Stossel: Live Free at Sea


How can we live free? Government imposes so many rules, many of which we don’t agree with. So, what could we do? Not happy with the way government runs? How about starting your own country? Build a city in the ocean. [Music] It’s called Seasteading. The idea is that if people move at least 12 miles off-shore, they can build their own cities, or country, and live free from government’s suffocating rules. Unfortunately, nothing like this has been built yet. This is just an animation, showing what seasteads might look like in the future. To the first seastead. But this year, Chad and Nadia Elwartowski set up this small Seastead 13 miles of the coast of Thailand. As long as people can create these seasteads voluntarily and people can quit them voluntarily, then you’ll have a market of competing governance providers. Joe Quirk runs The Seasteading Institute, which promotes the floating islands. We need a new place to experiment with new rules appropriate for modern technologies. What a great idea! Unfortunately, that first seastead recently came to a bad end. More on that shortly. But first, let’s hear more about the idea. Innovators innovating in the 21st century are being held back by rules written in the 1970s. But we need some rules. Seasteaders don’t have a problem with regulations per se. Humans need rules to interact. We have a problem with the monopoly over the provision and enforcement of regulations. Liberate humanity from politicians. Yes, we don’t need politicians. They’re not smart enough to make decisions for us. Without American rules, some will be shooting up heroin or abusing children. We have that in our country right now. But if I move 12 miles off shore, I’m going to be so incentivized to set a better example. Because the world’s eyes are going to be on me. I got to convince investors to invest in it. I got to convince people to move there. I got to convince people to take jobs there. I think in such an environment, it’s going to be much more difficult to create evil islands of heroin shooting than it is to create positive innovations that improve people’s lives. We are Carnival believe fun is a choice. He says the world already has a form of seasteads— the cruise ship. Most cruise ships fly the flag of say, Panama or Liberia, and they’re sort of de facto self-governing. Liberia has no capacity to enforce rules on the three and a half thousand ships that fly its flag. So a captain is a de facto dictator. Why doesn’t he become a tyrant? And the answer is because people can choose another cruise line. The Seasteading Institute approaches politicians, saying “We’ll bring our own land, we’ll float just off shore. And if it succeeds, we share in the prosperity, if it fails, we absorb the cost.” Minds can be opened to a little bit more freedom, a little further out to shore. [Car sound] Minds were opened in China when tiny Hong Kong showed that having fewer rules could bring prosperity. China very rapidly, because of the example set by Hong Kong, started creating these special economic zones. Special economic zones are similar to Seasteads. They have fewer rules. At least a half billion Chinese people have exited extreme poverty by moving to these new jurisdictions. So why don’t the Chinese leaders or any political leaders say, “This works, we’ll do it for the whole country.” Never for the whole country. Why not? I would. I would too. But that’s why you and I don’t have political power. Unfortunately, in China, those with political power didn’t want to give it up. They did not expand freedom to the whole country. So something like Seasteading would be an important experiment. Chad and Nadia hoped their Seastead would be the first of many. They thought they would do a demonstration project of this tiny cabin and demonstrate the world that they can make it cheap. And they thought nobody would care. To everyone’s surprise the Thai navy took exception to this. Two aspiring seasteaders have had their property raided by the Thai navy. Chad and Nadia left their island shortly before the raid. They got nervous when they saw a reconnaissance plane flying overhead Now they are on the run. … could, in theory, face the death penalty for violating Thai sovereignty. That would be quite a price for trying to live on the high seas. It’s irresponsible not to improve society by setting better examples. And I think people with the best ideas should be given an opportunity to do that voluntarily and pay the consequences of their failures and get the profits if they succeed. Good for Chad and Nadia for trying.

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