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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Free Staters find community of like-minded individualists at annual Liberty Forum in Nashua

By PATRICK MEIGHAN

Staff Writer

A year ago, Marcus Connor drove to New Hampshire from New Jersey as a prelude to his plan to move here as part of the Free State Project.

“I want to live a happy life and help others live their happy lives,” Connor said then as he stood in a crowded lobby in the Crowne Plaza Hotel for the fifth New Hampshire Liberty Forum. “You have to first allow others to be free before you can be free.” ...

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A year ago, Marcus Connor drove to New Hampshire from New Jersey as a prelude to his plan to move here as part of the Free State Project.

“I want to live a happy life and help others live their happy lives,” Connor said then as he stood in a crowded lobby in the Crowne Plaza Hotel for the fifth New Hampshire Liberty Forum. “You have to first allow others to be free before you can be free.”

On Friday, Connor stood in the same lobby, just as crowded as the previous year, for the sixth edition of the event. But this time, Connor was here as a Granite State resident.

The Free State Project is a political movement, founded in 2001, to recruit at least 20,000 libertarians to move to a single low-population state. The project chose New Hampshire as the most likely place where an influx of people could change the political system to embrace libertarian values.

According to its website, freestateproject.org, there are currently 13,796 participants in the project, 1,133 of whom live in New Hampshire.

Connor still works for a New Jersey employer designing websites for car dealerships, but he telecommutes from the home he rents in Keene. He moved here in May, he said.

“I make my money from New Jersey and I spend it in New Hampshire,” said Connor, 38.

He figures this way, his earnings benefit the local economy – his landlord and the restaurants and stores he patronizes – in a state that offers him more freedom than New Jersey ever dreamed of giving an individual.

In New Hampshire, the state doesn’t force you to buckle up your seat belt, although Connor chooses to do so “because it’s a good idea,” he said. It’s easier to own a gun in New Hampshire, though Connor said he chooses not to.

“Also, I can purchase something in this state and not pay sales taxes. That’s incredible,” Connor said.

Mostly, what Connor found in New Hampshire was camaraderie from like-minded individuals who share the belief that a person has the right to live as he or she chooses, as long as no one is hurt in the process.

“It can be lonely living in New Jersey not being with people who share your thoughts and ideas,” Connor said.

The Free State Project has helped him find a community. Connor served that community by using his skills to design the website for the Porcupine Freedom Festival held June 17-23 at a camp in the White Mountains.

The Liberty Forum was part fair, with groups and individuals selling books and T-shirts or dispersing free pamphlets, and part workshop series.

Among the workshops Friday afternoon was one that featured James Tuttle, director of the Center for a Stateless Society. The forum’s workshop described Tuttle as “a left-libertarian, an anarcho-ostromite and an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World.”

Speaking to a jam-packed conference room at the hotel, Tuttle outlined the evils of monopolies and argued the state is a monopoly, quoting a number of authors.

“The state is undesirable because monopolies are undesirable,” Tuttle said in an address that was a synthesis of quotes from a litany of writers in the libertarian canon.

Among the exhibits in the lobby was one with the enticing title, “School Sucks Project.”

Its organizer, Brett Veinotte, criticized public education for taking naturally inquisitive children and turning them into drones. Schools indoctrinate students and force them to regurgitate information to graduate, but never really educate them, Veinotte said.

In so doing, public education “saps their natural enthusiasm for learning,” said Veinotte, who has a blog at schoolsucksproject.com.

Parents have the responsibility of fostering their children’s inquisitiveness and encouraging them to keep their minds open, he said.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Meighan on Twitter (@Telegraph_PatM).