Overview

“Club 75” refers to Americans with adjusted gross income of $75,000 or more. This is one of several demographics studied by the IRS in their Publication 1304. Table 1-1 in this publication shows that for tax year 2018 there were over 43 million people in Club 75, making up just 28% of taxpayers, but paying 90% of the total income tax collected.

The Club 75 Alliance is a proposed alliance between Club 75 and Free State Project participants, to achieve a mutually beneficial goal: turning New Hampshire into an independent country with no income tax. Like the FSP, the Club 75 Alliance will encourage people to move to New Hampshire. But it will be much more than a “bus”. It will offer a specific strategy for achieving the goal. With its own separate brand, the Club 75 Alliance will focus on freedom from income tax, and will avoid more radical libertarian thinking. The messaging will emphasize that there are existing countries like Monaco and the United Arab Emirates with no income tax, and they are generally quite prosperous.

Of course, FSP participants want more than just freedom from income tax. They want a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of individuals’ rights to life, liberty, and property. But hopefully they will see freedom from income tax as a big step in the right direction. And the new country will specifically allow a town to secede from NH when a significant majority of town residents vote to do so. They can then form some other type of society, such as full anarchy. If it remains viable after several years, other towns may follow suit.

I see three phases for the Club 75 Alliance: migration, negotiation, and experimentation.

Migration

Right now, there are a little over 5,000 Free Staters in New Hampshire. We need a whole lot more. I doubt there’s anywhere near enough support for NH secession at the moment, but even if there were, I’d be concerned that the newly independent NH wouldn’t be very libertarian. We need to bring in a lot more folks who prefer small government, before we push for independence.

I think one of the reasons people have been reluctant to sign up with the FSP is that the Statement of Intent is perceived as unrealistic. No one seems to have any kind of plan for achieving it. It’s pretty clear that the SOI will require two things: moving small government folks to NH, and pushing for secession. Nobody is talking about both. The FSP is encouraging people to move to NH, but keeping quiet about secession. The Foundation for New Hampshire Independence and NHExit are pushing for secession, but they’re not asking people to move to NH.

The Club 75 Alliance will encourage people to move to New Hampshire and work toward turning the state into an independent country with these attributes:

  1. There will be no income tax.
  2. Those who voted for NH independence, as well as all new immigrants to NH, will be permanently ineligible for welfare or any other government subsidy.
  3. NH will offer a realistic path to citizenship in a timely manner for new immigrants with no criminal record, provided that they fully understand and agree that they’ll be permanently ineligible for welfare or any other government subsidy.
  4. A town may secede from NH if a significant majority of town residents vote to do so, provided they make reasonable accommodations for the existing residents who don’t want to secede.

Taken together, these represent a compromise between what Club 75 wants and what FSP participants want. For Club 75, (1) is the end goal, saving each of them about $10,000 a year, and hopefully (4) is a restriction they can live with. For FSP participants, hopefully (1) will be seen as a big step in the right direction, and (4) will allow them to experiment with ways to take it further. For both groups, (2) is a necessary condition to keep it fiscally sound, and (3) will make the benefits of NH available to libertarians worldwide.

For item (1), we’ll need to explain to people that income tax is tyranny of the majority, where the majority benefits at the expense of a minority. Many libertarians are in denial about the fact that income tax really does benefit the majority in most countries. That’s why it’s so popular worldwide. And that’s why efforts by people like Ron Paul to get rid of the federal income tax at the national level were doomed from the start. To make it work in NH, we’ll need to build up an unusual population mix, consisting of folks who are getting a raw deal from the income tax (Club 75) as well as those who are philosophically opposed to it (libertarians). Such people are in the minority almost everywhere.

Item (2) is not just a fiscal requirement. Getting rid of welfare is central to libertarian thinking. Nevertheless, both Club 75 and FSP participants will need to think long and hard about this. If someone becomes unable to earn a living, they can appeal to voluntary charity, but there’s always a risk that charity won’t be enough. They’ll need to consider this carefully, and accept the risk, in the same way that people who engage in a dangerous activity like skydiving sign a waiver and accept the risk.

The details of (4) need to be worked out. A “significant majority” might mean at least 70% of residents, and “reasonable accommodations” might mean offering to pay for their relocation to another town.

Advertising by the Club 75 Alliance will target people who are in Club 75, especially those who work remotely, so they can more easily move. The basic message will be as follows:

  • Move to New Hampshire to be among like-minded people who understand that income tax is tyranny of the majority, and for a chance to be part of a historic push for independence.
  • While it’s great to run for office or otherwise be an activist, if that’s not your thing, that’s okay. The most important thing is that you move to New Hampshire, be counted, and vote for independence with no income tax when the time comes.
  • Share this message with all your friends who are in Club 75 or who prefer small government. And refer your other friends to the short film Proclivity for Taxing Income, to help them understand why you’re moving.
  • While this project is a long shot, keep in mind that the hardest part is getting lots of people to move to New Hampshire, and in your case, that part is actually in your hands.
  • We have a plan to negotiate for independence. But even if the federal government rejects it, simply having a majority of New Hampshire residents vote in favor of independence will make international news. At that point, you will definitely be making history.

In addition to focusing on freedom from income tax, the Club 75 Alliance messaging will keep a positive, uplifting tone. It will avoid the negative, sarcastic, facetious, hateful wording that is so common in political ads today. In particular, the people who voted for income tax in 1913 were not evil. They were just being human. They were voting for what benefited them.

Negotiation

Once enough small government folks have moved to New Hampshire, so that a significant majority (maybe 70%?) will vote in favor of independence, the Club 75 Alliance will begin negotiations to make it happen. First off, to those who would say that Texas v. White made secession illegal, we will point out that it only made unilateral secession illegal. It left open the possibility of secession through consent of the States, which is what we’ll be proposing.

We don’t expect the federal government to respond to a direct request for secession. Most likely, they would just ignore such a request. They don’t want to give up any control. Obviously, the federal government has tremendous military power, so an armed conflict with them makes no sense.

Instead, we will follow the path of nonviolent resistance that Mahatma Gandhi employed to achieve independence for India. We actually won’t be talking to the federal government very much initially. We will appeal directly to the American people, taking advantage of the fact that the average person in Arkansas, Colorado or Ohio doesn’t really mind if New Hampshire gets an amicable divorce. When we do talk to the federal government, it will be to remind them that they’re supposed to represent the American people, so if the American people have no objection, the federal government shouldn’t object either.

Our basic message will be as follows:

The federal government no longer has the consent of the governed in New Hampshire. Therefore, by their own Declaration of Independence, they no longer have the just powers to govern New Hampshire.

We will repeat this message day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. It took decades for India to achieve independence from British rule. We will be similarly patient.

Once the federal government shows a willingness to negotiate in good faith, we should expect that there will be a one-time cost of secession. They may frame it as an obligation to pay “our portion” of the national debt. Or they may insist that we make reasonable accommodations for those New Hampshire residents who don’t want to secede, and that may mean offering to pay for their relocation to one of the other 49 states. Ultimately it will come down to a dollar figure. We’ll need a good negotiator to get the amicable divorce we want.

Experimentation

Once New Hampshire becomes an independent country, its government will not only allow secession of a town, but actively encourage it when the town makes a realistic proposal for an alternative form of smaller government. Here are some examples:

  • full anarchy – no government at all, and no taxes
  • a night-watchman state – the maximal government mentioned in the FSP SOI, with taxes that are conventional but much lower
  • a night-watchman state with no taxes, funded by voluntary donations
  • an unabashed plutocracy where the seats of the legislature are auctioned off, and there are no taxes, because the proceeds of each auction become government revenue, replacing tax revenue

The intent is that New Hampshire will become a laboratory for such alternative forms of smaller government, where each seceding town is an experiment to see if that approach is truly viable, not just in theory but in practice. If it proves to be viable over many years, other towns may adopt that alternative form of smaller government. Eventually, New Hampshire might even decide to adopt it throughout the country.

For a town with existing residents, there would need to be a significant majority in favor (the same majority needed for NH itself to become independent). And the town would need to make reasonable accommodations for those who don’t want to secede (the same reasonable accommodations afforded to US loyalists for the secession of NH itself).

For an unincorporated township with no existing residents, those seeking secession would need to own a significant majority of the land.