Saturday, July 19, 2014

Matt Murray-My Turn: Don’t Fall Into Trap Set By Free Staters

For the Monitor
Saturday, July 19, 2014
We are well into the 2014 election season, and there’s a lot at stake.

Not just control of the U.S. Senate, as newly minted New Hampshire resident Scott Brown ignores his GOP primary opponents in his rush to target incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Not just the perversity quotient of the U.S. House, as primary voters sort through which candidates – representing which wing of the Republican Party? – will challenge Democratic incumbents Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter.

Not just the balance of power in the New Hampshire General Court, as we’re still trying to forget – or at least recover from – the two-year reign of House Speaker “Bully” O’Brien.

I hate to mention this, but there’s also the 2016 presidential campaign right around the corner. And if we’re going to fulfill the responsibility of the “First in the Nation” primary, then New Hampshire needs to have solid – and sane – political parties.

You see, New Hampshire is the focus of a unique political experiment, started in 2001 by then-Yale doctoral student Jason Sorens. His idea was to get 20,000 activists to move to a single state with a small population and an easily accessible government.

“Once we’ve taken over the state government, we can slash state and local budgets, which make up a sizeable proportion of the tax and regulatory burden we face every day. Furthermore, we can eliminate substantial federal interference by refusing to take highway funds and the strings attached to them. Once we’ve accomplished these things, we can bargain with the national government over reducing the role of the national government in our state. We can use the threat of secession as leverage to do this.”

Snowplowing? Bridge safety? An adequately funded judicial system? Public colleges? These things are nowhere on the Free Staters’ priority list.

No, the Free Staters – at least those in Keene – seem to be more interested in marijuana and videotaping the city’s parking enforcement officers.

Here’s where it gets serious: Free Staters don’t care about political parties. That’s how two Free Staters, who lived in the same house, ran for state representative on opposite sides of the ticket. (The Democratic candidate won.) Free State candidates don’t advertise their allegiance to the project, they just join up with a political party and run for office. 

In their 2012 election results roundup, the project outlined the progress they had made: Over the past eight years, FSP participants who have become state representatives went from zero to 1, to four, to 12 to 14 in 2010, to eleven this cycle. Only 1,100 movers are on the ground. With only 5 percent of the goal movers in New Hampshire, political FSP participants held onto the status quo while Republicans got trounced. Baby steps, people. It ain’t called a “project” for nothing!

Twenty-thousand movers could translate into 200 state reps, half the house. Imagine what fun would ensue.

One-fourth of the legislators identified as belonging to FSP ran as Democrats.

And now it’s 2014, election season again. 

Is it going to get even weirder this year? 

Sen. Peter Bragdon is retiring, and “Free State” mover Dan Hynes is running for his seat. Apparently Hynes has offered free room and board to FSPers willing to work for his campaign. 

And here’s what his campaign website says about why he’s running (under “Smaller Gov”): “Dan Hynes opposes government regulations that force people to do things against their will, or that prevents them from doing things that bring them happiness as long as it does not harm other people.” 

But don’t we need rules about which side of the road to drive on? Laws to protect property? What happens when the things that make one person happy conflict with what makes other people happy? What happens when most people want to have our highways plowed, but some people don’t want to pay for it?

People actually think that this kind of chaos is a good idea? And they’re moving to New Hampshire to create it?

Hasn’t New Hampshire already had enough nuttiness from our politicians? Can’t we all agree that we need a functioning government? And rational political parties? And that Granite Staters don’t really want to secede from the United States?

This election year, we need to pay close attention to who we’re voting for, where their allegiance lies and what sort of a government they believe in (if any).

There’s a lot at stake.

(Matt Murray is the creator and editor of the NH Labor News, an online blog that focuses on politics and their effect on working families. He lives in Merrimack.)

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Black-Owned Businesses Are Quietly Powering Detroit's Resurgence, But No One's Talking About It

"During the good times and the bad times, black-owned businesses have been around, primarily serving their community, circulating resources, building wealth [and] opening doors to other opportunities, such as higher education and lifestyle." George Stewart Detroit Developer

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Thoughts On Privilege, Queerness, Gender, Labels, And Non-Conformity By Kyle Leach

Recent commentaries from

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Thursday, July 17, 2014


Austerity Is Poisoning The Economy, In 2 Charts
"Congress has severely damaged the economy with deep spending cuts in a misguided attempt to solve a short-term debt crisis that simply does not exist." CAP economists Harry Stein and Adam Hersh

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John R. White For NH State Senate

John R. White: We Did Badly Under Bradley — And He's Proud Of That

"...I intend to run on the record — Jeb's record. It's a litany of shame that includes opposition to and elimination of a New Hampshire minimum wage, support for continuation of a sub-minimum wage for the disabled, support for elimination of paper payroll checks in favor of electronic credits or debit cards, support for tax credits to support private and religious school scholarships, support for stringent voter ID requirements — he even voted to rescind state park discounts for the elderly and disabled!" John R. White

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Debt Collection 'Factory' Preyed On Broke Americans

"These practices sound so familiar to me when I read this complaint. We're happy to see that the CFPB is going after these abusive practices. This sounds like it could be brought against a lot of collection firms."  Susan Shin of the New Economy Project

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Arizona Charter School Using Book That Says Slavery Was Beneficial To Blacks: Complaint

The 5,000 Year Leap and The Making of America, by Cleon Skousen, “teach debunked ‘Christian nation’ history." Americans United

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Atheist To Open New York Town Meeting After Supreme Court OKs Prayers

"Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer." Madalyn Murray O'Hair

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

10 Supreme Court Rulings That Turned Corporations Into People

Hobby Lobby is just the most recent court decision, in a 200-year-long line of decisions, giving corporate business equivocal rights to humans.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

LGBT Groups Pull Support For ENDA

Gay Rights Groups Pull Support For ENDA Over Sweeping Religious Exemption

The ACLU, GLAD, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Transgender Law Center announced in a joint statement on Tuesday they are dropping support for the Senate ENDA bill.

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Did You Know That Antonin Scalia's Son Is Sabotaging Wall Street Reform?

Scalia "created this sense that we're paralyzed, because if we write a rule we're just going to be reversed," Lisa Donner, executive director of the watchdog group Americans for Financial Reform.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

MYSTERY: Why Haven't Humans Discovered Intelligent Life?

The Fermi Paradox
Some people stick with the traditional, feeling struck by the epic beauty or blown away by the insane scale of the universe. Personally, I go for the old “existential meltdown followed by acting weird for the next half hour.” But everyone feels something. Physicist Enrico Fermi felt something too—”Where is everybody?”

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Robert Redford-Climate Change Gridlock

Addressing Climate Change Should Inspire Patriotism, Not Gridlock

"You would think by listening to some on Capitol Hill that doing anything about climate change, will end life, as we know it. In fact, it's precisely the opposite. They want us to believe that they know best, but I don't buy it. All of this has become a big fat political football where self-preservation is the priority over the national good."

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Thursday, July 03, 2014

What The Civil Rights Act Means Today...

"I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

SCOTUS Chooses Religion Over Science In Hobby Lobby Case

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a stinging dissent, called the majority opinion a "decision of startling breadth."

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