June 21, 2008

Las Vegas: Resort -> City

We think one of the most promising initial business models for a seastead is as an offshore resort: "Las Vegas on the ocean, but with less rules" is the sound bite.  (Of course, there will be many other differences, such as radical self-government and experimentation with new ways of getting along – this is just about the business model).  One natural concern people have is whether such a business can give rise to a diverse economy and a full city, with schools, doctors, libraries, etc.  This is also related to the "Would you really want to live in a wretched hive of scum and villainy?" question we sometimes get.

Las Vegas shows that such a path is quite realistic, since it started as a gambling outpost, and became the fasting-growing city in America.  Sure, the tourists were transient, but the successful resort industry created construction and service jobs.  Those jobs brought in a local population that wanted all the diverse goods and services that are standard in our economy, which meant lots of other jobs.  Also, over time the resort industry led to a population of retirees, who were there for a permanent vacation.

Those retirees who like the glitzy Strip (and can afford it) go there, while others go to cheaper locals dives.  And while the resorts may be built on gambling, the neighborhoods look much like those in any other city.  We will seek to similarly parlay seastead tourism and retirement into a flourishing local economy.

Just because a city thrives on low regulation and "sin industries" doesn’t mean it won’t be a nice place to live.