Bryan Caplan  

Over the Sea: Patri's Dream

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One of my favorite footnotes in Brian Doherty's Radicals for Capitalism:

Patri Friedman, grandson of Milton and son of anarcho-theorist David, is even today actively planning to launch artificial sea platform communities, which he's calling seasteads, currently hoping to start one in San Francisco Bay. That's the spirit of America, as John Adams never quite said: may I advocate classical-liberal limited government, so that my son may advocate anarcho-capitalism, and that my grandson may plan to build new artificial countries in the ocean.
Now Patri's a half-million dollar grant closer to success. Has the "Seasteading will work" betting market started? Has anyone got a fair bet to propose?


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COMMENTS (7 to date)
Dan Weber writes:

How bad do people really want to be free from their government?

Maybe the pot-smokers and the FLDS folks are up for it, but heavy use of mary jane doesn't really lend itself to maintaining a floating island, and FLDS is (was?) heavily dependent upon the welfare state to support all of its "single moms."

It might be like HavenCo and try to use "we have no IP laws!" as their comparative advantage. But that ended badly for HavenCo's employees (people who think IP laws suck also think that employment laws suck).

Maybe they'll be good retirement communities, but who is going to subsidize their health care?

How bad do people really want to be free from their government?

If it means escaping confiscatory taxes, many people want to be free quite badly. Witness the popularity and growth of Las Vegas, despite being located in a barren desert.

Taxes aside, there are several reasons to believe that seasteads, once established, might be less expensive than living on land:

* they can hire from anywhere in the world (no labor regulations, no immigration controls)
* they can buy food and supplies anywhere in the world (no tariffs or import restrictions)
* they can build up, out, and down with little restriction (no building codes, no zoning)

Even now, the cost of living full time aboard a cruise ship is comparable to living in many assisted living centers:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/health/07crui.html

A seastead community near the coast of San Francisco or other high cost locations could offer housing at prices competitive to those on land.

I believe that economics, not necessarily desire for freedom, will be the primary driving force for the growth of seasteads.

Maybe they'll be good retirement communities, but who is going to subsidize their health care?

Who says anyone is going to subsidize the resident's health care?

FC writes:

I intuited before I clicked the link that the money came from Peter Thiel. I'm cool like that.

aaron writes:

Does Patri recite summarian namshub's too?

Mason writes:

How about:

By 2015 there will be 5,000 people living at sea in a sustainable economy (net wealth of those aboard is not consumed by being at sea, and no more donations) who are not citizens of any currently recognized country.

I'd bet against with 2:1 odds. If the deadline was 2025 I'd still bet against but only at even odds.

Finja writes:

i would want to live on such a thing... not because of freedom or economic ideas, but because i think it would be awesome to make up and test new social and political lifestyles... who said, democracy is the end of the line? Mondays to Thursdays it's capitalism, and Friday to Sunday it's Communism! Obviously speaking from a political scientist's perspective...

and it makes my childhood dream not far-fetched anymore: i always wanted to be the dictator of my own country.

Sage Million writes:

S/V Salvor111 [MROP: call sign MP00013521]
www.salvor111.com
we have spent the last 28 years researching and training to live at sea. the salvor is being repaired in Hawaii. we have a floating repair shop.working sea based garden, HHO hydrogen production plant and more. we intend to be based in South East Alaska. seeking communication with live aboard cruisers to share info

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