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Heathian anarchism a better fit for Seasteading than anarcho-capitalism?

Home Forums Research Law and Politics Heathian anarchism a better fit for Seasteading than anarcho-capitalism?

This topic contains 22 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of DrMandible DrMandible 4 years ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 23 total)
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  • #1052
    Profile photo of Jeff-Chan
    Jeff-Chan
    Participant

    Heathian anarchism, where properties are leased (rented) instead of sold and “public” services like police, fire, courts, etc., are provided by the lessor (property owner) seems like it may be a better fit for seasteads than anarcho-capitalism. According to the wikipedia entry, the main differentiator is that under ancap there would be competing defense/security agencies versus a single one belonging to the property owner under Heath. In essence the property owner provides services typically attributed to a “government” which are paid for voluntarily through rent instead of involuntarily through taxes. If you didn’t like the services at one seastead you could move to a better one.

    This seems like an especially good fit for seasteads for several reasons:

    1. Seasteads would tend to have private owners and could very well lease out space. They would definitely have centralizable services like water, power, waste disposal, security, courts, seastead maintenance, etc.

    2. Heathism arose in response to Georgism which proposed a unitary tax based on unimproved land in order to pay for services. A single land tax was seen as less economically harmful than tarrifs or other forms of taxes such as income or consumption taxes. However with seasteads there is no “land”, only properties created and owned by someone. The complication of addressing common ownership of land is essentially out of the equation (since there is no land, only seasteads which humans built). Heathism seems like a very good fit to Seasteads due to the inherent lack of naturally-occuring land. (I wonder if Heath wasn’t a major influence, directly or indirectly, on Patri’s thinking about Seasteads.)

    3. In general the competitive incentives under Heathian anarchy seem exactly right. Rents and occupancy would be maximized under owners that provided the best services, including honest courts and security, and efficiently provided services would increase profits to the owner. If services were unfavorable, then people would leave, driving down property values, rents, etc. So the incentive to the property owner is provide good services at a fair price. For a number of reasons, such incentives don’t exist with a typical government.

    4. In particular the success of the property owner would be directly tied to the performance of the protection agency. This contrasts with multiple protection agencies competing in the same space under anarcho-capitalism, which would seem to greater decouple their incentives from the space they protect, and that could be a negative. Under Heathism, putting the value of the property itself directly at risk for the performance of the protection agency seems to set very strong and correct incentives which could be lacking under ancap. This may be a much better incentive structure for the property owner and protection agency.

    As a meta effect, if these properties were efficiently run, the renters should be more propsperous and better able to improve their lives, create wealth and become property owners or shareholders themselves. Being a shareholder of a Heathian property (seastead) is a means of fractional ownership, not just of the seastead, but of the “government”. Think about that for a second. Instead of being a subject of the government, you would own part of the government. How’s that for revolutionary? Your incentive as a shareholder would be to maximize your share value by having the property well-run, in good condition, with a fair, efficient and effective protection agency, etc.

    BTW, when I talk about protection agencies, please don’t take this to mean that we would surrender the private right of self-defense. Both can co-exist. The need for the protection agency to act is probably greatly reduced if individuals retain the right and duty of self-defense. In fact a Heathian property owner may have a specific incentive to have private individuals armed in order to reduce the need for and cost of the protecion agency. In other words, properly armed and trained individuals reduce crime and reduce the need for a protection agency to act. Armed private individuals can also help quell invasion, promote peace and stability, etc. (The police department would be like the Maytag repairman (for those familiar with U.S. TV commercials); seldom needed and often bored.) Again the incentives are correct.

    Heath seems to be at a “sweet spot” where all the incentives align correctly for personal freedom, economic growth, prosperity, competently provided “public” services, etc.

    As an aside, Heath was also a supporter of E.C. Riegel’s Private Enterprise Money which seems to be an excellent way to operate money. Money is issued by a private exchange where credit is granted based on an individual’s earning potential and the individual could write checks on that credit to pay for goods and services. The more I think about Riegel’s system, the more I like it. It facilitates growth very strongly, yet is intimately tied to the value an individual can create. It seems to be an excellent form of money. Infinitely better than government fiat money and possibly even better than gold, which is a relatively limited resource and therefore a potential limitation on growth. Basically this form of money is a check written on human potential. (This really deserves it’s own topic, but is closely tied to Heath’s work.)

    I’m hardly an expertt on these topics (I need to read the source materials), but they seem so fascinating and correct to me that I’d enthusiastically like to talk about them at the Seasteading Conference. Heath, his friends and their ideas seem brilliant, practical and humanistic to me. Heath was apparently a major influence on libertarian thought in the U.S. Perhaps we could get his grandson, cultural anthropologist, author and advisor to new nation ventures Spencer McCallum to speak at a future conference.

    #7534
    Profile photo of Eelco
    Eelco
    Participant

    Never heard of Heath, but I strongly agree with that line of thinking. Stakeholder-driven government is not a new idea (neither in heaths time), but a good one. One share, one vote. Much better aligned incentives than the perpetual vote-buying machine called democracy.

    Riegel has some interesting ideas, but he seems like the kind of guy with funny ideas of human nature. Who is going to asses your earning potential, and on what grounds? In the real world, finance will ever be a for-profit business. Money is what people accept as money. As long as the state doesnt subsidize fractional-russian-roulette-banking, sane money will appear all by itself, with some commodity backing. Gold could do the trick, but modern technology allows for the design of commodity baskets with far superior monetary qualities.

    #7536
    Profile photo of Jeff-Chan
    Jeff-Chan
    Participant

    Eelco wrote:
    Never heard of Heath, but I strongly agree with that line of thinking. Stakeholder-driven government is not a new idea (neither in heaths time), but a good one. One share, one vote. Much better aligned incentives than the perpetual vote-buying machine called democracy.

    Under Heath voting wouldn’t necessarily be needed. Vote with your feet and your investments. OTOH the owners could certainly decide things by shareholder voting, just like any corporation does.

    Riegel has some interesting ideas, but he seems like the kind of guy with funny ideas of human nature. Who is going to asses your earning potential, and on what grounds? In the real world, finance will ever be a for-profit business. Money is what people accept as money. As long as the state doesnt subsidize fractional-russian-roulette-banking, sane money will appear all by itself, with some commodity backing. Gold could do the trick, but modern technology allows for the design of commodity baskets with far superior monetary qualities.

    Yes, the point is that the backing for Riegel’s money comes from the human value, not commodities, not a fractional reserve bank, government decree, etc. I agree that it would be a challenge to correctly asses that value, which is key. But if the assessment can be done somewhat well, it’s a probably the most humanistic backing for money one could come up with.

    As Riegel proposes, the exchange would be funded by small fees on check clearing, not too different from the way something like Paypal operates now. Other funding models would seem to be possible, but a transactional fee for something like check clearing makes a lot of sense.

    #7538
    Profile photo of thief
    thief
    Participant

    I think it has alot of merit, but falls on one important point. People want to own something. I personally am very much opposed to having to rent anything. When I put money somewhere, U want something at the end of it.

    Plus there’s a question of security. People don’t want to spend their adult lives in a home that could be taken away at any moment.

    And home improvements. Who decides what home improvements a person can do? And then, of course, the person has to leave their home with the improvements they’ve built.

    It’s a good idea, but I won’t be staying on your stead.

    - Nick

    #7539
    Profile photo of Jeff-Chan
    Jeff-Chan
    Participant

    I understand your feelings about renting, and personally agree somewhat.

    However something important to keep in mind is that rentals would allow people without much capital a chance to joint the community and start benefitting from the better economy, better lifestyle, better upward mobility, greater freedom, etc. With the more favorable economic conditions, they would be able to improve their condition faster and become shareholders or owners sooner. So at a minimum, having rentals available would probably be an important stepping stone or incremental step for many people.

    That said, a condo association model would also work. You own the condo and pay condo fees. Condo fees fund the condo association, which provides water, power, police, courts, etc. Similar process and results, but you get to own instead of renting.

    To me the important thing is that the “government” is private and voluntary instead of “public” and coercive.

    And you could also be a shareholder of the property owner in either case. Or if you have enough wealth, build a seastead and lease it to others. You would be the property owner.

    #7544
    Profile photo of Eelco
    Eelco
    Participant

    Jeff wrote:

    Under Heath voting wouldn’t necessarily be needed. Vote with your feet and your investments. OTOH the owners could certainly decide things by shareholder voting, just like any corporation does.

    True, any blend of ownership is possible. I think id personally like to be a stakeholder in my society, but I can see the lower-commitment model make a lot of sense as well.

    #7546
    Profile photo of thief
    thief
    Participant

    Oh it would definetely be worth having some Seasteads running like this. I might use one myself, when just starting out. But my goal would be to own my own place.

    - Nick

    #7547
    Profile photo of Alan
    Alan
    Participant

    The idea sounds nice, though I don’t really see how this is an alternative to anarcho-capitalism – rather than just a niche within anarcho-capitalism. There’s nothing in anarcho-capitalism that I’m aware of that prevents private groups from forming their own institutions with their own rules.

    That said, I have worked for a company that provided services to two major corporate clients, and though I had only a ground’s-eye view it was interesting to see how that worked. Both of these clients effectively controlled multiple large buildings – think a city block and 20 to 60 stories high big – but legally, the buildings were owned by another company which leased them to these clients. In fact, in a couple cases I think the clients originally owned the buildings, then sold them and leased them back – somehow that made sense to them, as they left building management to the specialists.

    There were several building management companies involved, and besides hiring their own maintenance crews to make minor repairs and oversee operations, they also hired a number of competing sub-contractors for specific jobs. I worked for one of the electrical subcontractors, and we in turn could work for any one of several general contractors, who might be working for any one of several building management companies, which could be working for any one of several corporations which owned the buildings, which in turn could be working for any one of several clients. (Besides the two largest clients, there were also some minor clients as well.)

    To further complicate matters, at least four of these clients (including the two largest) were major players in the same industry, which by its nature requires a certain amount of cooperation as well as competition – so in some cases a single building would house multiple floors devoted to each competing client, as well as smaller holdings – ranging from a few offices to several floors – to other clients, often – but not always – in complementary service industries.

    There were at least two major private security firms in play, though each building tended to have only one firm present. Besides this, there was cooperation with city police to secure the properties – at least at the ground level – and one building housed offices of a federal law enforcement agency. All these “security agencies” had mostly the same interests, so they tended to cooperate in day-to-day operations. I could also see differences in how the private firms operated in the various buildings. Some buildings emphasized a technical approach to security (lots of locks and cameras), whereas others were pretty much wide open – as long as the security guards knew who you were and trusted you.

    In short, it was a rather confusing patchwork of competing and cooperating companies and agencies which no single person could describe – and yet it worked quite well, and we could go from building to building without encountering many problems.

    So, even if we posit seasteads operating on somewhat the same principle of private ownership and a single management company per seastead, this does not mean that there will be a lack of competition. On the contrary, competition can continue at all levels – from management companies (which can be changed) to the restaurant-clients on the mall level competing for customers.

    However, it should be noted that all this happened within a context of law, and I think it would be good to have some level of federalism involved – even if it is a private, voluntary federalism – to prevent abuses at a seastead level. As an example, in a purely private environment one seastead could impose the death penalty for littering and then legally execute a careless visitor who – quite rightfully – would never expect such a penalty for accidentally losing track of a candy wrapper. If, on the other hand, there were a sufficiently powerful authority, or consortium of authorities, who could mandate and enforce maximum penalties for various levels of offenses – from murder to merrymaking – then individuals could travel between seasteads without being overly concerned about the consequences of accidentally breaking an odd, local law. (For the lowest level of offenses, on the order of making a nuisance of oneself, the maximum punishment should simply be a few days in detention and exclusion from that particular seastead.) Such an authority or consortium of authorities could also provide a list of basic rights (most notably the right to self defense. the right to peacefully leave a seastead with one’s possessions and minor children, and the right to a fair trial) and a list of rights that should be assumed unless a seastead publicly and prominently publishes otherwise at every entrance (with the maximum penalty, again, being exclusion from that particular seastead).

    I think most of these things are common sense and can be worked out ahead of time, but it will probably save a lot of trouble if the major points can be worked out ahead of time – much like how the Constitution is supposed to work in the United States, but with more options.

    #7548
    Profile photo of Jeff-Chan
    Jeff-Chan
    Participant

    Hi Alan, regarding grossly disproportionate penalties for rule violations, it would seem that such practices would become known and a public reputation developed especially for something as hypothetically extreme as death for littering. It reminds me a little of Singapore which has very strict rules for many minor things like chewing gum, etc. Yet people are generally aware of the rules and some people (not necessarily me) may actually like and prefer them. (And I’d bet there’s generally less littering in Singapore than Hong Kong.) But even the rules in Singapore are somewhat proportionate, with stronger punishments for arguably worse infractions. There is no death penatly for jaywalking, for example, other than the natural one of getting run over, which is pretty hard to repeal.

    People tend not to create wildly disproportionate justice systems, and doing so could be a bad business decision which would cause a venture to fail. Or it could be a competitive advantage which could lead to success, somewhat along the lines of a Singapore. But in general it doesn’t seem to happen. Customers/renters/shareholders/owners would probably prefer more proportionate justice and seek it out for investment, leasing, etc. They key point is that people would have a choice and gravitate towards their preferences, and that there would probably be competitive pressures for the business owners to not get too extreme and risk losing customers. Bad service = bad business = fail.

    In any case, Singapore has a well-known reputation for its rules, so word gets around.

    Regarding competing security and building maintenance providers, thanks for sharing your example. Competing protection agencies probably can work, but having a single protection agency owned by the property owner creates different incentives, and they may be better incentives. It may also be simpler and cheaper to run. Certainly there may be fewer internal disagreements and possible conflicts if there aren’t competing agencies. The thing I like the most about having a single, owner-provided protection agency under Heath is that it puts a very direct (most possibly direct?) incentive on the property owner to provide a good protection service or risk losing property value. I agree that Heath is a variation on ancap, just like Heathian rent is an alternative to a land tax under Georgism.

    I would definitely say that condo association fees could be substituted for rent where people wanted to be owners instead of renters, and that’s another significant, but related, variation on Heath, which is a variation on ancap. Having multiple or shared ownership probably raises its own challenges, for example creating political pressure on voting. Timeshare condos would further subdivide the ownership. You could probably have a mix of timeshare and non-timeshare condos on the same stead, as already mentioned in the condostead threads.

    #7552
    Profile photo of Alan
    Alan
    Participant

    When I suggested some overlying rules, I did not mean to suggest that they should be applied to every ship on the sea, or even every seastead. However, as we may wish to establish an organization with promises of mutual aid and support, it is only reasonable that we should establish some basic rules for membership – and my suggestion includes (1) a few basic, inviolable rights, (2) some standardized privileges, with both requirements to post notice of stricter standards and maximum penalties for violation of same, and (3) maximum penalties for various types of infractions, which can be much higher than most people are comfortable with but would still be a requirement for any seastead expecting mutual support (i.e., a restriction of the death penalty to crimes that led – directly or indirectly – to another person’s loss of life, limb, or liberty, would allow penalties that I personally believe are too strict, but I might offer mutual aid to a society that abided by such a law – whereas a society that allows the death penalty for careless littering is not a society which should expect any support from me).

    Among the most basic rights that I would insist on would be those I mentioned earlier – the right to self defense, the right to peacefully leave a seastead with one’s possessions and minor children, and the right to a fair trial. Standardized privileges would include the right to free speech and freedom of conscience – and any society which wished to restrict these would have to agree to post notices at every entrance and have a maximum punishment of a few days in jail and expulsion if they wish to have my support in case of need. Compliant seasteads could advertise that they abide by a certain set of standards. Non-compliant seasteads need not advertise at all, but should not expect any cooperation from me or others. Seasteads that falsely advertise compliance would be considered to be outlaws.

    This would allow, for example, religious communities to exclude non-believers while maintaining cultural and economic ties with them. Such rules would not necessarily have to apply to a whole seastead, either: they could establish an anything-goes commercial district and very restrictive residential areas. However, if they wish to maintain membership they should expect occasional inspections to insure that the inviolable rights are being upheld – especially that no one is being held against their will.

    I hope that clarifies things a bit.

    #7555
    Profile photo of Eelco
    Eelco
    Participant

    Very well said Alan; i couldnt have put it any better.

    #7558
    Profile photo of i_is_j_smith
    i_is_j_smith
    Participant

    paid for voluntarily through rent instead of involuntarily through taxes. If you didn’t like the services at one seastead you could move to a better one.

    This is one point that always confuses me. Why do people consider taxes involuntary? You say paying rent to a seastead owner is better because you can always “move to a better one”. Can’t you do that if you are paying “taxes” to a seastead “government”? You voluntarily pay your taxes and if you don’t like the services you move to a better one. Isn’t this just an issue of semantics?

    #7563
    Profile photo of Eelco
    Eelco
    Participant

    i_is_j_smith wrote:

    paid for voluntarily through rent instead of involuntarily through taxes. If you didn’t like the services at one seastead you could move to a better one.

    This is one point that always confuses me. Why do people consider taxes involuntary? You say paying rent to a seastead owner is better because you can always “move to a better one”. Can’t you do that if you are paying “taxes” to a seastead “government”? You voluntarily pay your taxes and if you don’t like the services you move to a better one. Isn’t this just an issue of semantics?

    Lets see:

    1) I never chose to become a dutch citizen, yet I am.

    2) Technically, i can move to a better juristriction, except that the entire land-pie is sliced by essentially the same stationary bandits, who arnt exactly making an effort to reduce customer lock-in.

    But yes, it is a difference of degree, not of kind: i do expect to be part of some larger group of people, and i do expect to be making a non-optional financial contribution to that. But the degree of improvement that could be achieved is quite huge, in my estimation.

    #7564
    Profile photo of JLMadrigal
    JLMadrigal
    Participant

    It would be a mistake to differentiate a Heathist multi-tenant lease from Anarcho-capitalism. Since the property holder is making land use decisions regarding his property, he may determine which companies or techniques are used for its defense, upkeep, and value maintenance – as long such techniques do not violate the lease. Furthermore, to the extent that the leasing agency does not violate libertarian principles (particularily the libertarian rights of the tenants), as outlined in the Civil Order Pact (http://www.geocities.com/johnfkosanke) it provides a libertarian anarcho-capitalist system.

    90% of the Clubstead Master Lease (wiki.seasteading.org/index.php/ClubStead_Master_Lease) was written by Spencer Heath MacCallum for the proprietary community of Atlantis (http://www.libertariannation.org/a/f33m1.html). I have made special arrangements with Mr. MacCallum for him to receive a predetermined fraction of my proceeds should I be fortunate enough to use it. The lease takes special care, Thief, to assure that property will not be taken away on a whim, and to assure that leaseholders can receive full benefits for their improvements.

    A Singaporian penal system is quite unnecessary with such a lease. “Crimes” must have victims.

    A property owners’ association, while it still arguably falls under anarcho-capitalism, has all of the disadvantages of majoritarianism (AKA Democracy).

    Regarding a substitute for statist currency, I like such alternatives as e-gold and the use of stock certificates … but ultimately the buyers and sellers will decide what medium they like best.

    #7566
    Profile photo of i_is_j_smith
    i_is_j_smith
    Participant

    I never chose to become a dutch citizen, yet I am

    Yes but in a Heathian-system seastead I assume you would have children. And they would be born into this system by no say of theirs, and be required to pay rent when they come of age. How is that any different than taxes?

    Technically, i can move to a better juristriction

    I’m talking about moving to another state. I am a U.S. citizen, and I pay my taxes. If I ever get fed up enough with the quality of service I can just move to Australia…or New Zealand…or the U.K. I will no longer pay taxes to the U.S. So how are taxes not voluntary if I can leave whenever I want?

    Don’t get me wrong…I’m not defending the system that existing states use. I just don’t understand this whole “taxes are forced on me” issue.

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