* * * *
The creation of the Free State Project was announced in an article in “The Libertarian Enterprise,” in 2001. The announcement came from Jason Sorens, then a Ph.D. student in political science at Yale. Sorens got a BA in Economics and Philosophy at Washington and Lee University, a prestigious private college in Virginia. He then moved on to Yale, where he earned his Ph.D. Sorens went on to teach one course “Secession and Autonomy Movements” at the New School University in NY. He was also a lecturer at the Yale PoliSci Dept, before settling in as an assistant professor of political science at SUNY Buffalo. He’s also an affiliated scholar at the Mercatus Center of George Mason University.
Sorens’ original Free State manifesto bemoaned the failure of libertarian candidates to get elected, and proposed the creation of a project where like-minded people would “establish residence in a small state and take over the state government.” After that: secession. From the inception of the FSP, secession was part of the plan. As people bought into the plan, a vote was held to determine what state to move to. The top choices were NH and Wyoming. Former NH Governor Craig Benson (the Voldemort of the NHGOP) invited the FSP to move to NH. In 2004, Sorens held a press conference at the American Enterprise Institute’s offices in Washington, DC to announce that the move was beginning. Yes, that’s right. The American Enterprise Institute. We’ll come back to that.
In the beginning the Free Staters were full of bluster, happy to announce they were coming here to take over. They moved into the town of Grafton and created a lot of trouble with the locals. After a lot of negative publicity, they went underground for some years. During that time they rehabbed their image, and stopped talking about taking over and secession. They moved their target dates back a number of times. These days the website tells us that “The purpose of this cooperative migration is to create a freer, better society through the electoral process and cultural change.” The migration, by the way, calls for 20,000 people to move to NH as part of the FSP. Carla Gericke, president of the FSP, recently announced a massive fundraising effort in an attempt to ensure that move happens by 2015.
Aye, there’s the rub. The Free State Project has been attempting to create the illusion that they are a grassroots organization, just lassoing little libertarian lambs and suggesting they move to NH, and be peaceful purveyors of liberty and freedom. The Free Keeners, (an FSP subgroup) have gotten attention for smoking pot and going naked in public. The diversion clowns have captured a lot of media attention, while the serious business of the FSP has been completely ignored.
This is not a grassroots movement. The Koch brothers, the far right billionaire brothers who fund Americans for Prosperity, as well as the American Enterprise Institute, have funded Jason Sorens’ scholarly work. They fund the Institute for Humane Studies that funded Sorens. They also fund the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and they fund George Mason University. If Dr. Sorens were a racecar he’d have KOCH written all over him.
A guy named Peter Eyre helped the Free Keene group along. Before he went to Keene, Eyre interned at the Cato Institute (funded by Koch Bros) and went on to become a Fellow at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, and then to the Institute of Humane Studies – another Koch project. It’s no accident that he turned up in Keene as part of the FSP.
So, why are the Koch Brothers funding a group that intends to invade and occupy the state of NH? Politics. There’s a first in the nation presidential primary coming up in 2016. The new FSP target date is 2015.That’s no coincidence. The forces behind the FSP have their eyes on that prize. We’ll also have elections for 2 Congressional seats, a Senate Seat, and the entire NH state government. The NH House with our unwieldy volunteer legislature is easy pickings – easy to get their activists elected, especially in the far right southern reaches of the state. Once elected, even a small group of malcontents can easily bond with the larger group of malcontents known as the NH Republican Party. They can move into cities and towns and have profound influence.
This year in Weare, the police overtime budget was cut by $10,000. The vote was 24-23, with Free Staters making the difference, and later congratulating themselves on their accomplishment in saving taxpayer dollars. Immediately after that, FSP President Carla Gericke dumped a 32-page lawsuit on the town, thereby negating any savings that might have occurred.
In Keene, at a sparsely attended school district deliberative session, the Free Staters helped pass a budget that eliminates a full time athletic director, an English teacher at the high school, foreign language classes for the 5th grade, and a district wide program for gifted and talented students. Lots of FSP backslapping after that! Education isn’t necessary for the masses – only for overlords.
In Grafton, the town budget was cut by 10%. A vote to reduce by 20% failed by one vote. This isn’t strategic cutting, this is chainsaw budget reduction. This is more roads and bridges failing. This is what can happen in your town if you don’t pay attention. This is why we all need to know who candidates are. These are people who don’t care about our cities and towns or our state. Their goal is to take over and dismantle our state government, paving the way for Koch Brothers sponsored neofeudalism.
Carla Gericke announced that the FSP would be applying for non-profit, tax-exempt status. This reeks. This is a faux-grassroots group, attempting to hide their activities behind tax-exempt status. Their stated goals from the beginning have been to invade and occupy our state, and dismantle our state government, and then secession. That’s an inconvenient truth now, hence the need for the non-profit smokescreen.
There’s an irony inherent in all of this. The Free Staters march in and cut budgets, and that ensures the further decay of the NH infrastructure. The worse our roads and bridges get, more our quality of education diminishes, the likelihood of businesses moving to NH decreases in direct proportion. Taxachusetts and Vermont are creating jobs, while NH is losing them, despite our tax-free status. The FSP will be opposed to the kind of investments the NH economy needs, thus ensuring the failure of their own project.
© sbruce 2013
This was published as an op-ed in the March 8, 2013 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.
Note to Free Staters: The comment section of this blog is heavily moderated. Don't expect to see your long libertarian tirades published, or your complaints about how I hate freedumb and libertea. Don't bother bleating about how I'm engaging in censorship and I'm afraid of you. This is my blog. I own the content. Think of this as a microcosm of the free market you folks claim worship. It's mine. I can do as I want with it. I choose NOT to give FSP grifters free advertising space.