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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Incredibly dumb idea

Yahoo News ran the following article from The Lookout today:

Silicon Valley billionaire funding creation of artificial libertarian islands
by Liz Goodwin

Seasteading Institute city design (Anthony Ling)

Pay Pal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel has given $1.25 million to an initiative to create floating libertarian countries in international waters, according to a profile of the billionaire in Details Magazine.

Thiel has been a big backer of the Seasteading Institute, which seeks to build sovereign nations on oil rig-like platforms to occupy waters beyond the reach of law-of-the-sea treaties. The idea is for these countries to start from scratch--free from the laws, regulations, and moral codes of any existing place. Details says the experiment would be "a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons."

"There are quite a lot of people who think it's not possible," Thiel said at a Seasteading Institute Conference in 2009, according to Details. (His first donation was in 2008, for $500,000.) "That's a good thing. We don't need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don't think it's possible they won't take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it's too late."

The Seasteading Institute's Patri Friedman says the group plans to launch an office park off the San Francisco coast next year, with the first full-time settlements following seven years later.

Speaking as a libertarian, this sounds like one of the worst ideas ever. If you try to create a society on top of an oil derrick, it will by necessity be a socialist society, as much so as an extended family had to be during the caveman era. When you're that isolated, you have to depend on each other -- for pretty much everything. And how exactly could you afford to have looser building codes on an oil derrick? And no welfare? I doubt that any of the chronically unemployable or mentally ill will be invited onto these derricks in the first place. And who exactly is it who would be working at close to a minimum wage who would choose to move to a floating country in the first place? And no restrictions on weapons? So it's going to be the OK Corral on the oil derrick? 

Will those guns be enough to protect these floating countries when China decides to invade them? 

This has to be a joke.


Anonymous said...

This libertarian island idea is straight out of the video game Bioshock.

John Craig said...

Wow. Interesting -- and moronic.

Paavo said...

Colonizing the oceans will probably happen, but I don't understand why the libertarian seasteaders think that they will be the ones doing the colonizing. They don't seem to understand that the international waters and their freedom is a result of pax americana, not any universal law of nature.

It would be so much easier and cheaper just to bribe some third world country to keep the police away so they can have their petri dish. It's not like you couldn't find places on land without minimum wage, loose building codes and few restrictions on weapons. Jim Jones got his petri dish (US of course failed to leave them alone)

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much the Somali pirates will want as ransom to give them the island back? Actually I think they will want to keep it - where better for Long John Somali to hang out?

John Craig said...

G --
Ha! I guess when you think about it, pirates themselves are libertarians of sorts, if not particularly pleasant ones. Blackbeard -- the ultimate sociopath -- was probably more typical of the breed than Captain Jack Sparrow.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they should call the first island "Nassau"?

John Craig said...

Come to think of it, didn't you go sailing in the Caribbean last year? Can you account for your whereabouts during that entire time?

I see you more as a Blackbeard type than a Sparrow type.

Anonymous said...

Ooooh aarrrr, shiver me timbers.

(I checked on imdb - Robert Newton played BOTH Blackbeard and Long John Silver :))

John Craig said...

Ian McShane would be better.