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New Hampshire has borders with a separatist left-leaning region of Canada doesn't it? Maybe the libs thought they could outnumber the locals and claim independence in a *heroic* rise of guns after several calls for referendum get rejected.

Quebec is less and less separatist every day. Economic success and stability breeds contentment. Besides, Quebec might as well be the moon for all the similarities its culture and separatism have to do with the FSP.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I am in Texas now (have been for almost 5 years) but I grew up and lived in NH the rest of my life.

When the FSP was announced several years ago, the then governor was like sure come on in! It made NH look good.

Actually, NH is a good target for such a project, with no income tax, and no sales tax. Property taxes were (and are still high) but it is a great place to live.

The one thing I always wondered was WHERE would these folks work? Sure, NH has industry and jobs - but a lot of folks just live in southern NH and work in Taxachussetts....

I often have wondered how that project was going.

I tell you what though - when I heard about it the Free State Project - I thought - "ugh!" The reason is because I loved NH just fine, and really didn't want thousands of people coming in and trying to change things in the wrong direction.

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Actually, NH is a good target for such a project, with no income tax, and no sales tax. Property taxes were (and are still high) but it is a great place to live.

I was involved in the FSP then and those are actually the reasons why the state was voted on to become the "free state". There was actually a web-based vote of members in about '02 or '03, I think Wyoming or something like that came in second.

Since then of course I've realized that the project if full of Libertarians and anarchists and is pretty much a waste of time, although at that time where I would move to and work was also part of my hesitation, so I see your other point.

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  • 2 years later...

Hello all,

I thought it might be prudent to call your attention to a new project that I have started, namely the Free State Initiative. It is an initiative for creating something very close to laissez-faire state in an unpopulated, unproductive region of the world. Unlike previous such efforts it is not an attempt to create a country, but to create a sub-national entity in an existing country, most likely in an undeveloped one. Note: we already have a concrete and promising lead in a country in Africa.

freestateinitiative.org

I am sure many of you have a lot of critical things to say about this, but before you go on to trash it and dismiss it I urge you to read the material and to ask questions. Keep in mind that there has been put a lot of thought into this and very likely any objection you may have to the project has already been thought of and answered. If there is anything you're wondering about, please ask questions. I'm sure you will be surprised by the answers.

If you think this looks exciting and is something you want to support then you may consider becoming a subscriber and thereby support the project financially so that we have sufficient funds to travel to potential host countries and make presentations and conduct negotiations.

Sincerely,

Onar Åm,

Free State Initiative

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I'd be interested to know where this place is. From what little is on the website you have some decent principles (you aren't quite rigorous enough in defining what would be subject to laws, possibly). What natural resources, climate, etc. are there--and how much it would cost to develop it (I suspect it's a desert or wasteland, not some place that just happens to be unsettled). What assurances would the government give that this area will remain autonomous and not subject to its taxation or (improper!) laws?

What would that government say if everyone in this area owned an AR-15 and five thousand rounds of ammunition and this was purely for defense, i.e., they did not plan to use those items to commit crimes? The scariest part of any such proposition is that the government, five, ten, or twenty years down the road may decide to simply loot what the free state settlers have built up.

Edited by Steve D'Ippolito
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So..like the already developed Free State Project in New Hampshire?

http://freestateproject.org/

Apart from the name there is very little similarity between the Free State Project and the Free State Initiative. FSP has as a goal that within, say, 10 years people 20.000 people (which is, what, 1 percent of New Hampshire population?) should move to New Hampshire to *maybe* influence politics in a more classical liberal direction. FSI talks about creating something very close to a laissez-faire Free State in maybe as little as two years, and no pledging needed to move there. Our Free State will not need any ideologues to move there, because it caters mostly to potential investors (who like low taxes) and poor people (who want to move to a Western/rich country with lots of work opportunities). The vast majority of people in the Free State (95%?) will be immigrants from poor countries.

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I'd be interested to know where this place is.

I'm sorry, bit that and other sensitive information is only available to our subscribers who contribute financially to the initiative.

http://freestateinitiative.org/about-us/donate

From what little is on the website you have some decent principles (you aren't quite rigorous enough in defining what would be subject to laws, possibly). What natural resources, climate, etc. are there--and how much it would cost to develop it (I suspect it's a desert or wasteland, not some place that just happens to be unsettled).

You can read all about potential sites and our strategy with regards to natural resources here:

http://freestateinitiative.org/mission

Here is a map of potential locations that we have identified.

locations.jpg

What assurances would the government give that this area will remain autonomous and not subject to its taxation or (improper!) laws?

An absolute premise for the Free State is that it has its own independent courts, police and security forces (basically a downscaled military sufficiently strong to protect the borders of the Free State from invasion.) This is what distinguishes the Free State from a mere Free Trade Zone, and it is also part of the attraction both for investors and for the host country. The host country does not have to use ANY resources in managing the Free State, and due to its operational independence and top notch governance it will be very competitive compared to competing free trade zones in other poor countries.

What would that government say if everyone in this area owned an AR-15 and five thousand rounds of ammunition and this was purely for defense, i.e., they did not plan to use those items to commit crimes? The scariest part of any such proposition is that the government, five, ten, or twenty years down the road may decide to simply loot what the free state settlers have built up.

The Free State will not only make it legal with civil weapons but also encourage all its law-abiding citizens to participate in the civil defense by owning guns. The Free State will to the best of its ability facilitate gun training and ownership, with proper certification and pledges of honorable usage. Gun ownership will only be available to proper, law-abiding citizens. One must be a resident for a significant period or otherwise prove that one has a trac-krecord of law-abiding peaceful behavior in order to be allowed to become a citizen and thereby to own guns.

There will of course be a bi-lateral treaty with the host country. Should any citizen of the Free State use its guns in a robbery or in riots in the host country, they will be struck down hard and given no refuge in the Free State. Also, to the greatest extent possible there will be transparency to the host country. That is, it will have a representative in the administration which is given full insight into the extent of the security forces.

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This is ridiculous, no national government will relinquish control over some subset of their territory like this. It seems like a scheme to take people's money.

I think the only realistic way to start a micronation is to do so on some tiny non-strategic island in the middle of the sea, or to first come up with some incredibly advanced technology, such that no one can stop you. And I see no evidence of the later.

Objectivism is one of the hardest and most advanced philosophies there is, did you really think you would find people stupid enough to fall for your scheme here? Try a conservative or libertarian site.

Edited by philosopher
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In relation to the Host Country, the Free State will be a competing government. The Host Country will permit things to proceed until it feels threatened or greedy or morally outraged and then quash the project with extreme prejudice unless militarily defeated.

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This is ridiculous, no national government will relinquish control over some subset of their territory like this.

"Note: we already have a concrete and promising lead in a country in Africa."

I am donating, and I encourage all Objectivists to do the same. As a subscriber, I get inside information such as which is the concrete lead country that the initiative is in contact with, PDF files of the documents presented to the authorities in this country, which countries are next on the list if the upcoming negotiations should fail, etc.

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This is ridiculous, no national government will relinquish control over some subset of their territory like this. It seems like a scheme to take people's money.

I would agree that no first-world country would do this, but you don't have to go back many years in time to find similar relinquishments done by then semi-developed nations. You need examples? How about Alaska which used to be part of Russia? How about large parts of the Midwest which used to be part of France? And then we were talking about giving up 100% of the sovereignty of an area to another sovereign nation.

What we are talking about here is not even close to this. 1) the Free State will still be a sub-national entity, officially part of the host country, and the host country enjoys various privileges that would be unthinkable if the Free State were a sovereign nation, 2) the Free State Charter declared by the host nation sets a set of decrees that limit the Free State, as part of the treaty. The Free State must abide by these limitations.

Second, we are specifically looking for unpopulated, unproductive regions (such as deserts) with no natural resources. The value of this area to the host country is minimal.

Furthermore, we specifically target impoverished and undeveloped countries, precisely because they are not as spoiled as rich countries. They want to see development in their countries and are willing to go to quite extreme lengths to do so. The agreement with the host country may eventually not end up being perpetual, but may instead end up as a Hong Kong type lease of, say, 99 years. That's still very good.

I will give TWO examples of similar projects in the world. 1) The Honduras Charter City. It has not yet been officially started, but the Honduran congress has made it possible to start a Charter City. According to you such a thing would be impossible, but here it is, on its way to becoming a reality.

http://chartercities.org/blog/191/a-new-city-in-honduras

2) The second example I will bring forth is from Africa, namely the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos, Nigeria. It is one of the most ambitious FTZs I've seen. Listen to what it sports:

- 100% foreign ownership of investment and joint venture entities allowed in the zone

- 100% repatriation of capital, profits and dividends out of Nigeria

- Import or export licenses not required by enterprises operating in the zone

- Customs duty-free and no quota restriction for all imported raw material products, machinery & equipment, consumer goods, as well as any other goods for investment projects in the zone

- No strikes and lock-outs permitted in the zone

- 100% of the finished products manufactured, assembled or produced in the zone can be sold into the Nigerian domestic market

- Exemption from all taxes, customs duties and levies from the Federal, Lagos State and Local Governments

- No quota on products exported from the Lekki FTZ to the European Union or the United States

- Goods manufactured in Nigeria are entitled to preferential tariffs in the EU, as Nigeria is a member country of the Lome convention

http://www.tradeinvestnigeria.com/investment_opportunities/639192.htm

Watch the following BBC program:

Listen carefully to the arguments given by the African leaders, watch their enthusiasm. It was actually quite heartwarming to see such free market ideas being espoused by actual politicians. Notice that Nigeria is not alone. The FTZs are popping up everywhere in Africa. The vibe of Africa today is that everyone wants to be in on the global economy, but how to compete? How do you compete with a Free Trade Zone that is 160 sq km and has zero taxes, 100% foreign/private ownership allowed, no customs etc. ? As far as I can tell there is really only one thing that can trump such a project and that is a Free State. THIS is the reason we are met with enthusiasm. Something really exciting is going on in Africa and in several other parts of the world, but in the West we haven't been paying attention and know nothing about this new wave of enthusiasm for free trade.

Edited by Onar Åm
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In relation to the Host Country, the Free State will be a competing government.

Coming from someone who is supposed to be an Objectivist and allegedly believes that there are no conflicts among rational men, this is quite surprising. Poor countries are already today being thoroughly out-competed by all sorts of nations all over the world. When factories are built they are built in China or in Vietnam or some other country which investors trust sufficiently. Don't you think that the poor countries would prefer those factories and employment opportunities to be within the borders of their own country rather than 5000 miles away? Don't you think that these countries see the benefit of having rich capitalists working and living within their borders? Don't you think they see the benefit of airports, ports, roads and internet connection being built in their own country rather than on the other side of the globe?

I know that you are used to the behavior of rich, spoiled countries, but poverty has a tendency to make people more reality oriented.

The Host Country will permit things to proceed until it feels threatened or greedy or morally outraged and then quash the project with extreme prejudice unless militarily defeated.

This is a very real possibility, and that is why it is an absolute requirement that the Free State is allowed to have security forces of sufficient size to protect its borders.

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I'm sorry, bit that and other sensitive information is only available to our subscribers who contribute financially to the initiative.

How sensitive can that information be, if it only costs $25 to get it?

So it's obviously not sensitive information. That leaves one other explanation. Hmm...

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Don't you think they see the benefit of airports, ports, roads and internet connection being built in their own country rather than on the other side of the globe?

Why havent you considered Haiti?

I know that you are used to the behavior of rich, spoiled countries, but poverty has a tendency to make people more reality oriented.

Really? From what Ive seen real poverty has a tendency to make people paint their faces and sacrifice chickens and goats.

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Why havent you considered Haiti?

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.

Really? From what Ive seen real poverty has a tendency to make people paint their faces and sacrifice chickens and goats.

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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Really? From what Ive seen real poverty has a tendency to make people paint their faces and sacrifice chickens and goats.

You've reversed cause and effect here (knowingly, I am sure!), but you make the point nevertheless. If some nation in Africa is so desperately poor that it now wants to embrace the free market, the best way to do so is for it to embrace the free market. Not bring in other people to do it and allow them to do so. If they actually understood the nature of their problem, they'd see this and make their whole country a free trade zone.

Really, they want the _result_ without acknowledging that they are the reason it isn't happening, and that they could have the result by simply changing their own behavior. That's why I figure any place like this, currently in progress as Onar Am has demonstrated, or prospective, will simply be looted once it looks wealthy enough--and looks like it won't just fall apart once looted (they are wrong about this, but their misperception will inform their actions). Sure I can bring all kinds of hardware with names like ".308," "Ma deuce," "rocket launcher," and "claymore" to fight this when it happens (assuming the regime is actually stupid enough to let me bring this stuff in and doesn't ban it later) but I _really_ don't want to live my life _expecting_ to have to fight against some crapling dictator invading me someday under the guise of putting down an internal rebellion. We'd get zero help from the rest of the world under such conditions whereas if we are in a completely sovereign state... it's just barely possible we might get something.

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If some nation in Africa is so desperately poor that it now wants to embrace the free market, the best way to do so is for it to embrace the free market. Not bring in other people to do it and allow them to do so. If they actually understood the nature of their problem, they'd see this and make their whole country a free trade zone.

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.

Really, they want the _result_ without acknowledging that they are the reason it isn't happening, and that they could have the result by simply changing their own behavior.

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 why I figure any place like this, currently in progress as Onar Am has demonstrated, or prospective, will simply be looted once it looks wealthy enough--and looks like it won't just fall apart once looted (they are wrong about this, but their misperception will inform their actions).

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?

Sure I can bring all kinds of hardware with names like ".308," "Ma deuce," "rocket launcher," and "claymore" to fight this when it happens (assuming the regime is actually stupid enough to let me bring this stuff in and doesn't ban it later) but I _really_ don't want to live my life _expecting_ to have to fight against some crapling dictator invading me someday under the guise of putting down an internal rebellion. We'd get zero help from the rest of the world under such conditions whereas if we are in a completely sovereign state... it's just barely possible we might get something.

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.

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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.

OK, I concede you've made something of a point here. The dictator of this country has to fight an entrenched culture and cannot simply start deregulating. Certainly corruption is hard to fight. If he's actually not a dictator it's even harder; he has to fight other asshat politicians. (Can't say because I don't know which country is at issue.)

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?

I was referring to the ruler(s) of the country in question. Africa is generally full of dictatorships.

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 clearly did NOT ignore it, as I went on to address it in the very next paragraph. I'd expect a cynical dictatorship to try to confiscate or restrict the arms at some point then invade. Even if the existing government has no intention of doing so now, dictators die and change their minds. It's a government by whim and a culture of whim, which of course you acknowledge when you explain why they need outsiders to set up a free trade zone, but somehow that consideration disappears when you claim an unlikelihood of reneging.

Once our stalwart pioneers are in that country, they are ultimately at the mercy of that government. If that government is clever enough and decides to go after them carefully and with some forethought, they're screwed.

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.

Please. Prove me wrong. But for now... it is incumbent on YOU to provide more information.

I cannot honestly evaluate the chances of betrayal by the host government without knowing what that government is. Bogomilist has pointed out that if you want to get people to invest they will need a lot more than a bunch of high flown rhetoric about how free the place will be. (You ignored him.) They'll want to know where it is, what resources it has, and try to get a feel for how likely they are to have their investment "nationalized." You've provided no real information on any of this, just hot air. And you ask us to buy a pig in a poke.

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someone who is supposed to be an Objectivist

Such collectivist thinking is something I don't expect to see on a board like this.

I'm going to continue to assume positive intent, and suggest that you make your case by making your argument, and not attempting to intimidate people by implying that they are not "Objectivist."

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OK, I concede you've made something of a point here.

Good.

I clearly did NOT ignore it, as I went on to address it in the very next paragraph. I'd expect a cynical dictatorship to try to confiscate or restrict the arms at some point then invade.

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.

Even if the existing government has no intention of doing so now, dictators die and change their minds. It's a government by whim and a culture of whim, which of course you acknowledge when you explain why they need outsiders to set up a free trade zone, but somehow that consideration disappears when you claim an unlikelihood of reneging.

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.

Once our stalwart pioneers are in that country, they are ultimately at the mercy of that government. If that government is clever enough and decides to go after them carefully and with some forethought, they're screwed.

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?

I cannot honestly evaluate the chances of betrayal by the host government without knowing what that government is. Bogomilist has pointed out that if you want to get people to invest they will need a lot more than a bunch of high flown rhetoric about how free the place will be.

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?

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It's very simple. I don't trust African dictators. Or any other dictators for that matter.

Even a poor African dictatorship has huge military potential next to what a private group like this could possibly muster. And said dictatorship could possibly enlist the aid of a _real_ military power. France, for instance, has shown itself quite willing to interfere in Africa, particularly those parts that France used to control. But it wouldn't need to be France. Even a larger African neighbor would be more than "we" could handle.

Absent knowledge of where this is I have to assume the worst and figure this is in Zimbabwe.

Something I realized after I replied to your last reply--you apparently find it acceptable to live with the _expectation_ that you will be invaded. You were responding to my:

Sure I can bring all kinds of hardware with names like ".308," "Ma deuce," "rocket launcher," and "claymore" to fight this when it happens (assuming the regime is actually stupid enough to let me bring this stuff in and doesn't ban it later) but I _really_ don't want to live my life _expecting_ to have to fight against some crapling dictator invading me someday under the guise of putting down an internal rebellion.

with

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.

Now I was talking about a near certainty. I wouldn't move to a place I expect to get invaded. I'd certainly move to a free place and _prepare_ for the _possibility_ of an invasion. Perhaps you didn't realize that distinction... or perhaps you DO want to step into a likely warzone. Which is it?

But I grow somewhat impatient with this. You've provided no useful information here. just an assertion that "we" would manage to defend ourselves against a government that the rest of the world considers legitimate, that can describe us as an "internal problem"

As long as it's OK for you to cast aspersions on me for questioning your scheme (and ignore the people who have called you on this), I'll go ahead and point out you've provided exactly as much rational reason (i.e., no actual facts, just rhetoric) for me to support this, as Francisco d'Anconia provided for investing in San Sebastian.

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It's very simple. I don't trust African dictators.
It is not just dictators that one has to worry about. Imagine that 10 years down the line, the dictator is overthrown by a democratic movement which turns out to be very middle-of-road socialist by African standards. Imagine that the general opinion is "the dictator gave these guys special privileges to take our country's land". It is time that they lost their "special privileges". We will be fair, say the people, and let them stay as full-fledged citizens of our new democratic republic, as long as they pay our taxes, and live by our just rules which recognize the role of government in helping the poor, not just is allowing the rich to exploit our land and labor, etc. etc.

On the positive side, many previously socialist countries have tried "free-trade zones" or "export zones" and the success of such zones has helped lead to more opening up in the country at large.

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