Its been awhile since the last blog post, and awhile since the last PorcFest post. Between being too busy and too lazy, I didnt get around to it the past few years, but Ive been determined to get something out again, so here we are. And what a PorcFest it was. From our humble beginnings TEN(!) years ago as a Facebook page and a WordPress-domained blog, Jewish Libertarians has grown to host a Shabbat get together at this annual gathering of libertarians in the White Mountains. And what started as a small potluck service is now in its second year as a Kosher Kookout. On top of that, this is the first year that had several Jewish events!
I founded Jewish Libertarians as a Facebook page in September 2012 or so, but have long wanted an actual domain. Well, I finally got it together and imported the old blog to here. That site will no longer be updated. Instead, all new posts will be here. Over the next days and weeks, I will be customizing and upgrading the website to look like the old blog, and also improve it a bit. Things have come a long way over the past near decade.
Burning. Thats the smell of PorcFest (and SomaliaFest). Burning wood, burning cannabis, burning tobacco. The scents are constant, but mixed and layered in varying proportions across Rogers Campground in Lancaster, New Hampshire. They linger in your mind a few days afterward, unmistakably reminding you of the great fun you had last week. I decided somewhat at the last minute to go, after joining the boycott last year in response to the banning of Ian Freeman, the controversial activist host of Free Talk Live. Attendance declined sharply that year, and continues to remain down this year. Where there used to be nearly a dozen pancake vendors strewn about the camp, there are now only a few. Most of the campground used to be filled with EZUPs, tents, and RVs; now its more sparse.
Last night I attended my first cop block event here in New Hampshire, where libertarians from across the country are migrating to help one of the most liberty-minded states become more so. Several times a year, police in Manchester set up a DUI (and every other driving offense, such as broken headlight) checkpoint. For years, libertarian activists, many of whom moved from other states like me, have been holding signs and shouting warnings at the entry to the checkpoint when drivers have one last chance to turn away. They have also filed lawsuits to make the police give clearer notice about these checkpoints, which have not been proven to reduce any harmful behavior, and mostly seem to net police departments fine money.
This past weekend was the 9th annual Liberty Forum held by the Free State Project in Manchester, NH. Its a bit similar to the Porcupine Freedom Festival in that its a gathering of freestaters, liberty friends, and prospective movers. However, its quite a bit more formal, being hosted at a hotel ballroom instead of a campground. There were two day and four day passes offered. I opted for the two day pass, and that was a good idea. The four day pass offers a bit more programming, meals, and some special events, but I cant say it would be worth it unless you really want to support FSP or have the money to blow.
The highlight of the conference was the Edward Snowden live skype interview. Snowden has done a few of these since securing his exile in Russia, including at last years International Students for Liberty Conference. Unfortunately, I mixed up the timing and didnt get to see him here. However, there was a recording, and controversial “unauthorized” recording.
The main talks ranged from bitcoin, to life in New Hampshire, to the current state of liberty, hope for the future, and much more. There were many detailed panels, such as a few about buying real estate in New Hampshire. There were also a number of specialized luncheons to showcase various organizations or businesses up here. There was even a child care area for parents to leave their littles.
The exhibition hall was my favorite because thats where organizations and businesses set up shop and show their support. Every region of the state had some representation, as did several local businesses. Its a great way to get information and meet people before considering a move. I had hoped to have Jewish Libertarians there, but could not get stuff together in time to make it worth the cost. Perhaps next year.
Personally, the conference did not do much for me. I have gone to the International Students for Liberty Conference for the past three years (Ill be going again this year), and even there I get bored. I mostly go to see people and the exhibitors. It was certainly worth going here for the first time, but I dont think Ill be going back again. I may, however, consider and exhibitor spot for Jewish Libertarians. However, dont let my experience dissuade you. If youve never been to a libertarian conference and want to meet the New Hampshire folk, then come on up next year! From your perspective, it will be worth it.
Forgive me for the lack of pictures. I completely blanked on taking them. Maybe I was having too good a time after all!
While things are still a bit rocky as we advance into winter, I think I can just about say that I have settled into New Hampshire. I had a rough start, struggling a bit to find a job when my transfer plan failed, mainly because my experience is slim, and I dont have a car. It is usually easy to get a job here, especially at entry level, and I had offers the first week, but I fumbled when it came to whether I had reliable transport. After six weeks of searching and interviewing, and becoming frustrated and questioning myself, I was hired. Retail again, but a job is a job. And that job was miserable at first, but it has gotten better. It still pays crap, but with roommates, I am now living comfortably enough.
The Porcupine Freedom Festival is now over, and it took a day to recover from the sleepless nights, the cold, the dirt, and the general depletion of energy. Along with attending events, hanging out, and selling snacks, I tabled for and represented Jewish Libertarians. Despite an almost complete lack of preparation, throwing things together at the last minute, I managed to make a mark.
Earlier today, the director of the New Hampshire Department of Revenue and an associate came to PorcFest to check whether food vendors were collecting the meals tax. New Hampshire has no sales tax, but does have a tax on meals and lodging. Ian Freeman of Free Keene, who is well known for filming police and government agents, quickly arrived on the scene to film and interrogate the two suits. He was joined by an effective militia of attendees armed with regular cameras and cell phone cameras.
Well it actually has been more than a week, but I have been a bit busy (thankfully) with meeting people and looking for a job. In any case, if you didnt realize it before, I have relocated from the insane tyrannical reich of New Jersey to the free state of New Hampshire. Just off the bat, I no longer have to pay sales tax (except at restaurants, and its 2% higher) nor income tax. I can now open carry a firearm, which I havent done yet and probably wont for awhile. My cost of living has dropped around 15-25% from my rough estimates. I can cross a street without worrying about getting run over (New Yorkers and New Jerseyans may be jealous), however, it is more difficult to walk out of town or even around town.