More join the bid to turn New Hampshire into the “Switzerland of North America.”
The Free State Project, a Libertarian organization that wants to spark an exodus to New Hampshire, announced Wednesday that it had collected 20,000 signatories who pledged to move to the state within five years. The announcement comes nearly two years after the organization began a Trigger the Move campaign, which sought to get 20,000 people to move to the community.
"Today, we announce that the Free State Project has officially Triggered the Move, and that participants now have five years from February 3, 2016 to move to New Hampshire to help build the world's first intentional liberty community," said Free State Project president Carla Gericke during a speech to commemorate the occasion. "I don't mean 'intentional community' like kibbutz or commune, but a statewide community bound by the principles of liberty, which can neatly be summarized as a 'live and let live' mentality."
According to Gericke, the 20,000 signatories mark was reached two years earlier than anticipated and over 2,000 people have already moved to New Hampshire (referred to simply as "the shire" by the group), purchasing upwards of $30 million in real estate. The group has chosen New Hampshire for a number of reasons, although chief among them is that the group is able to "maximize [its] odds of success" because of "the easy access to politics." (New Hampshire has the largest state legislature in the US at 400 persons.)
In the 13 years since its founding, the group has made large strides toward establishing its libertarian utopia. This is most noticeable in the group's widespread adoption of Bitcoin, which has earned the state the unofficial moniker of "Bitcoin Capital of America." Self-identified Free Staters in New Hampshire launched Lamassu, one of the most popular Bitcoin ATMs, in 2013. SatoshiDice, the Bitcoin gambling website, was also launched out of New Hampshire in 2012 by Bitcoin mogul and Free Stater Erik Vorhees.
Although both of these Bitcoin businesses have been forced out of the US by various regulatory agencies, the Free State Project hopes to garner enough influence in New Hampshire politics to make the state more friendly to liberty-minded businesses. They seem to be well on their way to this goal, with 16 Free State Project members now serving in the state's House of Representatives.
"Only 3,000 to 4,000 movers would be enough of an activist base to match anything that any of the other ideological factions in the state can muster, maybe even all of them put together," said Jason Sorens, a professor of government at Dartmouth College and the founder of the Free State Project. "20,000 movers could turn New Hampshire into the Switzerland of North America."
"First New Hampshire, then the world!"
The group has attracted the attention of high profile politicians and activists, including Edward Snowden who is scheduled for a live video conference at the group's Liberty Forum to be held later this month. Unsurprisingly, not everyone in New Hampshire is happy with the Free Stater's plans to turn the state into a libertarian utopia.
"Free Staters are the single biggest threat the state is facing today," Cynthia Chase, a Democrat currently serving in New Hampshire's House of Representatives, commented in a forum. "There is, legally, nothing we can do to prevent them from moving here to take over the state, which is their openly stated goal... What we can do is to make the environment here so unwelcoming that some will choose not to come, and some may actually leave. One way is to pass measures that will restrict the 'freedoms' that they think they will find here."
It remains to be seen how the Free Stater's planned exodus will pan out, although Gericke and her colleagues feel as though reaching the 20,000 signatories mark bodes well for the community's future."Look, the Free State Project is not everyone's cup of tea…but a large number of people are dissatisfied with the direction this country is heading," Gericke said. "In 10 to 20 years I know New Hampshire will stand as a wealthy, prosperous, autonomous example—a beacon of liberty—for the rest of the world to emulate. The future for the Free State Project in New Hampshire looks bright. First New Hampshire, then the world!"