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The Free State Project, One Decade Later 701

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-to-the-people dept.
Okian Warrior writes "About a decade ago Slashdot ran an article about the Free State Project: an attempt to get 20,000 liberty-minded activists to move to one state (they chose NH) and change the political landscape. Eleven years on, the project is still growing and having an effect on statewide politics. NPR recently ran a program discussing the movement, its list of successes, and plans for the future. The FSP has a noticeable effect on politics right now — still 6,000 short of their 20,000 goal, and long before the members are scheduled to move to NH."
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The Free State Project, One Decade Later

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  • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thrich81 (1357561) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:07AM (#43961079)

    An AC basically just said the same thing -- Slashdot seems to have a very large contingent of "Libertarians", some rational, some unhinged. How this happened continues to be a subject of discussion among my techy friends. This isn't "News for Nerds" but it does cater to much of the Slashdot readership, both the Libertarians and we who are interested, but not convinced, by their arguments.

  • Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mhajicek (1582795) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:18AM (#43961223)
    There's a huge difference between not wanting to wear a seatbelt and not wanting to be forced to wear a seatbelt. I wear a helmet on my motorcycle, but I'm happy I'm not required to do so by law.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:27AM (#43961371) Homepage

    AS there are no JOBS in NH... From the beginning this "project" screamed, "for rich people only" because those are the only ones that can just uproot their lives and move without having to have a job.

  • Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nadaka (224565) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:34AM (#43961507)

    The state is not the enemy of liberty (or more accurately, it does not have to be, and should not be).

    Your liberty can be infringed by the action of any powerful entity, be it the state, a large corporation, a wealthy person or a simple thug.

    The role of the state should be to protect your liberties, not just in theory but in practice. And that means regulating markets, providing a social safety net and providing a framework of laws that protect workers from abuse.

    I agree with basic libertarian principals. Where you fail is economics. Despite popular belief, Adam Smith was not an advocate of the unregulated market. He wrote it as an overly simplified and imperfect model, nothing more. He also wrote extensively on its risks and limitations, which libertarians completely ignore in an irrational quest for dogmatic purity.

  • Re:Somalia? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by moeinvt (851793) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:47AM (#43961737)

    "failed African STATE" (emphasis added)

    Let's overlook the fact that European interventionism disrupted the natural development of African societies. You take a country in Africa, force the people to live under a brutal dictatorship until a civil war eventually topples the dictator. Then, subject the state to multiple foreign military invasions.

    THIS is your anecdotal evidence to "prove" that libertarianism doesn't work and that people can't possibly self-organize?

  • by iamcadaver (104579) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:59AM (#43961909)

    The first time the FSP was on /. I was tempted. The second time the FSP was on /. I signed up.

    Now I've lived here for five years. This is the real deal, NH has the perfect state and local government for this experiment. Politics is the unofficial state sport of NH with 400 state reps for only 1.3 million constituents that are about equally divided between the two major parties. Republican and democratic parties engage our ideas, sometimes in battle, other times in courtship. You don't have to explain first principles over and over again, everyone here knows government like fire can be a dangerous master, you get to have debate and make an impact on people and policy with all that stuff as accepted framework of the discussion.

  • Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dishevel (1105119) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:00AM (#43961935)

    So if I was free to open a business that would only serve whites would you give me your money?
    My guess is ... not.
    When people start feeling different about race change takes place with or without government interference.
    I much prefer racism to be out in the open where we can see it and act on it. I do not need a law to tell me not to act like an ignorant dick.
    I really want to know who the ignorant dicks around me are without laws making them look like the rest of us.

  • by mrthoughtful (466814) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:02AM (#43961957) Journal

    I guess that there's nothing that distances the US from western europe more than the attitude towards taxation. I like to pay taxes - I feel that contributing to my nation is a great way of demonstrating true patriotism. The money is used to benefit those who are less advantaged than me. I cannot believe that anyone who has substantially lived in a country that offers universal healthcare would ever dream of going back to any other system, regardless of the fact that such a system entails taxation.

    Likewise, the way in which I judge the success of a country is not by the looking at the elites, but by measuring the sense of fulfilment of the least advantaged; it's a different way of seeing the world, I guess.

    As for liberty, doesn't that tie in strongly with what one identifies as the individual - i.e., who one is responsible for? For instance, a family man may wish to fight for the liberty of his family, rather than just himself, - his sense of self is tied into what he is responsible for. Likewise, a good politician works for the benefit of the entire country (or state), with no self-interest - he identifies with the needs of who he is responsible for. In my mind, the larger the community one can be responsible for (and identify with) the more mature one becomes, and the more worthy of respect and honour.

    So, if we take on the view that liberty for all is the highest possible achievement, then we find that the libertarian view is not different from the socialist one - there is a need for taxation in order to provide liberty to those who cannot otherwise achieve it - for training, for support, and for developing a sense of value, so that even the most humble person may feel great about the society within which they belong.

    I probably left everyone behind by this point. Thank goodness everyone believes in the right to freedom of thought.

  • Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dishevel (1105119) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:18AM (#43962151)

    First. Killing people and burning shit down is illegal. Do not need different laws to prevent it.

    Second. You should probably attend a Tea Party get together instead of just listening to what the media tells you.
    Many blacks, whites, mexicans and asians attend. Also. Something I found interesting. They are mixed. There are no little groups of similar color.

    Third. Calling people names and throwing out accusations only makes you look small and weak. Learn and Love AC. Much better for you.

  • Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Moryath (553296) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:23AM (#43962211)


    Say that you were a member of a minority group in the USA today that still isn't fully protected. For example, if you were gay/lesbian. In many states you could be fired just for being who you are, with no recourse, if your boss found out. You could be denied healthcare coverage, you could be denied the right to visit your significant other in the hospital. You could very easily be challenged at the hospital even if you were carrying the identifying documents making you Power-Of-Attorney [] .

    So-called "christian businesses" whose function had nothing to do with religion could nevertheless refuse to serve you, refuse to admit you, kick you out if they realized who you were after the fact. And have done so.

    NOW: what is the proper role of government in this? I submit that it OUGHT to be to promote the greatest aggregate of liberty and the right of ALL members of the society to be treated as equals. The "right of association" of the business owner is LESS important than the RIGHT of all citizens to be treated as, and participate in, society as EQUAL CITIZENS.

    That is what government's purpose is. When two people claim a differing "right" of "liberty", government's job is to determine which right holds sway to protect and support the GREATEST exercise of liberty, not the least.

    And if that means treading on the "right of association" of a thousand bigots, I'm perfectly ok with that, because there are more important rights at stake.

  • by Gary Perkins (1518751) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:29AM (#43962309) Journal
    I think your sense of liberty is a little overthought. True liberty isn't something that can be given with money. Liberty has nothing to do with support or training. It is the freedom to move about, the freedom to express oneself, the freedom to live, work, and play as one likes. I've been following one videographer in NH...Ridley I think his name is. There was one case where he was visiting a hotel where the VP was attending a fundraiser, and he was outside interviewing some senators as they arrived, and taking some video. He was told to leave, rather rudely, and he continued videotaping as he made his way to his car. The police followed him into the parking lot, practically harassing him the entire way. They arrested him just a few spots away from his car, for trespassing, despite the fact that he was moving the entire time. The prosecutor and police looked like jackasses in court, and he won his case, but it's a good demonstration of how a liberty can be violated. He was on private property, and proceeded to leave when told. He was only arrested because he annoyed the police officers.
  • Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:44AM (#43962519) Homepage Journal

    Taxation to support a social safety net is not a violation of liberty. For an argument why, you might consider reading F.A. Hayek.

    This is the same argument that has been going on for 400 years: collectivism vs. individual rights. Hayek was a Collectivist. He viewed the State as the ultimate authority, and preservation of the collective as the ultimate goal, even if individuals must suffer to preserve it. But that's a disastrous policy, because when rights of the collective are elevated above the rights of individuals, there are no barriers to tyranny. Ultimately, the opposing arguments (notably by John Locke) emphasized consent on the part of the governed, and preservation of each individual's natural rights. Governments must either respect and preserve the natural rights of the individual, or they are illegitimate and to be ignored or replaced.

  • Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@hackish. o r g> on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:50AM (#43962605)

    No, Hayek was an individualist, who thought a functioning state was necessary specifically to oppose collectivism. In the absence of a functioning state, the only feasible option is tribalism: people must band together for protection against roving bands of thieves, and to have any hope of contracts being enforced or anything else you expect in a functioning society.

    Hayek, as an individualist, thought the basics of a functioning society should be available to any individual without a tribalist system of providing them. Hence, he believed a state should exist that can do some basic things: 1) defend the nation against outside threats; 2) provide police that make sure there are not roving bands of thieves, rapists, and murderers; 3) operate hospitals; 4) enforce commercial contracts; and 5) provide a minimum level of subsistence income as a safety net.

    Those are all functions that are required for a society, and in the absence of a state guaranteeing them to all individuals, the void will be filled by collectivist, tribalist groupings such as extended-family clans, ethnic groups, churches, cults, and the like.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:54AM (#43962651)

    Look, libertarians, like any other political group, cover a wide range of opinions. I lean very strongly libertarian for people, meaning, equality in the public space, freedom of choice for one's self, complete freedom of speech, the right to defend one's self, one's family, one's property, personal responsibility, qualification as "informed" by demonstration of same, rather than an (incredibly stupid) age metric, castle-like home property ownership and control (none of this "taking" crap if you actually own it), etc.

    At the same time, if you elect to operate as a shop, corporation, or government entity, service provider, road or bridgekeeper, package delivery, etc., singly or in groups, then I'd just as soon see said group pinned right down by laws that ensure that people trying to deal with them receive equal treatment regardless of what groups they might fit in, or not fit in, while protecting the entity, group etc. from people's behaviors that are corrosive to the group on its property.

    I really like the idea of a constitutional republic where basic rights are enshrined at a level above the ability to legislate them away; I deeply regret that the USA no longer even remotely resembles such a nation and has fallen down to a corporate oligarchy; and while we, the USA, have failed to hold on just as we were warned might happen, I am all for another try, warts and all.

    anon due to mod points

  • Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Vaphell (1489021) on Monday June 10, 2013 @12:48PM (#43963335)

    strong protection of pregnant women makes the women of ages 20-30 unemployable in the first place. That shit is abused in my country like there is no tomorrow and no small business owner can afford to wait for his employee 2 years (whole duration of pregnancy+maternal leave, some even get pregnant again, wash rinse repeat) with a reserved spot and pay for the first month getting nothing in return. The result is that young women are mostly employed in certain, mostly temporary forms that don't offer the protection (just like in the US employers select a form of employment that allows them to skip health insurance) .... and the fertility rate currently hovers around 1.3 (way below 1.4 of old shrinking Japan!), because most women avoid pregnancy like a plague

    Another classic example of the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  • Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @03:56AM (#43982625) Homepage Journal

    The founding fathers were Libertarians or they were as near as makes no difference. Remember, you are talking about a group of people who were willing to fight and die and fill the streets with blood over a tax dispute.

    One of the most important things you learn when you study history is the difference between source and occasion.

    The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was the occasion to start WW1, but not the cause.

    Likewise, the Declaration of Independence was not caused by one single tax. That was the straw that broke the camels back, but hardly the only reason.

    I believe this is one of the arguments for anarcho-libertarianism: that once you have a government at all it will eventually become a dystopian police state. Just a matter of time.

    I believe the crucial error everyone makes in this area is to assume that a fixed system will maintain its state in a world of constant change. No matter if your vision of the ideal government is a big, a small or an ultra-minimalist government, most of these visions share one fatal flaw: They are static. Real life isn't static. What your vision needs is a mechanism of adaption to constant change.

    "libertarian" has a very specific meaning. Basically it means that you support a system pretty much like 18th century America


    You really think that "libertarian" is an american speciality? You're going to ignore Joseph Déjacque? You're going to ignore that the term had a considerable change of meaning in the US in the 1950s? You're going to ignore the Austrian School of economics?

    Change, my friend. Change is the only constant phenomenon.

"Ada is PL/I trying to be Smalltalk. -- Codoso diBlini