Sunday, April 25, 2010

Free State Project

In June 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, 5 to 4, that the government has the right to seize private property and transfer title to other private individuals simply to stimulate economic development.

While the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution allows government to seize private property and convert it into "public use," Supreme Court Justices David Souter, John Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy believed transferring property to a private individual somehow constituted public usage.

Much of the public disagreed, including a Libertarian named Logan Darrow Clements of Los Angeles. Clements ran for Governor of California in 2003. His philosophy of a voluntary society and free-will capitalism is based on the 1957 novel ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand. Clements received 274 votes.

A Libertarian is a person who is concerned with the fundamental protection of individual rights. Libertarians believe that individuals have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose. If individuals are not initiating coercion against others, government should leave them alone. They oppose the criminalization of victimless acts (drugs, prostitution, censorship, etc.) and believe in reducing the size and scope of control of the government.

Both liberal and conservative ideologies have civil libertarian adherents. Plus the Libertarian Party has become a noticeable national political movement, an alternative to the two-party stranglehold of control.

The Free State Project was a proposal in 2001 by a group of Libertarians whereby 20,000 of them would settle in a localized area within one of 10 states by 2006 and create a society where the role of government is the protection of individual freedom.

Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming were the original 10 target states. New Hampshire was selected (by a vote of participants) as the common destination.

New Hampshire's state motto is "Live Free or Die." It has the lowest state and local tax burden in the continental USA and the second lowest level of dependence on federal spending. It has a state house "citizen" legislature where representatives haven't raised their $100 per year salary since 1889. New Hampshire also has a culture of individual responsibility (for example, there are no seatbelt or helmet regulations for adults) and the lowest crime rates in the country (less unnecessary regulation inherently means less crime).

The mission statement of the Free State Project: “The Free State Project is an agreement among 20,000 pro-liberty activists to move to New Hampshire, where they will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property. The success of the Project would likely entail reductions in taxation and regulation, reforms at all levels of government to expand individual rights and free markets, and a restoration of constitutional federalism, demonstrating the benefits of liberty to the rest of the nation and the world.”

In 2006, Logan Darrow Clements was one of the Free State Project participants, on his way to a better life in New Hampshire. It also turned out that Supreme Court Justice David Souter owned a 200-year-old farmhouse on eight acres near Weare, New Hampshire.

Thus, a collision was about to occur.

Clements soon declared he wanted to build a hotel, similar to the one Justice Souter voted in favor of allowing private individuals to build after confiscating private homes in the court case, on Justice Souter's New Hampshire property. Accordingly, Clements notified the local Weare township council, requesting they start eminent domain proceedings against Justice Souter's property thereby promoting economic development for the area.

Eventually, the township of Weare held a town meeting and rejected Clements’ request for eminent domain to acquire Judge Souter’s property.

As of March 14, 2010, there were 10,000 participants in the Free State Project. Nearly a thousand of them had moved to New Hampshire from elsewhere.

In 2006, a Free State Participant was elected to the New Hampshire General Court. In 2008, six Free State Participants were elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

In 2010, the so-called Tea Party Movement has blossomed into a national force. This “grass roots” organism is primarily concerned with today’s out-of-control government spending and increased control over every aspect of American life, seeking similar solutions to the Libertarians of the Free State Movement.

The national debt is nearly $13 trillion and expected to rise as far as the eye can see. Government is becoming larger, more powerful and less manageable. Yet people continue to vote to obtain self-serving goodies from a government that always over-promises and under-delivers, without any thought to cost or inevitable unintended consequences.

More government means less individual freedom.

Voting for less individual freedom is a form of insanity.

I belong to a similar organization of Libertarians called the Get Outta Here Project -- a bunch of grumpy hermits who have settled in northern Arkansas and discourage visitors. We believe in life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and bathing during full moons.

Quote for the Day -- “Every government is a parliament of whores -- the trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us.” P. J. O’Rourke

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where freedom is another word for nothing else to lose. His blogs appear on several websites, including

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