Moving to the Free(er) State
by Bill Walker
by Bill Walker
Would you like a big tax cut? Would you like your state government to uphold the Second Amendment? Would you like to have neighbors with Ron Paul signs in their yard? You don't have to be a billionaire with a great tax accountant, or have your own Caribbean nation… you just have to move to New Hampshire. That's what my wife and I are doing next month.
The concept of the Free State Project is to get 20,000 libertarians to sign up to move to one small US state. As a long-time libertarian activist, this has always made a lot of sense to me. All too often, libertarians are an ignored minority. In the US, 49% of the vote = 0. If libertarians were concentrated in one area, we would have more ability to block taxes and maintain Constitutional rights… not just (or even mainly) by voting or political activism, but by creating a culture of self-reliance.
An online vote was taken among the first 5,000 people who expressed an interest in the FSP, and NH was selected from among several other candidate states. NH is already the most libertarian state in many ways:
NH is the lowest-taxed state by far, except for the special case of Saudi Alaska.
NH has no income tax on earned income. (If you're one of those suckers who works for a living in California, your marginal income can jump over 9% just by crossing the NH border! And there are states even worse than CA…)
NH has no sales tax, either. Tax refugees from MA and VT sneak across the border to shop. (Those from VT usually wear disguises and cover up their Nader bumper stickers.)
NH is one of the most 2nd-Amendment-friendly states: concealed-carry permits are "shall-issue," open carry is legal. (Shockingly, NH has very low crime… I wonder why.)
NH has the highest per-capita number of Ron Paul donors.
NH has institutions left over from the days of the American Revolution. It has a citizen legislature; there are 400 state representatives, each of whom is paid $100 per year to keep their sessions very short and make sure the rest of the state government hasn't bothered anyone that year. Towns are run via a more direct democracy, with citizens voting on line items.
And best of all for those interested in controlled experiments in political systems: VT, the highest-taxed state, is right next door! It's like having North Korea a half hour away; you can show your children the horrors of socialism on your way back from the grocery store.
I drove through NH this fall on the way to job interviews, and it is kaleidoscopically beautiful. The rivers run through rocks (they look designed for kayaking); the trees were flaming red, orange and yellow (just figuratively, not like the trees around Malibu).
NH has an Ivy League school, ski resorts, a seacoast, a border with Canada, mountains, and a Southwest-Airlines-dominated terminal at Manchester. Its unemployment rate is low. (There is a "bear crossing" sign on the road near our new house, but I'm told the bear has a T1 line and VOIP).
NH is missing a few things. It doesn't have the earthquakes, mudslides, smog, or fires of CA. It doesn't have the tornadoes of Texas, the hurricanes of New Orleans, or the crime of Philly or Detroit (though if you want a big-city fix, Boston is just an hour or so away). Most of it is too high to be destroyed by tsunamis and too low to give you altitude sickness. It's a lot like Tolkien's Shire: not a place for people who are bored by having undisturbed time to work on their own projects.
So far there are around 8000 FSP members; about 500 are already in NH. Some of them run for local offices. Some of them campaign for Ron Paul. Some of them just work on their own businesses and take care of their neighbors. I'll be joining them in December; maybe I'll see you there.
November 14, 2007
Bill Walker [send him mail] works in HIV and gene therapy research in Rochester, Minnesota.
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