"If the major opportunities for future growth of government lie in the area of conventional taxation, are there any defenses available to the citizenry? ... Perhaps the most fruitful advice comes in two parts. The first piece of advice is to avoid war and the rumor of war: this is history's greatest boon to the tax man. ... The second piece of advice is to seek ways of inhibiting government's ability conveniently to increase its collections. Possibly the very increase in that ability that is in prospect can be turned to account by a constitutional provision which forbade the income tax, and perhaps even the storage of information regarding individual incomes by third parties, including government." ~ Benjamin Ward
Cameron Raises the 'Barr' on Free State Project
Column by Retta Fontana.
Exclusive to STR
I love to see a young man follow his heart, especially when it is for such a noble concept like freedom. It takes courage and tenacity. So few people do it these days.
I met Cameron Barr back in Detroit a few years ago at the Statist Recovery House, one of my favorite haunts. He impressed me as a good, intelligent young man who was thoroughly disgusted with tyranny. He has an open mind, he’s a lot of fun and he became my good friend. Did I mention that he’s humble? (Yes - that rarest of qualities!) Cameron is the kind of man you want on board the cause of “liberty in our lifetime.”
Cameron relocated to New Hampshire to join the Free State Project. Or rather, he joined and then moved to New Hampshire. The following is from an interview he recently granted me.
Retta: “I really appreciate your taking the time to meet and talk with me today. So how are you liking New Hampshire?”
CB: “I’m liking it a lot. A lot of good stuff going on here.”
Retta: “Awesome! I’ll begin by asking this: When did you first hear about the Free State Project?”
CB: “It was probably right around the 2012 election. Through various podcasts and stuff I found Free Talk Live - they live in Keene, NH. They broadcast from there and they talk about the Free State Project and what it means. This is what first piqued my interest in it.
Retta: “Nice. Did you sign the agreement to move to the Free State, or did you just get interested in it?”
CB: “I signed up pretty quickly, within the first couple of months of seeing all the different YouTube videos and just hearing about success stories, and how concentrating a large number of liberty lovers in one geographic area can have such a positive impact. I found that to be really compelling, so I signed up.”
Retta: “What number are you of the 20,000 Free Staters?”
CB: “I believe I’m in the 14,000 somewhere.”
Retta: “Have they met the goal of 20,000?”
CB: “Yes, they met it in February this year.”
Retta: “A lot of people don’t like to be labeled, but would you call yourself an anarchist, a capitalist, libertarian or voluntaryist?”
CB: “I describe myself as all those, but I usually go with voluntaryist because it has the least negative connotation to it.”
Retta: “Ha ha, right! Do you know about the history of the FSP? About Jason Sorens?
CB: “Yes, I know that he wrote a (graduate) thesis stating that if they could get some number of people in a specific geographic spot, that the 20,000 number will be enough people to vote and change things that way. I think that’s what sparked it off. Then there were various Yahoo Groups, I believe, but I wasn’t around then so I’m not too familiar, but that’s what I’ve heard. They got together and there was about a half dozen states. Everyone was trying to make a case for which state. Then there was a group of people who compiled a list, ‘101 Reasons to Move to New Hampshire.’ I think that’s what sealed the deal for NH and it got the popular vote that way.”
Retta: “What if Alaska had been chosen - it was under consideration. Would you be living in Alaska right now?”
CB: “Probably, I would, yes.”
Retta: “You moved to NH last year - 2015, right?”
CB: “Yes, in November.”
Retta: “Were you involved with other voluntarists like yourself in Michigan before you made the move to NH?”
CB: “Yes, that’s where I met you, different liberty groups in Michigan. There was a lot of socializing going on - we did a little bit of activism. We went out and protested war - held signs.”
Retta: “That was in downtown Detroit, right?”
CB: “Yeah, heh heh. I like all the people in Michigan. I think they have a strong liberty contingent, but I don’t think that they have much like what New Hampshire has to offer. In Michigan you probably have a couple dozen, maybe 50 people in the greater metro area, whereas NH has hundreds and hundreds of people. I was active in Michigan, but it was never too strong for me. So I was looking for something more.”
Retta: “Did you feel that the activism in which you participated in Michigan accomplished very much?”
CB: “I thought it might accomplish some things, but not lasting effects. In NH, I feel that it will have a lasting effect. I think this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of something like this. Because 20 or 30 years ago it was not as easy or as possible to get these really intentional communities with the Internet making it so easy to communicate."
Retta: "I knew you and had the pleasure of being your friend back in Detroit for several years. During that time I watched your angst about wanting to move to NH. You seemed to always have a little worry line in between your eyebrows. You don't look that way anymore."
CB: "Yeah, I don't have so much angst about stuff. I constantly felt like I was missing so much in NH, that I was not part of the real freedom movement. The stuff that's really gonna make a difference. In Detroit I always felt, 'I'm not being part of that right now. I'm not part of it to enjoy it, I'm not contributing to it.' I think it's super-important work that's going to make everyone's life better. Who wouldn't want that? That's why I'm a lot happier now."
Retta: "You seem so much happier!"
CB: "My life before moving to NH was always very short-term. I always knew that my move was inevitable. My housing situation, girlfriends, my family and everything. I always knew I would leave Michigan one day and I would be leaving it all behind. Then I moved to NH and my life is starting to blossom into something different. Now I have the ability to plan things out more long-term and just settle down into a place. I never had this in my life because I always thought I'd leave. That's something I think about everyday that's really nice. I didn't have it before and now I have it."
Retta: “Have you always felt like a square peg in a world full of round holes, like so many voluntaryists do?”
CB: “Ha ha, yeah I do. I think I always have. I was able to see through a lot of B.S. that was going on, like in school. In public school they had us read, 1984. The book told me that the government is bad and it will deceive you and ultimately destroy society. But it was mandatory to read in a public school and I just thought that was so weird! The system is so inefficient and just crisscrossed - it was just weird for me to be reading the book while in mandatory government schooling. It was one of the first things that happened to me that made me realize things are not all that happy-go-lucky everywhere. They tell you that things are really bad in certain parts of the world, but you never really think about your own homeland. And then you realize that some bad things are happening here and you try to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Retta: “Ok, so you visited NH prior to making the move?”
CB: “I visited Liberty Forum in 2012.”
Retta: “Was that your only visit?”
Retta: “Did you meet a lot of freedom lovers at that time?”
CB: “Yes. I was just getting introduced to the scene in Michigan and I’d always had aspirations for New Hampshire, but that was my first time actually going there, getting on a plane for Nashua. It’s a hotel-conference type of thing. There I was able to meet people I had known on the Internet for quite a while - people’s whose work I’d been a fan of. That was really cool, I was able to finally get outside my box and get a reality about it, which I didn’t have before. And I think that was good enough for me.”
Retta: “A lot of times when people get up the courage to follow what is in their heart, they go through all the trouble and then they get there and then there is a period where they think, ‘why did I come here,’ or, ‘I shouldn’t have done this.’ Sometimes they go back or sometimes they push through it and get past it. Have you experienced anything like that?”
CB: “Yeah, I definitely had moments of doubt. Moving here was one of the biggest aspirations I had for my life, to at least try this out. You know, you have this goal to go somewhere and you go there, and then it all hits you. After that it wears off and you ask yourself, ‘Ok, now what do I do? I had this big goal that’s done with - what happens now?
“So for a little while it was kinda weird. Being a single guy, you’re alone, it’s up to you to go out, and make new friends, find a job and all that stuff. Once the dust settled and I was kinda in a day-to-day routine here, that’s when it kinda got rough. I kinda realized it as it was happening, though. That’s when I realized I had to walk the walk, and I’m gonna have to put some work into this to make it work. Being here 7-8 months I’m getting into doing that - making acquaintances, making friends, and doing the work that I want to do. I’m doing activism, which is really fun to do here in New Hampshire. It has a lasting effect and I can feel really good about different things I’ve done. So I say, that with anything like this, there’s definitely gonna be some tough times where you don’t know what you’re gonna do. But I definitely was gonna give myself some time to see how this thing goes. I’m glad I didn’t turn around after a few months. I didn’t think I would, but some people have. I knew I had to give it a really good shot.’’
Retta: “Any regrets?”
CB: “So far not really. Obviously hindsight’s 20/20, but I’m feeling pretty good about it.”
Retta: “Why do you think the other people tried it and didn’t like it and left?”
CB: “I think a lot of people have very high expectations for what happens here. You also have to remember that libertarians and anarcho-capitalists are super-individualist, too, so they’re not gonna always help you every step of the way. It’s really up to you. I think that’s what catches up with a lot of people - is they expect a lot of help. And people here are willing to help - there are moving parties and fundraisers, and Welcome Wagons, and stuff like that. Various Facebook groups are willing to help you get apartments and housing. They’ll help you get settled in but after that, some people are like - ah, OK - the revolution isn’t starting and I don’t know what’s going on, so maybe this doesn’t work for me. I always remind myself that this is a life-long project, it’s not gonna be over in a day and there’s gonna be a lot of hard work has to go into it to get what we want.”
Retta: “How old are you?”
Retta:”You’re pretty wise for someone so young!”
CB: “Ha ha, thank you.”
Retta: “It was a pleasure meeting you and getting to know you, Cameron. When I first heard about this young anarchist guy livin’ in the burbs who wanted to meet up with us back in Detroit, I thought, ‘Ah, he’s probably not a real anarchist.’ I thought you were just a hippy or a gamer who liked metal or something. And then when I met you I realized how cool you are, what a good friend you are and that you really are dedicated to liberty and not just for yourself.”
Retta: “Did you have friends in NH that you were intentionally going to meet? Or did you just say, ‘Hey, I know some people, I’m just gonna put an arrow in my bow and see where it lands and figure it out?”
CB: “It was the second one! I had met a few people in 2012 that I had kept up an acquaintance with and there were a few people from Michigan who had moved over, but I didn’t really have any really solid friendships with anyone here. Talk about having regrets! I wish I had tried harder to make connections out here before I moved so that when I got here, I could go hang out with those people and get integrated into the community faster. So no, I didn’t really know anybody. I kinda took my chances with that.”
Retta:”It would have made it easier if you had had deeper friendships with people before you left.”
CB: “Yeah. That’s something that I would encourage anyone who is listening to do - shoot Facebook messages and try to keep in contact with these people. I think it’s really important once you get here, to have an established group of people that you can hang out with.”
Retta: “What finally made you decide to pull the trigger after talking about it and thinking about it and having so much passion for it for so long?”
CB: “I think at a certain point I just had to do it. I was happy in Michigan - I had a good job, good friends, good family . . . but it was something that I’ve always wanted to do. I think that it was saying to myself, ‘Sooner or later I’m gonna have to do this’ and eventually I thought, ‘There’s nothing stopping me - let’s do it now! Let’s try it on for size and see how it goes.’ I kinda just tied up all my loose ends, said goodbye to everybody, had some cash saved up - that was my only real preparation for it. So I was just happy to experience it, just go out and do it.”
Retta: “So you just emptied your apartment, put what you needed in your car and took off?”
Retta: “Oh - right on! What did you find when you arrived? Where did you stay?”
CB: “I arrived in Keene at Keenevention, which is a yearly, little, intimate convention of Keene liberty activists which are known to be of the civil disobedience type, which is the type of thing that inspired me. So I was very happy to land there and I stayed at the Keenevention for three days. I did my best to network with people, find an apartment, a living situation. I got that done within the first two days. Then I hung out there. I saw some old friends and was telling everyone, ‘Hey, I made the move - I just made the move - I’m the newest guy in town. This was really exciting!”
Retta: “Man, you got a brass pair, you know that?”
CB: “Ha ha, it was pretty crazy! You show up one day and you’re like, I’ve moved here now and this is what I’m here to do. It’s pretty cool!”
Retta: “Ok, so about living in New Hampshire in general - there’s a lot of political activity, right - not just for the Free Staters?”
Retta: “It’s kind of a focal point nationally in some ways.”
CB: “First in the nation - right.”
Retta: “So you see a lot of things going on . . . who’s there doing things, mainly - is it liberals, conservatives, a mixture?”
CB: “That’s interesting because they say that the Republicans and Democrats are not your typical breed of the two parties. Like the Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan just vetoed marijuana decriminalization several times. But other Democrats will support your gun rights, which is something interesting that I found in NH, which I had heard about. Republicans are accepting of gay marriage, so social issues are interesting. But the real grassroots stuff that goes on at the State House - NH has over 430 some-odd state representatives, which I believe is the third largest body of governance in English-speaking countries. So we have a huge legislative body. Because it’s so big and only pays $100 a month that nothing gets done there. I think it’s why we have so few taxes and pretty relaxed gun laws, because it takes a long time to get anything done. That can be good and bad.”
Retta: “Ha ha, that sounds really good to me!”
CB: “And also the pay is so low, that we’re not paying these representative hundreds of thousands of dollars to be lawyers who punish their enemies and reward their friends. It’s way more grassroots. Because of that it’s a lot easier to get involved, which is something I aspire to. I’ve seen people have big successes with that and so these are also reasons why I like NH.
Retta: “What kinds of success have you seen?”
CB: “State Rep. Amanda Bouldon has passed several laws. One was getting EMTs and ambulances armed with narcan, which helps with opioid overdoses. Another bill she had (sponsored) was immunity for being able to call 911 for drug overdoses. They’ve also repealed all knife laws. And there’s legislation for Constitutional carry made it all the way to the governor’s desk but got vetoed. Also several marijuana decriminalization bills. Politics here is a way to make lasting things happen and create ourselves a little more free society. Get rid of some of these old laws and I think we’ll have a good time.”
Retta: “I heard once that someone in NH decided to give an unlicensed manicure for $1 as a protest and they were arrested.”
CB: “Oh, yeah, I believe that was Anarcho Jesse who gave unlicensed manicures. That was right before I hopped into things and found out all about it. I saw him on video and I also saw Eric Freeman get arrested several times. He inspired me along with Derek J, - I don’t know if any of you are familiar with Derek J. and his victimless crime spree. But the civil disobedience in Keene really inspired me - actual real people standing up for their rights. On a total voluntaryist basis in saying, ‘I’m going to do this and this is civil disobedience. I’m going to take the consequences because we should be able to do this in a free society. And I’m just showing the hypocrisy of the police state we are in. People say it’s the land of the free and you don’t have anything to worry about, but when you can’t give manicures and pedicures, you can’t smoke a joint out in Central Park, drive without a license - that’s not real freedom.”
Retta: “Agreed. Have you met with any hostility when people find out why you moved to NH? Do they say, ‘Oh, you’re one of those Free Staters!’”
CB: “No, I have not had any of that. Maybe at a protest or something people will be mad at me, but that’s just for what I’m representing at the protest. But besides that, no one has said anything negative to me about it. I usually pitch it as I moved here because I want to change things, I want less taxes, more freedom. People are really on board with the smaller government thing. I think a lot of people think that the government is too big and it’s incredibly wasteful. People really like the idea because they see how bad things are getting, or have always been, but they’re seeing how they’re getting worse, too.”
Retta: “That has to be refreshing.”
CB: “Yes - it’s really nice when somebody says that!”
Retta: “And your experience in general with the people of the Free State Project - positive or negative?”
CB: “Positive. Very positive.”
Retta: “What percent?”
CB: “Right when I got here, I met a good realtor guy, Mark Warden, who runs Porcupine Real Estate. He was not gonna make any money off me, but he just wanted me to live here and have a place to stay, so he reached out to a bunch of different people. He asked around for a room for me to stay, basically vouching for me. So I’m deeply appreciative of that. People were very excited that I moved here. I’ve met a bunch of different activists and everybody has been very nice, super accepting. The people here are pretty genuine and I like that.”
Retta: “They say that organizing voluntaryists is like trying to herd cats - is that true for the FSP?”
CB: “Oh, gosh yeah! It’s probably most true for the FSP. It’s such a strange thing because we’re all here for a set of principles, but getting everyone on the same page for anything is incredibly difficult. People follow along with Facebook drama, but people make it comical, too. People don’t want to get along and so they make fun of it all. I think if people really want to do things - and I see that the political scene is very organized, that there are some very good, smart, intelligent people who really want to get things done - so what I’m saying is that it is possible to herd cats, things can get done.”
Retta: “Who would you say inspires you in life?”
CB: “In general, number one would probably be a comedian named Joey Diaz. He runs his own podcast: ‘The Church of What’s Happening Now.’ But as far as voluntaryists I’d say Ian Freeman is definitely an inspiration and Derek J. Freeman - they’ve both been huge inspirations for me. And then just your every day people here who are just living their lives and also being Free Staters and making freedom work for them here. That’s just inspiring to see - how everyday people are collaborating and making ideas here happen - that’s really awesome. Also State Representative Amanda Boulton puts in a lot of work on everything. She runs a Thanksgiving Charity ‘Shire Sharing’ that I witnessed and helped a little bit. I saw it all first hand how much work that is. She’s a State Rep - that is a ton of work with very little reward. So people who just work really hard everyday are an inspiration to me and let me know that it’s possible to really get things done.”
Retta: “What else have you participated in?”
CB: “Recently, a suspicionless checkpoint, or a “warrantless” checkpoint down in Manchester, the city that I live in. It’s like a DUI checkpoint but they ask for your papers and everything. ‘Papers, please!’ So we stood on the street corners. The checkpoint was on a bridge, so we stood on street corners around the intersections before the bridge - basically people’s last chance to turn off before having to go through the checkpoint. We saved countless motorists and I don’t think they (police) got any arrests that night. That was really fun; I got to hang out with people and actually save people and keep their money away from the state, which was good.”
Retta: “Do you mean that you held up a sign?”
CB: “Yes, I held up a sign that said, “TURN HERE - LAST CHANCE - CHECKPOINT AHEAD.”
CB: “People honked their horns and thanked us. You know, when you see people turn around and you’re like, ‘I’m glad that person didn’t go to the checkpoint because obviously their tags were expired, or maybe they had a few drinks at the bar or some other victimless crime that they should not be hassled about - that was great to actually save someone like that. That was probably one of the most rewarding things I’ve done.
“I’ve gotten involved with Americans for Prosperity, which is a non-partisan political group. I basically went around and talked to voters about economic freedom issues. We did anti-Obamacare stuff and now we’re doing right-to-work outreach.”
Retta: “You just talk to people out on the street?”
CB: “I get specific voter information - people on the fence - and knock on their doors and ask them questions, such as, ‘Do you like Obamacare?’ or, ‘Do you like high taxes?' Stuff like that. It’s cool, ‘hitting the pavement’ type of work. There are also countless social activities that happen. We have a new mover’s party every first Tuesday of the month. So all the new movers come and there’s food and it’s a big social thing. I try to integrate everybody around. I’ve done several agorist things - I’m a cook by trade, so sometimes I’ll make food for people at their home. Once we did a cooking competition for charity, which was really nice. Stuff like this happens all the time. You can organize it yourself if you want to. What’s nice is that there are tons of people around and if you have good ideas, the money will flow to you. You can make things happens here.”
Retta: “How do you put out the word that you want to do some kind of activism?”
CB: “There are Facebook groups, Porcupines on Facebook, if you’re into the FSP, you know which groups to go to. There is one specific one called “Free State Project” so there’s plenty of ways to organize. It also depends on how secretive you want to keep it, too. There's a messenger app with different groups on there if you really want to do something. Honestly, just putting the word out there because different people know different people. If you want things to happen, it will all come together. I feel like the liberty community is pretty tight-knit out here and if you want to do something, it can happen.
Retta: "So the move satisfies your need to take action for liberty in your lifetime?"
CB: "Yes! Exactly."
Retta: "They didn't over-sell that?"
Retta: "Ok, so what about Non-violent Communications - are there any practitioners in Manchester?”
CB: "Maybe, but I have not met anyone personally. I'm sure there are some people. I know Dr. Stephanie Murphy is practicing - or was practicing - but she lives out in the sticks from what I understand. But in Manchester I've not come across it at all."
Retta: "What's the biggest difference between living in NH rather than back home in Michigan?"
CB: "I gotta say that the population makes all the difference, and the density, too. NH only has 1.3 million people. You've got up to a million people just outside of Detroit. So when I go back to Michigan, I'm like "Wow! I haven't seen this many cars on the highway in forever. Things are more laid-back out here, slower. It's more of a small town feel out here, even in Manchester, which is the biggest city in NH. I'm not sure what the population is here, but everybody knows everybody. Like I said, a small-town feel. I'm really used to a bit more anonymous existence."
Retta: "So what's on the horizon for Cameron? What's your next set of hopes and dreams?"
CB: "For my activism and things, I would like to get involved in the politics - run for state rep or some government position and kinda see what that whole scene is about, and see if I can make a difference that way. That's definitely something I want to try. I also have a fantasy about getting all civil disobedient and doing something along those lines. That would be really interesting. But times are different now than when all that stuff was happening, so I don't know how good that'll be."
Retta: "Is there anything you'd like to say to people who are considering making the move to NH?"
CB: "I would say, try to establish some friendships in NH or some business relationships before you go, that'll just make the whole move easier. You won't feel so alone. I'd say save up several months worth of savings, get in your car and get over here! You can make it work if you want to. It's been quite the experience for me, in my life's journey. Something that I've been excited to do and now I'm very happy that I've done it. I think that if you're thinking about it, you should at least come and visit, come to the Porc Fest, or come to Liberty Forum or just come and check out the different cities where the Porcupines are located and see how that stuff goes. If you have some question about it, definitely spend some time here, get to know it. Do what's best for you, though. That's my advice."
Retta: "Henry David Thoreau said that for every thousand hacking at the branches of tyranny, there is one who is striking at the root. I'd like to say congratulations, because that's you today.”
CB: "Oh, wow. Thank you. That's quite honorable!"
Retta: "Thank you for meeting and sharing with me. I look forward to speaking with you again, soon."
CB: "Thank you, Retta. I really enjoyed this and it's going to get out to a lot of people."
The freedom movement is a continuum. At one end are the purists who await the collapse of the current empire in America. At the other are those running for office as a Libertarian. The rest are somewhere in the middle. The term, “free state” itself is an oxymoron. However, I once saw a commercial with a room full of beautiful, sexy women sitting around a roaring fire, embracing and then passing around a cup of Vernor’s Ginger Ale (it’s a Detroit thing.) When they finally passed it to Ted Nugent, he said, “You warm your Vernor’s your way and I’ll warm it mine.” Purists dismiss working within the system, but there is no doubt that this movement is making a difference in the lives of the people who live in New Hampshire.
If you are interested in meeting freedom lovers in New Hampshire or would like a hand-up getting on board the Free State Project, look for Cameron Barr on Facebook or email him here: firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember - when you drive unmolested in New Hampshire - honk your horn and thank an activist.