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NOTE: This post was originally made on the old blog, where there are some comments.


1 thought on “Plausibility of refusing federal funds for FSP in NH?”

  1. In answer to your question, the feds do indeed exude a enticement type control over the states; something the federal government should not be Constitutionally doing in the first place. There are all kinds of kickbacks and funding and grants and monies of all types going to the states as per congressional legislation. Invariably these funds come with all kinds of conditions and demands and requirements, and thus in the threat of withholding such funding the federal government is capable of coercing states into doing things the federal government wants at the expense of states’ autonomy. It is the old story of sleeping with the devil that having to dance with the devil. The states should have never gotten in bed with the federal government in the first place but the enticements were too sweet, an offer they couldn’t refuse. So yes that is half of the coercive power the federal government has over the states, that is bad enough but it is avoidable via affirmative rejection of such funding. A more fundamental challenge is how to avoid federal control over state’s interests via the more coercive criminal law that it exerts into states intrastate activities. I have been told and I have not confirmed that whenever a federal law enforcement activity is occurring in a state that such federal actors and agents must register and get prior approval of local county law enforcement administrators. And without such approval their activities are unlawful and possibly dismissible in court. Another major aspect of federal law enforcement activity usurpation within a local jurisdiction would be the dependency of criminal trials still needing to be done in the jurisdiction district where the federal crime allegedly takes place. If the populace of a given district is of one mind regarding the encroachment of federal rules regulations and the unconstitutional nature thereon, then that pool of jury participants may be able to discern the difference between real crimes charged in federal court and unconstitutional crimes charged in federal court, and thus assert its jury discretion to acquit. Of course this presumes that such a population is sufficiently like-minded and exists as a dependable large bloc.

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