Floating cities "take shape"

Gaming this out in my head, it could work as designed for a while.

The city sets anchor in international waters, and declares itself a sovereign country. Their primary economy is as a tax shelter, which funds the imports to keep it alive (parts for upkeep, food, etc.).

“Governments just don’t get better,” Mr. Quirk said. “They’re stuck in previous centuries. That’s because land incentivizes a violent monopoly to control it.”

Yeah, OK. So let’s fast forward 100 years, to when the floating city is stuck in a past century, and has ever more complicated laws and bureaucracy. The richest of the rich will want to build their own new new utopia to get away from the taxes and laws and what have you. Either they build their own, or buy some land to allow for easier expansion of private residences…

Rinse and repeat.

This presumes that the floating Libtertarian utopia doesn’t decide at some point that tax havens aren’t enough revenue, and they start cooking high grade meth to fill their coffers.


"Life Cycle of a Ship

Lifetime of a modern vessel is about 25 – 30 years"



Right, presuming you can actually keep such a beast afloat for 100 years. I wasn’t trying to get at the technical problems with such a thing. Assuming you can do that, there’s a whole bunch of other issues which crop up.


Yeah, left out of these pitches are the caveat, “And if anything does go wrong, we can count on local countries coming to our aid!” (See: Sealand, The Principality of)

They sometimes do realize that, so these floating “countries” end up planned for the international waters juuust outside a country where they can ship in labor as needed to do all the work, without them having to live there, too. (Also presumably so that when something goes wrong, they can turn to that country for help…)


Thankfully, replacing “land” with “tiny scrap of delicate synth-land surrounded by lethal water” will in no way ‘incentivize’ conflict over scarce resources. That’d be crazy talk.


Classic Libertarian.

The system is rigged against me so the solution is to make my own rigged system, with hookers and no tax!




How can I fund this happening? Because I can think of a whole bunch of libertarians who I’d like to see cooped up on a boat together, and I have some popcorn right here.


Imagination is a place …

Japan did.


Shall we call it the Fletcher Memorial Home?


Call me crazy, but it seems like they would have to levy higher taxes and have stricter laws to maintain something like a floating city. These things don’t build and maintain themselves.


The salinity and humidity of the ocean creates a lot of unique problems for long term oceanic structures. There’s also the danger from bad weather out in the water, in a moment of severe weather on the ocean you’re pretty much SOL unless the floating city is indestructible… and we know how the last “unsinkable” vessel ended up.


No, you see by removing taxes and the corresponding Monopoly of Violence, it would be in everyone’s self-interest to voluntarily contribute to the upkeep of the human gyre.


Given the target group…
My guess is, there would be a pecking order. And someone (or a faction) would try to monoplize violence. And levy taxes tributes. And if that person (or group) has a mindset like Peter Thiel, this would include blood and organs.


As you note “live on a boat” is substantially more of a collective action problem than “live on land” is(negative externalities and violence and such are obviously present in both cases; but it’s less often the case that the entire neighborhood sinks if one person neglects lawn maintenance).

What I’m not really sure of is how many of the proponents of the idea are just somewhat untutored in the ways of boats; how many take a “Captain’s word is law is pretty cool if you plan to be the captain” view and are just hoping to build a small pond where they don’t have to contend with incumbent big fish with standing armies; and how many take the “but it’ll all be based on contracts and the sort of free association encouraged by being surrounded by ocean for miles in every direction; so it won’t be state coercion!” position.

I’m pessimistic about things working out for any of them; the economics of boats are such that they mostly get used either for profitable activities that can’t be done on land(fishing, bulk shipping, marine oil/gas extraction, etc.) or for the amusement of people who are bringing the money in from outside. In the former case, I’m having a hard time thinking of things that a hypothetical seastead has a comparative advantage in: if it can be done on land, doing it in a reasonably cheap location will cost a lot less than doing it on a boat, even if you don’t score some tax breaks or subsidies, if it cannot, you are competing with the existing marine operators of the world(possibly on a ship that isn’t even welcome in most ports) who have less incentive than you to make their ships comfortable rather than merely endurable for the duration of the job.

As recreation, the numbers work out much better; but at the cost of making your social experiment little more than a libertarian yacht club(which is fine, probably much more interesting than a normal yacht club; but useless if you want to prove an alternative way of doing things, rather than simply demonstrating that almost any silly idea can be made to work with enough subsidies).

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Sink their cities and blunder the bottom of the sea afterwards.

China as well. It is a cornerstone of their strategy to extend their territory currently.

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