May 11, 2008 at 1:05 pm #466
Unless every Seasteader is independently wealthy and retired, they will need some means of making a living. Sure, they could be subsistence fishermen or “sea farmers” of some type, but that’s hardly going to be conducive to any kind of decent standard of living, certainly not a modern, technological lifestyle that gives enough surplus wealth to engage in experimental governance and social evolution.
- Not only do Seasteaders need specialization and division of labour, they need international trade. They need sources of hard currency tradeable on the international economy.
- So what are your ideas for things that Seasteaders can sell to outsiders?
- Some quick ideas:
- Meteorological stations/services
- Navigational Aids.
- Fisheries products, fish farming
- Oil and gas production
- Media content generation- radio, television, webcast, books/magazines
- Marine product design/testing
- Information technology work
- Oceanic research
- Biological research- not necessarily just marine biology
- Service and repair of marine vessels- “wet dock” or even mobile “dry dock”.
RE: #4: This is a proven industrial application, and there is no reason other than initial investment cost that such an industry could not be adapted to a whole-lifestyle platform where the business is an employee-owned corporation where people permanently live in close proximity to their work. It’s also possible to do on a smaller scale nd therefore solve your energy problems, simply by producing for yourself. Granted, this would be a capital-intensive start-up.May 11, 2008 at 3:22 pm #1984
We could give ‘offshoring’ a more literal meaning.May 12, 2008 at 4:20 pm #1987
Two industires with relatively low start-up costs and high demand: off-shore banking and “data havens.” Both might have a comparative advantage on a seastead because they are so heavily regulated on-shore.
But if I really wanted to make a fine living on a seastead and cared not a whit for my eternal soul, I’d open an offshore prostitution / opium den. Now there’s a growth industry where lack of government regulation really makes a difference.May 14, 2008 at 1:01 pm #1993
Off-shore banking already has a LOT of competition, and people are pretty conservative when it comes to financial institutions. You’d haev to prove your trustworthiness (which typically takes generations in the banking industry) and your ability to enforce your intentions: If the US Marshalls show up with guns, can you really forestall them? What happens to your data haven when you get sued? If you’re truly sovereign, you might be able to ignore a lawsuit, but the global economy is pretty tightly integrated, and the minute you set foot in some place where you’re wanted for copyright infringement, you and your assests could be seized and held pending a lawsuit.
Anyway, I don’t think that most libertarians are entirely comfortable with pirating other people’s property rights, even intellectual property.
It might be something if you could get a service going that allowed people access to unbiased sources of news and information not censored by governmental control, but the problem here is that the access to the medium of information flow (airwaves and Internet) are largel controlled at the point of access, not at the source of inromation, so governments still have control over the information reaching their citizens.May 14, 2008 at 7:01 pm #1996
Any industry that is otherwise highly taxed, highly regulated, and does not need vast areas for production should be competitive on a eastead.
Most if not all Industry will require reliable power. In practice this means fossil fuel or a nuclear power plant.May 14, 2008 at 7:38 pm #1997
OK, tht’s the standard theory, which I think we’re all aware of
May 16, 2008 at 12:48 pm #2011
- What have you got, other than “meth lab”?
BTW, that last was meant to be kidding…May 16, 2008 at 12:58 pm #2012
One option for a seastead business (still heavily tourism-centric) is charter fishing and scuba/snorkeling equipment rental and training. Someone who has a boat capable of doing these things would also have a comparative advantage as a ship-to-shore taxi in a specialization of labour scenario.
May 16, 2008 at 1:13 pm #2013
- Not everyone on the seastead needs a boat capable of traveling long distances, in fact, relatively few do, much like inner-city dwellers rarely need an auto.
- The sea stead will most likley be small enough to make walking the quickest and most effieicnt form of moving around it, with perhaps some boats that moor to the underside like gondolas in Venice. These smaller boats will be for workaday movement in the vicinity of the seastead and utilitarian purposes like fishing, tending nets, lines etc.
- Of course, these other boats also serve as emergency life vessels in the case of a catastrophic failure of the seastead itself, to keep people alive long enough for rescue.
Another industrial possibility for a seastead might be asbestos disposal. The only real problem with asbestos and the reason it is banned is because inhaling it in particulate form over long periods of times causes physical damage to your lungs. It’s not chemical damage- in fact, asbestos is fairly inert, chemically. It might be possible to find a method of disposal which not only is not harmful to the sea floor, but actively beneficial to permanent or semi-permeanent seastead mooring areas by providing a substrate upon which more marine life can grow, in the artificial reef model.May 16, 2008 at 4:52 pm #2020
Hey thebastige –
You suggested that the offshore banking industry is already fairly competitive.
I’d say this is probably quite right and a very good point for a “devil’s advocate” to be making.
But one thing the present competition cannot offer is a guarantee that governments will continue to stay hands-off.
When I worked briefly in a bank in Switzerland in 2001, for example, you could already hear talk of stepped-up government intrusions that would have been unheard of years ago.
A seastead bank, by contrast, could offer greater guarantees of long-term privacy backed up by its ability to unmoor itself from any “government” that formed in a seastead colony (I guess dragging its data cables with it, but let’s not get bogged down in logistics).
And as to the “trustworthiness” concern, I suppose that would be solved if an established name in banking set up shop. Or is the whole thrust of this thread aimed at what industries twenty-something libertarian wonks (i.e. probably most posters on this website) could run?May 16, 2008 at 5:03 pm #2021
Wouldn’t tourism and snorkling etc. have the same problems with competition that you opined would affect private banking? (With fewer of the corresponding comparative advantages)
I’ll grant you that I may be way off base – the ranks of pasty-skinned libertarian wonks (look no further than me) may be a completely fresh, untapped ocean tourist market.May 16, 2008 at 10:37 pm #2028
LOL. Pasty-skinned or not, libertarians are not the only or even the primary target of tourism, my friend. Not everybody involved in or touched by the Seastead project will be a libertarian, in fact, ideological bias will probably be the bigget reason for failure of any seastead projects that don’t succeed.
- The first and foremost need for a seastead is to be economically viable and secondarily, attractive.
It could be attractive for a myriad reasons that have nothing to do with libertarianism. It coule be sci-fi geeks, budget tourists, high-end tourists, people seeking basic employment, people seeking specific employment, people who just can’t bloody get along in an urban environment, and Jaques Cousteau wannabees.
- Yes, there is a lot of competition for charter fishing customer (and a limited pool of customers). Yes, there are hundreds if not thousands of dive instructing schools and dive shops. However, how many of them have unique locations and perspectives on the sea itself? How many of those businesses literally live in tune with the ocean for their very existence and learn the deepest lessons from it? That’s the competitive advantage.
- And these businesses don’t threaten the sovereignty of states or billion-dollar corporations- just small, independent businesses that must compete on their own merits, rather than with overwhelming military force and a tax base of hundreds of millions of people.
Now, do these business ideas have potential for instant billions in yearly revenue? No- obviously not, but they have the possibility of being sustainable small business “going concerns” and family enterprises, which is what the small-scale seastead needs to be able to even crack the market open for eventual cities-in-the-sea.
May 16, 2008 at 10:38 pm #2029
- A bank is not a business that you start in your back yard with a few bucks in savings and a few handtools (even counting some personal computers as “hand tools”.)
Well, taking your last point first, yes, I would say that the most important point is: what can the people who are already interested in this idea, do to employ themselves well enough to build and live on their seastead? Lets not get trapped into the common problems pointed out here several times on this website and epitomized by the South Park Underpants Gnomes:
- Stage one: Collect Underpants
- Stage two: ? (we’ll come back to that later)
- Stage three: Profit!!!!!
But to address your first point, who says a Seastead can guarantee no government interference? A major topic of discussion on this board is how to avoid the notice of and avoid antagaonizing existing states, because we have NO defense against them, including no legal rights under their legal system. We have no way to guarantee freedom from the oversight of established government. The United States claims taxes on your income for ten years even after you emigrate to another country, and will prosecute you should you ever set foot back in the states if you don’t fess it up. If your assets are great enough, they will try to extradite you or freeze your assets until they get their cut. It’s not right, but it’s a fact of life that is NOT going to change any time soon. They didn’t put Al Capone in prison for his gangster ways and many violent crimes, they put him in prison for tax evasion.
May 17, 2008 at 11:20 am #2031
- And finally, there is no point of logistics we can afford to ignore for even a moment, in the Seastead plan. It’s ALL logistics. Logistics is the hardest part of the whole idea. It’s easy to sojourn upon the sea these days. But nobody LIVES upon the sea full time. That changes literally everything. Only nomads with nothing to lose, no assets, and primitve technology living close to poverty and in danger from everything from starvation to the weather can afford to just pick up and move on whenever. And that’s only because where they are at is no or not much better than anywhere else. You have abandon all comfort and security to be a true nomad.
May 17, 2008 at 11:24 am #2032
- Successful Seastead technology and innovations might prove useful to the offshore drilling industries.
- Patents and licensing fees might provide considerable income, and hopefully a residual revenue stream.
- Innovations in diving, fishing, and boating gear would be good candidates for forming an industrial base
- Seasteaders looking to form a co-op living space might do well to recruit someone who already works in these industries and has an entrepreneurial streak.
What about sort of a summer camp. There´s plenty of things a platform like that could offer. If you think about the kids, for example, you´ve got a mix of exercise, skuba diving, fun… There´s a chance that some people that simpatize us but don´t want to get involved could send their children to our summer camp. If it is a baystead it should be as safe as any other camp. As for more grown kids, you could mix it up with somo economic lessons. California is a big area enought to finfd people interested in a seminar of Austrian economics. And I say Austrian economics because I foresee that it could be easier to convince top teacher to join the project asking for a lower fee than he usually gets, but you could teach whatever you want. Or even Englisg lessons to people from abroad like me 😉 I hope you get the point. There´s a lot of money around education these days, and doing things the proper way you could get part of it. Cheers
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