I won’t pretend Henry David Thoreau’s writing thoroughly interests me, as much as I admire him. Truth be told, I find much of his work boring and wordy. His ideas on government however, are quite interesting, especially coming from someone of his time period. He is among the ranks of abolitionist thinkers, like Josiah Warren, who correctly see in direct slavery the same basic injustices a subject suffers under a government. Continue reading
What does it mean to be organized? Usually it means “stuff” is defined based on it’s individual characteristics, and put in a place based on that classification.
We organize our desk by recognizing pens, pencils, and markers as writing utensils, and putting them in the drawer. Then we categorize pencils, pens, and markers separately based on their individual characteristics, and put them on the left, middle, and right. Continue reading
My friend Daniel Rothschild might just be the next Rothbard… but with more dirty jokes. He is studying for a doctorate in economics, and regularly posts on Facebook about government.
Although he bares the infamous Rothschild name, Daniel claims no affiliation with the shadowy rulers of Earth. Of course, that could all just be part of the plan. But that would seem like a strange strategy to attempt to end the states which you control. Anyway, the following are all Daniel Rothschild facebook quotes. Continue reading
I see two extremes in religious beliefs. On the one hand, during dark times people flock to religion for the promise of something better after death, since they have lost hope for something better in this life. On the flip side, people ignore religion, or are too distracted to engage themselves spiritually, when their lives are going well. Continue reading
Secession is a Natural Right
Morality is what is naturally right or wrong. Saying someone has a “right” is a statement about an individual’s condition in nature, absent other parties. That is why rights are expressed in the negative: because a right is a declaration of the natural state of a human, and the assertion that another human that disrupts this natural state is in the wrong. Continue reading
My second major work of fiction has been published! A fast paced dystopian thriller, Flight Grounded follows a Vermont man named Jake Evans as he flees from agents of the state in an attempt to escape to Canada after being accused of carrying out a terrorist attack. Continue reading
I often argue that people would be better off without a coercive state. During these arguments, I am put in the position of explaining how the absence of government would lead to utopia. I am asked how this new system would be perfect, while the other party defends an imperfect system. Continue reading
It was once said in reference to politics that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. But this is true universally: eternal vigilance will always be the price of freedom, whether from government or business. The difference is, vigilance over business can produce results, while vigilance over government is like watching a slow motion train wreck without being able to stop it.
The crux of the difference is the ability to remove funding from business, and convince others to remove their funding. This means you can completely disassociate from a business, and even from those who do business with that business. And certainly you hope this damages the business, but even if it doesn’t, at least you are not a party to that business’s destruction, immorality, or anti-freedom actions.
The problem for many is that business would still be able to exist, if enough destructive, immoral, or anti-freedom people still patronize that business. I don’t think utopia will ever exist, so why abandon improving society, just because the improvement won’t make society perfect? Ask yourself, what is more likely to happen, what will more often happen, and where would the incentives lie if business versus government handled various things.
Business serves the customers and must earn their loyalty. Business risks going under if customers are not happy. Business cannot come into your home and steal your money; for that, they require government to act on their behalf. So all the strong centralized, relatively monopolistic businesses we see now that receive bailouts, grants, and subsidies would not be so strong without stealing our money through the government. And if they attempted to steal our money without government, they would have to fund the venture themselves, and be seen for the violent thieves they really are: two things certain to threaten profits to the point that they will not happen.
When I moved to Florida, I needed to switch banks, so I researched local banks in the area, not wanting to give my money to national banks like Bank of America which received bailouts from the U.S. government (AKA stole our money when they handled their businesses poorly) and have terrible customer service. After I learned of a few local banks, I read reviews, and found that some didn’t have great reputations according to their customers. One bank that did have a good reputation offered the type of checking account I wanted, without fees. I now use a bank that has not taken my money by force, and delivers the product they said they would deliver. If they displease me for any reason, I can remove my funding from them, and go to a different bank.
Now say I want Bank of America to be held accountable for their actions of poorly investing, and giving out loans to people who could not pay them back. First, I need to wait until an election year. Then I need to research which candidate of two choices will be against bailouts, which in 90% of races will be neither candidate. In the 10% of cases where a candidate claims to be against bailouts, if he ever gets so specific, I need to then watch him over the next 2-4 years making sure he never gives a bailout, and encouraging him to investigate the fraud that has already happened. Most will end up giving another bailout, having lied during the campaign, but since most of the electorate didn’t care about that issue as much as I did, it won’t matter. But in say 1% of the cases, being generous, a candidate will introduce legislation to “hold the banks accountable”. Half of that one percent will actually be aimed at holding banks accountable, and the other half will be aimed at protecting banks like Bank of America, by only making small banks play by the new rules. But that doesn’t matter anyway, the legislation won’t pass. Bank of America will get away with stealing my money last time, and they will get away with stealing my money again. But I can try again every 2-4 years! Oh yea, and the small local bank I chose to give my business to will have to compete against Bank of America, who still exists because they used the government as a third part to steal my money.
Is it easier for me to be vigilant, and produce results with my vigilance, over my local bank, or Bank of America?
I bought a radiator for my car on Amazon last week, which turned out to be the wrong one. If I had googled the part number, I would have known it was the wrong one, but I didn’t, I simply read the description and assumed it would work. Shipping was free, and when I received the part, I realized it was the wrong radiator. The seller sent me a label so I could return the item for free, and be reimbursed completely.
My parents once tried to renew their car registration (a “product” they didn’t want) only to be told that they owed excise tax in a town in which they never lived. After explaining this to the registry, they were told they would have to resolve this at the town hall of that town. So they drove over an hour only to find out the town hall had closed early that day. So they made the trip again the next day, and were informed that they would have to pay the excise tax to the town they never lived in, and then they could file a claim that they never lived in the town, and then they could get the money back when the claim was resolved. So that’s what they did in order to pay more money to the state for the registration they were forced to acquire. Six months to a year later they were refunded the excise tax, minus filing fees.
Was is easier for me to be vigilant over Amazon who must earn my business, or for my parents to be vigilant over the state of Massachusetts (who forced them to pay for registration) and some random town (that just claimed they owed them money)?
Customers, consumers, and even protesters have far more control over business than voters and other citizens have over government. We will always need to be vigilant to prevent tyranny, but we have no way to use our vigilance to prevent government tyranny.
And all the “what if without government” scenarios already happen. Our money is stolen. People are murdered and caged over victim-less crimes. Our land may be taken by the government. Our children may be taken by the government. The government forces us to buy products. Innocent foreigners are killed on our behalf and dubbed collateral damage. Government security does not prevent crime, and solves relatively few.
We are living in a worst case scenario, and the only thing that keeps it relatively peaceful is the relatively free market. I’m convinced that public sentiment keeps complete government tyranny at bay, without regards to voting. Without government obstruction, the society we create will be even more reflective of our wishes, peaceful and prosperous.
If a business is providing security, we must make sure it is not using force unjustly. But already the incentives lie with a business to use force only justifiably, since using that force costs them money. Yet they will still have to fulfill their promises to customers of bringing actual criminals to justice. And finally, they must compete against other security companies, which serves as incentive to not overstep their bounds, or falsely accuse innocents.
So while eternal vigilance will always be the price of freedom, we can start from a place where incentives for business lie in serving the market, making it easier and more effective to be vigilant.
What is the Free State Project?
New Hampshire is home to the beautiful White Mountains, an international border with Canada, and a stretch of seashore, but it might also be the birthplace of the next generation of freedom. New Hampshire was chosen by the Free State Project as its battleground for liberty.
The Free State Project started as an idea of Jason Sorens’ back in 2001, as he studied for his doctorate at Yale University. As a libertarian, Sorens recognized that the movement was failing to make any political gains in the United States. Thus, he began to formulate a plan which could address this problem. Freedom seemed to have a bleak future, especially as many in the liberty movement focused on long term strategies that made liberty for those alive today seem impossible.
Furthermore, Sorens argued, there was no guarantee that an idealized hope for freedom would win out against the elite’s active strategy for global control. The only option at the time seemed to be a “lone wolf” strategy of opting out of government and much of society; but this also meant forfeiture to the state by giving up the possibility of a normal life.
Based on his dissertation research, Sorens’ solution to these problems was to move 20,000 libertarians to a relatively small U.S. state, in order to actively affect the political climate. Not only would these freedom lovers work to make the chosen state government as unintrusive as possible, but also use the threat of seceding from the United States to bring the libertarian movement to the forefront of national politics.
Sorens argued in an article called Announcement: The Free State Project published in The Libertarian Enterprise, that this approach to increase freedom in one state, and perhaps even someday pull away from the federal government, would work better than trying to grow the Libertarian party nationwide.
‘There is another advantage to the strategy of secession. It is a sort of “stealth-libertarian” strategy. Most people have a lot of state pride. I used to live in Texas, and it was the general assumption among Texans that we could easily go it alone and become independent, but we stayed in the U.S. merely out of a sense of graciousness and condescension. In other words, people might well vote for a general secessionist party even if they wouldn’t vote for an overtly libertarian party. Of course, once secession is achieved, libertarianism is the likely outcome if we’ve concentrated our forces. Furthermore, independent small states are forced to follow relatively libertarian policies to remain economically viable.’
But the problem still, Sorens added, was coordination. How could lovers of liberty get all these individualists to band together and move? He suggested interested participants vote on which state of those with a population of around one million inhabitants, should be the destination for the great migration of libertarians.
By 2003, Sorens’ proposal had caught on with libertarians, and in September of that year, New Hampshire was voted to be the home of the Free State Project. With a population of about 1.3 million, and the state motto “Live Free or Die”, New Hampshire seemed the natural incubator of freedom. The state already had a relatively limited government with low taxes and large degrees of economic and personal freedoms, so the momentum was headed in the right direction.
The next step was to get enough people to pledge to move to New Hampshire within five years of “triggering the move”. With the 20,000th signer, the move would be triggered.
Free State Progress
Just weeks ago, the Free State Project triggered the move with their 20,000th signer. Almost 1,900 of those who have pledged have already moved to New Hampshire, according to the Free State Project’s website. An additional 2,500 New Hampshire inhabitants are considered “in state friends” which means they agree with the Free State Project proposal, but already lived in the state, or never signed the pledge.
Already the Free State Project has had some legislative success. As a non-profit, the organization does not align itself with a particular political party, nor field, endorse, or fund candidates. However, a number of “Free-Staters” have been elected to political office without the official backing of the organization. The first was Joel Winters in 2006, elected to the New Hampshire state house as a Democrat. Wikipedia has the number of current Free-Staters holding political office in New Hampshire at sixteen: two Democrats, and fourteen Republicans. There are also seven members of the Free State Project who formerly held office (four Republicans, three Democrats), but do not currently.
In 2013 State Reps. Mark Warden ( R) and Michael Garcia (D) sat on a panel together at the Free State Project’s annual summer gathering, the Porcupine Freedom Festival. The two claimed to have identical voting records, and said that the party affiliation was more about playing the game to get elected, as opposed to ideology.
In addition, and in part due, to elected members, the Free State Project has influenced some steps towards liberty in the New Hampshire legislature. According to Reason.com’s 2013 article The Free State Project Grows Up, Free State politicians helped block the national id card system REAL ID, do away with restrictive knife laws, strengthen jury nullification laws, loosen homebrewing requirements, and stop a number of liberty infringements before they gained steam.
Currently Free Staters are working to make New Hampshire a permitless concealed carry state like its neighbors Vermont and Maine, as well as broaden cannabis liberties, though these efforts have had their setbacks due to the current Governor Maggie Hassan.
Reactions from New Hampshirites have been mixed. Some have welcomed the Free-Staters, saying that what they are doing will help reduce burdensome government. Others however, see the Free State Project as a threat or invasion.
The Concord Police Chief John Duval mentioned the Free-Staters in his successful bid for a bearcat armored vehicle from the Department of Homeland Security, saying:
‘We are fortunate that our State has not been victimized from a mass casualty event from an international terrorism strike however on the domestic front, the threat is real and here. Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges.’
He later backed away from his statement, according to the Washington Times, after Free State Project president Carla Gericke wrote an open letter demanding an apology for the insinuation that the FSP is a domestic terror group, adding that most Free-Staters believe in the non-aggression principle, and asking what daily challenges have been presented by the organization.
Another New Hampshire official, State Rep. Cynthia Chase, claimed the Free State Project is the “single biggest threat the state is facing today”. She then lamented the fact that there is nothing that can legally be done to stop them, and offered the following course of action:
What we can do is to make the environment here so unwelcoming that some will choose not to come, and some may actually leave. One way is to pass measures that will restrict the “freedoms” that they think they will find here.
On a national scale however, the Free State Project has been praised by the likes of Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell, Andrew Napolitano, and Penn Jillette. Gary Johnson also supports the cause, and was the keynote speaker at the Free State Project’s 2013 Porcupine Freedom Festival, where economist David Friedman also spoke. When it comes to freedom lovers, the Free State Project is held in good company.
Triggering the move in early 2016 was a big step forward. It means that if everyone honors their pledge, New Hampshire will be home to 20,000 more liberty lovers by 2021. That might not be as easy as it sounds, and we will have to wait and see if the project can be as successful at moving 20,000 libertarians as they were at getting 20,000 pledges.
But what happens next is anyone’s guess! Will New Hampshire be the model for liberty? Will it lead the secession movement? There is no precedent for this exciting one of a kind project. What we do know is that the Free State Project is a force to be reckoned with in the movement for “liberty in our lifetime”.