A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘libertarianism

[ISL] Ahoy, young libertarian! Seasteading could very well be the wave of the future”

leave a comment »

Tyler Cowen’s Bloomberg View article about seasteading was picked up by the National Post. I think he’s correct in arguing that seasteading should not be seen as a way to escape from community, mainly, but that it should instead be seen as a way to escape to some other place. Whether or not it is viable is another question entirely.

Following the election of Donald Trump, some Americans are asking whether they should move to Canada. Yet a more radical idea is re-emerging as a vehicle for political liberty, namely seasteading. That’s the founding of new and separate governance units on previously unoccupied territory, possibly on the open seas.

Imagine, for instance, autonomously governed sea platforms, with a limited number of citizens selling health and financial services to the rest of the world. Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence might make the construction and settlement of such institutions more practical than it seemed 15 years ago.

Although seasteading is sometimes viewed as an extension of self-indulgent Silicon Valley utopianism, we should not dismiss the idea too quickly. Variants on seasteading led to the founding of the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with the caveat that conquest was involved, as these territories were not unsettled at the time. Circa 2016, there is a potential seasteading experiment due in French Polynesia. The melting of the Arctic ice may open up new areas for human settlement. Chinese construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea raises the prospect that the private sector, or a more liberty-oriented government, might someday do the same. Along more speculative lines, there is talk about someday colonizing Mars or even Titan, a moon of Saturn.

Seasteading obviously faces significant obstacles. The eventual constraint is probably not technology in the absolute sense, but whether there is enough economic motive to forsake the benefits of densely populated human settlements and the protection of traditional nation-states. Many nations have effective corporate tax rates in the 10- to 20-per cent range, which doesn’t seem confiscatory enough to take to the high seas for economic motives alone.

Furthermore, current outposts such as Dubai, Singapore and the Cayman Islands offer varied legal and regulatory environments for doing business, in addition to the comforts of landlubber society. More and more foreign businesses are incorporating in Delaware to enjoy the benefits of American law. So, for all the inefficiencies and petty tyrannies of the modern world, seasteading faces pretty stiff competition.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 8, 2016 at 5:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

leave a comment »

  • Antipope shares a guest essay by an author pointing out how duelling was a social plague.
  • ‘Nathan Smith’s Apostrophen shares an essay noting that being a Donald Trump supporter who reads gay romance is a contradiction.
  • Beyond the Beyond notes new European Union interest in defense integration.
  • blogTO reports that a Torontonian designed the new Starbucks holiday cup.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly wonders how much our parents shape us.
  • D-Brief looks at Semantic Scholar, an AI tool for scholars.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on methane humidity near Titan’s surface and an active drainage system.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the interest of Florida attorney-general Pam Bondi at the interest of serving in the administration of Donald Trump.
  • Language Hat shares a lovely poem translated from the Russian.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the upsurge in hate crimes post-election in the United States.
  • The LRB Blog shares one man’s memories of Leonard Cohen.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the problems of Saudi Arabia.
  • The NYRB Daily notes the largely negative effect of the Internet, and social media, on the election.
  • Savage Minds notes how anthropology teachers can teach the Trump election.
  • Towleroad shares RuPaul’s horror at the election.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues the Gary Johnson candidacy helped Hillary, though by not enough.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that a state ideology would make Russia totalitarian.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • The Big Picture shares photos of motorbike racing in South Africa.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the stellar weather that planets of red dwarf stars might encounter.
  • Dead Things looks at two genetic studies which complicate the narrative of humanity’s spread.
  • Dangerous Minds shares the infamous anti-disco night of 1979 that spelled the end of the genre in North America.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers how one makes a home among strangers.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the UKIP MP claims the sun is responsible for the bulk of the Earth’s tides not the moon, and reports on a Kentucky judge who says gays ruined straight men’s ability to hug.
  • Language Log looks at changing patterns of language usage in Japanese.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money mocks the cosmic perspective of Gary Johnson.
  • The LRB Blog reports from devastated Lesbos.
  • Maximos62 maps the smoke from this year’s Indonesian fires.
  • The NYRB Daily shares vintage photos from mid-1960s Cuba.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on a recent tour of NASA facilities.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on a call for a single Circassian alphabet, suggests a Russian initiative to use sufism to unite Russian Muslims will end badly, and argues that Russian criticism of language policy in post-Soviet countries is linked to geopolitics.

[LINK] Edwin Lyngar of Salon on the problems of libertarianism in Honduras

Edwin Lyngar at Salon has written a widely-shared travelogue of how, in his view, his visit to Honduras where a libertarian city-state is set to be established demonstrates the terrible weaknesses of that ideology on the ground.

Is this fair? It could be argued that, given a predatory state, a libertarian hands-off policy might be better. (Might.)

People better than I have analyzed the specific political moves that have created this modern day libertarian dystopia. Mike LaSusa recently wrote a detailed analysis of such, laying out how the bad ideas of libertarian politics have been pursued as government policy.

In America, libertarian ideas are attractive to mostly young, white men with high ideals and no life experience that live off of the previous generation’s investments and sacrifice. I know this because as a young, white idiot, I subscribed to this system of discredited ideas: Selfishness is good, government is bad. Take what you want, when you want and however you can. Poor people deserve what they get, and the smartest, hardworking people always win. So get yours before someone else does. I read the books by Charles Murray and have an autographed copy of Ron Paul’s “The Revolution.” The thread that links all the disparate books and ideas is that they fail in practice. Eliminate all taxes, privatize everything, load a country up with guns and oppose all public expenditures, you end up with Honduras.

In Honduras, the police ride around in pickup trucks with machine guns, but they aren’t there to protect most people. They are scary to locals and travelers alike. For individual protection there’s an army of private, armed security guards who are found in front of not only banks, but also restaurants, ATM machines, grocery stores and at any building that holds anything of value whatsoever. Some guards have uniforms and long guns but just as many are dressed in street clothes with cheap pistols thrust into waistbands. The country has a handful of really rich people, a small group of middle-class, some security guards who seem to be getting by and a massive group of people who are starving to death and living in slums. You can see the evidence of previous decades of infrastructure investment in roads and bridges, but it’s all in slow-motion decay.

I took a van trip across the country, starting in Copan (where there are must-see Mayan ruins), across to the Caribbean Sea to a ferry that took my family to Roatan Island. The trip from Copan to the coast took a full six hours, and we had two flat tires. The word “treacherous” is inadequate—a better description is “post-apocalyptic.” We did not see one speed limit sign in hundreds of kilometers. Not one. People drive around each other on the right and left and in every manner possible. The road was clogged with horses, scooters and bicycles. People traveled in every conceivable manner along the crumbling arterial. Few cars have license plates, and one taxi driver told me that the private company responsible for making them went bankrupt. Instead of traffic stops, there are military check points every so often. The roads seemed more dangerous to me than the gang violence.

The greatest examples of libertarianism in action are the hundreds of men, women and children standing alongside the roads all over Honduras. The government won’t fix the roads, so these desperate entrepreneurs fill in potholes with shovels of dirt or debris. They then stand next to the filled-in pothole soliciting tips from grateful motorists. That is the wet dream of libertarian private sector innovation.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 2, 2015 at 10:13 pm

[ISL] “‘Seasteaders’ gather in San Francisco to develop ocean cities”

Seasteading is a concept developed by libertarians who detest the monopolization of the Earth’s habitable land space by states, so preventing the formation of libertarian stateless societies. Going to the ocean, the theory holds, and building artificial islands free of any terrestrial sovereignty is the solution necessary for libertarianism’s realization. Matt O’Brien’s Mercury News article provides his readers with a look at a recent conference held by the movement in San Francisco.

Colonizing the oceans to free human progress from the choking grasp of regulation has drawn a wealthy group of futurists, engineers, maritime lawyers and libertarians to San Francisco this weekend.

“We’ve run out of frontier. All land is claimed. And our revolutions have become superficial,” said Patri Friedman, who cofounded The Seasteading Institute four years ago with billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel.

They envision a floating city movement whose most immediate step is to launch a “visa-free” ship by 2014 to house and employ high-tech workers in international waters 12 miles off the Peninsula.

Next might be a medical tourism ship in a refurbished, $8 million casino ship recently donated to the institute, said Friedman, a Berkeley resident and grandson of the late libertarian economist Milton Friedman.

But those are just pioneer projects for “seasteaders” who want to populate the high seas with autonomous city-states that compete for the world’s residents by creating the best governments.

“We could let a thousand experiments like Hong Kong bloom,” Friedman said. “Politics can be like shopping for a country.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • At Crasstalk, LaZiguezon posts pictures of five remarkable abandoned places: a Portuguese-built stadium in Angola left after independence, an island of broken dolls. and more.
  • Daniel Drezner notes that a Republican Congressman, Eric Cantor, went on the record as stating that the United States government should do nothing that would upset Israel. That makes Israel singular in that respect.
  • Eastern approaches notes that things are getting worse in Lukashenko’s Belarus, and that the current round of European Union sanctions may only have the effect of pushing the country into a tighter relationship with Russia.
  • At A Fistful of Euros, Edward Hugh makes the point that hidden debts and unacknowledged financial liabilities make Spain’s position far more awkward and dangerous than commonly assumed.
  • The Global Sociology Blog reviews Paul Mason’s new book Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere – The New Global Revolutions, which makes the claim that the mass protests and revolutions of the past couple of years are product of the conjunction between disastrous globalization and the technological enablement of large cohorts of educated young people.
  • At Registan, Michael Hancock-Parmer makes a brief post commenting on the similarities–phonetic and otherwise–between the Kazakhs and the Cossacks.
  • Towleroad notes Germany’s defense of its foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, from Belarus’ Lukashenko after the man public statement that it was better to be a dictator that to be gay.
  • At the Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin describes the major perspectives of libertarians on the United States’ Civil War, covering everything from libertarian supporters of the Union who think the war was the best way of freeing the slaves to full-out supporters of the Confederacy who forget that blacks count as people.

[LINK] Some Yorkshire Ranter links

I’ve neglected this perennially insightful and provocative blog shamefully. Let me make up for it.

  • Libertarianism is criticized on the grounds that its basic principles are mistaken: the state is not completely illegitimate, but actually can be quite functional and legitimate.
  • He doesn’t like geoengineering on the grounds that it introduces more variable into an already erratic global climate system.
  • Are many Republicans driven by the fear of external disapproval?
  • Ever want to engage in social networking while you’re isolated? Like in an isolation tank?

Written by Randy McDonald

November 6, 2009 at 3:35 pm