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Author Topic: Reiterating the Importance of Population  (Read 15197 times)

Robert H.

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Reiterating the Importance of Population
« on: July 06, 2003, 03:56:16 am »

Discerning members might very well ask what significance the population element holds for us, particularly in light of various contentions being offered by those in favor of our higher population states.  In answer to those contentions, I maintain that there are numerous reasons why population should be a consideration for us, even a primary consideration.

Some of you have seen these statistics and thoughts before, and, if so, then you probably already have established an opinion on the matter.  However, many have joined since our intitial discussions of population, and this essay is primarily directed to their attention.

Population was the measurement by which the call for 20,000 activists was made, and the primary measurement by which the FSP first selected its candidate states.

In his essay What Can 20,000 Liberty Activists Accomplish? FSP president Jason Sorens revealed that the FSP's target participation level of 20,000 activists (as well as the slate of candidate states) was chosen based on the example of Quebec's Parti Quebecois, which achieved a parliamentary majority in Quebec in 1976:

Jason wrote:

"At the time, the PQ had a paid membership of roughly 100,000, while the population of Quebec at that time was 6.2 million. In other words, having a paid member for every 62 citizens of the province gave the PQ a parliamentary majority. Applying the same ratio to the FSP's membership goal, we get 1.2 million population for a state in which 20,000 party members could win majorities at the state level. The following states have less than 1.2 million population: Wyoming, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island (Hawaii, Idaho, New Hampshire, and Maine are close)."


Thus, we see here that the first consideration in framing the FSP was to target smaller population states so that FSP activists could achieve at least a 1 to 62 saturation level in regard to the overall population of that state.  This only makes sense.  If you are attempting to influence the political process with a group of like-minded individuals, it is advantageous for that group to be as large as possible in relation to the target state's population.  This gives you a larger percentage of the vote to count on, enables you to reach more of the population because there are fewer of them to reach in relation to your activists, and reduces the degree to which activist attrition could harm your efforts.  

Using 2000 Census Bureau numbers, 20,000 FSP activists in each of our candidate states would work out as follows in terms of a ratio of 1 activist per a certain number of state residents:

Wyoming - 1 to 24.5
Vermont - 1 to 30.4
Alaska -  to 31.3
North Dakota - 1 to 32.1
South Dakota - 1 to 37.7
Delaware - 1 to 39.2
Montana - 1 to 45.1
New Hampshire - 1 to 61.8
Maine - 1 to 63.8
Idaho - 1 to 64.7

But say that we don't get 20,000 participants.  With, say, only 15,000 participants, we get the following:

Wyoming: 1 to 33
Vermont - 1 to 40.6
Alaska -  1 to 41.8
North Dakota - 1 to 42.8
South Dakota - 1 to 50.3
Delaware - 1 to 52.2
Montana - 1 to 60.1
New Hampshire: 1 to 82.4
Maine: 1 to 85
Idaho:  1 to 86.3

Just for reference, the 2000 Census total populations for these states were as follows:

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

Their voting-age populations were:

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


There are, I believe, legitimate concerns that the FSP will either not attract 20,000, all 20,000 might not move, and that the dreaded "80/20" rule could apply to those that do move, meaning that 80% would do very little while 20% do most of the work - a reliable standard in just about any group endeavor one can imagine.  Wyoming protects us more than any other state when it comes to the potential affect such issues could have on our success in creating a free state.  Consider a scenario in which we do reach 20,000 activists, all of which move, and then apply the 80/20 scenario.  Twenty percent of 20,000 is just 4,000 persons doing the majority of the work, and looks this way when compared against the 2000 Census numbers for each state, and, just to be generous, I'll compare 4,000 effective activists to only voting-age population for each state:

Wyoming - 1 to 91
Alaska - 1 to 109
Vermont - 1 to 115
North Dakota - 1 to 120
South Dakota - 1 to 138
Delaware - 1 to 147
Montana - 1 to 168  
Idaho - 1 to 231
New Hampshire - 1 to 231
Maine - 1 to 243


Three points of contention now arise: 1) If the FSP narrowed these ten states down using Jason's 1 to 62 ratio, then it stands to reason that we could be successful in any of these states.  So why continue to quibble on population?  2) Why be so gloomy?  Have a little faith and hope for the best.  After all, we're all extremely motivated to work for liberty, aren't we? 3) What really counts is that the native population of the state be liberty-minded.  If they are, then population is an advantage, or at least less of a problem because we'd have more allies.

Robert H.

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Re:Reiterating the Importance of Population
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2003, 04:03:14 am »

In answer to question 1 - why quibble when these states have already been narrowed down on population?

Jason's research does indicate that we could potentially be successful in a state of 1.2 million with 20,000 activists saturating the population at a rate of 1 to 62; however, it stands to reason that if 1 to 62 could be successful in a state of 1.2 million, how much more could they do in states where they would saturate the population to an even greater degree?  Remember that a state with 1.2 million people is the upper limit that we're dealing with here.  It's the narrowest margin of safety that the FSP will allow.

Now, translate this into a real life example.  You're  headed down the highway with your family in the car, and a 4,000 foot drop off to your right.  You are safe from falling into the abyss as long as you stay at least 1 inch from the edge.  Would that margin of safety make you comfortable considering what is at risk?  Or would you prefer to give yourself as much distance from the edge as possible, thereby further reducing the possibility of a nasty encounter with Isaac Newton's old friend gravity?  Well then ask yourself how much is at stake with the FSP.  Some believe that the future of liberty in this country may be at stake via what we are engaged in here.  Are we prepared to risk its success on the slimest of margins?

Some say that they are absolutely certain that their favorite large state's population is liberty-friendly enough, and our activists bold enough, to make the difference.  But here I would ask if you are really so confident in your knowledge of the hearts and minds of others (upwards of a million or more that you've never met) that you are willing to wager everything on the increased possibility that you might be wrong.  To borrow from Clint Eastwood, just how lucky do you feel?

Remember that we're holding this vote at 5,000 members.  We have no means of predicting what may happen after the vote that could affect future recruitment or effectiveness.  Who could have predicted the changes that have come about in this country after 9/11?

In answer to question 2 - why be so gloomy?  Have a little faith and trust in people, not statistics.

To those who ask this question, I would ask: "Just how confident are you in your assumption that everything will proceed according to the very best possible scenarios, and is that confidence really strong enough to justify the risks involved?"  Consider how events might change public perceptions, even under what would ordinarily be favorable circumstances.  Consider how an ill-chosen word or an ill-conceived deed on the part of a public figure in the post-FSP organization could empower the opposition and galvanize the public. The political world loves scandal, and more than one movement in history has come to ruin because of the impropriety of a few.  That's not being "gloomy" or "negative" either.  That's the cold, hard, ignore-it-at-your-own-risk truth of the arena we propose to enter with this project.

I maintain that allowing oneself the greatest amount of manuevering room possible, especially when so much is at risk, is far and away more prudent than ignoring potential risks simply to avoid being thought of as "gloomy" or "negative."  This question also overlaps with the last question, so I'll move on to that one now...

In answer to question 3 - population doesn't matter so much as long as the population is liberty-friendly.

I believe that most FSP'ers would agree with me when I say that there is no libertarian state in this country.  There are states that are more free than others, but libertarian freedom is an entire level above and beyond what most Americans think of as "free."  Put this to the test sometime.  Ask your neighbors how they'd feel about lower taxes, and then ask them how they'd feel about reducing taxes so much that there would be no government services aside from maintaining the peace and holding court.  Ask them how they'd feel about greater school choice, and then ask them how they'd feel about having to pay for their own child's education like they'd pay their own electric bill.  Ask them how they'd feel about decreased regulation, and then ask them how they'd feel about their neighbors having the right to do just about anything they want to with their adjacent lots.  

Such scenarios are the effective difference between what we term "libertarian freedom" and what is really just "conservatism."  Personally, I don't believe most Americans are prepared for real libertarian freedom.  Much of American groans under excessive regulation, but at what point would freedom cease to be a relief for them, and become an unacceptable "burden" or "risk" instead?  Remember that the libertarian version of freedom is not just freedom for you to live as you please, but freedom for those around you to live as they please.  In other words, freedom for those around you to potentially annoy or offend you, and perhaps even potential for them to harm you if they are less responsible or sensible than they should be.  After all, a libertarian society would take very little in the way of pre-emptive measures against individuals.  How palatable would that be to most of the people you know?  How many incidents would it take before the public would start saying: "There ought to be a law!"?  

This is another reason why it is so very important that we be as large a group as possible in terms of the size of the general population.  Many will likely follow us joyfully down the road to greater tax relief and less regulation, but how many will cross the libertarian Rubicon with us and place their lives, their convenience, and their sensibilities at the mercy of granting maximum liberty to those around them?  

I can hear some of the response now: "Robert, you're being negative again.  You have no faith in people;  be positive."  And, perhaps:  "You're just a scheming Wyoming supporter who is trying to bash the larger states with fear-mongering."

If you're thinking any of these things, please grant me the courtesy of answering the questions and scenarios that I've presented in the above paragraphs and explaining to me why these things should not be considered seriously.  I happen to think that they are quite reasonable given what I know of society, history, and politics.  If you're aware of evidence to the contrary though, I'm happy to entertain it.  And in relation to fear-mongering, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that the warning I've tried to give here is unjustified, the risk unsubstantiated.  There's a reason that rat poison comes with a warning label, after all.  Or could it be that the manufacturer is just being being negative?

In summary, and setting aside the negative aspects first, smaller states present us with populations that are less likely to harm our efforts should something go awry.  Then, on a more positive note, smaller states present us with greater opportunity to spread our influence that much more quickly, and to use our combined strength that much more effectively (as long as there are not serious potential problems - a low population state full of statists, for example).

jgmaynard

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Re:Reiterating the Importance of Population
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2003, 11:49:43 am »

 I don't think it is nearly as important to look at total population as it is to look at "What will it take to become as popular as the largest party in the state?" and "How receptive will the voters be to voting for someone with an (L) next to their name?
In NH, for instance :), most state rep candidates only have ~2-3 volunteers and spend ~$500 to get elected. Even challenging all 400 seats, we could have parity with the largest party (R) with only 1200 acitivists and $200k. That's only about 1/16 the project's expect growth, and $10 a person. Put another way, if we get the full 20k, donating $100 each, we would have 16x the volunteers and 10x the money of the R's.

Comparing population to population without taking the costs, political systems  and physical size of the districts into account is comparing apples and oranges.
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Re:Reiterating the Importance of Population
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2003, 02:41:28 pm »

I don't think it is nearly as important to look at total population as it is to look at "What will it take to become as popular as the largest party in the state?" and "How receptive will the voters be to voting for someone with an (L) next to their name?
In NH, for instance :), most state rep candidates only have ~2-3 volunteers and spend ~$500 to get elected. Even challenging all 400 seats, we could have parity with the largest party (R) with only 1200 acitivists and $200k. That's only about 1/16 the project's expect growth, and $10 a person. Put another way, if we get the full 20k, donating $100 each, we would have 16x the volunteers and 10x the money of the R's.

Comparing population to population without taking the costs, political systems  and physical size of the districts into account is comparing apples and oranges.

Buying seats does not make you popular. Besides once the statists get wind of you trying to eliminate there cash cow they will turn on you.
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Re:Reiterating the Importance of Population
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2003, 02:58:41 pm »

What are you talking about? Every politician who ever ran a campaign "bought" the seats! How else do you think they get elected? They have to spend SOME money to convince people that they are the best choice for the office.

I don't think it is nearly as important to look at total population as it is to look at "What will it take to become as popular as the largest party in the state?" and "How receptive will the voters be to voting for someone with an (L) next to their name?
In NH, for instance :), most state rep candidates only have ~2-3 volunteers and spend ~$500 to get elected. Even challenging all 400 seats, we could have parity with the largest party (R) with only 1200 acitivists and $200k. That's only about 1/16 the project's expect growth, and $10 a person. Put another way, if we get the full 20k, donating $100 each, we would have 16x the volunteers and 10x the money of the R's.

Comparing population to population without taking the costs, political systems  and physical size of the districts into account is comparing apples and oranges.

Buying seats does not make you popular. Besides once the statists get wind of you trying to eliminate there cash cow they will turn on you.
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Re:Reiterating the Importance of Population
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2003, 03:01:56 pm »

What are you talking about? Every politician who ever ran a campaign "bought" the seats! How else do you think they get elected? They have to spend SOME money to convince people that they are the best choice for the office.

I don't think it is nearly as important to look at total population as it is to look at "What will it take to become as popular as the largest party in the state?" and "How receptive will the voters be to voting for someone with an (L) next to their name?
In NH, for instance :), most state rep candidates only have ~2-3 volunteers and spend ~$500 to get elected. Even challenging all 400 seats, we could have parity with the largest party (R) with only 1200 acitivists and $200k. That's only about 1/16 the project's expect growth, and $10 a person. Put another way, if we get the full 20k, donating $100 each, we would have 16x the volunteers and 10x the money of the R's.

Comparing population to population without taking the costs, political systems  and physical size of the districts into account is comparing apples and oranges.

Buying seats does not make you popular. Besides once the statists get wind of you trying to eliminate there cash cow they will turn on you.
You obviously missed my point.
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Re:Reiterating the Importance of Population
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2003, 03:04:03 pm »

I seem to miss the vast majority of them. Perhaps my brain doesn't work as well as yours?  :P
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Re:Reiterating the Importance of Population
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2003, 06:11:38 pm »

I don't think it is nearly as important to look at total population as it is to look at "What will it take to become as popular as the largest party in the state?" and "How receptive will the voters be to voting for someone with an (L) next to their name?
In NH, for instance :), most state rep candidates only have ~2-3 volunteers and spend ~$500 to get elected. Even challenging all 400 seats, we could have parity with the largest party (R) with only 1200 acitivists and $200k. That's only about 1/16 the project's expect growth, and $10 a person. Put another way, if we get the full 20k, donating $100 each, we would have 16x the volunteers and 10x the money of the R's.

Comparing population to population without taking the costs, political systems  and physical size of the districts into account is comparing apples and oranges.


You falsely assume that every FSPer who runs will have an L by their name.  Many of them will recognize the prudence and ease of gaining the majority party's nomination in a small-turnout primary and then actually getting elected.
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Re:Reiterating the Importance of Population
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2003, 07:04:14 pm »

I was under the impression that, come September 2005, if we don't have 20,000 members then the FSP would cease to exist. Shooting for anything short of that number would mean no one but the most hardcore would feel obligated to participate. I have resolved to participate if that goal is met but I believe I and many more moderate members will just go about our lives as if it never happened if that number isn't reached. With that in mind it would make more sense to choose states where our most immediate goals have a chance rather than those where our most distant ones do.
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Adam Selene

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Re:Reiterating the Importance of Population
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2003, 07:43:15 pm »

As has been mentioned in other threads, population growth is also a very significant factor. If for every year 5,000* FSPers move to a target state and 200,000* other people do so (many importing statist/socialists attitudes from nearby states), the effectiveness of the FSP migration can be neutralalized.

This is a benefit to Wyoming (low population growth) and a substantial negative for Idaho and New Hampshire.

* numbers pulled out of a hat
« Last Edit: July 06, 2003, 07:48:01 pm by Adam Selene »
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robmayn

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Re:Reiterating the Importance of Population
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2003, 07:44:42 pm »

I don't think it is nearly as important to look at total population as it is to look at "What will it take to become as popular as the largest party in the state?" and "How receptive will the voters be to voting for someone with an (L) next to their name?

I agree that population is not as big of a factor as some make it, but I have different reasons.  The notion that one activist can influence 62 people depends on several factors.
That is why I think that simply using raw numbers to project
how many people 20,000 activists can influence is a bit simplistic.  A small group of activist can influence more people if they are opperating in an environment that is conducive to organizing.  A smaller population spread out over a vast distance is actually harder to organize than a bigger population that is a little more concentrated.  It also makes a great deal of difference if there already exist a number of issue groups who may be sympathetic to the cause.

When one factors in these conditions, it is a little more realistic to play up the population difference between Vermont and New Hampshire than Wyominmg and New Hampshire.  In fact, I believe that it may be even more difficult to organize a political movement in Wyoming than in New Hampshire.  

In relationship to Vermont, New Hampshire compensates for its bigger population by have a MUCH better organized pro liberty movement.  The extent to which an already existing pro-liberty movemnt is present in the chosen state is a crucial issue, as unlike the Progressives who moved to Vermont, a good number of FSP members are likely to be less politically experienced than are socialists.  It will take a while for the newcomers to be politically efective.  Plugging ourselves into an already existing organization will
give us the leverage to to make changes right away and will greatly multiply the effect of the efforts of FSP members.
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Re:Reiterating the Importance of Population
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2003, 08:33:07 pm »

IMHO, if our members are more serious about their liberty than their finances and comforts, population is THE most important factor.
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Re:Reiterating the Importance of Population
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2003, 08:48:42 pm »

RobertH

Why is it that so many of your posts always fall back on the what if we don't reach 20,000?  Do you have so little faith in the people?  Do you have so little faith in our ideas?
Were you one of those who said what if we don't reach 5,000?

To establish a free state anywhere we must have the support of the people of that state!  What if gets us nothing!

I have alway believed we would reach 5,000, we will reach 20,000, and that will be only the beginning.

As Joe has stated," losing is not an option!" Freedom is too important!

What if FSP does not reach 20,000, then well read the statement of intent my friend the FSP goes caput!!!

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Robert H.

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Re:Reiterating the Importance of Population
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2003, 10:09:02 am »

RobertH

Why is it that so many of your posts always fall back on the what if we don't reach 20,000?

Because we're (almost) 5,000 voting on some states that may need up to 20,000 for this idea to succeed, and there's no guarantee that we'll get them.  It's the same reason that I stop for gas before I absolutely have to on a trip: I have no guarantee that I'll be able to get it again before I run out.  I don't plan to be caught on "E" with no gas station in sight.

I'm not averse to taking risks, but I do prefer to have as many advantages on my side as possible going into it.  

Quote
Do you have so little faith in the people?  Do you have so little faith in our ideas?

Can you have so much faith to base so much hope in people you've never met?  Do you know how they'll conduct themselves and the case for liberty?  Do you know what lies down the pike that may affect recruitment or how we're received?  How far out on that limb are you prepared to go?  What do you have against playing with odds that allow us a better chance in spite of potential issues?

Quote
Were you one of those who said what if we don't reach 5,000?

I thought the FSP would probably reach at least 5,000.

Quote
To establish a free state anywhere we must have the support of the people of that state!  What if gets us nothing!

Except, I presume, for the question of "what if we don't get the support of the people of that state?"   ;)  Yes, we do need their support, but I've never maintained otherwise.  I've said just the opposite.  Their support will be critical.  Twenty thousand will not be enough for a majority in any state.

Quote
What if FSP does not reach 20,000, then well read the statement of intent my friend the FSP goes caput!!!

I seriously doubt that so many people who have already expressed interest in this idea will simply give up on it if we fail to reach 20,000.  They're likely to continue on in some other fashion and locate to the same general area anyway.

I have that much faith.   ;)

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Re:Reiterating the Importance of Population
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2003, 10:35:07 am »

I seriously doubt that so many people who have already expressed interest in this idea will simply give up on it if we fail to reach 20,000.  They're likely to continue on in some other fashion and locate to the same general area anyway.

I have that much faith.   ;)

Not me. Faith has nothing to do with this project, this is calculated political move. In fact I think I'd rather not find out what kind of people attempt a similar goal with less "head" and more "heart."
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