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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Boldly Going Nowhere

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Free State Project

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, gambling, 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 is a proposal by a group of libertarians whereby 20,000 of them would settle in a localized area within one of 10 states by 2006 and 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. This entails reductions in taxation and regulation, reforms at all levels of government to expand individual rights and free markets, and a restoration of constitutional federalism and the principle of individual sovereignty.

Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Vermont 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 U.S. 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).

Then a very interesting development took place.

In June 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5-4 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 man 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.

It turns out that Clements is one of the Free State Project participants, on his way to a better life in New Hampshire. It also turns out that Supreme Court Justice David Souter owns a 200-year-old farmhouse on eight acres near Weare, New Hampshire. Thus, a collision is about to occur.

Clements wants 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 has notified the local Weare township council, requesting they start eminent domain proceedings against Justice Souter's property, thereby promoting economic development for the area.

A counterproposal from the townspeople would turn Souter's property into a park commemorating the U.S. Constitution. Town Clerk Evelyn Connor has had to return checks from people wishing to donate to the cause.

I belong to a similar organization 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 minding our own business. Anyone wishing to contribute to our cause can send their donation directly to me.

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Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels, which are available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at bret@centurytel.net.