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Author Topic: Population, activists, and "overall access"  (Read 52073 times)
Robert H.
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Population, activists, and "overall access"
« on: November 12, 2002, 10:18:57 am »

As we progress in gathering more data on the candidate states currently under consideration, we seem to be naturally setting our sights on a few that stand out.  And of those that stand out, for whatever reason, we seem to be dividing our support into two sub-categories:

1.  East vs. West
2.  Urban vs. Rural

What I'd like to do by establishing this thread is to set aside those particular perspectives and go for something that is more fundamental, and yet embraces both aspects.  After all, what do the above two categories really boil down to?

"East vs. West?" is really not a valid question by itself; it's just an expression of what sort of states one is likely to find in those two areas, thus appealing to some particular personal preference.  More on that in a moment.

"Urban vs. Rural?" is really rather meaningless by itself as well, when it's all said and done, due to the fact that each state under consideration can provide access to urban centers as well suburban and rural areas.  The only real difference here boils down to degree:  "Urban" as in New York City, or "urban" as in Boise, ID?  No matter where we go, you will have your urban, suburban, and rural centers, varying in degree of course, but they'll all be there.  Moving to an eastern state no more equates to living in a downtown high-rise than moving to a western state means pitching a tent on the mesa.

That said, let me suggest that the most important criteria, or category of criteria, that we can consider in choosing the free state will deal with access to the system.

Folks, if we can't get into it, we can't influence it, and if we can't influence it, we can't reform it, and if we can't reform it, we can't create a free state and all of this is purely an elaborate academic exercise.

What criteria help us to determine access to the system?  We've hashed out a great deal of this already on other threads.  I would include (and you may have more):

1.  Overall population:  We know this won't work in too large of a state, and we should be considering not only current population but also projected population over the next ten years (which is about how long it will take to get the FSP's 20,000 activists in place).
2.  Voting-age population:  This is the potential number of voters who could come out either against us or for us.  For our purposes, we should err on the side of caution and assume that they will come out against us.
3.  Urbanization:  This is where I believe the urban question truly comes into play, not as a category by itself, but as a factor in effecting access to the system.  If a state is too heavily dependent upon, or influenced by, large urban centers, it will detract from our ability to access the system.
4.  Political history:  This is not one or two elections, but a historical trend in favor of liberty or at least reduced-statism candidates.  This would also include past voter turn-out, as it indicates how much of the population is already involved in the process (and thus largely responsible for the state being the way it is).
5.  Expense of elections:  Our movement is going to start out low in cash and experience.  If elections cost more in a given state, it will take us that much longer to begin accessing the system than it might take us elsewhere.  Thus, our entire agenda could be held back by inability to even run for office or support favorable candidates.

These are the five factors that I believe directly influence how much access you have to the system, thus determining:

*How long it will take you to wield influence in the system.
*To what extent you will wield influence in the system from the very beginning.
*How long it will likely take you to implement reforms.
*How far you will be able to go in implementing reforms.

More to follow...  Smiley
« Last Edit: September 08, 2003, 10:44:30 pm by JasonPSorens » Logged

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Re:Access to the System - Critical to Our Success
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2002, 10:19:26 am »

Now as to the specifics...

General Population:  We now have projected data from the Census Bureau as to what each of our candidate states will look like by 2015.  Some are at, near, or in excess of the 1.5 million mark that we are currently using to exclude states from the process.  A rapidly growing population will be indicative of a state where it will be harder for us to gain influence because the system itself will be constantly changing.  We will also have to go to more expense to reach a larger number of people and keep repeating even simple aspects of our message to those who will be new to it.

A smaller, less quickly growing population will aid us by:

1.  Saving us some expense because it will mean having to reach fewer people.
2.  Not having to rehash simpler aspects of our agenda as much because there won't be as many people who will be new to it.  This in turn gives you the ability to form a more solid, predictable basis for support.
3.  Giving us a more stable system to deal with, enabling us to gain control of it more quickly and fundamentally than if it were growing rapidly in response to a rapid increase in population and subsequent demand for services, rise in crime, etc.

We could still possibly influence a state with a higher population, but it would be much more difficult than otherwise, meaning that it will take much more time than otherwise.

Voting-age population:  Again, this is what we could be up against if we start stirring the waters, or it could be indicative of our potential support.  And erring on the side of caution again, I would submit that it is better to assume that this is what we would be up against, therefore, smaller numbers would be better.  It doesn't hurt to be optimistic, but it can be fatal to be overly-optimistic.

Urbanization:  Once again, no matter where we go, we will be able to find cities, suburbs, small towns, and vacant countryside.  The debate itself is really a matter of degree: do you want the largest cities, or will medium or smaller cities do?  For the purposes of accessing the system, I would have to push for smaller cities or states that are less dependent upon the urban areas.

Is this a crack against those who like cities?  No.  I lived in Northern Va most of my life, within 30 minutes travel time of Washington DC (in good traffic), hardly a rural area.   I enjoyed going there for the museums, the Kennedy Center, Constitution Hall, etc.

But the fact of the matter is that cities, even though they may have higher paying jobs, etc., also have more entrenched infrastructure, which is harder to access, influence, and change.  You are forced into greater expense by having to get your message out to more people through greater competition.  Corruption is easier to hide and harder to expose.  Businesses and politicians have ties that are sometimes generations old and can work together to quite effectively nip resistance or competition in the bud.

Can you influence the cities?  Yes...in time, lots of it.  Large metropolitan areas, and those states that are more dependent upon them, are going to be much harder to access, influence, and reform.  And in the meantime, you had better hope that the population does not continue to grow and change so as to alter the demographic in such a way that it unravels your efforts as you go.

Political History:  Again, this reflects the degree to which a state has historically supported limited-statist or non-statist candidates (over a lengthy period of time).  In places where there is a more established history of support for liberty-friendly candidates, we will find an electorate more willing to listen to our message, and sooner than elsewhere.  

Changing a state to be what we would like for it to be will be an uphill battle in many ways, not the least of which is going to be educating the electorate out of the current statist mentality that pervades this country.  But the further an electorate is from our ideological foundation, the longer it will take us to educate them, hence the longer it will take us to be elected by them in order to carry out our reforms.  We will have a large group of activists working together, but we cannot do this by ourselves!  We will have to convince at least some portion of the present electorate to support us.  How tough we make that on ourselves, and thus how long it takes, is up to us.

Expense of Elections:  As stated, when we first start out we're going to be low on both cash and experience.  We could always team up with the local GOP or libertarians, as has been suggested, and this could have some advantages in saving us time, effort, and expense.  But, at the same time, any assistance they render to us will basically equate to a level of dependency that we will have on them.  They could assist us...at a price, a price that could slow our agenda or end up compromising it completely.

To succeed, we may have to join up with the local GOP or whatever, but we should also have an environment where we can run our own candidates or at least support worthy candidates outside of main parties if necessary.  Even if we do work within, say the GOP, there will still be primaries and run-off's to contend with and these things cost money.  Our chances to successfully access the system will thus be largely dependent upon how much it costs to get a chance at access.  Again, this hails back to the population and urbanization aspects.  Running for election, or just supporting candidates, in heavily populated or urbanized areas is going to be, among other things, far more expensive than in less populated, less urban-dependent areas.  Thus it is going to take more sheer time and effort.

So in order to think in terms of FSP success, think in terms of accessing the system, how hard that will be, and how long it will take.  Those factors will in turn decide how hard it will be to create the free state and how long it will take to do so.  I personally believe that time is of the essence if the FSP is to succeed.  National and global political events are continuing to spiral downward into a statist sinkhole.  Our plans will take time to implement no matter where we go, but I would strongly advocate placing ourselves into such a position as we will have more of a chance to access the system, and more quickly than otherwise, thus giving ourselves more a of chance for achieving real change before the time passes when we can freely or even safely do so.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2002, 06:09:01 am by Robert Hawes » Logged

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Re:Access to the System - Critical to Our Success
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2002, 10:53:34 am »

State Rankings According to the Above Criteria:

Overall Population (from Joe's More and Other Criteria thread):

Wyoming - 493,782
Vermont - 608,827
North Dakota - 642,200
Alaska - 626, 932
South Dakota - 754,844
Delaware - 783,600
Montana - 902,195
New Hampshire - 1,235,786
Maine - 1,274,923
Idaho - 1,293,953

Voting Age Population (from More and Other Criteria - 2000 census):

Wyoming - 364,909
Alaska - 436,215
Vermont - 461,304
North Dakota - 481,351
South Dakota - 552,195
Delaware - 589,013
Montana -672,133  
Idaho - 924,923
New Hampshire - 926,224
Maine - 973,685

Urbanization (there was info on this on the State Data Page, but it now appears to be missing): Huh

Political History (This I'll have to come back to as I'm trying to narrow down the best way of measuring it, perhaps just going by strict general election results.  If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free...)

Expense of Elections (This will likely be updated to incorporate new data from the 2002 mid-term elections, but this is what is currently on the State Data Page):

North Dakota
Vermont
Wyoming
Alaska
Idaho
New Hampshire
Delaware
Montana
Maine
South Dakota

Minus the absent figures, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Alaska are consistently in the top five.


« Last Edit: January 26, 2003, 11:54:20 pm by RobertH » Logged

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Re:Access to the System - Critical to Our Success
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2002, 12:47:25 pm »

Folks, if we can't get into it, we can't influence it, and if we can't influence it, we can't reform it, and if we can't reform it, we can't create a free state and all of this is purely an elaborate academic exercise.
Yes, and this is why it seems to me to be very important to pick a state where policy can be more easily influenced at the local level.  This may be related to the urbanization figures, but it also has to do with the existing political structure: do people have any say at the local level in how their government works, or is it left up to the bureaucrats at higher levels?

Vermont seems attractive to me for this reason, which is why I was hoping for some comments about my posting about The Vermont Papers, which was ignored, alas  Sad .
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Re:Access to the System - Critical to Our Success
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2002, 12:49:07 pm »

Minus the absent figures, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Alaska are consistently in the top five.

And these are the states we need to be talking about.  I think that people who talk about MT or NH are being too idealistic.  It might be nice to live in both those places, and there are already some freedom-lovers there, but it would be much easier to accomplish our goals in one of these 5 states (I might strike ND off the list just because it would be tougher to convince its people to join our cause).  SD has a fair share of freedom-lovers and could be a contender if more people were discussing its pros and cons.  

AK would be nice but there is TOO much gov't involved there.  It would take a very long time to get the fedgov out of there.  

Therefore, WY, SD, and VT should be focused on.  A lot of people say Vermont is too socialistic and I don't know enough about it to disagree.  The fact that there are unrestriced gun laws means that we have one less battle to fight.

For me, WY is currently the top runner, for reasons I've posted elsewhere.
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Re:Access to the System - Critical to Our Success
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2002, 06:25:03 pm »

Robert,
Jason initially posted notice of adding the urbanisation numbers to the data page in the discussion thread about urbanisation which resulted from my posting a ranking of states by population in cities which I put in the More Criteria thread (which I then moved to its own thread).
http://forum.freestateproject.org/index.php?board=5;action=display;threadid=405

The ranking of states is here
Ranking states by city and county populations
http://forum.freestateproject.org/index.php?board=5;action=display;threadid=569

Jason had used Census "Percent Urban" as his ranking.
I'm using a threshold city size of 25,000 since even cities of that "small" size start getting the codes and regulations associated with a big city. They also start getting city recreation departments, garbage service, ad infinitum which would then be even more of a job to privatize or whatever (as you note elsewhere). It may be best to start with a state with the smallest cities and the least amount of government services already being provided. You could draw a threshold anywhere you like since all the larger cities are listed on the above thread. Some, like Irish in Baltimore, would likely consider a place "urban" only if it exceeded 100,000.

Percentage of state population in cities of more than 25,000 people.
  6%   Vermont   (38,889 of 608,827)
10%   Maine   (131,412 of 1,274,923)
17%   Delaware   (133,346 of 783,600)
23%   New Hampshire   (289,643 of 1,235,786)
24%   South Dakota   (183,582 of 754,844)
26%   Wyoming   (129,859 of 493,782)
32%   Montana   (290,771 of 902,195)
36%   North Dakota   (232,019 of 642,200)
39%   Idaho   (500,623 of 1,293,653)
51%   Alaska   (321,218 of 626,932)
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Re:Access to the System - Critical to Our Success
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2002, 09:48:23 pm »

Joe - Believe it or not, the Census actually uses an even more stringent standard than yours.  A suburb with 2,000 people living in close proximity is considered an "urbanized cluster" by Census standards and is included in the figures on the website.  Btw, the figures are still on the website - check the last column of the first table. Smiley

http://www.freestateproject.org/state.htm
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Most Accessible States?
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2002, 03:58:28 am »

Okay, using some new updates to the State Data Page, (and incorporating other data), this is how the states rank according to the five listed criteria effecting access to the political system:

Overall Population: from the More and Other Criteria[/color] thread.

Wyoming - 493,782
Vermont - 608,827
North Dakota - 642,200
Alaska - 626, 932
South Dakota - 754,844
Delaware - 783,600
Montana - 902,195
Maine - 1,274,923
New Hampshire - 1,235,786
Idaho - 1,293,953

Personally, I would advocate cutting this list off at any state in excess of 1,000,000 inhabitants, which leaves:  Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Delaware, and Montana.


Voting Age Population: (from More and Other Criteria - 2000 census):

Wyoming - 364,909
Alaska - 436,215
Vermont - 461,304
North Dakota - 481,351
South Dakota - 552,195
Delaware - 589,013
Montana -672,133  
Idaho - 924,923
New Hampshire - 926,224
Maine - 973,685

Personally, I would advocate cutting this list off at any state above 600,000 voting age inhabitants, which leaves:  Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Delaware.  Montana drops from the list.

Urbanization: (from the Ranking States by City and County Populations thread.  I would have used the information on the State Data Page, but there is no data for South Dakota listed there (it shows as "N/A").

These are the largest metropolitan areas that are fully within each candidate state (some may overlap with other states, but these numbers do not incorporate the overlapping portion):

Wyoming - 81,607 (Cheyenne)
North Dakota - 123,138 (Fargo-Moorhead)
Montana - 129,352 (Billings)
Vermont - 169,391 (Burlington)
South Dakota - 172,412 (Sioux Falls)
Maine - 243,537 (Portland)
Alaska - 260,283 (Anchorage)
Idaho - 432,345 (Boise City)
Delaware - 500,265 (Wilmington)
New Hampshire - 739,699 (Boston-Worcester-Lawrence)

Why list only the largest cities?  Because it shows what is likely to be the single most difficult area to access, influence, and reform.  There are other numbers available on the same thread that show % of state population residing in cities over XX,XXX number of persons, but there's a flip-side to that number that made me use this rating instead.  One concern that has been raised with regard to conducting campaigns is how spread out the people of a state are, thus somewhat indicating how much time, effort, and expense could go into trying to conduct an effective state-wide campaign (reaching all of those spread-out voters).  If people tend to be more clustered together in towns and cities, the argument could be made that they would be easier to reach because you wouldn't have to go as far to get to them.  This could be a plus.

On the other hand, as previously discussed (here and elsewhere), conducting campaigns in cities is generally much more expensive than elsewhere because of the level of competition that you're up against in terms of funding, etc...  For that reason, the % of a state's population residing in cities could be taken as either a negative or a positive.  To my way of thinking, when you are dealing with the issue of system access, it would seem that the % of people residing in larger cities would be more important because, as the size of the city grows, the campaigning advantage of having more people in one place shrinks.  The election may be somewhat less expensive and time-consuming for you (only because you could potentially reach more people with less effort), but you then have to deal with a more entrenched system, more adequately funded/backed political opposition, etc.

So, for those reasons, I decided to go with the sheer size of the largest cities we'd be dealing with.  As such, they represent places where campaigns might be cheaper and less time-consuming, but they also represent ascending levels of difficulty with regard to the other factors that I mentioned (which could negate any advantages).

Considering % of overall population in regard to the size of largest cities would much more adversely affect the following candidates though (in terms of accessibility):

Alaska:  (41.5% of the state's population lives in Anchorage alone.  Add Juneau and Fairbanks and you get 51% of the state's population living in three cities.  In order to effectively access the system in Alaska, we would have to concentrate everyone in these three largest cities, thereby immediately taking on the most entrenched and powerful political structures in the state and thus also limiting our own personal choices as to where we live - possibly a more important factor in Alaska than elsewhere).

New Hampshire:  (60% of the state's population lives in the greater Boston-Warchester-Lawrence area...again, confronting us with a much more difficult challenge as well as the fact that we would have to locate almost all of our numbers in that one part of the state to have any chance of impacting the system at all, and again, limiting our choices as to where we can live if we would like to succeed).

Delaware:  (76% of Delaware's 783,600 residents reside in either the Wilmington or Dover areas, presenting us with the largest challenge of any of these states.  Not suprisingly, incumbents seem to retain power rather handily in Delaware.  It's difficult for anyone to realistically compete with them).

In light of the above, I would recommend dropping these states from serious consideration as they would prove much more difficult for us to access, thus influence, thus reform, and thus succeed in.  Any other advantages they might have should be seen as secondary if we have little realistic chance of gaining access to their political process.

Therefore, comparing this measurement with the two previous measurements, Alaska and Delaware would drop off, leaving four:  Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Political History: (From the "High Votes for Conservative and Libertarian Presidential Candidates" criteria on the State Data Page).

Wyoming
Idaho
North Dakota
South Dakota
Alaska
Montana
New Hampshire
Maine
Delaware
Vermont

This ranking shows how the states would most likely be receptive to our anti-socialism message (or maybe just more willing to consider alternative political views in general).  All four states remaining from the above categories made the cut here.

Expense of Elections: (Just updated on the State Data Page with numbers available from the 2002 mid-term elections):

North Dakota
Vermont
Wyoming
Alaska
Idaho
Delaware
Montana
Maine
South Dakota
New Hampshire

South Dakota drops from the list here.

This leaves Wyoming, Vermont, and North Dakota as the three states that seem most accessible to our efforts according to all of the above criteria.

Thoughts?
« Last Edit: January 26, 2003, 11:15:22 pm by RobertH » Logged

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Re:Most Accessible States?
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2002, 10:28:03 am »

Out of 7 lists:
WY is the best 5 times
VT is the best 2 times

ND should be eliminated

WY vs. VT
VT is socialist

VT should be eliminated

WY is the winner.

I would rule out Maine, New Hampshire, and Idaho on the basis of population, and focus on the 7 remaining states.  I would not drop Montana based on voting age population, since voter turnout has been fairly low there.  I tend to agree from Robert's analysis that Wyoming, Vermont, and North Dakota are the most accessible.

North Dakota looks good statistically, but I would like any FSPers who are ND residents to comment on how receptive the native citizens would be to the FSP.  I lived there briefly a long time ago, and have a few relatives I have visited from time to time.  North Dakotans to me seem to be very conservative, traditional, and patriotic Americans, who might be very resistant to some of the reforms the FSP is proposing.  I would think that Montanans or Alaskans would be more open-minded.

After learning more about Vermont, I wouldn't be so quick to write it off as socialist, or a lost cause.  The left-liberals there would be very supportive of libertarian social issues, and might be persuaded to give up government solutions to social problems if the FSP can make the case for free market, voluntary programs.  Vermonters seem to be independent thinkers, and more open to new ideas than many conservatives would be.  The state is also accessible in a geographic sense, being small enough to allow activists to work together with minimal travel time.

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Re:Access to the System - Critical to Our Success
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2002, 12:00:47 pm »

Unemployement rates:
Alaska 7.5%
Delaware 4.1%
Idaho 5.5%
Maine 4.1%
Montana 3.9%
New Hampshire 4.5%
North Dakota 3.5%
South Dakota 2.6%
Vermont 4.0%
Wyoming 3.9%

In the past 5% unemployement was considered virtually zero, but now 4% is considered that. Factor Alaska's 7.5% unemployment with its weather and I have to eliminate it as should everyone else. I have lived there during good times and it was tough to get work in the winter. Due to the crash in the Salmon Fisheries the economy is taking big hit. Moving to Alaska is not practical unless we want to start a FSP welfare system where 10,000 FSPers support the other 10,000 through the winter.
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Re:Access to the System - Critical to Our Success
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2002, 12:06:42 pm »

Unemployment figures shouldn't be taken too seriously for a couple of reasons: 1) they will change dramatically several times before we start our move; 2) states with really low unemployment rates tend not to have many jobs either - they just have a small, heavily agricultural workforce.  If a bunch of people moved to these states with diverse skills, they wouldn't necessarily get jobs.  So I think projected jobs growth is a much better figure for our purposes, and it's on the State Data page.  Alaska still doesn't do terribly well by this measure - in fact, it may be below the absolute minimum threshold for our purposes, which I would argue should be 50,000 new jobs over a decade.
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Re:Access to the System - Critical to Our Success
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2002, 12:20:06 pm »

http://www.bls.gov/web/laummtrk.htm

As far as unemployment is concerned ND and SD are tops with 4 of the lowest MSA employment rates. In fact 8 of the top 16 are from FSP states:
1. Fargo,ND          1.7%
2. Sioux Falls,SD   1.8%
5. Rapid City,SD    2.0%
7. Bismarck,ND      2.2%
9. Bangor,Me         2.4%
9. Portland,Me       2.4%
14. Missoula,Mt     2.5%
16. Billings,Mt        2.6%

Lowest from the FSP states:

311. Lawrence, Ma-NH 7.7%
290. Lowell, Ma-NH      6.6%
244. Nahua, NH            5.7%





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Re:Most Accessible States?
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2002, 01:10:42 pm »

North Dakota looks good statistically, but I would like any FSPers who are ND residents to comment on how receptive the native citizens would be to the FSP.  I lived there briefly a long time ago, and have a few relatives I have visited from time to time.  North Dakotans to me seem to be very conservative, traditional, and patriotic Americans, who might be very resistant to some of the reforms the FSP is proposing.  I would think that Montanans or Alaskans would be more open-minded.

Exactly.  I've never lived there, but been to ND twice.  Some pockets may be receptive, but by and large I don't see ND as the first Free State.  VT might actually be easier, though as everyone said, it is comprised of ex-hippies and Socialists.  
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Re:Access to the System - Critical to Our Success
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2002, 01:52:31 pm »

You folks have been at this for some time, but I will weigh in on these issues:

East v West: The difference here is the amount of federal land under the exclusive jurisdiction of CONgress (I:8:17). In the eastern states, the amount of territory is limited and in most cases is leased. Leases expire. In the western states admitted after the war of northern agression, the enabling Acts of CONgress specified in many cases HUGE tracks of land be retained under federal control; notice Nevada.

This issue, however is subordinate to what I see as the strategy:

Urban v Rural: I see the Project going Rural first. It is far easier for a group of 20k people to distribute themselves such that Free Staters can reasonably influence a number of contiguous counties. The most important office in any county (in most states) is the Sheriff. The Sheriff can effectively exclude federal agencies and agents from harrassing the population and eating their substance.

Imagine a set of contiguous rural counties where the IRS cannot lien or levy property, where the DEA cannot exercise customs authority (which is why Wyoming is best - federal drug laws are limited to customs authority), where the county governments can effectively abolish the use of many state statutes by simple non-enforcement.

Revenue will not be a problem because of all of the slush that has been "set aside" that can be found in the CAFRs of these counties. http://www.cafrman.com/. These counties will very quickly become self-funding AND be able to eliminated all taxes.

Over a period of time this kind of thing gets noticed and appreciated by the population of non-Free Staters within the target counties, and the established "government" can be left there.

The majority of  the Free Staters can now relocate to a new set of contiguous counties and influence (influenza?) them. Meanwhile, the representation of the original counties will have been elected to the legislature, and the new counties added after a period of 8-10 years later.

In a generation, the state is Free.

B
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Liberty is not a concept  ...
Liberty is a way of life !!!
JT
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Re:Access to the System - Critical to Our Success
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2002, 06:27:51 pm »

Excellent post.  That sounds like a very workable strategy!
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