It was FFF’s first time at Porcfest, and we’re already talking about next year. FFF’s program director Bart Frazier, FFF policy advisor Scott McPherson, and I participated. And what an awesome time we all had!
It was unlike any libertarian conference I’ve ever attended. Porcfest is sponsored by the Free State Project in New Hampshire. There were about 2,000 people there, and most of them were camping. The environment was entirely relaxed and laid back, with a variety of lectures and activities for people to choose from— libertarian speeches, ballroom dance lessons, a lecture on beekeeping, interesting and fun booth, tours of the surrounding area, and much more.
Most of the booths, it seemed, were run by attendees at the conference. In fact, practically all the food and drink booths were run by people who were just good cooks and striving to provide a service and maybe make a few bucks at the conference. Everything we drank and ate was absolutely delicious.
At FFF’s booth, we passed out lots of free books and booklets. Given the laid-back nature of the event, we had lots of great informal visits with people who just happened to be casually walking by and would stop in for a visit.
The crowd consisted of people from all ages and walks of life. Everyone was nice, friendly, genuine, and more than willing to help out with anything.
And the campground was situated in the middle of beautiful New Hampshire mountains. Did I mention that the temperature was about 75 degrees?
I gave a talk entitled “Dismantling, Not Reforming, the Welfare-Warfare State.” Since I had been forewarned that Porcfest attendees are mostly hard-core libertarian types, I knew that I needed to give them something that would be challenging to them.
I began with the welfare state, specifically Social Security and said that the only proper libertarian position is repeal, not reform. Immediate repeal. Yes, I know that there is no “button” to push, I told them, but it’s important that we take the right stand so that non-libertarians can understand why we believe as we do.
A genuinely free society necessarily entails the right of people to keep everything they earn and to decide for themselves what to do with their own money.
It’s a basic moral principle that it’s wrong to take what doesn’t belong to you. That is, it’s wrong to steal. The fact that government is doing it doesn’t change the basic immorality of the act.
In order to achieve the free society, it is necessary to dismantle the governmental structure that is infringing on freedom. Reform doesn’t do that because reform leaves the structure in place. Even reform plans that purport to “gradually” lead to dismantling don’t do that. Instead, they embed the state more deeply in our lives. School vouchers are a good example.
Moreover, when libertarians call for reform of the welfare-warfare state, that sends a bad message to people. One, it says that it’s okay to steal as part of the reform because it oftentimes leaves the stealing aspect intact. Two, it expresses doubt as to whether freedom — i.e., immediate repeal — really does work. Three, it doesn’t cause people to think about dismantling because the discussion always revolves around the merits or demerits of the reform. Fourth, the reform almost always makes the state more deeply embedded in our lives because reforms presupposes that government plays a legitimate role in retirement, healthcare, education, and so many other aspects of our lives.
In order to achieve the free society, we’ve got to get people to start questioning the immoral and destructive structure of the welfare-warfare state apparatus that has been grafted onto our governmental system. If people never hear the arguments for dismantling and only hear arguments for reform, they’ll never start considering the idea of dismantling or even the idea of freedom. Instead, they’ll be convinced that by endorsing welfare-warfare-state reforms, they are “advancing” freedom.
I discussed the faults and fallacies of reform plans that deal with Social Security (“privatization”), healthcare (mandatory health savings accounts), immigration (“let more in”), education (school vouchers), and the warfare state (more selectivity on foreign interventions) and showed that the only way we are going to get the free society that all of us want to see is by hewing to libertarian principles.
The talk was videotaped. If they post it online, we’ll share it with you in FFF Daily and on our website.
Thanks for the Porcfest hosts for the nice welcome and for inviting FFF to participate. We are very appreciative and we are glad we did! We hope to see you all next year!