November 24, 2003

Freebooters swoop on 'live free or die' New Hampshire

The Free State Project has chosen New Hampshire:

New Hampshire was named the "chosen state" only a month ago, but already some have migrated there. "Having so many people move into a state means we can really raise issues," Justin Somma, a freelance writer, told The New York Times, after relocating to the town of Keane from New York. "Once we start to elect people to the statehouse, I think the low-hanging fruit will be educational reform and medical marijuana."

Largely rural New Hampshire was selected in a nationwide poll, beating other contenders such as Alaska, Maine, Montana and Wyoming. The physical size of the state was important - New Hampshire is small, which will help the project members organise - and it already has a tradition of small government. It has lax or liberal gun laws, depending on your point of view, and no state income tax or sales tax.

So far the project is still in its infancy, with just over 5,000 members across the US. Three project members who stood in local elections earlier this month but did poorly have already been welcomed by some in New Hampshire, among them Governor Craig Benson.

"We'd love to have you," he told them at a recent meeting. "You're active, you want to make the state or the towns and cities you hope to live in a better place, and that is the core value of New Hampshire. I think New Hampshire should be open to everybody. If we start to say to people 'What are your values?' and before you come to New Hampshire we want you to pass a quiz, then by definition we close the diversity of New Hampshire down."