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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Competitive government isn't just about tax havens

I'm a huge fan of the Seasteading Institute, Charter Cities, etc. etc. because I believe there is very little bad that can come from competition between government. In fact, I believe that -- if these measures are successful -- bureaucracies around the world will adjust their services accordingly. Is it hopeful? Yes. Are these projects feasible? Probably not in my lifetime.

Every time I pitch the idea to a lefty, though, I usually get a speech about how these projects would only benefit wealthy investors.

Thankfully, blogs like "Let a Thousand Nations Bloom" continually articulate the moral benefits of having reliable systems and incentives for governments to have a competitive orientation.

Today's latest entry was about Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, in protest of the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation inflicted on him by municipal officials. As Zach Caceres articulated, "Bouazizi’s tragic story is a reminder to all of those who advocate for the Cambrian Explosion in government that the phrase “Institutions matter” has a human face. To fight for innovation in rules and competitive governance is also to hoist a banner for those like Bouazizi. He and millions like him, quiet and determined, labor in all corners of the world – struggling to reach their full potential because of stultifying rules and government predation."
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  1. This was an ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS post! I didn't realize there were any serious projects trying to develop independent ocean-based cities. Even if they are decades away, the idea is inspiring and holds out hope that humanity's best days of dreaming and developing lay ahead.

    Even more important to me, was your inclusion of the Mohammed Bouazizi's story. All I had heard on the news was that some guy set himself on fire in Tunisia--for reasons which were conveniently never mentioned (I'm "sure" that was an editorial oversight)--and that caused all of these "uprisings."

    I'm really glad I signed up to follow your blog. Keep up the good work!

  2. Very eye opening post. I was not even aware of the concept of charter cities. I wish we could build a charter city in upstate NY. I want to stay here because I want to be near my family, but the government has destroyed all possibility for prosperity here. This would bring hope to a region in despair. Would it even be possible in the US, or would the government just get in the way. I think this is my new mission in life.

  3. An excellent reminder of the widespread cultural and political Zeitgeist that seeks to decentralize big institutions (such as governments) and so make them more responsive and humane. As the saying goes, the future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed.

    Readers interested in this way of thinking as a broad phenomenon might enjoy this piece, "From charter schools to charter colleges?" It imagines a process for decentralizing big bureaucratic state universities through the creation of independent residential colleges around them. (Note that this is not about creating degree-granting colleges, but student and faculty residential societies, like the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge.)

  4. One word: "Retrocede" and be done with it.

    They already did it to the portion that was in Virginia.

    Then the citizens get apportioned with Maryland and they gain full representation. Full stop and we are done with the issue.

  5. Thanks guys, you should check on these organizations if you can... they're doing great work.

  6. @Kathleen, I have never heard of these before. I'll be checking them out. Thanks!