Australasian Public Choice Conference

I realise this blog has become nothing more than a venue for shameless self-promotion, but I’m okay with that.  I’ll be attending the Australasian Public Choice Conference next week. I’ll be presenting a paper on constitutions; Patri will be presenting our co-authored paper on seasteading as a plenary via video, and Eric will be presenting our co-authored paper on meddlesome preferences in anarchy.

I’m particularly chuffed with the seasteading paper, which considers jurisdictional competition from an evolutionary economics perspective and concludes institutional innovation requires low barriers to entry. And we have a plan!

The other papers at the conference look pretty cool also. I’m particularly looking forward to Xavier Marquez’s presentation on Epistemic Arguments for Conservatism, which he has been blogging about here, here, here, here, and here.

 

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4 Responses

  1. Damn brother, you could make a career out of attending conferences!

  2. Thanks for linking Brad – I look forward to meeting you at the conference, and the papers all look pretty cool!

  3. Hey, I stumbled upon the seasteading website – I’m a college student in the U.S. and I got interested in politics – specifically with regard to how government can be reformed and improved within the current system.

    I stumbled upon your website (the company website) when I was reading an article about U.S. college education and its problems/future/value by Peter Thiel. (The specific article I read was a response to what Mr. Thiel wrote about – and it argued overall that although the price of college education was very high and increasing at a rate that resembled much of the “bubbles” in other industries (medical care costs, real estate, etc.), and that there was some systemic failure in the system that was possible to put a finger on, there were no obvious solutions that could be agreed upon by the majority of the people – for whom college educations cannot reasonably be dumped.) The Tea Party movement in the U.S. has made a huge push for smaller government, lower taxes, and individual freedom, and there is a movement called the “Free State Project” in which people similar to those who would move to the sea communities would migrate to and by their numbers, change the government to a more libertarian one – unfortunately, there are so many institutional barriers that prevent real change from happening…

    I’d come to a conclusion that was quite similar to your idea about seasteading – for one, I read about the Frontier Thesis and was very much convinced that the advancing frontier in the U.S., and the consequent need to create new forms of governance stimulated a great deal of creativity and improved the final result of what we have today.

    I wanted to make the following observations, which may be variations on the theme that is mentioned in the research paper that motivated the Seasteading (I read the whole thing =p) concept on the website, as well as the speech by your partner.

    First, is the question of whether these communities are intended to be experiments in which effective policies are to be discovered, or truly self-sufficient communities in which people will choose to live? I can definitely see it as the latter, but I also believe that the true test of government is self-sufficiency – it can’t be subsidized by government (without losing a great deal of credibility). Eventually, these communities will have to be genuine communities in which people will desire to live, and not just extended vacations for adventurous and enterprising people who see land as their “true” home.

    I want to make a point about governmental policies and economics…first of all, I believe that your argument about why political reform and innovation is near impossible in the modern world is very sound – but I call into question whether ocean communities can effectively compete on an economic basis with the “rest of the world.” Can a competitive advantage be secured in a given area of industry (or newly developed industries) that can secure the economic independence (is this necessary)? Speaking strictly from the concept of economies of scale, it will be difficult for the sea communities to manufacture products/provide services competitively in the marketplace, mainly due to their limited size.

    Overall, I think it’s a great concept, and I’d love to live in one of these communities. I’ll keep myself updated on this. =)

    • Thanks for the comments, Jay.

      “First, is the question of whether these communities are intended to be experiments in which effective policies are to be discovered, or truly self-sufficient communities in which people will choose to live.”

      I think they’re both. The language of experimentation might be a bit confusing here. They’re experiments in the same way a new product or service is an experiment, not like a controlled scientific experiment. Experimentation happens whenever new ideas are tested, and new governance ideas would be tested out whenever a new community is formed.

      “Eventually, these communities will have to be genuine communities in which people will desire to live, and not just extended vacations for adventurous and enterprising people who see land as their “true” home.”

      Agreed. That should happen over time, as on any frontier. If seasteads have much better rules than land-based governments, people will want to live on them.

      “Can a competitive advantage be secured in a given area of industry (or newly developed industries) that can secure the economic independence (is this necessary)? Speaking strictly from the concept of economies of scale, it will be difficult for the sea communities to manufacture products/provide services competitively in the marketplace, mainly due to their limited size.”

      There are particular industries in which seasteads will have a competitive advantage right away: aquaculture and over-regulated services like medical care (Americans already spend a lot of money flying to India for medical procedures; with a medical seastead, they’d only have to go 24 miles from shore). In other industries, it will only be in the long run when seasteading communities become genuine cities (clusters of vessels, rather than one big development) that better rules will offset the costs of small size and living on the ocean.

      If you want to discuss this stuff further, the forums at seasteading site might be a good place to post questions: http://www.seasteading.org/community/forums

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