March 2, 2008

Plausibility of refusing federal funds for FSP in NH?

One of the things I’ve been writing up lately is a pitch to libertarians about why they should see seasteading as the most promising road to a libertarian society. Part of this is an analysis of proposed alternatives, such as the Free State Project.

My basic thoughts on the FSP are that it displays the kind of systems-level thinking that I think is crucial to any practical proposal, but that the idea has serious problems. Briefly: First, it doesn’t seem to be attractive to enough people – the current estimated time to 20K is about 6 more years. Second, the FSP, by targeting the state level, is trying to fix what least needs fixing. Most problems are federal – we expect this theoretically (the bigger the government, the worse it works) and it is true empirically if you look at tax burden.

>The most plausible response to this addresses the second point, claiming that much of the federal influence over the states is not enforced coercively (via the supremacy clause), but through the threat of withdrawing federal funds which are directed to the state. Thus New Hampshire could achieve significant autonomy by refusing these funds.

I know nothing about this subject. Does anyone know if their claim is true? Do the feds control states partly through federal funding? Have states ever tried to follow the route of refusing such funds? More speculatively: would it increase practical autonomy, or just provoke a massive counter-response of legislation?

(I should note that I still think the FSP is a good idea. I am a big fan of community, and encouraging a community of freedom-oriented people to congregate in a fairly free state seems like a great idea. I’m just skeptical of how much impact it will have beyond the immediate increased freedom for those who move, and the pleasantness of having a community of like-minded individuals.)

NOTE: This post was originally made on the old blog, where there are some comments.