Porcupines are Not Turkeys: Thank You Free State Project
This year we can be thankful that for some, liberty is too important to sit around and wait for the next "Ron Paul" to appear on the national stage. They aren't waiting for a third person to show up at their local monthly libertarian meetup. They are no longer content with feeling marginalized while being challenged by others to work within a broken system.
Is your libertarian meetup starting to feel like a "Vote Newt" rally?
Thankfully, the Free Staters are not waiting, they're moving to New Hampshire now to make a difference. Over 13,000 people have pledged some level of support, and the plan is that pledgers will move to New Hampshire within five years after the number of pledges passes 20,000. It's a clever way to solve the chicken and the egg dilemma of getting liberty lovers to move somewhere, to where liberty lovers *might* be in the future. However, many can't wait for a good thing and have already made the move.
And in 2012, the movement passed 1,000 official movers and now stands at 1,099 as of this writing; joining the significant existing liberty oriented population of New Hampshire-ites. These movers are not just liberty lovers, these are liberty super activists.
Like so many things that are effective against the centralized state, the Free State Project is highly decentralized. This can of course create first impression misconceptions, Galt's Gulch comparisons, and all manner of assumptions. The Free State Project was created on the simple premise that the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property. The activists who conceived the Free State Project recognized that libertarianism at a national level had failed, and it was time to focus efforts on a local level. Since liberty activist efforts are highly individualized, the result has been a wide array of sometimes messy, sometimes funny, sometimes inspiring liberty projects. None of these projects occurred with permission. It's an experiment in emergent organization, voluntary aid and entrepreneurship of all stripes. Though statists may not be able to conceive of such an organization, the answer from the Free State Project head office is always yes. That's because there is no Free State Project head office.
Our glorious leader. You could try and stop him, but first you have to find him.
Though there is no office, there is a President and her name is Carla Gericke. Carla hails originally from South Africa. Her role is to promote the Free State Project and get signers and encourage movers, not direct participants on what to do. She meets many prospective movers through the Free State Project's two major annual events: the Liberty Forum and the Porcupine Freedom Festival. If you've ever attended one of these events, you know there are a lot of people within the Free State, and they all do things a bit differently.
Many projects have been political in nature. In fact, I'm mover #491, originally from sunny Las Vegas, Nevada. I can tell you that moving to New Hampshire has been the best, most rewarding decision I have ever made. In addition to serving lots of movers through my business, Porcupine Real Estate, I have served the liberty cause by running for state office and becoming a New Hampshire state rep in 2010. Whether dealing with constituents in Goffstown or making Manchester, NH real estate deals, my focus is on serving people. Some of the biggest liberty success stories are the political changes we have been able to make at the state level, including:
- passing a state budget 11% smaller than the prior budget, reducing spending by over $1.2 billion and general fund spending by $536 million, or 18%
- passing a law *requiring* NH judges to allow jury nullification explanations to jurors
- passing a Knife Rights Bill into law, removing restrictions on switchblades, dirks, daggers and stilettos in Hew Hampshire and essentially removing all restrictions on knives
These are but a few of the fruits of the political process in New Hampshire. New Hampshire even has the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance (NHLA) that rates state legislation and legislators on how well they conform with small government principles. How does your state compare?
Of course Free State Project participants have also spurred all manner of non-political activism.
Many Free Staters are engaging in media creation. The nationally syndicated radio program, Free Talk Live and many of the programs on the Liberty Radio Network (LRN) are produced by Free Staters. CopBlock.org and the School Sucks Podcast are just two of the influential online presences created by Free Staters.
Still other Free Staters are combining media with controversial civil disobedience. Many have been arrested for their refusal to obey authority, even where that “authority” would seemingly lack any basis in law. For example a group of activists, bearing brown containers labeled "not a beer", attended city council meetings and were promptly arrested since the town council bureaucrats thought the containers did contain alcohol, when the contents was just water. You can argue the merits of some of this activism, but much of it has given publicity to the Free State Project. In the "not alcohol" case, the story made international headlines. And as PT Barnum stated, "there's no such thing as bad publicity, especially for libertarians," or something like that.
But more important than the projects, the thing I am sure most Free Staters are thankful for is the friends and relationships they've made with their fellow Free Staters. Many of us can see the constraints on liberty in our world, and we feel detached from the larger population that does not share that passion. Those of you that do feel that way will feel welcome in New Hampshire.
Free Talk Live's Ian Freeman has stated that prior to moving to New Hampshire from Florida, he had been very disappointed with the lack of success in the Florida liberty movement and as a result lacked much of a social life. In New Hampshire however his life has become rich with friendships and activities, all centered around his passion for liberty. I think he'd tell you that it's the best decision he ever made. I have heard Free Staters say that one of the best parts of moving is that the Free State comes with a sort of "starter friend set" since you already share so many values in common.
And it can be easy to make friends if you put some effort into it. In any given day or any given month you can choose from numerous social events and meetups to get active in like the Nashua Social, homeschooling support groups, sign waving get-togethers, the Porcupine Outdoor Recreation Club, Maker clubs, Bitcoin Meetup groups, jury nullification outreach, etc.. Many of these can be found by a bit of asking around on the Free State Project forums or searching on Facebook. There's even a welcome wagon that will help new movers unpack, get situated and split some beverage and food. If you find something you want missing, there's a good chance you'll find other Free Staters willing to support your efforts.
One of the main gripes I hear about NH is the weather. Well, as Carla, Ian and I, all warm weather natives can attest, it's not an issue. Liberty trumps flip flops. New Hampshire has plenty of natural beauty, mountains, forests, lakes and beaches to embrace. Big city adventures await in Boston, New York City and Montreal, all within a few hours' drive. But the biggest draw is the Free Staters themselves. If you truly believe in liberty, consider joining those who have felt strongly enough to do something about it, and make the move.