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    Homesteading was so 19th Century

    Homesteading was so 19th Century

    A few days ago, I saw the results from the Seasteading Institute’s business plan contest. Many of you are probably asking what Seasteading is and why it has an institute. Simply put, The Seasteading Institute (TSI) led by Patri Friedman (the grandson of Milton), is a libertarian movement for “creating permanent dwellings on the ocean – homesteading the high seas. A seastead is a structure meant for permanent occupation on the ocean.” As their website explains, “the world needs a new frontier, a place where those who wish to experiment with building new societies can go to test out their ideas. Unfortunately, all land is already claimed. Enabling the ocean to be the next frontier, allows for startup societies to bring experimentation and innovation to political, legal, and social systems.” In other words, a true experiment in societal public choice will be made possible on the ocean. The idea sounds far off, but the group cites innovations like modern cruise ships as indication that living off the high seas is quite possible with enough planning and infrastructure. They also believe in incremental approach to every area of seasteading or “breaking [their] ambitious visions down into small steps, and taking things one step at a time.” Patri and his team are constantly solving potential problems, finding funding, and devoting time to researching sustainable business models that can survive on the ocean. Though they can cite donors like Peter Thiel, the man behind PayPal, TSI is also intent on creating a substantive group of people interested in seasteading through social events in multiple cities. Regardless of its plausibility, I like the sentiment that Seasteading strives for – competitive, as opposed to omnipotent, government.

    As for the contest, I think there were some fascinating, creative companies that could be established on the ocean. Does anyone else follow TSI? I’d like to hear your thoughts.


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    >"all land is already claimed." is a slightly bizarre statement to make.

    All land on earth, other than Antarctica, is claimed by a country under law, and Antarctica is divided up between countries that do not strictly have territorial rights to their portions, but certainly have the right to enforce law there. Hence, if you want to make your own rules in the most fundamental way, you need to leave land.

    Where does LOST (Law of the Sea Treaty) fit into this? I'm reminded of Radio Caroline and other 'Clandestine' ('pirate') radio stations, how ruthlessly they are shutdown by offended governments. Gambling ships devoted solely to the trade, pay over and under the table to harbor nations. The key seems to become essential, not competitive, with the dry land governments. Think of some very lucrative activity essential skimming of which pads the pockets of repressive bureaucrats or "prepare to be boarded." The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 made signatory nations liable for the atmospheric departure and re-entry portion of its citizens' space travel, regardless of where this took place on Earth. LOST doesn't work that way, of course, because the sea is not beyond the long arm of any nation with a blue water navy.

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