Free State Project lowers goal to 1,000

“Five years after the Free State Project picked New Hampshire as its home base and began appealing for 20,000 people to move to the state, only a fraction have made the move,” the AP reports. Activists say “only 558 people moved to New Hampshire, though more than 8,500 committed to do so. … Now, project organizers are lowering their goal to 1,000 people within three years to pave the way for others. They say they exceeded the goal by more than 30 commitments.”

41 thoughts on “Free State Project lowers goal to 1,000

  1. G.E.

    Time to give it up.

    The “free state” gave Ron Paul a woeful percentage of the vote — lower than the welfare state Iowa.

    Even its libertarian contingent is thoroughly statist, Morey Straus notwithstanding, as evidenced by its ridiculous support for George Phillies.

    Alaska, even awash in federal welfare, is a much freer state with a real secessionist movement.

  2. morey

    Lots of territory to cover here, but I’ll try to summarize.

    1. To the best of my knowledge, the 1000 is a reference to the 2006 “First 1000” effort. Nothing new to see here.

    2. Apart from the aforementioned F1k, everyone who has moved early has been, well, early. The deal was that nobody moved until the big number was reached. Some didn’t see any reason to wait.

    3. That said, I fully agree that the formal organization should dissolve. It tends to highlight failure of a lofty goal, rather than the successes of self-directed activists.

    4. You have to understand that Phillies is just down the road from us. He worked the room hard, and people I haven’t seen before or since came out of the woodwork to vote his nomination. Nobody else worked for it or had the loyalty of past associations going for them.

    5. Only a handful of FSPers are LP members. Most of the political freestaters tend to be moderate/pragmatic and go where the access is established. It is the nature of the project to attract people who crave any visible measure of success.

  3. Spence

    This idea was doomed from the start. I’m all for building bases, but we shouldn’t have to pack up and concentrate in one area while the forces of corporate despotism seize the rest of the country.

    These people should have picked a place where someone would actually want to live too. I mean- New Hampshire? Come on, right? To hell with “liberty’s roots” and all that shit. If they wanted actual credibility, they would have tried to concentrate a base in an area of a larger state first…

    But alas…dreamers.

  4. 1776

    As it always is with the AP it has taken a local paper’s article and cut it up to fit its agenda. Here is the complete article:

    Free State project is moving slowly
    Like-minded people are still coming to the Granite State

    Sentinel Staff
    Published: Saturday, August 30, 2008

    Nearly five years have passed since the Free State Project adopted New Hampshire as its home base and began the task of convincing 20,000 activists to commit to uprooting their lives and moving here.

    They would come in droves, the plan went, overwhelming the sparsely populated state and ultimately changing the way big government works by limiting its power through free-market solutions.

    There would be tax reductions; regulations such as being required to have a driver’s license to get behind the wheel of your own car would be relaxed or scrapped; power would be restored to the people and the Granite State would become the Free State, a model for the rest of the country and even the world.

    That hasn’t happened yet, and only 8,558 people have committed to making the move since the project’s inception, according to its Web site.

    But it’s the 558 people who have actually made the move who have spurred a slight shift in the project’s aim and kept it pushing ahead.

    Realizing that some people wanted to make the move immediately, and already had, project coordinators came up with a three-year goal to have 1,000 recruits in the state by the end of this year. They exceeded that goal by more than 30 commitments.

    Ian H. Bernard, a project member, self-styled “free marketer” and host of “Free Talk Live,” a Keene-based, nationally syndicated radio talk show, said the first 1,000 will be known as hardcore activists who paved the way for the other 19,000 Free Staters.

    “It’s been real slow going trying to get people to uproot their lives,” he said in a phone interview Saturday. “That being said, I think the project has still been tremendous. These are the best freedom activists in the word that are coming here. The moving aspect is a good screening process.”

    Free State Project Director Varrin Swearingen said in an e-mail interview that sponsoring “Free Talk Live” and taking out advertisements on the Internet and in print have helped to attract new members every year. Project members also reach out to potential members at events known to attract large numbers of pro-liberty activists, he said.

    “This week, for example, the Free State Project has sent a team of people to Minnesota for outreach at the Republican National Convention and Ron Paul’s Rally for the Republic,” he said. “Also, each year, we operate two world-class pro-liberty events here in New Hampshire — the Porcupine Freedom Festival in the summer, and the New Hampshire Liberty Forum in the winter.”

    Swearingen, who works as a commercial airlines pilot, moved with his wife and their two children from California to Keene in 2004, two years after reading an advertisement about the project and researching it online. He’d been a Libertarian since grade school, and felt his efforts to exact political change in The Golden State were futile.

    “The Free State Project appealed to us because it represented a real opportunity to work together with a high concentration of people who really valued freedom — something that simply doesn’t exist in California,” he said.

    The Free Staters who have come to New Hampshire are not directed to choose a particular city, town or county. They can live wherever they please, and engage in whatever type of activism that best suits them, Bernard said.

    “The project only exists to encourage people to make the move and be an activist when they get here,” he said. “Concord is obviously a good place for politics. There is a big mix of non-cooperative activists and political activists in Manchester. In Keene, we have a larger concentration of non-cooperative, market-based activists.”

    Non-cooperative activists are people who have decided they cannot change the system from within. They shun politics and do not vote. Instead of running for political office, they conduct peaceful protests meant to draw attention to a particular issue, Bernard said.

    The non-cooperative activists have played penny poker in downtown Keene — gambling is illegal under state law — and plan to sell hot dogs in response to a street vendor’s recent and ongoing struggle with the city to sell his food late at night.

    “They are forced to show their hand, to show that they are the violent organization of men and women they really are, or ignore us and hope we go away,” Bernard said of the police. “If they ignore us, we win. If they arrest us, we win.”

    After listening to Bernard’s talk show on the Internet, Samuel E. Dodson decided to become a Free Stater and move from Plano, Texas, to Keene before the end of the year. Dodson said he was captivated by what Bernard had to say.

    “The more I listened the more the message started to make sense,” he said in a phone interview Saturday. “I just kind of got hooked on it. Over the last two years, I’ve come to adopt the messages and principles of liberty into my own life.”

    Eight months ago, Dodson launched the “Obscured Truth Network” on YouTube, a video-sharing Web site, in which he posts video interviews of him questioning police and other government officials about the constitutionality of their work.

    Dodson said he’s had a difficult time finding other like-minded activists in his current hometown.

    “I’m all alone here and it’s tough,” he said. “People are scared of the judges. They’re scared of the police. … That’s the level of fear people have of this government that’s designed to protect them.”

    Once he’s moved to the Elm City, Dodson said he hopes to rent an apartment near Central Square and eventually build a cob house, which is constructed of sand, clay and straw.

    “I don’t know if I’ll be able to get away with it because of the planning boards, but I’ll do it anyway,” he said. “I’ll look at land that the city has said is unsuitable for building and I’ll build my cob house there.”

    Dodson may become a weekly co-host on “Free Talk Live” and aims to start up a voluntary ID system that would rival the government’s “one-size-fits-all” card and allow users to divulge information about themselves at their discretion, he said.

    “There’s also a possibility of doing something with Cheshire TV and I’ve thought about taking some film classes at Keene State College,” he said.

    In June, Dodson, who said he’s in his 30s but declined to give an exact age, came to check out Keene and ended up joining Bernard for a ride-along through the city with Keene police Lt. Shane C. Maxfield.

    Maxfield had reached out to the Free Staters earlier this year through one of their Web sites and invited them all to ride with him in his patrol car or call him at the station with any questions they may have.

    “I’m really encouraged by the fact that at least we’re communicating and sharing ideas behind the scenes,” Dodson said. “It’s not something you see very often.”

    A handful of other Free Staters will be making their way to Keene this year, Bernard said, and he’s pleased by the steady trickle of new transplants, even if it wasn’t the tidal wave of change that some had hoped for.

    “As far as the organization goes, the only success or failure is whether people are moving here or not,” he said. “People are moving here and I would call that a success.”

    Phillip Bantz can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409, or

  5. G.E.

    Alaska has a vibrant secessionist movement.

    Anyone who thinks you can be “free” in a state within these United is as crazy as Robert T. Milnes.

  6. Trent Hill

    I’d say Alaska and Montana are the most pro-freedom states in the Nation, with North Dakota, Idaho, and Utah following.

  7. G.E.


    Trent, you’re really going too far there.

    That is probably THE LEAST free state in the union. For God’s sake, man!

  8. Spence

    This is missing the point. You guys should be focusing on reversing trends in the states you “consider” less free, rather than divert your resources to the ones that you consider “freer”.

  9. paulie cannoli

    That is probably THE LEAST free state in the union. For God’s sake, man!

    Depends on your idea of freedom. I don’t think they are as high in taxes/economic regulation/state spending per capita as states such as California, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, etc.

    I’m just guessing here, but I think the gun laws are probably more sane in states such as Utah and Idaho than in, say, Massachusetts.

    Surprisingly, Utah is not a bad place at all to drink. In fact I found it to be among the very best. You just pay $5 for a “temporary membership” at a bar. I did not use any illegal drugs while I was there, but I was given to understand there is a definite meth subculture. Porn was much too restricted for my taste, but if I lived there or had a laptop I highly doubt that would have made any difference. I can’t remember ever screwing a Mormon girl, but I’ve been with lots of Catholic chicks and I’m just going to wager a wild guess that when LDS girls sin they must have something akin to Catholic guilt on steroids. Plus they tend to be very fresh faced and cute, and in good shape.

    There were tons of Ron Paul supporters.

  10. G.E.

    Uh, paulie — I’m pretty sure Utah has a ban on alcoholic drinks exceeding a certain level of alcohol, which is quite low.

    Idaho is one of many states with a socialist alcohol monopoly.

  11. Trent Hill


    Idaho and Utah were pre-2008 the largest fundraising bases for Ron Paul, with North Virginia excepted. Why? Because they’re are large groups of pro-freedom groups there. Especially the John Birch Society. Idaho has a decent legacy since the 90s.
    Helen Chenoweth-Hage and Butch Otter were elected Congressmen from Idaho and both were what I would consider to be within the larger Freedom Movement.
    Utah is similar, though obviously both states slant towards Conservative, rather than Libertarian. Only in Utah will thousands of people show up to a seminar on Constitutional Originalism, as they did in 2006 for Scott Bradley of the Utah Constitution Party. These people believe in the Constitution and in religious liberty too (largely because Mormons have been severely hated by other Christians for decades). How on EARTH is Michigan more free?

  12. Trent Hill


    Also, consider that Utah and Idaho are pretty natural bases of support for Paul. Paul would’ve likely scored a majority in Utah if it werent for Romney…

  13. paulie cannoli

    I’m pretty sure Utah has a ban on alcoholic drinks exceeding a certain level of alcohol, which is quite low.

    I think you are thinking of drinks you can buy at a store, or maybe something from decades ago. There was no problem with drinks at the “private” clubs, which just charge a $5 temporary membership to anyone coming in the door.

  14. G.E.

    Because in Michigan, I can buy beer and hard liquor at my local grocery store. I could also exercise freedom in a lot of other ways that I choose not to, as relates to pornography, sexual aids, strip clubs, etc.

  15. G.E.

    What is this, low-tax Afghanistan (Utah)?

    You think Prohibition = freedom?

    Just because you and I choose not to exercise our freedoms in a libertine manner doesn’t mean we should not care about individuals’ rights to do so. It seems like you’re saying so long as a state allows YOU to do what YOU want to do, then you’re fine with it. If my neighbors aren’t free, then neither am I.

  16. Trent Hill


    HAHA. Touche. Low-tax afghanistan.

    no, I am simply saying that certainly the regulatory and tax freedoms gauranteed in Utah and Idaho outweigh the libertine freedoms that have been taken in those states. I want neither to be abridged, but if we’re weighing which states are “more free”…

  17. G.E.

    They both have taxes. One state has lower taxes but thinks it has the right to control your personal life. I’ll take Michigan over Utah.

  18. G.E.

    Taxes in Michigan: 6% sales, 3.9% flat income. I don’t think that’s very high, comparatively, is it?

  19. G.E.

    and until recently, there were no sales taxes on services of any kind. There’s still none on food, medicine, and various other “essentials.” For a little while, we had no taxes on businesses at all.

  20. Trent Hill

    We have a 9.5% sales tax. Until recently,the income tax was…3-4%, but its being phased out over the next 6 years. Property taxes are crazy-low.

  21. Spence

    Holy shit, I’ve never heard of a tax as high as that. I know the Dems here in the State House of CA are trying to stick us with a 9.0 tax but the current session is deadlocked, but my god…9.5…see, this just gives those statists the opportunity to point and say “Louisiana did it, we can too.”

  22. langa

    If strip clubs are the measure, Georgia is the most free state in the nation. I’m suprised the schools in Atlanta don’t offer Lap Dancing 101 as an elective.

  23. Steve LaBianca

    No matter what your measure of liberty, i.e hierarchy of infringements which are more and less tolerable, I think the only visible measure is how may cops you see on any given day. If in a urban area, it’s how many cops are on the beat. If on the highways, it’s how many cops cars you see. In suburbs, it’s a combination of both, etc.

    Let’s face it, all the liberty infringements are present in EVERY state, but the true measure of how free you are is how many people the state can entice to infringe on your liberty is the only way to measure it.

  24. paulie cannoli

    Hi GE, did you read the link?

    “Wine, Liquor, and Beer Full liquor service is available in licensed restaurants, banquet and catering facilities, airport lounges, and private clubs. Patrons may order liquor by the drink, wine by the glass or bottle, and beer in bottles, cans and on draft. Packaged liquor, wine, and heavy beer (over 3.2%) are available in State Liquor Stores and Package Agencies.”

    Read the rest…it’s really not that bad at all.

  25. bengraves79762

    There are former FSP activists taking the reins down in Ellis County, according to

  26. G.E.

    paulie – Not that bad? A socialist bureaucracy distributing booze? Paying $5 to join a bogus “club”? Sounds pretty bad for me. I have heard from people in Utah that they go to Wyoming or another neighboring state to buy their booze. Why would they do that if it isn’t so bad as you say?

  27. Kyle

    I moved to Southern Utah several years ago from the East and highly recommend it for those looking to escape oppressive taxes, over-regulation and the nanny state nonsense of California. Some of the most beautiful country you’ll ever see is right here, with red rock deserts and pine filled mountains just a 20 minute drive away. There are no strip clubs and the grocery store beer is 3.2%. But go buy 180 proof grain alcohol at one of the nearby liquor stores if that suits you; they sell it there. And Mesquite, NV casinos are a half hour drive, with Vegas being an hour and a half away. It’s a very common sense State that just rejected the new national building code changes requiring the installation of fire sprinklers (about $20k cost) in all new residential construction (unlike NV, WY, CO and most other states). It also ranks as the healthiest state with the highest literacy rate in the nation. I canvassed most of the Southwest and Rocky Mountain States, and all things considered, there is nothing that compares to Southern Utah. The Mormons of So. Utah are called “Jack” Mormons who are very laid back and easy to get along with. But they still hold true to their long tradition of being well armed in defending their community, and are well prepared with adequate food storage. Forget the tired old stereotypes and look at it firsthand.

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