Bill of Rights Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 377, July 23, 2006

"There is a movement afoot"

The Joy of Freedom
by Jim Davidson

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Something fun is happening in the mountains of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Many signs suggest it is going to spread through Alberta, Western "Canada," and Alaska, as well as into other parts. There is a movement afoot, toward greater freedom, self-sovereignty, and prosperity. As TE Lawrence once said, "It's going to be fun."

My awareness of the region dates back to 1971 when a family trip to Alaska included travel through Wyoming to Yellowstone Park. Later that same trip, we visited Glacier Park in Montana. In those days, the road to Alaska was a two-lane gravel job, built in a hurry during World War Two to get materiel up to the Alaska territory, and, presumably, on to Russia. One of my brothers found a banner with this poem on it:

    "Winding in and winding out,
    It fills my mind with serious doubt
    As to whether the lout
    Who built this route
    Was going to hell, or coming out."

The trip itself was miserable, for me, owing to childhood motion sickness. Dramamine was insufficient to the task of keeping my stomach contents to the inside; I must have vomited dozens of times on the trip. It wasn't much fun for the vehicles, either, with gravel being thrown into the windshield of the Ford van, the leaf springs on the pop-up trailer breaking, and the van's passenger window shattering during a particularly vigorous gravel shower from an oncoming semi-tractor trailer rig. Happily, there was a welder willing to take on the leaf springs and replacement glass available in Fairbanks.

But, the fishing was great. The camping was fun. The weather was pleasant. The midnight Sun was awesome. The aurora borealis was amazing. The scenery is very, very scenic. And the people were special. They weren't city folks. They were rugged individualists, with emphasis on rugged.

My enthusiasm for Wyoming came into sharper focus in 1997. I was invited to attend the first Liberty Round Table conclave in the Teton "national forest." (I put the term "national forest" in quotation marks, because there is no constitutional authority for any such thing. There can be no national forest, national park, or other national land unless it is under a fort, arsenal, or other needful building. Lands identified as national in character are lands abandoned by the several states.) It was an exciting time.

Part of my focus for the region was to organize a sort of theme park in a rural Wyoming county. I regard this business opportunity as completely viable to this day. Whenever I describe it to people who are liberty enthusiasts, as a place where they would be expected to go armed, where the culture of the Western mountains would be showcased, where historic recreations, parades, and games reminiscent of the film "Westworld" without the scary out-of-control robots, I always get a positive response. Very recently, a video on the firearms legacy of Americans put together by Front Sight Resorts illustrated some of the things that are possible with a similar vision.

In August 2002, I traveled to Aspen, Colorado where I met Ken Royce also known as Boston T. Party for the first time. I also saw Doug Casey and quite a few other close friends at Doug's Eris Society conference. One of the most impressive people there was a software developer named Kevin Wilkerson who now works with me at Vertoro.

Doug is the sort of no-nonsense person who can't understand why people don't choose to be free. He is also an impressive author and speculator. Every few years, I hear from Doug about another idea he has. Last year it was a million acre estancia in Argentina. He and I met very briefly in Las Vegas in May 2002 when I handed him a tome that Michael van Notten and I had put together on our business plans for Somalia. Doug and I saw each other again in July 2002 at the International Society for Individual Liberty conference in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where Doug was a guest speaker. (A really great thing about travel outside the USA is Cuban cigars. You can buy them in every country except the former home of the free and presently land of the slave—which shut down South African apartheid with constructive engagement and ended the Soviet empire with trade and commerce, while persuading the Chinese empire to go quietly into capitalism. But somehow thinks a trade embargo on Cuba is the way to spread freedom and prosperity?)

In 2004, I attended the second Grand Western Conference in Three Forks, Montana. It was great fun, for me, and the occasion for meeting Quincy Orhai, buying some of Boston T. Party's books, and getting to know more about the free mountain West. As in 1997, I was impressed with people going about their daily business with a gun strapped to their hip. In 1997, that was something other people were doing. In 2003, it was something that I was doing. My report on that conference is available here.

Some of the people I met there continue to be close friends. A few of them showed up later the same year at Boston T. Party's delightful jamboree. While there were only about 22 of us at that first event, it was great to camp in the high country again. Waking up with ice on the tent in 1997 at eight thousand feet was a lot of fun, especially with nine dogs to share body heat and keep the polar sleeping bag from being too hard to handle. In 2004, it wasn't as cold at 4500 feet, but still chill in the morning. I bought a rifle on my trip to Montana earlier that year, and learned a huge amount from Boston about how to use it properly.

The next year, Boston invited me again. Yes, there's no accounting for tastes. So, my friend John Kyle and I drove up from Houston in his car. A long haul, but worth the trip. There were about 45 people in attendance at the second jamboree. Again, there were many old friends and quite a few new ones. We camped, cooked out, and Boston led another class or two. It was also incredibly damp that year, with rain nearly every day. But, I got a good handle on the wind, setting my tent partly in the ground with dirt and branches for windbreak all around.

Well, this year was even better. We had a bit over 100 people show up, including some guests from the Appleseed Shoot in nearby Worland. Now, that's impressive. You'll notice that the growth rate is slightly more than doubling each year. There is a second order effect in the acceleration of the rate of growth. So, if the 2005 to 2006 growth rate were fixed, we'd see over 340,000 people involved in 2017. If the second order effect keeps up, even sooner. On the evidence, with over 325 members of the Free State Wyoming forum it is a good bet we'll find 225 or more to join the fun at the 2007 jamboree.

Given the size of Wyoming, with only about 600,000 people, it should be possible to have influence over the political system by then. Whether that is a good thing, only time would tell.

Is the Free State Wyoming project better than the New Hampshire Free State Project? No. It is different. FSW is a project to move people to the smallest population counties in Wyoming, which happens to be the smallest population state in the country. FSP Is a project to move people to New Hampshire. There are a few people who would locate to either state, but many people back east want nothing to do with the idea of living in Wyoming's rugged, rural territory. Similarly, there are people in the free mountain West who think living in New Hampshire is nuts.

Myself, I've spent time in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts Berkshires, and New York City. I think well of some of the people I met back east, and poorly of most of the places I lived in. It is a very different culture. So, it is not for me.

Two free states are better than one. Ultimately, fifty free states would be great. I tend to agree with Walter Williams that a parting of the ways is our destiny. There probably aren't fifty states worth of Americans who would want to live free. I'd be delighted to learn that I'm wrong on that score.

However, there are many things that FSP and FSW can do together. There is a national agenda against freedom that may be easier to combat with more states involved. There are related experiences that have application in each state. There are people who have reason to travel between the two states who can benefit from having free places at both ends of their journey. And if either strategy falters for any reason, there is a fall back location.

Nor is there anything wrong with your state that cannot be fixed. Yes, the state you live in now. I know, it seems insanely hyper-regulated. You cannot stand it. But, all the problems in your state were created by people. So, they can be fixed by people. It may be that your state is close enough to Wyoming or New Hampshire that you want to pick up stakes and leave. It may be that what happens in Wyoming and New Hampshire is going to spill over, in part, into your state. We know that a lot of fireworks get sold in New Hampshire and set off in Massachusetts every year, so there are opportunities to spread the contagion of freedom.

Most of all, there is an opportunity for you to visit. There's a party 9 December 2006 in Casper, Wyoming. I've organized it with some of my closest friends. Contact me for a personal invitation to attend. Dancing, dinner, and fun. The 2007 jamboree in Wyoming is being planned now. I understand that the Porcupine Festival in 2006 was great fun in New Hampshire, and more events are planned there, soon.

The joy of freedom is a gift you give to yourself. You can find leaders to show you the way, you can struggle along the path, and you can reach the trough of clear, fresh, pure freedom. You alone choose whether to drink deep.

If you are tired of the taxes, the regulations, the arrogant cruds in office, the jerks in uniform watching your every move, the NSA spying on everything you say or write, the scum in legislatures pretending to ordain or prohibit every action, bureau-rats who aren't helpful, and the traffic snarls in major cities, take a break. Maybe you aren't ready to pick up stakes and move out West. But, there is something for you to do sometime this year or next in New Hampshire or Wyoming. I invite you to get involved.

The one thing that I've seen more of in Wyoming this year than ever before was joy. People were happy to get together, pleased to see so many people at the gathering, and ready to take on the world. It is a feeling like no other.

I think it speaks to character. People who are determined to be free are self responsible. They know what is right and they do their best to bring it about. I feel confident that people in New Hampshire are just as dedicated and just as enthusiastic, so I'm sure they have the joy of freedom to share.

Don't take my word for it. Don't just read this essay and click onto the next. Think about it. Plan a trip. Come see for yourself. Good people are making good things happen, and you can be a part of it.

Go get some joy. helps you go from green to gold. We offer information on gold and silver, the truth about monetary inflation, and consulting services to help you convert to free market money. Best of all, we sell gold and silver! Buy some today.

Indomitus Crest
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