Saturday, February 27, 2010

Seasteading: Let's get to it

Seasteading: Let's get to it

Seasteading- it is already being done by the rich. Let's look at ways it might work for the rest of us. Yes, the "high seas" are a lot different from the high desert around Albuquerque, but a change of scenery isn't always bad. This is just my own brainstorming session, and certainly not the only possible way the project could play out.

First of all, I'm sure there either are some of those gigantic cruise ships for sale somewhere, or soon will be. A huge container ship might even be purchased and retrofitted for the purpose. Either way, it is not impossible to do, and becomes more imperative to try with each new governmental violation of basic human rights.

The only "law" on a "libertarian seastead" would be the Zero Aggression Principle and the related "principle of zero initiated deception". Nothing else would be "enforceable" or expected, because there would be no "authorities". Each person would "enforce" a respect for rights and liberty in their own sphere. Nothing other than mercy would protect bad people from the consequences of their aggression, theft, and fraud. In an absence of government, being an aggressor or thief would be a very, very foolish choice.

In my thought experiment, it wouldn't necessarily "cost" you to live aboard unless you were among the "idle rich", since you would probably run your own business of some sort, rather than having the on-board shops and restaurants owned by the ship's owners (whoever they might be). Nothing would prevent or stifle competition among the residents. If there is already a barber shop, open a better or cheaper one.

Each part of the ship would be private property, including "common areas". How would that work? I'm not sure. Perhaps each person would own the hallway in front of their quarters, along with the privileges and liabilities that go along with it, unless they choose to sell it to someone else. The captain and crew would be employees. The ship itself, such as the engines and hull... who would "own" it? Maybe the residents could each own specific parts or, if people really think it works well (I don't) they might own "shares" in the things such as the engines. How would fuel and maintenance be financed? There could not be "taxation" in the traditional sense, since theft is forbidden for everyone. Maybe "utilities" and services would include the cost of running the ship. Most businesses or residents might be willing to donate money toward fuel and maintenance since that would make it much easier to get goods and travel where they want to go. There would undoubtedly be "free riders", but that is not a real drawback unless you want it to be.

If wealthy people want a luxurious suite, they have that option. There would still be plenty of room for suburbs and even "slums". There might even be "tent cities" below deck. People who didn't have much need somewhere to start, and someone might be willing to rent out large chambers for such a purpose.

There would be no "official currency"; people would be free to offer payment, and accept payment, in whatever form they preferred. If they choose to do business off-ship, it might be good to have things that are accepted in port, as well. Private banks on-board might provide a valuable service in this case.

True medical freedom could be found in such a situation, unlike anywhere on land under government "supervision". Even people who might not agree with the operating principles of the community might seek treatment from the doctors on board, and provide an infusion of outside wealth.

Food could be grown on board and harvested from the ocean. Metals might even be separated from seawater or collected from the ocean floor by entrepreneurs on the seastead. And, of course, sunken ships could be found and "mined" as well.

Security would be up to the individual. If you wish to have a metal detector at the door of your business, that is up to you, but don't count on getting many customers. If a port has a prohibition on personal weaponry, then only those willing to take the risk would disembark. Perhaps if the ports did not wish to have an armed ship even docked, there could be shuttles that would make the run to and from the ship, to bring goods and passengers.

I think a gunsmith (or three) would find it a very liberating environment. The next John Moses Browning might find this the perfect situation to experiment without an ATF agent or other parasitical vermin breathing down his neck. Real weapon innovation could once again be tried. Mourn any pirates who try to take over or loot this ship.

To be honest, I have lots more thoughts on this, but this column is getting too long already. Perhaps there may be a "part two", but regardless, let your own imagination run wild. Every "problem" has a solution that does not require coercion. It is just a matter of thinking of it.