From NPR: Libertarian Island: No Rules, Just Rich Dudes

The Bryant Park Project, May 21, 2008 · What happens when Milton Friedman’s grandson, an eccentric billionaire and some ocean real estate all intersect? You get “seasteads,” permanent dwellings on the ocean. The first seastead is scheduled to hit the waters of San Francisco Bay in two years.


“Seasteading is essentially trying to create a low-cost vessel that you can move out into the open ocean so that you can experiment and live out on a boat essentially… and install whatever political system you want, in particular, say, libertarian —a political system where there is very little government,” says Alexis Madrigal, who wrote about seasteading for Wired magazine. “And the idea is that it would actually improve government because if you didn’t like what the government of your floating city state did, you could just motor away.”

The major players behind seasteading are Paypal inventor Peter Thiel, super-rich ex-Sun Microsystems executive Wayne Gramlich and Milton Friedman’s Google engineer grandson. They all want their colonies to adhere to a specific system: Libertarianism, answering a long-time dream of free marketers: If only there was a place residents could, at last, live purely according to the laissez-faire philosophy.

The pods are based on oil rig technology, Madrigal says. One example in the North Sea is four times the size of the Eiffel Tower. But Madrigal says the Seasteading operation is focusing on much smaller, single-family dwellings.

Thiel, who is also an early Facebook investor, is known for investing in futuristic efforts. Madrigal points out that Thiel is also a member of The Methuselah Foundation, an organization devoted to stopping aging. In other words, Thiel is an enthusiast of many esoteric initiatives and isn’t exactly holding his breath until the Seastead team slips one into the ocean. Therefore, his $500,000 check to Seasteading should, Madrigal says, be viewed as a “down-payment” on an idea more than a ringing endorsement.

“If they come up with something, good, if not, no big deal,” Madrigal says. “They need maybe another million, 2 million dollars . . . if they make progress they get more money, if not, I got on NPR again.”


8 Responses to From NPR: Libertarian Island: No Rules, Just Rich Dudes

  1. reidgreenmun says:

    Okay – so if we can’t win elections we will just create our own mini-governments, LOL!

  2. Britt Howard says:

    One donation from Friedman to Moss could have changed the outcome of the mayor’s race. Perhaps their new country will grant us financial aid, lol.

  3. Don Tabor says:

    Sounds like an artificial Galt’s Gulch.

    But if we retreat to an island, artificial or not, we leave the rest of our countrymen to a depressing fate. Further, if these retreats become prosperous while the rest of the country languishes, we would simply be invaded, wealth confiscated and we would be forced to return to make the country work.

    Would I would really like to see is a Galt’s holiday. I would like to see everyone in the top 5% of income close their businesses and take April 15th to May 1st off and let the rest of the country fend for itself for just two weeks.

    If the message doesn’t sink in, then make it two months the next year.

  4. reidgreenmun says:

    That may happen anyway … given the behavior of the Fed and the Federal government . . . oh well.

  5. Personally, I’m interested. I’m still convinced that the Free State Project is a better idea. They’ve only moved 1,500 or so liberty activists so far. At least that’s the number who’ve confirmed their moves (I’m thinking a lot more have really moved. Liberty minded folks aren’t notoriously eager to report every move they make). Still, the FSP has been highly effective in New Hampshire.

  6. Len Rothman says:

    As someone who lived in a condominium for about 9 years I can tell you that getting 30 people to agree on anything was a challenge. My friends who lived in larger condos with 100+ members had an even more difficult time. Ostensibly, it should be simple. Everyone is responsible for their own unit. Only the common ground and common structure are shared responsibilities (roof, exterior walls, walkways, landscaping, etc.).
    But then the fun begins.
    It would be interesting to see how an island full of “A” personality entrepreneurs would work.
    Succeed or fail, it would be a learning experience either way.

  7. FradayLoard says: – great domain name for blog like this)))

  8. I remember a project along these lines back in the days of Bill Clinton, called Oceania. Interesting then, Interesting now.

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