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Heeere Porcy, Porcy

First Free State Project “Liberty Forum” A Huge Success

You probably have heard about the Free State Project (their mascot is a porcupine) from some news source somewhere over the last few years. It was a considered an oddity at first, the idea of having people move to a state to promote freedom, lower taxes, less government, and personal responsibility. Some critics were amused and thought they had “gone away”. Not so.

The Free State Project is alive and well and growing by the week. I see them all the time and have quite a bit of contact with many of the members, some of whom have not even moved here yet. They get CNHT E-Blasts.

Their first big bash outside of the annual Porkfest, which has been held in Lancaster for the last three years was “The Liberty Forum” this past weekend in Concord at the Holiday Inn. 350 people attended.

The goal:

1. Teach political action methods already being effectively employed in New Hampshire

2. Acquaint New Hampshire residents with the Free State Project, its Participants, and their philosophies of liberty

3. Energize attendees about the reachable common goal of creating a freer personal and economic State

They had numerous speakers throughout the event. Some were NH activists and Congressman Ron Paul was featured.

CNHT had two of us with the 'Two Jenns' from Merrimack covering taxpayer activism, NH style. The 'Two Jenns' are Jennifer Twardosky and Jennifer Thornton, young moms who started a taxpayer movement that caught a wave last year in that town and defeated one of the worst tax-and-spend education disasters in NH history. (A Howdy Doody look-alike on top of it.) We had a great audience. Half of them were from out of state. Good sign.

John Stossel speaks to the free State Project.

John Stossel is co-anchor of one of the big three news networks and the author of "Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel -- Why Everything You Know is Wrong." And the man knows his audience.

I watched him bag and tag this crafty, skeptical, libertarian crowd. It was masterful. Here is how he kept their rapt attention and earned their admiration:

First he talks to the Free Staters about how as a young consumer affairs reporter he became suspicious of “government solutions” for everything. They never worked as long as he was reporting.

They took the bait.

Then he says he picked up and read a copy of “Human Action” by economist Ludwig von Mises - heavy reading, he says. The crowd stopped breathing. Von Mises? Only WE read stuff like that!! Scattered applause. Many knowing smiles. Yes this man is one of us they thought.

But Stossel is not letting these fish have loose line. So he says: “Just kidding. I didn't really read that book, its too thick.” “ I read Friedrich Hayek. It was much easier.”

Now he had them laughing with him, and at themselves, for believing, even if only for a second, anyone but a true fan of economics would ever stop to read Friedrich von Mises.

Then he drops the big bomb. “I lied again” he said, “I didn't read either of those two economists. I just read Reason Magazine, its all in there.”

Checkmate! He had them right where he wanted them. He fooled them twice in a row and they loved him for it.

It was a wonderful event. Can't wait for next year.

Great job Porcupines!

Reader Comments (26)

Hear-ye, hear-ye

Mike Moonbat comments:
February 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEd Naile
I really wish I was able to make it but sadly I wasn't. Everyone I've spoken to who went had a blast.

And you're right on the money Ed that the free state group hasn't even started taking off to the point it will. I first learned of the group from a guy living in Merrimack who started showing up at meetings. Since usually budget committee meetings are not attended by the public at all and at best attended by town or school employees seeking more money be added to the budget I found it odd to see this guy showing up. After speaking to him I learned he was a "free stater". He introduced me to their online forum and about what they were trying to do. Lower taxes and less government... ok sounded great!

Months go by and I start meeting other people who claim to be "free staters". And the kicker was they are all active politically. Learning where candidates stand on issues, speak out on issues themselves, and otherwise do what they can to improve life as we know it.

When I started seeing the attacks against the free staters, that's when I knew for sure they were here to stay. The fact they were now strong enough to get the big government, higher tax crowd to worry was all that needed to be said.

Heck, even that ex school board member you speak of is now trying to paint himself out as more of a tax cutter and cost saver then anyone else in the history of Merrimack. This is they same guy that just 2 years ago said to me he would add ANYTHING to a school budget that a parent would support their kids at. Now he's concerned for our wallets.
February 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterR Barnes

Freestaters help each other move in. It is quite a cohesive bunch.

I go to lunch meetings with them after our CNHT meeting. They scheduled their Merrimack meeting so we could attend right after ours.

Right now they are working the local issues and have been studying legislation since day one.

If you saw how well run the Liberty Forum was you have to congratulate them.

As the Deanaic, Kerry, Clark mailing lists get old the MovedinfromVt.nuts crowd will fade away. They have anger management problems.

The Porcupines are, for the most part, happy warriors. They will be around for a long time.
February 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEd Naile

Great write-up on Liberty Forum. It was a truly impressive event.

I had the privilege of having dinner with Stossel. Many of us had read his first excellent book, Give Me a Break, and knew the von Mises reference was a joke. Stossel is truly a master. Funny, he used to have a stuttering problem, but the free market helped him. :)

MAD MAX, happy warrior
February 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMAD MAX

They did eat it up though. And we all know the secret of comedy is:

February 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEd Naile
I saw your group wandering through the State House...good God. The oddest collection of individuals since the bar scene was filmed for Star Wars. Total Freakazoids.
February 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNH Dem
NH Dem,

A nice liberal democrat taught me once that we should never judge a book by its cover. I thought that was a good lesson, really.

Funny, John Stossel actually told me I look like a democrat. I wasn't offended. In fact, I consider myself a classical liberal.

February 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMAD MAX
NH Dem,

I am not a free stater, but merely a friend and supporter of all they do. To go along with Mad Max: aren't Democrats/Liberals supposed to be the tolerant ones? Why is it they always seem to be slinging mud and attacking character?

The Democratic strategy - attack your opponent with fallacies and half-truths until they submit.

The Free State/Libertarian strategy - attack your opponent with logic and ideas until they come to see the light.

Now I guess I am saying that I fit in with them. But, I don't think I'm a "freakazoid". In fact, most people say I look like "Joe Conservative".

But keep up the generalizations so you can all attack the weirdos while us "normal" people have our way.
February 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterThornton
To NH Dem:

You have quite a nerve to call any of these folks 'freakazoids' when after all, don't you people lay claim to Ray Buckley?

February 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterObserver
"The oddest collection of individuals since the bar scene was filmed for Star Wars. Total Freakazoids."

Compared to Al Gore, Teddy Kennedy, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Al Sharpton, Jessy Jackson etc... I'll take the freakaziods any day!
March 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterR Barnes
NH Dem:

A little advice. Be careful, these Free Staters take themselves very, very seriously. There is nothing that millenialists like them hate more than someone who points out their fundamental silliness and insignificance. They will never, ever forget it.

Attention, Free Staters. I don't think you are fundamentally silly and insignificant.
March 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMike M
Uh, millenialists?
March 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMAD MAX
Millenialism is the belief in a coming utopia on Earth. I think the phrase comes from the concept that history can be divided into 1000 year long ages, but I wouldn't swear to that. At least some of the millenialists belief that, with the coming of Christ, there is no reason to work, save etc., so they move to a remote location to await the days of glory to come.

I used the phrase as shorthand to describe pie-eyed dreamers who are not well grounded in reality. Probably most of the Free Staters are not millenialists, strictly speaking.
March 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMike M
Mike Moonbat reserves millenialism for his socialist utopia.
March 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEd Naile

People who read Von Mises and Hayek are nothing close to silly.
When someone talks about building a house but knows nothing about it they could be called a dreamer. When a person talks about building a house and spends all their time studying carpentry and architecture I think it is safe to say they are serious about their project.
Millenialism comes from a cult that believed the world would end in the year 1000 ad.
March 2, 2007 | Registered CommenterDave Jarvis
Okay Mike, let's take a few examples to see which philosophy (libertarianism or authoritarianism) is really utopian. (I won't use the term millenialist, but utopian is what I think you mean.)

Authoritarians on the left and right have passed laws that promise to make America drug-free, but they can't even keep drugs out of prisons and schools. The pro-liberty approach to this problem does not promise to solve the problem of drug abuse, but simply acknowledges that a free society has fewer problems than a society oppressed by Prohibition. This lesson was learned rather quickly during Alcohol Prohibition, but that doesn't stop authoritarians on the right and left from replicating the mistakes by attempting to prohibit all intoxicants besides alcohol. There are usually some nasty consequences when you restrict personal freedom, and there are always nasty consequences when you create a black market.

For another example, authoritarians on the left say more government intervention is needed in the marketplace to help the poor. But after ~80 years since the federal income tax was instituted, and ~70 years since the New Deal, the rich are richer and the poor are poorer. The Austrian economists (Hayek, von Mises) predicted this would happen, but they were ignored. Research by Milton Friedman and
others clearly demonstrates that the lower classes are much better off in societies which maximize economic freedom, but so what? It seems counterintuitive to the authoritarian left, so it must be wrong. End of discussion, lets tax and spend, pretend it solves problems, and pretend it doesn't create greater problems down the road.

Likewise, the authoritarian right thinks the family as a social unit will collapse if they don't use government force to "protect the sanctity of marriage." This is yet another situation which can obviously be handled by the voluntary interactions of individuals in a free society, but don't tell the utopians who want to turn New Hampshire into something out of a 1950's sitcom.

Liberty is practical, period.

March 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMAD MAX
Silly? Insignificant? Utopian? It's unfortunate that is the way you think of freedom.

Libertarianism recognizes that every individual is different and we all have our own potentials. How is that utopian?

It's utopian, as mad max said, to think you can legislate away economic laws and the progression of culture.

I think I am more firmly grounded in reality when I say I believe that government will not solve our problems, because history has shown that government does not fix problems.

It's very utopian of you to keep trying the same old government solutions even after decades, if not centuries, of evidence that says government intervention doesn't work.
March 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterThornton
Mike Moonbat - supporter of:

smoking bans
bottle bills
seatbelt laws
helmets on everyone
Progressive ideas for a socialist NH
March 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEd Naile
Well not to worry Mike M(oonbat), because we all think you are fundamentally silly and insignificant...

Having said that, there is nothing more utopian than your socialist ideas.

I laughed like hell when I read this statement: "..with the coming of Christ, there is no reason to work, save etc., so they move to a remote location to await the days of glory to come."

These people are anything but utopians and they are DEFINTELY not some 'religious' cult waiting for 'days of glory' with the 'coming of Christ'. Where in hell did you read that?

They are simply people who are sick of your kind of overreaching government, big government. You haven't done your reading and homework, as usual.

Liberty means the government does the MINIMAL it was intended to do with regard to protecting citizens' property and life...PERIOD. I think that statement can sum up very simplistically, what their philosophy is. Religion doesn't even enter into it.
March 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterObserver
There is no way to sum up free staters. All want much less government, and beyond that, it's to each his or her own.
March 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMAD MAX

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