Patri Friedman


This was a talk when new ASI wine burst old bottles. Let's set sail with Patri Friedman. The basic idea of sea-steadings is that only on the high seas can we escape the institutional inefficiencies and perverse incentives of national governments.

I'll reduce Patri's entertaining self-titled "rant on government" to three points. Firslty, government everywhere is the meta-problem: it's the largest industry - 36% of GDP in the USA - but technologically the most backward; and the barriers to entry are "insane: you need to win a war an election or a revolution". Secondly, even when good policies are put forward within government, they are not adopted because political institutions are designed to reward horse-trading and political favours. Finally, there is the guarantee of inefficiency - customer lock-in: far worse than a two-year cell-phone contract. In order to escape from your bad home government you face the hassles of another country's tortuous immigration laws and changing jobs and house. Rant over: get to sea.

Patri stated "All humans have monkey brains". but only one in six people are libertarians, pioneers ready to explore new frontiers - check Frederick Jackson Turner's "The significance of the Frontier in American History (1893). To "Go West, young man!" after you reach California there is only the ocean. However, even when they have the best ideas, libertarians will never be the majority who win elections. Their best option is this crazily sensible vision of communities of the like-minded based on floating cities outside territorial waters that can exercise - and perhaps in time claim - their own sovereignty. They can be near or far from a coastal state, on a cruise ship or on floating platforms with an open ocean breakwater (with mathematical economies of scale - double the radius and halve the cost per square foot). Think of the Empire State building on its side, height turned to length but with the same population. The big difference? When no longer perched on Manhattan you are free from New York (city and state) and more than two centuries of federal interference.