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The Granite State Advantage

Yesterday, I cheerfully linked to a study that rated New Hampshire as the "freest" state. I also promised to follow up on that with my theories on why... well, why we're so much more awesomer than the lesser 49 states.

(Warning: gross stereotyping and exaggerations ahead.)

First up, we're kinda stubborn and self-reliant, generally. We don't treat whiners and professional victims with a great deal of sympathy. Our response when we hear a sob story isn't usually "oh, that's so terrible, what can we do for you?" but "OK, that sucks. How you wanna fix that?"

Next, our system of state government seems engineered to keep it in check. Our founding fathers saw to that when they set up our Bill of Rights. For one, it isn't a set of amendments, but the first Part of the Constitution. For another, I dearly love quoting Section I, Article 10:

[Art.] 10. [Right of Revolution.] Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.

Ain't that just awesome? We not only CAN revolt against the government, we OUGHT TO.

But that's a pretty abstract threat. I don't think it's never been seriously invoked. Oh, a few cranks have tried to use it in court a few times, but they've been smacked down.

Secondly, we have a large legislature. In fact, we have the fourth-largest legislature in the English-speaking world, behind only India's Parliament, the United Kingdom's Parliament, and the United States Congress. In a state of roughly 1.2 million people, we have 24 State Senators and 400 Representatives.

That might seem a bit paradoxical -- how the hell can such a big legislature result in small government? -- but it works out. With 400 Representatives, you need to get a lot of people to agree with any legislation. It's a given that the smaller the group, the more efficient it is. Conversely, the bigger the group, the less efficient it is. And we kinda like that.

Further, with those numbers, that means that each Representative has a constituency of about 3,000 people, give or take. That means that there's a pretty decent chance that you personally know your Representative -- or, at least, can find them and get to them fairly readily. Personally, my representatives (being in a city, I have four) are 0.5 miles, 0.6 miles, 2.7 miles, and 3.9 miles from my home. That's fairly typical.

And that means that if one of my reps is ticking me off, I can walk over to their house, knock on their door, and tell them to knock it off or I'll get Joe or Susan next door to run against them next time. And they know I'll mean it.

Third, our state isn't run by "career legislators." No one is there to make a living and support their family. We truly have a "citizen legislature."

Because they don't get paid a living wage.

Annual pay for a New Hampshire legislator? $100.00. Period. Oh, plus mileage and expenses. But ain't no one living off their work in the General Court.

So we end up with a legislature of housewives. Of retirees. Of independently wealthy folks. Of professionals. Basically, people who generally aren't inclined to spend a lot of time passing new laws and taxes, or not inclined to pass laws and taxes that'll hit them first.

And our governors? The current guy's a Democrat, and naturally he has some tendencies that I don't particularly like. But he was better than the chowderheads the Republicans put up against him a couple of times, and now he has a solidly Republican legislature, so he's kind of in check right now. Plus, he's a doctor, so he's no career pol. I'm fairly sure he took a pay cut when he took office.

And that's how you end up with a state that has several distinctions that I hold with a great deal of pride. Distinctions that make us unique and set us apart from those other, lesser 49 states.

We have no mandatory seat belt or motorcycle helmet laws for adults. Our policy is that only a flaming idiot won't use these critical pieces of safety equipment -- but we ain't in the business of stopping you from being an idiot. I'm a seat belt militant, for one. But those who support such laws don't like it when I ask them if they're saying that they're so stupid or self-destructive that they won't wear those without being made to by the government.

For another, we're the only state with absolutely no sales or income taxes. None. It kinda throws newcomers when they make their first purchases in the Granite State, and actually pay the price on the price tag. And it's nice to keep more of your own money. Money is the lifeblood of government -- and we keep ours just this side of anemic.

And then there's the final reason, the one that doesn't get much attention, but one that I think plays a bigger role than anyone likes to admit. And that's geography.

We've got Massachusetts right up against our southern border.

My mother used to say that everyone has a purpose in life, even if it's to serve as a bad example. And the Bay State does that in spades. It's a textbook case of just how badly you can screw up a state. And since it's so much more populous than we are, we get a LOT of their media coverage up here.

We also end up taking in a lot of people moving out of the Bay State. Ex-Massholes tend to fall into two categories. The first is those sick of Massachusetts, and will bend any ear they can find about the specifics of the latest Mass. Insanity -- especially the final straws that drove them out.

The second type are essentially Massholes who want to recreate the Bay State up here. They move in and immediately want to start remaking our state into New Mass. They tend to quickly irritate and alienate their neighbors, who are quickly reminded of just how important that southern border is -- and, perhaps, if it ought to be fortified.

So there's a whole host of reasons why I think New Hampshire is at the top of the list. But the important question isn't why we are so much freer than the other states.

No, the critical question is, why aren't more states crowding us up at the top? It ain't rocket science, people.


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Comments (33)

My beloved state of Texas h... (Below threshold)

My beloved state of Texas has a legislature that meets every other year for a few months. Same distrust of government. They also do not make much money off the government. The Texas constitution is such that getting money from citizens requires a referendum on the ballot. We have a few hundred amendments to our constitution because the legislatures cannot do anything new without the amendment.

Mostly all have weapons. We don't fall for BS at all. And we are huge. Houston and the surrounding area has a pop. of about 3.2 million. Texas is indeed a great state and deserves more than a 14th place standing. ww

Having only recently moved ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Having only recently moved to Massachusetts I found this study an interesting discussion piece. The subsection on regulatory freedom was especially interesting.

People agree with the idea that Mass over regulates their lives but they are quick to defend the individual regulations that strangle their freedom. Guns are evil! Smoking is bad! Sure imposing heavy fines for not shoveling the snow from your sidewalk is intrusive but we want people to use public transportation. There is always an excuse. These idiots look around and see that they are straight-jacketed by the government but they cannot bring themselves to stand up against a single regulation on the simple principle that the government needs to butt out of our lives.

Jay, They also s... (Below threshold)

They also say:
New Hampshire does much better on economic than personal freedom and on fiscal than regulatory policy.

They complain about things like: School regulations and Asset forfeiture laws.

Over all it sounds pretty good but it seems you still have a bit to work on :)

New Hampshire is also a "sh... (Below threshold)

New Hampshire is also a "shall issue" state for concealed carry. Liberal police, politicians and judges have no authority to decline a demand for a CC license.

An important index of wheth... (Below threshold)

An important index of whether a state respects personal freedom is their law on marijuana.

According to normal.org you can get a year in prison for the possession of any amount of marijuana in New Hampshire. In Massachusetts, possession of up to an ounce carries a fine of $100, and a fine of $500 for more than an ounce if for personal use.

How does that jibe with freedom?

Because the marijuana laws ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Because the marijuana laws are small potatoes compared to significant fines if you don't shovel your sidewalk within 6 hours of a snow fall. Or that you have to pay some of the highest tobacco taxes in the country. Or that you have to pay a 5 cent deposit on every plastic bottle you purchase. Or that a private school has to get pre-approved by the public school district before it can open its doors.

I'm sure that for libs like chica the only important thing is getting high. However, for the rest of the world there are other issues equally, if not more important.

When the state tells me how I will run my private life right down to when I will shovel my walk, they have gone way too far. Since most of us don't smoke pot it isn't that big of a deal. I'm sure it is a personal issue of great import in your case.

Because the marijuana la... (Below threshold)

Because the marijuana laws are small potatoes compared to significant fines if you don't shovel your sidewalk within 6 hours of a snow fall. Or that you have to pay some of the highest tobacco taxes in the country.

One year in prison is small potatoes compared to what, a $50 fine? Hey, pay a neighborhood kid to shovel your walk, you lazy coot.

Since most of us don't smoke pot it isn't that big of a deal.

"Most of us" don't smoke tobacco, either, so why should high tobacco taxes be a big deal? Oh, right, you smoke tobacco.

Old Chico picking gnat shit... (Below threshold)

Old Chico picking gnat shit out of pepper. You can't smoke marajuana=no freedom. ww

An important index of wh... (Below threshold)

An important index of whether a state respects personal freedom is their law on marijuana.

To you, I guess. Not to me, and not to everyone. I am incredibly apathetic on the issue of marijuana laws. I have other priorities than my "right" to fuck up my brain. And I've found that the majority who key into that are most often narcissists who see "freedom" as "license" and just want to get fucked up, while caring little about any principles.

The best definition of "freedom" is from David Gerrold -- "the right to be held responsible for one's actions." I don't see a great deal of that spirit in the marijuana legalization movement.


Silly liberals, the only tw... (Below threshold)
silly liberals:

Silly liberals, the only two freedoms they are for is the ability to do drugs and kill unborn children... everything else they want government to regulate....

Sounds just like my beloved... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Sounds just like my beloved state of California, except here Spock has a beard, thanks to the liberal infestation that has occurred over the last 40 years.

First up, we're kinda stupid and dependent, generally. We encourage whiners and professional victims with a great deal of sympathy. Our response when we hear a sob story isn't usually "OK, that sucks. How you wanna fix that?" but "oh, that's so terrible, how many billions do we need for 'programs' that won't do shit except line the pockets of our corrupt constituencies, namely, public sector unions?"

And while we don't have a Right of Revolution in our Constitution, we do have the adumbration of a Right to Be Revolting, which all too many of the more recent arrivals - especiall those from liberal hellholes - are happy to exercise.

Chico said: "An important i... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Chico said: "An important index of whether a state respects personal freedom is their law on marijuana."

Phew. That was a close call. I was afraid he was going to cite pederasty laws as his standard of personal freedom. Marijuana I can live with.

Although it is a measure of the man that his idea of a crucial issue of freedom involves nothing profound more than trivial hedonism. "Give me jaywalking, or give me death!"

This Texan is jealous of ... (Below threshold)

This Texan is jealous of your state motto. "Live Free or Die" What a wonderful statement. I do not fear death, pain, poverty, illness, or even being scorned or thought inferior by others. I do fear the jerks, who think they should have the right and power to tell me I must contribute to or receive from their hands.

Done gone Galt, Will.

The best definition of "... (Below threshold)

The best definition of "freedom" is from David Gerrold -- "the right to be held responsible for one's actions."

That is one of the most sophist things I've ever read. By that standard, the most repressive governments are the freest, because they hold you responsible for all of your actions.

Chico,Everyone is on... (Below threshold)

Everyone is on the hook and "at risk" for BS regulations like the ones Jim M points out. Very few people are in jeopardy for the weed law you cite. And my experience, you need to give the police a reason to interact with you for them to find your stash. In a state like NH, they're not out there looking to hit you with penny-ante BS where they may then notice you may have weed.

Crap, chico got me to notic... (Below threshold)

Crap, chico got me to notice I'd made a misquote. The proper phrase:

"Freedom is the right to be responsible for one's actions."

Hell of a difference. Now let's see if Chico can pick up on it.


Actually I don't smoke. But... (Below threshold)
Jim m:

Actually I don't smoke. But I find the laws banning smoking, which is legal, to be pernicious. I also find the left to be grossly hypocritical on tobacco taxes. They want to penalize it but they rely upon the tax revenue so they don't really want people to stop smoking because that would cut off the tax revenue.

Scsiwuzzy said it very well. It isn't any one issue that is the measure if state intrusion, it is that the state is everywhere. You can't drive your car unless you get an annual inspection. In most states this is limited to emissions. In mass it includes everything conceivable. You can fail for having streaky wipers.

I'm not convinced NH is the... (Below threshold)
Don L :

I'm not convinced NH is the ideal it is portrayed to be. My son, moving up from CT, found his property taxes up about 200-300 percent and the services (plowing etc. substandard.)It's tough hit on retired folks and the education standards in many small towns are abysmal. The people are great, though the SE border is liberalville.

I judge it a great state based upon the fine trout and salmon fishing, heh, heh.

Don, not gonna argue with y... (Below threshold)

Don, not gonna argue with your son on that. But I will note that property taxes are set at the local level, not the state, and can be a lot more readily addressed. I'd also note that the services you cite are not as great as they are elsewhere -- because we don't have the public funding base other states have. I'd also wager that our overall tax burden is lower than other states'.

On the one truly crucial you raise... I'd say our fishing is superb. At least, that's what fishermen friends of mine say.


Definitely got ya there, Ja... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Definitely got ya there, Jay. In Texas, you can fish and catch anything that can be called seafood ... not to mention a lot of swimmers trying to be called immigrants.

"Freedom is the right to... (Below threshold)

"Freedom is the right to be responsible for one's actions."

Right, so what's the difference between seat belt laws and marijuana criminalization?

If you don't wear a seat belt and get crippled, that's "responsibility" (except that the rest of us might have to pick up the tab for your care). If you smoke tons of weed, or drink a quart of vodka a day, you might not earn as much as your peers. That's being "responsible," too.

You thought it was cool that NH did not have a fine for not wearing a seat belt, but putting people in jail for having weed is no big intrusion by the state. Riight.

The difference, Chico, is t... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

The difference, Chico, is that for at least some people smoking marijuana alters their judgment and behavior. As a result, someone smoking weed is arguably a potential threat to the public.

Not wearing seat belts, not so much.

As far as chico is concerne... (Below threshold)

As far as chico is concerned, a lack of personal freedom and responsibility is balanced out by the "right" to smoke weed.

Somehow, I am not surprised by this one little bit.

The difference, Chico, i... (Below threshold)

The difference, Chico, is that for at least some people smoking marijuana alters their judgment and behavior. As a result, someone smoking weed is arguably a potential threat to the public.

So, DJ, I guess you want to bring back alcohol prohibition, too?

And who could be more of a "potential threat to the public" than someone with a large capacity semi-auto? "Potential threat" is the reason for all nanny-state laws, is it not?

Here in Az I can wear a gun... (Below threshold)

Here in Az I can wear a gun (no permit required) into a Walmart and purchase liqour on Sunday. I suggest Texans try that. I lived in Texas most of my life and decided AZ was freer.

Chia, you missed where I me... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Chia, you missed where I mentioned impaired judgment.

Of course, that statement implies your nominal judgment is safe and sane, so you may have an out there.

You can do that in Texas, b... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

You can do that in Texas, bullwinkle. It's concealing the weapon that requires a license.

DJ, the "potential" in "pot... (Below threshold)

DJ, the "potential" in "potential threat" would always include impaired judgment wouldn't it? If you let people have guns freely, some people who get them will have impaired judgment, like Charles Whitman or Jared Loughner.

Let's put it this way - a loaded semi-auto has potential energy stored in the molecules of its cordite. That potential energy makes it a continual potential threat whether through negligent discharge or a nutbar getting a hold of the weapon.

Chico:EVERYONE who... (Below threshold)


EVERYONE who smokes marijuana is impaired, and measurably so not just for an hour or two but for days. Currently it is a Federally controlled substance that is not Federally approved for therapeutic use. Huge amounts of money are funneled to Mexican cartels that are slaughtering people on both sides of the border with it's sale's profits - folks buying it now are supporting that slaughter. So it really is disingenuous to compare it to alcohol. If the Federal government decides to end the war on drugs and change marijuana's status, then we can argue whether State laws against it are freedom suckers.

Right now they are just another pathetic shiny object to distract from such an important argument between DJ and JT over a dubious distinction. When I was in school, the freeist girl wasn't necessarily the best thing to be.

Chico,Like many laws... (Below threshold)

Like many laws, unless you flaunt your violation of them, or draw attention to yourself through other bad behaviors, the weed law in NH is not a huge risk or burden even to those that like to smoke/ingest it. It is a burden to the stupid and to people prone to ignoring all rules. Last I heard NH didn't have roving patrols violating the 4th Amendment looking for weed in the pockets of random citizens.
To live outside the law you must be honest.

DJ:You can now buy... (Below threshold)


You can now buy liquor on Sundays in Texas?

In walmart?

BTW, I don't have a permit of any kind but I carry cocealed if I want. Perfectly legal.

I don't carry a gun. Never have.

Don't need to. But if I wanted to...

I envy your freedoms but yo... (Below threshold)
Patrick T. McGuire:

I envy your freedoms but your weather sucks. Here in Arkansas, we are slowly moving toward greater freedom. At first I wanted the pace to be faster but now I see that it's easier to do it slowly and quietly before the liberals wake up to what's happening around them.

I guess you could add the s... (Below threshold)

I guess you could add the socialist monopoly on liquor to New Hampshire's issues.






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