can leverage an immediate electoral impact.
Some small states, such as Rhode Island and Hawaii, were axed early for their leftist leanings or federal control. Yet Free State leadership eschews any partisan litmus test other than its motto, "Liberty in our lifetime."
"The Free State Project is a coalition among libertarians, classical liberals and constitutionalists," explains Jason Sorens, the group's founder and president. He believes that anyone living outside strict Republican or Democratic Party orthodoxy can fit into this new "third way."
Sorens, a Texas native and doctoral student at Yale University, says the focus is on "states where the FSP would have a chance of winning majorities in the state legislature and the governorship."
To calibrate those chances, Free State volunteers fanned out across the country to analyze the top 10 prospects. Here's their alphabetical ballot of finalists, with a few of the strong points (you can fill in the downsides, starting with the weather):
Alaska Lowest tax burden, loosest gun-control laws, more oil and gas than any other state except Texas.
Delaware Smallest area, key port access, proximity to larger population centers.
Idaho Fewest trial lawyers per capita, ranks first in the nation on Clemson University's "Economic Freedom" index, based on low welfare and public aid payments.
Maine Most politically independent state (Ross Perot came in second here in 1992).
Montana Bordered by four other Free State candidates, several libertarian Republicans in Legislature.
New Hampshire No income or sales taxes, lowest dependence on federal dollars, highest number of elected Libertarians.
North Dakota Liberal initiative, referendum and recall laws, Legislature controlled by conservatives who are cutting state government.
South Dakota Both Democratic senators vulnerable, among lowest tax and crime rates.
Vermont Proximity to jobs, well-educated citizenry, environmentally aware.
Wyoming Fewest number of voters, elects the most conservative/libertarian candidates (including libertarian Democrats).
Tim Condon, a Tampa attorney and director of member services for the Free State Project, calls himself a "glass eater" who will go anywhere members decide. As a project leader, he won't divulge his personal preferences, though he acknowledges that Alaska is his least favorite destination.
"I'm hearing a lot about Montana, Wyoming and New Hampshire," he says of his colleagues in Florida. The Sunshine State, by the way, has the second most Free State members, behind California.
Condon, a self-professed "native cracker" who describes himself as "right" on fiscal issues and "left" on social matters, sees a geographic and attitudinal split among Free Staters.
"The Western mindset is to just be left alone. Sort of an open-sky mentality. The Eastern attitude is more cerebral and academically oriented."
That melange shatters the stereotype of a gun-toting, black-helicopter crowd. While drawing heavily (though unofficially) from Libertarian Party ranks, many Free Staters, like Condon, hue closer to the Green Party on several issues.
Irene Davis, a former Titusville city councilwoman, is a prototypical Free State "porcupine" with her prickly political proclivities. She got into hot water when she opened a council meeting with a Wiccan invocation and resigned in a dispute over tax issues.
Her pick for a free state? Delaware, for its favorable business climate, as well as its comparatively benign weather.
The Free State Project expects to announce the results of its election Oct. 1. But the official call to move won't come until five years after the group reaches 20,000 members. With nearly 6,000 currently on the rolls, and limited media exposure thus far, Condon expects that the migration could begin around 2010.
Will it be history in the making, or just another utopian dream gone bust? You can find out more by logging onto (www.freestateproject.org).
George Herbert Walker Bush might have a somewhat different opinion about that. It seems that having an alternate to his candidacy and that of the other creep running against him had quite an effect- about one vote in five was cast for neither of the two, and Bush I's hopes for a second term in office were flushed away with his *No new taxes* lies and gun import bans.
And if we can't initially prevent the election of such undeserving creatures, I'll initially settle for ending their chances at second terms. That we can accomplish initially with the projected numbers, in Wyoming and Montana, and possibly elsewhere.
Hey friend that's a hot one coming from you! You have an active enemies list and thrive on belittling people. Since I am such a good nature chap and easily amused it doesn't bother me though. Besides malcontents and cranks are useful, they just make other folks seem that much nicer.
Locally or county-wide offices could be affected in any area by 20K persons. It happens all the time in cities with major universities, when students register and vote en masse.
You can go have a look at Wyoming election returns and you'll see that what I am saying is correct. Google "Wyoming election returns" to find the link.
Natrona County, Wyoming March 2006 :
"Good morning, sir. Here are last night's figures. We have sufficient numbers for five, and almost six."
The dark-haired man behind his desk nods and smiles. He is distinguished like an executive, but also tanned and rugged like a rancher. Little wonder. He is both a rancher and an executive. "Great news, Tom. Five will work. Five is all we need for Phase 1a."
"What about the overflow from number six?" asks the assistant.
"Let's spread half into the first five and reserve the remaining half until September for any surprises."
"Yes, sir. That was my thought, too," agrees Tom.
The rancher executive turns to his computer keyboard and briskly composes a short message, which he PGP encrypts with the public key of a colleague in Phoenix. This he pastes into an email composition window. Above the encrypted message he adds some curious text which looks like a simple computer language and includes several e-remailers' addresses. The entire email was then again PGP encrypted, but with "To's" public key. An envelope within an envelope. Only the email's header (i.e., From, To, Subject) was in plaintext. The Subject line read one question.
He sits back for several moments of calm satisfaction. Then he looks up at his assistant and says, "You've put enormous work into this, Tom. We couldn't have done it without you. Would you do the honors?"
"Yes, sir! Thank you!" Tom steps behind the man's desk, places his hand on the mouse, moves the cursor to the "Send" icon, pauses, and clicks the mouse button. At the speed of light, through two dozen nodes, the email is instantly enroute.
"Iacta alea est," says the man.
"The die is cast," echoes Tom.
The exclamation was attributed to Julius Caesar upon his crossing of the river Rubicon in 49 B.C. against the Senate's orders to lay down his military command. By invading central Italy from the Roman province of Cisalpine Gaul (what is now northern Italy), Caesar kicked off a civil war with his former ally Pompey, a Roman general whose rule extended to Syria and Palestine. Caesar defeated Pompey the next year at Pharsalus and pursued him to Alexandria in Egypt (where he was assassinated). Two years later in 46 B.C., Caesar defeated the remaining Pompeian force in Africa at Thapsus.
"Not that you aspire to become Caesar," Tom qualifies.
"No," sighs the man, "but they will accuse me of it all the same."
Before the two men had finished speaking, the email had already crossed the Atlantic. "To" is a covert e-remailer in Berlin used by only several dozen international libertarians for urgent business. "To" picked up his web-based email from several different public terminals which required no ID or sign-up to log in. Always with Karl Heinz Kolb was his powerful laptop, loaded with virtually every encryption program in existence. It had built-in software and hardware security devices to foil any third-party attempt at usage or data downloading. His friends joked that it would probably convert any snoop into argon gas. Kolb was quietly revered for how seriously he took his computer privacy. There was none his crafty equal in all of Berlin.
Sipping his chai tea at the Potsdamer Platz CyberCafé, he sits down at a terminal, logs onto his Yahoo! account, opens his Inbox, and clicks on the waiting email from firstname.lastname@example.org. Once, Kolb thought aglet was an odd name and so he looked it up. He was surprised to learn that it wasn't a name, but a thing. It is the plastic end of shoelaces that allows you to thread them through the eyeholes. Without aglets, we'd all be wearing sandals or loafers. Whoever aglet was, he evidently appreciated the small, overlooked things which made bigger things not only possible, but common.
The email is a PGP message, which he saves on a floppy. He knows that it had been encrypted with one of his public keys. The "one" in the Subject line's one question means Priority One.
Most public terminals do not have PGP installed, so the 31 year old Berliner must use his laptop. This is really the only downside to web-based email from public computers. Kolb doesn't mindin fact, he considers it a vital part of the process as he has no intention of sending email from the same terminal he received it. Not even from different accounts, as the IP address would still be the same. Physically breaking up the email chain by using different computers is what makes Kolb's remailing service so solid. His laptop is the only link between them.
Analyzing Kolb's Yahoo! anonymous account would reveal only log- ons from public terminals and the receipt of encrypted remails. Kolb never emailed anyone from that account. Thus, the vaunted Kriposthe Kriminal Polizeicould not learn from Yahoo! who he was, what he was receiving, or from whom.
Ghosts communicating with a ghost.
Kolb deletes the email from his Inbox, empties the Trash, shreds (he had installed Eraser on the server) Today's History from the computer, and logs out. He pays the 5 Euros, leaves the café and disappears down the U-Bahn stairwell a block down the street. Twenty-three minutes later he is at a university library which also has public terminals. He boots up his laptop, inserts the floppy, and decrypts the email with his secret key. Following the enclosed forwarding instructions he prepares to send the remaining PGP message kernel down the remailing chain. The first recipient is a Copenhagen partner of the Berlin operation, so the message is encrypted on Kolb's laptop with the Dane's PGP public key. Thus, what Kolb sends is different from what he had received, in case the two emails were ever somehow compared with each other. The two remailers' public PGP keys were known to precisely 37 people, all trusted libertarians.
From Copenhagen the kernel will skip through Helsinki, Krakow, and Tacoma before landing in Phoenix.
Four hours later the final recipient has it. Its Wyoming origin simply cannot be discerned from backtracking the IP packet flow. Physically, the trail went stone cold at Terminal #14 in the Berlin Technische Universität library, and that's assuming investigators could backtrack all the way to Copenhagenand then to Berlin. Learning even that useless dead-end would require an expensive and prolonged multinational intelligence effort. The Subject line read Lose 24lbs. In Just 5 Weeks!! Most people would have immediately deleted such an apparent spam, but the man in Phoenix had been awaiting precisely this email.
Not that he was overweight. The message was a grain of sand hiding on a beach. The "24lbs." meant that he had to proceed within 24 hours. The "5" told him the scope of the operation5 counties. Hands shaking with anticipation, he uses his PGP secret key to decrypt the message.
The thunderbolt falls before the noise of it is heard in the skies, prayers are says before the bell is rung for them; he receives the blow that thinks he himself is giving it, he suffers who never expected it, and he dies that look'd upon himself to be the most secure: all is done in the Night and Obscurity, amongst Storms and Confusion.
It was a quote from Gabriel Naudé, a 17th century Paris political author. The Phoenix man smiles, and then laughs out loud to himself. Four years of planning and work! It was actually going to happen! He grabs his laptop, kisses his wife good-bye and says that he'll be back in a few hours. He drives to the main downtown library on Central Avenue, walks up to the second floor where the public terminals are, signs on with an alias as a guest, and begins to work. Within an hour, 9,816 people across the Southwest are notified by an encrypted group email. The message is simple:
Solivitur ambulando. It is solved by walking.
The problem is settled by actionthe theoretical by the practical.
Wyoming Department of Administration and Information Division of Economic Analysis, Emerson Building
"Huh! Now, this is odd," observes a data analyst.
"What's odd?" asks his colleague friend in the adjoining cubicle.
"These new resident numbers for this year. Five counties show increases of over 20%."
The analysts work for the Wyoming State Data Center (WSDC) which publishes a monthly bulletin of economic conditions, housing figures, sales tax collections, cost of living indices, etc. Their second floor cubicles had a view of northern Cheyenne. It was a slate and pewter autumn day. A winter storm coming.
"Over 20%? Which five counties?"
"Niobrara, Hot Springs, Johnson, Crook, and Sublette."
"Not Teton or Albany?"
"Nope, it's five economically stagnant counties with very low population bases andhey, wait a minute!"
"They're not just sparsely populated, they're the five least populated counties! That can't be coincidence!"
"Hmmm. That is weird! Hot Springs has Thermop, Johnson has Buffalo, Crook has Sundance, and Sublette has Pinedaleand those are all nice little towns, but who the hell would move to Lusk? It's a tumbleweed gas stop on the way to nowhere."
"You got that right."
"Hold on, I'm accessing migration flows. Nope, very few intrastate movers. Most came from...California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas."
"That's strange. California and Colorado is typical, but we always lose people to Oregon, Arizona, and Texas. This makes no sense. Besides the oil boom in the early 1980s, when did we ever have a net inflow from Texas? What the hell is going on?"
"Hold on, lemme run some of these new addresses. I wanna see if they're urban or rural." A few mouse clicks later, he exclaims, "You wouldn't believe how many common addresses are popping up!"
"Common addresses? Really?"
"Yeah, common. And all of them rural. Take Crook County, for example. I'm showing a September increase of 1,346 new residents, and guess how many of them listed their address as 2075 Highway 112?"
"217! At the same address?"
"Yeah, 217. That's 16% of the county's new residents. One in six."
"What's at that address?"
"Hold on, I'm checking. A trailerpark and campground just north of Hulett. Bastiat Trailer Estates. Built this year. It's got...hold on...60 mobile home lots."
"Four residents per trailer; that comes to a capacity of 240. So, yeah, it would easily hold 217 people. Even more."
"Hey, here's another one384 people show their new residence as the Galtson Mobile Home Park on Highway 111 just south of Aladdin."
"Galtson? That's a funny name."
"Yeah, I thought so, too. And, hey, there's one more trailerpark, the Rothbard Trailer Court on Highway 585 south of Sundance. 316 new residents there."
"Those two trailerparks account for...let's see...over two-thirds of the new people. Where are the rest?"
"The rest429 to be preciseseem spread out amongst 35 addresses. It's like 35 families just up and decided to take in a dozen refugees in their homes."
"This is the weirdest damn thing I've ever seen. How 'bout you?"
"Oh, by far! Hey! Guess what their voter registration is?"
"All of them?"
"Yep. Every last adult. No Democrats. No Libertarians. No Natural Law. No Independents."
"Whaddaya bet same thing's goin' on in those other counties?"
"I'm already on it."
Within an hour, a fairly detailed abstract has been made of the numbers, which shows identical patterns in Niobrara, Hot Springs, Johnson, and Sublette counties. New community housings, trailerparks, and apartment complexes had sprung up there in the past year to be totally filled by new residents relocating from generally six other states. This relocation appears to have begun in the sparsest county of Niobrara, and then in order to the next sparsest counties of Hot Springs, Sublette, Crook, and lastly Johnsonlike water filling up an ice tray. This shows design, direction, and coordination.
If the sudden concentration of this orchestrated immigration was suspicious, the timing was alarming. Nearly ten thousand Americans had descended on five sparse Wyoming counties just weeks before a general election. Within the counties, all the political officers were up for election. Clerks, Assessors, County Attorneys, District Attorneys, Sheriffs, Commissioners, Treasurers, Coroners, Judges, everyone.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"Who wouldn't bethose five counties are facing a coup d'état!"
"Shit! Who are these people?"
"Beats me, man. Hey, it's 5:30. Let's get outta here and grab a few beers. Get a game plan going before we tell the SecState about this!"
"Sounds good. We'll take all this stuff with us and work on it at down at Muldoons." After several hours at their usual tavern, the two computer analysts are well and truly plastered. An early winter storm had hit southeast Wyoming that evening, and the roads were sheeted in black ice. Driving home, the carpooling pair careen off a mild curve in the road, go down a thirty foot embankment and flip. One is knocked unconscious; the other his neck broken. Their car's fuel line had been ripped away by the dense underbrush, and raw gasoline spilled onto the red-hot exhaust manifold. Only the blaze gave notice of the lonely accident, and by the time the fire trucks had arrived the car was a black, smoking shell. Bits of burning computer printouts floated about like Dante's snowflakes.
The curious fattening of five Wyoming counties goes unnoticed by the replacement analysts at the WSDC. The general election of 2006 is just twelve days away.
And those of us with rabies can't help ourselves. But we're real fun to turn loose at dull parties.
I was thinking of opening a joint in the new Free State. Planning on calling it The Chestnut Tree Cafe. When it's set up stop by for some Victory Gin on the house.
...Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world... No, wait: you get to say that...
Anyway, I reckon that that'll be one place where gin control can be an interesting topic for discussion....
There are a lot of folks in CA, and so accordingly, a fairly large percentage of FSPers should reflect that. That's a fairly mobile society, so it's neither surprising that some are taking advantage of that mobility to vote with their feet.
And some, particularly those with kids who have to consider the future, can't just remain there on a day-by-day basis and hope they can get out at the last minute when it turns nasty.
I always wanted to move there but it was jsut too socialist for me. Had I gone I'd've moved out long ago. Darn shame what happened to that state. Looking forward to moving to state that won't be following California's lead.
I hope our former Californios, like our former Texians, our former Hoosiers, and all the others, bring some of the attitudes and outlook that once made their home state the special place it was, and help their new home achieve its own deserved unique reputation.
See you in the free state, pal.
Be sure you are right. Then go ahead.
--Personal motto of former US Congressman Davy Crockett, killed at the Alamo fight, San Antonio de Bezar, Tejas, March of 1836.
Wyoming only has one House district for the entire state. REAL easy to memorize. And when a constituent from anywhere in the state drops by the Representative's office, there's no quick attempt to determine their zip code to see if they're from that Representative's particular district, as in other congressional offices. In Wyoming, everyone's from the First District.
What more could a person ask for?
Golf courses, or dancing girls for those not golf-inclined.
Seriously, though, I think it's the best kept secret on the East Coast.
I've spent some great vacation time in Delaware, interestingly enough with a Danish flight attendent who's in love with the place and is considering settling there herself. And the tax structure and incorporation laws offer interesting possibilities. But it appears unlikely to be the first choice for most Porcupines, though as a follow-on FSP state, it does indeed have a great deal to offer.
The state tree is a rock. The state flower is a rock. The state bird... well, you get the idea.
But Wyoming was my first choice, and got my FSP vote. Not too surprising; I'm the FSP Wyoming discussion group board founder/moderator.
There are some Texans with something similar going on, and they've got 254 counties to deal with, in many ways a more daunting challenge than the Porcupines face in the coming Free State.
But other states offer similarly interesting possibilities based on county or congressional districts.
Thank you! I'm going to repost that one on a couple of FSP discussion boards. Interesting....
Post bookmarked for future reference. Hehhehheh.
We'll see, come election of 2004, and especially, 2008.
But I'll pass on your concern about the junk cars and appliances in the front yard of the governor's mansion.
Five counties and two major cities [but not the state capital city of Cheyenne -yet] have been identified as very fertile ground for political efforts by the emergent FSP political party arm, IF Wyoming is the state chosen. Of those able to, if 2000 each can relocate in the voting districts of those counties, roughly half of the relocating Porcupines, we'll have a near-immediate political base, and whether we control the statehouse or not, we'll be an influence that can't be ignored. Sorta like a porcupine in a room full of nudists. With the lights turned off.
Porcupine advance crews have identified similar possibilities in other states; the Montana outline is particularly well-done and detailed, offering some REALLY interesting possibilities under that state's law, and those in New Hampshire are not about to be outdone by those of us nosing about for possible western porcupine ranching prospects.
The possibilities are not bleak in any of the ten possible states; that's why they were the finalists and eventual choices. But a couple appear more attractive than others, and the final choice is up to each Porcupine, who's choosing for those next 15,000 to join us as well as his or herself.
I don't recall the exchange, but I'm familiar with the reference; there was a coffeehouse of that name that was a popular hangout in my college days, and I was aware of the source of the name even if most of the college kids weren't.
It is indeed a great name for an evening watering spot, about third on the list I'd have if I were so inclined, but going nicely with a joint with at least some eatery possibilities, I hope. And I hope there'll be a bulletin board somewhere around the place for public notices and wanted flyers for previous elected officials and political miscreants.
You ever seen the video for Toby Keith's *I love this bar*? And do let me know if you'd care to have a guitar-picker and/or banjo plunker or two around some Winter's evening.
It's not been that long ago that we were told how long it would really take before we assembled the voting 5000, and that's now coming to pass a year ahead of the expected schedule. My guess is that 15,000 more for the combined 20,000 will be signed on in the same time it took us to get the first 5K, about twenty-four months, more or less.
So whether the eventual further effort will be successful or not is an open question, and we shall see. But it is certain that we will not succeed if we do not try.
Maybe in a couple of years from now, your pessimism will be proven correct. Or maybe it'll be good for a chuckle. We shall see.
***[From 05/19/2003, when we had around 3500 Porcupines signed on:]***
FSP has had their eye on Idaho as long as I can remember, and they still have only 3,000 people willing to move.
They'll "pick a state" when they're at 5,000? That ought to be well into the next millinium.
Mid-May: Signed members as of 5-14-2003: 3,682
Mid-April: 3000+..., Mid-May: 3500+.... Let us see if Mid-June offers a total of 4000 or more pledged and signed porcupines, or thereabouts. True, there may be some dropoff over the Summer months. But then too, the Montana conference over Memorial Day may offer additional velocity to the effort. We'll see.
But either way, here comes that new *millinium* you mentioned, a little ahead of schedule!