Anti-Piracy: Seastead Foreign Policy

Startup Societies Foundation

By Joe McKinney

Seasteading has always captivated the startup societies movement, and is exciting for many political and technological reasons. However, seasteading has two major obstacles: sovereignty and maritime piracy.


Seasteading supporters like to imagine that they would be immune from external politics. They are sadly not. Diplomacy is necessary to prevent a seastead from being strangled in the crib. For example, the first modern seastead, Operation Atlantis, was largely ended by the Haitian government. A floating platform of foreigners complicated an already tenuous diplomatic background in the Caribbean. Consequently, Haiti shut down Operation Atlantis at gun point, claiming that the Atlanteans were pirates. Since the seastead was not a sovereign entity, they had no recourse and the project quickly ended. In the future, sovereignty will continue to be a problem. States treat international politics as a zero sum game and must be given incentives to cooperate.


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Based on His Leaked 2005 Tax Data, Donald Trump Should Move to Italy (or the Isle of Man)

“If you think all of this sounds too good to be true, you’re right. At least for Donald Trump and other Americans. The United States has a very onerous worldwide tax system based on citizenship.

In other words, unlike folks in the rest of the world, Americans have to give up their passports in order to benefit from these attractive options. And the IRS insists that such people pay a Soviet-style exit tax on their way out the door.”

International Liberty

The multi-faceted controversy over Donald Trump’s taxes has been rejuvenated by a partial leak of his 2005 tax return.

Interestingly, it appears that Trump pays a lot of tax. At least for that one year. Which is contrary to what a lot of people have suspected – including me in the column I wrote on this topic last year for Time.

Some Trump supporters are even highlighting the fact that Trump’s effective tax rate that year was higher than what’s been paid by other political figures in more recent years.

But I’m not impressed. First, we have no idea what Trump’s tax rate was in other years. So the people defending Trump on that basis may wind up with egg on their face if tax returns from other years ever get published.

Second, why is it a good thing that Trump paid so much tax? I realize I’m a…

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The World’s Most Inefficient Healthcare System, Part I: Created by Government, Financed by Government

“Regardless of whether #Obamacare is repealed, the U.S. #health system will be a mess until the third-party payer system is fixed.”

International Liberty

I shared last year a matrix to illustrate Milton Friedman’s great insight about the superior results achieved by markets compared to government.

Incentives explain why markets work best. When you spend your own money on yourself (box 1), you try to maximize quality while minimizing cost. And that drives the businesses that are competing for your money to constantly seek more efficient ways of producing better products at better prices.

This system generates creative destruction, which sometimes can be painful, but the long-term result is that we are vastly richer.

Governments, by contrast, don’t worry about efficiency or cost (box 4).

Today, though, let’s  use Friedman’s matrix to understand the shortcomings of the US healthcare system. Way back in 2009, I opined that the most important chart in healthcare was the one showing that American consumers directly paid for less than 12 percent of health expenditures.

For all…

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Foreign Aid Undermines Economic Development and Subsidizes Bad Policy in Developing Nations

“If we care about both American #taxpayers and poor people in developing nations, #Trump’s plan to cut #foreignaid should be applauded.”

International Liberty

While President Trump apparently intends to waste taxpayer money for more childcare subsidies and presumably is going to duck the critical issue of entitlement reform, there is some good news for advocates of limited government and fiscal responsibility. According a recent news report., he’s not a big fan of outlays for foreign aid.

The White House budget director confirmed Saturday that the Trump administration will propose “fairly dramatic reductions” in the U.S. foreign aid budget later this month. …news outlets reported earlier this week that the administration plans to propose to Congress cuts in the budgets for the U.S. State Department and Agency for International Development by about one third. …The United States spends just over $50 billion annually on the State Department and USAID.

Trump’s skepticism of foreign aid is highly appropriate. Indeed, he’s probably being too soft on the budget for foreign aid.

Government-to-government handouts have

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Carbon Taxes: Worrisome in Theory, Bad in Reality

Dan Mitchell: “Proposed #carbontax is a bad deal, requiring two bad policies for the vague promise of one good policy.”

International Liberty

I don’t have strong views on global warming. Or climate change, or whatever it’s being called today.

But I’ve generally been skeptical about government action for the simple reason that the people making the most noise are statists who would use any excuse to increase the size and power of government. To be blunt, I simply don’t trust them. In Washington, they’re called watermelons – green on the outside (identifying as environmentalists) but red on the inside (pushing a statist agenda).

But there are some sensible people who think some sort of government involvement is necessary and appropriate.

George Schultz and James Baker, two former Secretaries of State, argue for a new carbon tax in a Wall Street Journalcolumn as part of an agenda that also makes changes to regulation and government spending.

…there is mounting evidence of problems with the atmosphere that are growing…

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Green Startup Societies

Startup Societies Foundation

In 2017,  the environmentalist movement looks bleak. With Trump in the White House and Rick Perry heading the Department of Energy, new environmentalist regulation is extremely doubtful. America is not alone. The world is moving towards right wing populism and global isolationism. In this landscape, national self interest is prioritized over environmentalist concerns or the international cooperation it requires to address them.

But environmental activists do not have the luxury of conceding defeat. They know the consequence is death for millions and the wholesale destruction of the ecosystem. Action is a foregone conclusion. The real questions is: what type of action should be taken?

The common method is electoral politics in order to, “throw the bums out”. But ecological apocalypse is time sensitive. Presidential campaigning will not get off the ground for another three years. Even if the green movement wins in 2020, entrenched financial interest and Trump’s emerging political…

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Centralization and the Decline of Europe

“…since 2008…, the 28 countries in the European Union managed combined growth of just 4 percent. And in the subset consisting of the eurozone minus Germany, output actually fell. …most of the Mediterranean periphery has suffered a lost decade. …The unemployment rate in the euro area stands at 9.8 percent, more than double the U.S. rate. Unemployment among Europe’s youth is even more appalling: In Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus and Portugal, more than 1 in 4 workers under 25 are jobless.”

International Liberty

The famous French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand supposedly said that a weakness of the Bourbon monarchs was that they learned nothing and forgot nothing.

If so, the genetic descendants of the Bourbons are now in charge of Europe.

But before explaining why, let’s first establish that Europe is in trouble. I’ve made that point (many times) that the continent is in trouble because of statism and demographic change.

What’s far more noteworthy, though, is that even the Europeans are waking up to the fact that the continent faces a very grim future.

For instance, the bureaucrats in Brussels are pessimistic, as reported by the EU Observer.

…the report warns of a longer term risk for the EU economy. “As expectations of low growth ahead affect investment today, there is potential for a vicious circle,” the commission’s director general for economic and financial affairs writes in…

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