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Onar Åm

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Everything posted by Onar Åm

  1. Clive, the project is still running although it has been going in low power for a while. We have been to Africa and talked to two governments, both of which are very eager. The name of the Free State is of course open for discussion, but my preference is that it will have a name that has the advantage of being 1) locally rooted, 2) easy to pronounce and remember for an international audience. Apart from that "anything goes."
  2. Hi, I can confirm that the game is very Objectivist friendly. And no, it does not contain you-know-who. The seven prophets are: Bean Laden, Pharaoh Bama, Ann Occulter, Lord Keynes, HAL Gore, Harry Krishna and Elrond Hubbard You can check out the game here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/778137811/yeehawd-the-fun-family-game-about-holy-wartm It's not every day that there is an Objectivist game out there. Hope you consider backing it.
  3. I will write about the Seasteading approach in a separate essay. Needless to say I greatly approve of their efforts, and aside from the Free State Initiative it is the most realistic endeavor towards a free society anywhere in the world, as far as I know. In the mean time you may read FSI's two new essays: Gurgaon - The Singapore of India http://freestateinitiative.org/gurgaon-the-singapore-of-india and P2P Governance http://freestateinitiative.org/p2p-governance
  4. A new essay called "Open Source Republicanism" is out from the Free State Initiative. http://freestateinitiative.org/open-source-republicanism
  5. A new essay is out: How to deal with cultural sensitivity. http://freestateinitiative.org/how-to-deal-with-cultural-sensitivity
  6. I don't think it is due to its conscription that Singapore is a safe place. Singapore is somewhat authoritarian, but in most areas it is fairly free. The Free State will not be a carbon copy of Singapore, but they do have many things in common: approximately the same size, high degree of economic freedom, a lot of immigrants, no natural resources. I would say that it is just as strategic to be located in Africa because from Africa one is not far from either Asia, North-America, South-America or Europe. I could again bring up Lekki Free Zone as an example where the Chinese are putting 5 billion dollars into the project, and their argument? To get a more strategic position with respect to European, South-American, North-American and African markets. Obviously they consider this to be worth at least 5 billions in investments, otherwise they wouldn't do it. Many, possibly all, depending on the location. We will also have a significant advantage in the first 10-20 years: anonymity. Most will never have heard of the Free State. There is no reason to announce it on the news and invite journalists (if they would care). The only people who need to be informed about it are investors and the people who are recruited to move their from poor countries. For the first 10-20 years, it will be just another place in Africa which no-one will write about or hear about anywhere. Only after about 10-20 years, when there are perhaps living 100,000 people or more there will be som attention. Remember, no-one really cared about Singapore in the West until quite recently. Not until, about 20 years ago, so for 30 years it was allowed to grow in peace. Sure, their neighbors knew about them, but they actually HAD neighbors. The whole point of the Free State is that no-one will be living there and in its surroundings. It is desolate and unpopulated. I think it is perfectly possible to stay off the radar on a need-to-know basis. That is, it is possible to control the information flow to some extent. Publicity about the Free State will be sought only when there is a need for publicity, which may be a very long time. I love this stealth approach and the reason it works is because the growth of the Free State will be 100% financed by production, and producers have never needed to have a lot of publicity for producing things. Sure there will be some fuzz about this in so-called "right wing media." The Heritage Foundation may include it in its world economic freedom index, Fox News and John Stossel may have a segment on it, The Economist may write about it, but who pays attention to the right wing media? Virtually no-one. Certainly not terrorists and socialists. At some point the success (if it succeeds) and size of the Free State will attract attention, and that's especially the case if country after country in the developing world is starting to duplicate it. Then at some point its success cannot go unnoticed at large, but by then the Free State or Free States will be so large that it/they are ready to face the challenge of the attention of the world. My hope is that when the world does discover the Free State(s) some 20-30 years down the line people will ask themselves what train hit them: all of a sudden there is a lot of prosperity fostered by true laissez-faire around the world. Now that would be something to write about. The only question is if you want to be a part of that vision or not. The reason I am here on Objectivism Online is to appeal to rational people to be bold and act in their long term interest, to take a chance on supporting with some pocket change what COULD be a major win for the ideas of liberty. It has always annoyed me that socialists say that I can't prove that laissez-faire works because it hasn't been tested out. Wouldn't it be awfully nice and liberating to be able to say "look to the Free State(s)"? So I want to challenge all of you on a couple of questions: 1) what do you deem the chance of success to be in percentage? (and by success I mean that 30 years down the line there is at least one thriving Free State in the world) 2) what do you deem the value of such a Free State to be if it succeeds and you're able to say "look to the Free State" for proof of how laissez-faire works in practice? I.e. if you knew for certain that this would be the outcome, how much money would you be willing to put on the table to make that come true? Now, according to simple statistics the correct way of calculating the risk adjusted value of this project is: success% * value So if you deem there to 5% chance of winning in this laissez-faire lottery, and the value of winning to you is, say $10,000 dollars, then you should rationally be willing to put up to 5% * $10,000 = $500 on the table to make this come true. That's how you would bet in a lottery where you knew the odds. If you had 1% chance of winning 1 million dollars in a lottery, statistically you will win $10,000 and you would therefore be statistically willing to pay up to $10,000 dollars for such a ticket. Now, personally I consider the chance of success at present, when all risks and uncertainties are included, to be in the vicinity of 10%. IF we get a deal with the current potential host country to implement a Free State and we are able to get investors to build factories and infrastructure the chance of success in my opinion rises to more than 80%. So based on what you know, what are YOUR numbers? Both chance of success and the value to you in case of success.
  7. Well, I have to admit that I was playing making a little bit fun of PC speak. For instance, as a joke I like to say that God is not non-existent but metaphysically challenged. That has so many layers of to it that most people pick up on some of the humor involved. Apparently not so with a term like ethnically challenged (which, in case you wondered, could be read as someone who is challenged for their ethnicity, i.e.the victim of racism). However, joke aside, you do seem to show little knowledge of Africa. There's nothing wrong with that. I am just pointing it out that you then end up with making broad generalizations for which there is no basis in reality. Actually I think I did a pretty good job of showing that your Rhodesia comparison was outlandish. Perhaps not quite as outlandish as WWIII, but not that much less. That's true everywhere in the world. You can't go hide in a cave because there might be a threat out there that may strike you. Psychologically the liberals have a point with regards to terrorism: 9/11 killed about the same amount of people that dies in a couple of weeks in traffic accidents in the US. Now, I am by no means comparing a terrorist threat to a traffic accident, but from an individual perspective you have far greater reason to be concerned for being killed in car accident than being the victim of a terrorist attack. Therefore on an everyday basis you should not really be concerned with terrorist threats. You shouldn't as an individual let that threat influence your decision any more than you let the risk of dying in a car accident affect your decisions. (That the GOVERNMENT should be far more concerned with terrorism than with traffic accidents is a different matter) I agree that it has to be taken into consideration, but I think it is not that hard to counteract terrorism of the kind you here are pointing towards. Read this article about terrorist threats in Dubai: http://www.securitymanagement.com/article/dubai-terrorist-target Particularly read the following part: The Free State will not be a country and will not have a foreign policy, not even a domestic policy really. It will have no indigenous people, only immigrants and the immigrants will be coming from all over the world, but mostly from Africa, South-East Asia and South-America. Dubai has not been on the radar for extremists due to a combination of good security, prosperity and not participating in Western wars or making foreign political support to Western countries, and I think the same will be the case for the Free State. What would you say about Singapore then? Is this a security nightmare? How do you then explain that there are no terrorist attacks in Singapore and virtually no crime, despite a significant muslim population? Possibly, but not necessarily. Remember, with organic growth you can start small and grow. When you are small you don't need a lot of infrastructure and if you grow you do so due to continuous investment and profit. It's quite possible that you don't need to start that big. Suppose you for instance start with only ONE factory for, say, treating fish. Then you will need to build a fairly small port (which must be possible to expand later) for handling medium size boats, and then you need to import workers from poor countries. Since they are not used to luxury you don't need to build a full-fledged infrastructure. In the beginning the investments COULD be less than 100 million dollars, which is not a far-fetched number. Remember that Chinese companies are investing 5 billion dollars in the Lekki Free Zone. Once the initial 100 million investment has proven to be a good investment and the investors are making money then it is merely a question of expanding organically. There is no logistic hell here if you stop thinking like a superrich Westerner for a moment and consider that 95% of the population will be workers from poor parts of the world. Catering to their needs will be much less expensive and require much less investment than a full-fledged Western standard city.
  8. Again your comparison is completely arbitrary. Rhodesia was nearly 400,000 sq km of land, whereas the Free State will be around 1000 sq km, essentially a city state. Don't you think it will be easier to manage security in a smaller region like this than in 400,000 sq km of land? Furthermore, those who come into the country and are allowed permanent residence there must pledge that they have peaceful intentions. In Rhodesia one could not simply throw out citizens, whereas in the Free State where in the crucial 20 first years its inhabitants will be immigrants and can be thrown out. So let's compare the situation: - Rhodesia, BIIIG country with a large indigunous population which were COLONIZED by foreigners (and therefore naturally hostile). - The Free State, created VOLUNTARILY by the LOCAL government, small state with no indigenous population, only immigrants who have come to the Free State VOLUNTARILY and that pledges to be peaceful at entry. Another major difference: the 1960s and 1970s (which is when Rhodesia existed) were an era of Marxist regimes. You had Cuba, Chile, Somalia, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Cambodia, China which had succumbed to communism. And yes, Robert Mugabe was one of those men who rode that wave. At the same time colonialism was coming to an end. A wave of independence was flushing over the colonies, and Rhodesia was a prime target. Today the world looks completely different. While capitalism is under attack in the West, the rest of the world is racing towards it. Also the age of colonialism is over. All the former colonies have gained their independence and a lot of them have discovered that "the white man" wasn't so bad after all. After essentially 3 decades of Marxism, welfare states and foreign aid, these former colonies are to a much greater extent ready to learn from their mistakes. In short, apart from being in Africa there are no similarities between Rhodesia and the Free State whatsoever. The context is completely and utterly different, both geographically, demographically and economically, as well as politically and culturally. I don't think you are a racist, but you are probably "ethnically challenged." That is, to you it appears that "all blacks look alike," not because you are ha horrible person, but simply because you seem to lack knowledge about Africa. It is perfectly understandable that an America-centric person lumps all of Africa together, but it is not correct to do so. There is more to Africa than tribalism and communist rebellions. But your example was useless. You were talking about an army that had the responsibility over 400,000 sq km of land, and that had no means of stopping the rise of communism at its roots. I could easily have countered your example with for instance Singapore which is much closer in size (700 sq km) to the Free State and is in a very similar situation (mostly immigrants who come to work in a booming economy). The worst case scenario is that the earth is struck by a comet in the future or that world war III breaks out. Should we plan for that? Or should we perhaps use our limited resources on what we *can* influence and what is likely? The fact of the matter is that ANY such project entails risks. Does even the tiniest fraction of a risk mean that we shouldn't do it? If that is your attitude then I can assure you that you will NEVER move the world. I believe that the strategy that we have chosen is the best one, one that best serves two opposing goals: 1) the goal of creating a Free State (which stable, rich governments tend to be extremely opposed to) and 2) the goal of security of person, property and contracts, i.e. minimizing risk. Now, obviously we MUST turn to the very poorest (and therefore least stable) countries in the world if there is to be a Free State. So given this limitation, what can be done to maximize their willingness to create a Free State and at the same time minimize the risks of riots and expropriation? We believe that the strategy of the Free State Initiative accomplishes this: To maximize their willingness to create an autonomous Free State within their borders: - place it in a wasteland with no natural resources - place it in an area with little or no indigenous population Such an area has the least amount of value to the country, and therefore maximizes its willingness to consider the plan. To minimize the risk of expropriation and invasion from other countries: - demand as an absolute premise that the Free State is allowed to have its own security forces, sufficiently strong to protect its borders. - make sure that there is little of value to expropriate, i.e. that most of the value lies in the stability and peace of the Free State. To minimize the risk of riots: - make sure that most of the population is immigrants who go there voluntarily in search of a better life and job opportunities - make all immigrants pledge their peaceful intentions and throw them out if they plot to do otherwise. (planning a communist takeover would clearly violate the pledge) - make sure that there is a lot of economic growth and opportunities for leveling up As you can see, placing the Free State in an area with no population and with no natural resources serves many purposes which all taken together maximizes the overall likelihood of success. Now, as far as I can tell your argument against supporting such an initiative basically boils down to one thing: there is a risk that it can fail. Well, DUH! If you're not going to support anything unless the outcome is certain then you'll end up not supporting very much, which BTW is a pattern that I have seen with a lot of Objectivists, unfortunately.
  9. These are good and prudent comments that I appreciate. We will certainly look at South-America when the time comes, and possibly even collaborate with Romer and Honduras. If you look on the our map you will see several outlined potential locations in South-America. Of the countries in South-America I have most confidence in will be interested in such a concept and is most civilized and open to these ideas is Chile. Chile has a region, quite close to the equator that due to a combination of westerly winds and the Andes-mountains blocking rain from the Amazon basically is the driest place on Earth. It has ZERO rainfall (less than 1 millimeter per year). But due to its proximity to the ocean it has still got fairly humid air and moderate climate (about 20-25 C all year round. That's about 70-80 F) The area has got extremely low population density (it's virtually empty) and as such is highly suited for a Free State. As I said, we're definitely looking into South-America, but right now we're pursuing our most concrete lead, namely a country in Africa. According to plans we are scheduled to meet with the government in June. Notice that a Free State in Africa by no means excludes other Free States. In fact, I strongly believe that a Free State in Africa will be a door opener for the FSI in other parts of the world such as in South-America. Therefore there is no reason NOT to pursue a Free State in Africa, quite the contrary, if for no other reason than to be a door opener for other countries. However, when that is said there is a lot of really good things happening in Africa right now that is completely off the radar in the West. Some have taken notice how the Chinese have "invaded" Africa in the last decade or so, but no-one seems to analyze what this means in terms of the mood and cultural changes in Africa. China and Chinese companies didn't just come to Africa and "magically" get a lot of deals there. They brought something that Africans have very rarely received from the West: respect and a treatment as equals. Not as colonialists, aid workers or IMF watch dogs, but as business partners. This seems to have been a "magic" formula for the Chinese because it has brought out very good and rational behavior in a lot of African countries. Economic freedom is now on the rise culturally and politically in Africa while it is waning in Europe and the US. So I don't think that a Free State in Africa is doomed to failure or even that there is a very high probability of something going wrong. Yeah, sure there's tribalism, but so what? There was tribalism in Europe and America too. That didn't stop the industrial revolution. Also we're taking precautions. We're not placing the Free State smack in the middle of a war zone or in a place buzzing with people. All the people who will be living in the Free State will be immigrants, and as such everyone starts on equal footing. Those who travel to a Free State don't go there to be tribalistic. That they can do at home in their village. No, they go to the Free State because they are independent and individualistic and want to escape tribalism. A Free State that has zero welfare state perks will attract mostly those who want to work for a better life, and even though there's a lot of tribalism in Africa, don't you think that there are millions of Africans who despise this sort of thinking and are looking to get away? I think so. Use your reasoning and knowledge of economics. Who are attracted to liberty and laissez-faire?
  10. For those who are interested the Free State Initiative now has a blog up and running, which will be addressing many of the questions that we are regularly asked. The two first essays are: Data and tax haven? http://freestateinitiative.org/data-and-tax-haven Leveling up http://freestateinitiative.org/leveling-up
  11. Here is another one: Notice how good the arguments of the politicians are. Unlike Western politicians these are actually saying TRUE things, and talking about the market in a positive manner.
  12. This is a little bit like saying "look what happened to the Soviet Union." Apart from the fact that Rhodesia was in Africa, that most of the population was black and the people in government were mostly white/foreigners there are very little similarities. I really do hope you have something more to go on in your evaluation than the color of the skin of the people involved. As I mentioned elsewhere: - Rhodesia was a country, not a sub-national entity. - Rhodesia was a former colony acquired by force, not a sub-national entity voluntarily created by the host country. - Rhodesia was not recognized internationally, the Free State will be recognized internationally. - Rhodesia was full of indigenous people and full of resources, the Free State will deliberately be created in an area with close to zero population and with zero natural resources, not even fresh water (if it is in a desert) rights, or fishing rights. So apart from being placed in Africa, what is the relevance of Rhodesia to a Free State? And why would it be "over-run and killed within a few months"? Why hasn't this happened to all the Chinese companies that have ventured into Africa? Africa now sports many Free Trade Zones, in e.g. Nigeria and Gambia: http://www.africa-import-export.gm/free-trade-zones-africa.html None of these FTZs have been "over-run" and the people there haven't been "killed within a few months." Why? They have built seaports and factories, roads and infrastructure. Why haven't they been "over-run"? Why hasn't it all been nationalized? My own explanation is that it hasn't been nationalized for the very simple reason that the countries that are creating free trade zones have understood something very important. They understand the importance of good governance and of the free market. While, like China, they don't feel that the whole country is ready for it yet, they do want to attract foreign investors, and you don't do that by "over-running" them and "killing them within a few months." These governments know that IF they do something like this, it will be the end of foreign investors for decades. That's what I believe. Look at this video from the Lekki Free Trade Zone: Listen to what the politicians are saying. They are saying things and using arguments that you NEVER would hear in the West. They show that they have truly understood the importance of free markets. One of the politicians say that the problem that Africa has had in the past is that investors just bring out the natural resources and ship it to other countries where all the jobs are created. They want to change that by making it attractive for investors to create the jobs in Africa. This and other trends gives me hope that Africa is changing in a positive fashion, and people can choose to sit on the fence and be nay-sayers or they can choose to be the movers and doers of the world and jump on the train. In Atlas Shrugged a sub-theme was that both Rearden and Dagny were risk takers. It was James Taggart and all his cronies who didn't want to put any money on an "unproven and untested metal." Moving the world involves taking risks. Because of this it is now the Chinese that are moving the world, not naysayers in the West. Sure there is risk with the Free State but we have worked hard to minimize those risks, and in my opinion the risks are not as daunting as one is often lead to believe about Africa.
  13. That's fine, I expect skepticism and critical questions, but I was met with extreme malevolence and outright nay-saying. (To be fair, several have apologized for this) But since I am a known author and blogger and have been a member of this forum since 2006, I assumed that people would not confuse me with a Nigeria scam. A prudent skeptical question would have been to ask: "schemes like this have been tried many times before. In what way is this different? How will you succeed when others have failed?" And the answer to that question is that previous attempts have been at creating an entirely new COUNTRY (usually some uninhabited remote island) populated entirely by libertarian Zionists, or as the Free State Project has done, to pledge to migrate into an existing US state and then try to maybe change the laws there. Our approach is very similar to the Free Trade Zones, and as such it is a formula that actually has a lot of empirical data to it, and a lot of success. Both Hong Kong and Singapore were built by being a haven of good governance and low taxes. All over the world, especially in Asia, the Free Trade Zone model has been implemented extensively. And they have been tremendously successful, and the governments have NOT just seized them. To my knowledge not a single country in the world has nationalized anything in a single Free Trade Zone. I might be wrong, you may possibly be able to dig up an example, but my point is that countries build Free Trade Zones because they understand why they work. Now, building on the extensive positive experience with FTZs we have simply extended the idea so that rather than a mere FTZ which is administered by the central government, the central government sets up a jurisdiction that needs to abide to the Free State Charter, but is otherwise completely autonomous. This is not such a big leap from a FTZ, and hence there is no reason why governments should be extremely negative about this or try to nationalize this any more than they do FTZs. Once you understand that this is much closer to a free trade zone-concept than to the traditional "start your own country," the success rate actually turns dramatically in our favour. Thanks for the advice and for the good luck-wishes. I do expect a civilized tone from people, even if we are on the Internet, and I have to hand it to you guys. On no other forums have I experienced that people actually in a mature and adult manner apologize for or withdraw their initial malevolence. I do appreciate that. Now, maybe we could get back to the constructive criticism?
  14. Thank you. Apology accepted. In Nigeria alone there are 23 Free Trade Zones, and the biggest one, Lekki, is 160 sq km (62 sq miles). In Honduras congress have changed the law so that it is possible to create a Charter City, i.e. where a foreign nation leases a city/area to create good governance in that region. Do these facts tell you anything at all? Are they all doomed to be taken over by dictators? Or could it maybe be a sign that things are changing?
  15. That was very mature of you to admit. A rare quality on Internet forums these days.
  16. It is quite refreshing to hear from a non-Western Objectivist. I really wish more Objectivists (and any Westerner) would actually travel to a poor country and see how people live. I am thoroughly impressed by people such as the Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto who has not been sitting in his ivory tower thinking Great Thoughts, but has actually gone out in the real world and talked to real people in the poor world. This gives him a totally refreshing perspective on economics. The fact that he is a classical liberal makes it even better, because he presents free market ideas to poor people, and he has done so extremely successfully. Unlike the average grumpy face Objectivist, Hernando de Soto is now considered one of the most influential people on the planet, and for extremely good reasons. Hernando de Soto has been able to use actual data from poor countries all over the world to help governments reform their property right laws, and to reduce the bureaucratic burden of government. Because of this his own home country Peru today has one of the highest rates of economic growth in South America, and very encouragingly, that growth is coming from below, from poor people generating wealth. Hernando de Soto has actually managed the incredible feat of singlehandedly changing the views of millions of people to become truly enthusiastic about capitalism. de Soto is truly someone who moves the world. He hasn't been sitting and moaning about the culture not being ready for a free market, he has gone out and changed it by talking to the people who gain the most from a free market: the poor. Quite inspired by de Soto I have done something similar, only in the Philippines. I've gone out and studied how people there live, what they earn, how much things cost, what business opportunities there are, what hindrances there are etc. It became abundantly clear to me that corruption and bad laws were holding the Philippines back, but that there at the same time was surprisingly many opportunities for growth there. Let me tell you one thing that I learnt that truly changed my perspective on business. I learned how incredibly Western-centric we are in the West with regards to what we consider business opportunities and solutions. Let me give one example: in the West we think of oil as cheap and biomass as expensive, but when I came to the Philippines I realized that it just wasnt' true there. Biomass was much cheaper per energy unit than oil. Why is this? Because biomass is a product that is labor intensive, and since labor is cheap there, biomass ended up being cheap too. So I started seeing if this was true in other areas. In the Philippines it is actually cheaper to hire lots of people to dig ditches manually than to use a caterpillar. Why? This makes no sense from a Western perspective. Ok, so labor is cheaper, but how on earth can it make sense to do things unproductively when there are technologies to greatly improve efficiency? Then I realized that the reason is that oil and caterpillars are produced in high wage countries for rich markets. If really low-tech and low quality caterpillars were made in poor countries by poor people they could be sold in low wage countries with poor markets at a major profit. The key is to reduce the quality to make it possible for poor people to make them, and thereby match the market. This type of thinking is completely alien to Westerners. No-one thinks about third world countries and poor people as massive markets, but they are. They are gigantic business opportunities for those who dare view them as more than socialist hill-billies living in corrupt semi-dictatorial countries. The fact of the matter is that most third world countries are in fact more advanced today than most European countries were 200 years ago during the dawn of the industrial revolution. No-one back then waited for the culture to change before they took action. They simply went ahead and changed the world. This is also one of the reasons why I am optimistic with regards to the possibility of a Free State. Truly important things are happening in the world right now if one just cares to open one's eyes and see them. I mentioned two of these, and no-one on this forum cared to even take notice or comment on them, namely the Honduras Charter City and the Lekki Free Trade Zone. This to me is completely amazing. How is it possible to close one's eyes to these radical transformations and say that one should wait for the culture to change when the change is taking place right now? Change IS coming, and the only question is whether it will be the Chinese who are the movers of the world or if it will be someone with a better philosophical foundation. At the moment it seems that a lot of Objectivists are saying that they don't want to be a mover. They'll leave that part to the Chinese. Go figure.
  17. Dante, let me first say that a few days ago a colleague of mine asked if I had announced the Free State Initiative on the Objectivism Online forum, to which I replied no, but I would do this. However, I also said that I did not expect anything positive to come out of it because in my experience a shockingly large portion of those who call themselves Objectivists are grumpy, negative pessimists. He was quite shocked that I could say something like this, because both he and I are well-versed in the life celebrating philosophy of Ayn Rand. Today, after reading this thread he sent me an email saying "now I understand what you mean by grumpy, negative pessimists." While you and other people in the West are immersing yourself in negativity the Chinese have simply not cared. The Chinese have said "screw that these are unstable regimes and that the West will be giving us a hard time about sweatshops and exploitation, we'll just do it." So while the West was completely hands-off on Africa the Chinese were able to go in and "take over" Africa while no-one was paying attention. No-one in the West cared, because they don't really care about what goes on in Africa, only about what they can use as ammunition against Western corporations. So while no-one was looking the Chinese transformed Africa. Africa has had tremendous economic growth in the last 10-20 years or so, and it is mainly because of the Chinese who are building roads, cities and infrastructure. They are setting up factories and Free Trade Zones, and African countries are really excited about this. But the sourpusses in the West haven't noticed any of this gigantic change in Africa. All they care about is how incredibly unstable and dictatorial African countries are, and how awfully close it is to colonialism to try to do anything that remotely resembles business in Africa. They've focused so much on the negative that they've failed to see that African economies have picked up speed and actually surpassed the Asian economies in economic growth, percentage wise. http://rs.resalliance.org/2011/01/12/africas-economic-growth/ Having actually talked to Africans I have a good sense of some of the vibes that are emerging in Africa, and unlike the gloomy tone of so many Objectivists there is actually happening something in Africa and South-America that is not happening in America. There is a growing feeling that the global market and free trade is the way out of poverty and they desperately want to be part of that. Don't forget that literally hundreds of millions of people in poor countries are dreaming about going to the West because they see the opportunities that exist there. They want that and are desperately seeking it. But I guess a report from the real world and how poor people actually think is of no concern to the dark-minded Objectivist? PS: I hasten to add that not ALL Objectivists are dark-minded grumpy faces, and not even a majority. It is just that these negative forces make such a large imprint everywhere that it is easy to conclude that all Objectivists are like that. I will therefore emphasize that I know a lot of Objectivists who are both positive and life affirming. I dig Yaron Brook, but one of my absolute favorites is Lisa VanDamme. If more people were like her the world would be a much better place.
  18. You may check the population density in the regions we have looked at. You will find that it is very close to zero. Since the area is unpopulated any people who want to work there will have to move there voluntarily. In what way is this not "controlling the terms of their employment"? And what do you suggest constitutes such "control"? Re-distributive taxation? Minimum wage? Just to check: are you a socialist? You sure sound like one. If anyone moves voluntarily to the Free State to work there it must be because they regard the wages they are given there to be in their self-interest. Otherwise they wouldn't move there. Or do you suggest that they will be forcefully moved there? We are fully aware of this, and have considered the ramifications of this. In the case of Israel this was a state that was explicitly not wanted by the surrounding states. That will not be the case here. The host country must want this and see it as in their best interest. Also Israel was an independent country, whereas this will be a sub-national entity. Furthermore, Israel was considered a foreign, Western entity. We will make sure that the Free State has a local connection so that people feel that it is not a lot of foreigners. And unlike in Israel where most of the inhabitants were from the West, most of the inhabitants of the Free State will be from poor countries. Finally, there is no free immigration to Israel. Arabs and Palestinians cannot simply move to Israel if they want to. They are shut out. Thus, there is a whole host of factors that are very, very different from the case of Israel or of colonialism. What do you back up that claim by? Did Rhodes start a state in an unpopulated area with no natural resources? Did he get the consent from a local host country? In what ways do you think there is a similarity between Rhodesia and this effort? Well, how then do you explain something like the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos, Nigeria? It has no natural resources, and apart from being on the coastline (as the Free State also is intended) then by your logic it should be "a dead letter from square one." Yet, here it is being built as we speak, and the Chinese are pouring hundreds of dollars into it. Why do you think that is? Also, what is a "strategic location" in a globalized economy? Let me give you an example of such a "strategic location." Norway has one of the best arctic fishing regions in the world. One should think that Norway is "strategically located" for the processing of this fish, right? Well, despite this fish is being transported directly from the ocean in ships down through Europe, past Gibraltar, through the Mediteranian, through the Suez channel, across the Indian ocean, through the Malacca strait, past the Philippines and then finally docked in a "strategically located" Chinese city, where the fish is processed! Then after it has been processed it is sent in ships back the 5000 miles it came from to Europe and even to Norway! How is that for "strategic location" for you? Now, do you think it could possibly be easier to stop somewhere in Africa and process the fish rather than to ship it all the way to China? Do you think there are other factories that could benefit from being closer to the US, Europe and South-America? Again, are you a socialist? Because?
  19. What's up with the extreme malevolence and paranoia? If you're wondering whether this is a scam then google my name and see what you find. I am actually quite well-known in Norwegian Objectivist circles. I have written several books, and I blog regularly to a quite large audience. Why on earth would I jeopardize my reputation by orchestrating a scam using my own real name? And why would you even accuse me of something like this with no evidence? As to your claim that I haven't done my research, do you really think I don't know that Australia is a first world country? I mean, seriously!? The reason I have included some sites in the first world country of Australia is that apart from being a first world country it otherwise perfectly fits the criteria that we are looking for. In addition Australia is divided into separate states/regions that compete for people and business like everyone else. All the regions in the north are fairly poor and undeveloped and they all are looking quite desperately for ways of attracting investors. Because of this we don't exclude Australia. I consider it a lower probability of success than most of our other potential sites, but IF we were to succeed in creating a Free State in Australia then many of the worries that have been raised in this forum disappear. Australia is not a dictatorship or an unstable democracy, and a Free State would therefore be as safe as one could expect. This is the only place on earth we would be willing to concede the requirement for security forces to protect the borders. Now, why you are so malevolent I don't understand. I have done nothing to hurt you, nor have I offended you in any way. I expect a basic form of benevolence as a common courtesy. If you have questions, ask them. Make your accusations after you have received answers you find wanting. I find it extremely disturbing that you prefer philosophical mind games to actual realization of those philosophical ideas in the real world. You know, moving the world, and all that. Also, if you want to discuss philosophical ideas then maybe you shouldn't have ventured into this sub-forum called "intellectual activism-->Activism for Reason, Rights, Reality." I can think of few projects which better fit the description of activism for reason, rights and reality than the Free State Initiative.
  20. The strategy of the FSI has been designed specifically to counter this argument. The FSI is specifically seeking out unpopulated and unproductive areas with no natural resources, not even fresh water and fishing rights. The primary reason for doing this is to maximize the likelihood of a host country saying yes, and the secondary reason is that it minimizes the likelihood of anyone afterwards saying that we have "stolen" anything from anyone. By seeking out unpopulated areas with no natural resources we are making it blatantly obvious to absolutely everyone that nothing is being stolen, nothing is being taken away from anyone, because there is nothing to steal. Furthermore, if the socialists claim that the Free State has "special privileges" we can reply that those "special privileges" are open to any peaceful individual who wants to move temporarily or permanently to the Free State. Furthermore it will be extremely hard to claim that people are being exploited since there from the very early stages will be great indirect benefits to the host country in the form of job creation, higher wages, lower prices on various goods, better infrastructure etc. These benefits will be noticeable to anyone in the host country quite early.
  21. It is stated quite openly in the mission of the Free State Initiative. Zero natural resources is a key aspect of the strategy for making the Free State a reality. Seriously!?!? Are you saying that the value of freedom is the natural resources that a country possesses!?!? What about Singapore and Hong Kong which possess absolutely ZERO natural resources? Is there no point to them? Isn't that pretty obvious? Investors will want to invest in such a place because it provides good governance, security of person, property and contract, free immigration, no regulations and low/no taxes. The primary asset of the Free State is good governance and economic freedom, just like Singapore and Hong Kong. All natural resources that are needed are imported into the state, just like e.g. Singapore and Hong Kong does.
  22. Highly understandable. I don't trust so-called "democracies" in the West either. That is ONLY true in, say, the first 10-20 years of the Free State when it is still small. However, it is also in this period that there is the least likelihood of an invasion for two reasons: 1) this is so close in time to the original agreement that it is very likely that it will still be respected, and 2) at this point there is not very much to loot. After about 10-20 years there WILL be something to loot, but by then the Free State will be quite large in both population, economic power and in security forces. 3) the main value in the Free State is the people. There are no natural resources to loot, and buildings and structures can easily be destroyed in case of an invasion. Therefore there is really nothing to gain from invading because an invasion will destroy what they are trying to loot. This of course is always a risk, however, my evaluation of the risk given my full knowledge of the situation is that it is quite low. No, I said that I *now* expect that IF nothing is done to prevent it, invasion is a very real danger. But the whole point of having a strong security force with the capability of withstanding quite heavy invasion is to ensure that an invasion never happens. That is precisely the reason why a significant security force is an absolute requirement for the FSI. We will not budge on this, precisely because a) this dramatically reduces the value of the Free State because investors will worry that their investments are not safe, and b ) this makes us vulnerable to the kind of future invasions that are unacceptable. Therefore either the Free State is allowed to have jurisdictional autonomy and a significant security force or there will be no Free State. It's as simple as that. That is true. I have only presented a general strategy, which can be read here: http://freestateinitiative.org/mission Here I explain the reasons why this is an attractive project for a developing country, and also why it is attractive to potential investors. I have outlined a set of potential sites that we have investigated, and the general kind of region we are looking for is an unpopulated region with no natural resources, typically a coastal desert-area. We want a coastal area because we do not want to be dependent on the host country or neighboring countries for access to the global trade. Even though you cannot evaluate the specific host country you CAN evaluate the strategy. Is the plan of searching for an unpopulated, unproductive region a good one? Is this something that will make it likely that a potential host country will find the proposition attractive? I think it is fair to say that even with no more specific information you can agree that if a poor country ever were to create something like a Free State this would be the most attractive way for it to do it. Now, as far as I can tell the whole project will rest on a single premise: will the Free State be allowed to have its own security forces? If not then there will be no deal, because few investors would trust the project, and it undermines the whole purpose of the project. Since this will be in a completely useless part of the country with zero population and zero natural resources there is nothing to lose in terms of political power for the host country, and it is not like they are losing access to the area. Peaceful citizens of the host country can immigrate freely into the Free State, just like anyone else, if they want to. So the only thing they might want assurances about is that the security forces are not strong enough to actually invade the host country. This is no problem. It is very easy to make a security force that is extremely strong at defense, but with low offense capabilities.
  23. Good. But how are they going to be able to do that? They are not in physical control of the Free State. The Free State will have its own independent jurisdiction, i.e. independent courts, independent police, independent security forces and independent administration. How do you propose they try to confiscate weapons without physically going to war? The whole point of the security forces is that it should be large and powerful enough to prevent and deter invasion. As I've said repeatedly this is an absolute premise for the Free State. The reason we are so insistent on the Free State having its own security forces is precisely to secure the existence of the Free State in the long run. How do you propose that this should happen? How do you just suddenly invade and conquer a well-armed state, especially if you're a poor country? There is a huge difference between actually investing in the Free State (i.e. putting thousands or maybe millions or billions of dollars on the table) and to support the Free State Initiative with pocket change. I have stated the reason for not going public about which government we are currently talking with because this is sensitive information that does not belong in the public domain. I think this should be a pretty obvious point. Once we actually have a preliminary agreement, i.e. a letter of intent to create a Free State, the information will be disclosed and then we start gathering investors. Also, I find the attitude of many liberty oriented people to be quite perplexing. I could understand if there was a reluctance to participate, but at the very minimum I would expect something along the lines of "looks like cool project. Good luck! Hope you succeed." But no, that's not good enough. It seems that a lot of people aren't content unless they have actually shot down the attempt at creating liberty. At least that is what it seems like, given the immense hostility some people meet this project with. So why is this? Why do so many of the people who actually strongly desire liberty not even want to give as much as a hat tip to an effort for creating liberty? Indifference I could understand, but why the malevolence?
  24. If it were that easy then of course, yeah, sure. But it's not. There are many forces in a country, many opposed to liberalization. Also there is the problem of governance. It's not easy for a country to get rid of corruption when this has become part of its culture. Good governance is actually pretty hard, and getting help from the outside in a "lab test" is much less scary and much less daunting than radically changing the whole country. I frankly don't understand why you insist that your and only your solution is the only right one, even if you have no interest in actually doing anything in these countries to turn them in the direction of free trade. Again, it's not that easy. Who are "they"? Are you talking about "them" as a homogeneous group that agree on everything? Such collectivist thinking is something I don't expect to see on a board like this. In every country there is a huge diversity of opinions, and in order to convince the whole country that this would be a good idea doing a "test run" in a miniature "lab" is not such a bad idea, now, is it? That's a little prejudiced, no? You simply ignore the fact that a key premise for the Free State is that it MUST be allowed to have security forces to protect its borders, precisely from the kind of scenario you here are depicting. Why do you ignore this? I fully respect that YOU don't want to live under such conditions, should they emerge, but that is no reason for outright dismissing the project. If it succeeds then it could contribute greatly to showing the world what liberty can do in a poor part of the world, and eventually it and similar projects could help change the policies of rich countries.
  25. The main reason is that Haiti is too populated, but apart from that now would be an excellent time to try to create a Free State in Haiti. I expect a little bit higher level of communication than this. So far you've presented nothing but sour negativity and snarly sarcasm. While that may entertain you vaguely it is not the kind of attitude that moves the world.
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