Live Free at Sea

Maybe the ocean is a place where we can experiment with new ways of living.
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How can we live free? Governments impose rules and control all land on earth.
“We need a new place to experiment with new rules,” says Joe Quirk of the Seasteading Institute.
Quirk says that if people move 12 miles off the coast, they can build their own cities, or even countries, and make their own rules. Seasteaders dream of building huge platforms in the ocean, places where free people can live and work and practice free association.

A few have already tried to make this dream a reality. Chad and Nadia Elwartowski built a small seastead 12 miles off the coast of Thailand.

But it didn’t go so well. The Thai navy cracked down and charged Chad and Nadia with breaking the law. The couple are now on the run.

Despite this setback, Quirk is optimistic about the future of living at sea. How might it work?

Quirk points out that a form of seasteads already exist: cruise ships.“Most cruise ships fly the flag of say, Panama or Liberia and they’re sort of de facto self-governing … So a captain is a de facto dictator. Why doesn’t he become a tyrant? And the answer is because people can choose another cruise line.”

On land, some governments have done something a bit similar to seasteading, Quirk notes. They’re created “special economic zones”. After seeing the success of Hong Kong, even communist China set up such zones so cities could experiment with fewer rules. Those zones have thrived. There should be more of them.

Of course, lots of people are nervous about getting rid of rules. Stossel tells Quirk that some would say: “Without American rules some will be shooting up heroin or abusing children!”

Quirk replies: “We have that in our country right now … But if I … move 12 miles off shore … I’m going to be so incentivized to set a better example … Because the world’s eyes are going to be on me. I got to convince investors to invest in it. I got to convince people to move there,” he says.

Quirk adds: “Seasteaders don’t have a problem with regulations per se. Humans need rules to interact. We have a problem with the monopoly over the provision and enforcement of regulations … we don’t need politicians. They’re not smart enough to make decisions for us!”

Quirk tells Stossel that he wants people to govern themselves.

“It’s irresponsible not to improve society by setting better examples,” he says.