Friday, August 7, 2015

Free Staters and Freeloaders

I missed it and I'm bummed. There was a presentation by Zandra Rice Hawkins of Granite State Progress about  the Free State Project at the Hampton Dems meeting, attended, I am told, by about a dozen regular Democrats and an equal or slightly higher number of Free Staters.  But I figured, this is the internet age: I can just go on line and read about the Free State thing and, sure enough, there is a Free State Project website. Problem is the website is all about how to join the FSP, how to move to New Hampshire, but I already live here. There is next to nothing on the website about what these people stand for (other than some vague notion of "Liberty in Our Lifetime") and not much about what they want to see changed.

What I want to know is what, exactly, do the Free State folks believe? I'm less interested in their plans to get 20,000 people here, as a critical mass, so they can take over the state legislature (which has 490 Representatives) and create a new Promised Land of Liberty and bliss. What I wanted to know is: what do they think this paradise will look like and consist of?

As I understand it from some who attended, the Free State brethren believe government is BAD.  Government should not do much of anything, including public schools, public roads, maintenance of infrastructure, police, public safety, fire fighting, public health, crime fighting, building bridges, inspecting food, protecting clean water, public libraries, maintaining the internet.  

It does seem a bit mind boggling.  Government does so many things we take for granted, it's hard to imagine what life without it would look like. My mind drifts to apocalyptic fantasies, of men riding around with guns taking over supermarkets and food supplies, sort of like what they've got in Somalia now. Or maybe parts of Syria.

I mean, this group may be taking anti social to an extreme, don't you think?

Because I drive across the state line to Massachusetts to work every day, I can sort of understand the man looks with some approbation who at the Spanish speaking immigrant from the Dominican Republic, one of twelve children, whose parents could not support any of them, so he moved to the Commonwealth, where he gets free drugs and health care through Mass Health, where he does not work but gets unemployment and where he seems to live entirely dependent on the kindness of strangers, on the public teat. On the other, I do not resent this man, and certainly do not envy him. This is a life I'd not wish on anyone.

But that is the other extreme. Most Granite Staters do not live on the government dole. Far from it.  But they do need their government.  They like driving on roads, having clean water, electricity, internet, public education, public beaches, some assurance our food is not contaminated and grocery stores.  

As far as I can see, the Free Staters are an East Coast version of those little bands of families in the Badlands who try to live "off the grid."  

There seems to be more pathology here than philosophy.  Is living with other people so very difficult you want absolutely nothing to do with them?

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