How A Private City Would Work

So I've put a lot of thought into the creation of a free society and I think a privately owned city is a pretty good approach. Here's Why.

by Quinton on March 22nd, 2013
Note: This article is still under construction and is currently incomplete.

+Absolutes
-Non-aggression principle
--Voluntarism
-Property rights
+Free society options
-Seasteading
-Change government
-Overthrow government
-Commercial transaction?
+Country/State/City
-Federal law over state law over city law
-Monopoly
-Votes done by democratic election rather than commercial transaction
-Aggression
+Advantages to private cities
-Transitory stage
-Can be run like any other business
--Can make money
-Lots of ways to go about it (can charge property, can leave it free, etc)
-Competition maintains quality and prevents corruption
+Disadvantages to private cities
+Ownership
-Land fee paid to owners
-Buy out option for citizens
-Land split up into multiple areas competing against each other (no central control)
-No land fee
-Each citizen puts up money for the land
+Current City Data
-Revenue
--Taxes, namely property tax
-Expenses
--Schools, Police, Airport, Roads, etc
+Examples
-Paid land scenario
-Free land scenario

First off, what are the options for a free society? Well, we could try to set one up in our current country, we could try the Seasteading approach, we could try to change our current government and on and on. There are a lot of different ways to try to create a free society. Here is my take...

Absolutes

First off, there are a few important things that need to first be established with a free society, namely:

  1. Non-aggression principle
  2. Private property

This is obviously a bit more of a Libertarian stance and these things are debatable.

Non-aggression principle

The non-aggression principle basically states that the initiation of force is not tolerated on any level. Force can come in many forms with the two most popular being physical violence (war, murder, violence on others, etc) and forcing people to pay for something (taxes, services, etc). In a free society we view violence at any level as not tolerable. There is no such thing as a justified war or necessary services. If people on the individual level don't want to be forced to do something they maintain that right. Police can't come in and physically arrest somebody for not paying for something (there are ways to handle disputes outside of violence).

Now, with this said, self-defense is tolerated on every level. If somebody initiates force against you then you are completely free to do what you find necessary to defend yourself, violently or non-violently. It's up to you and then later up to courts to decide, if necessary. If somebody pulls a gun on you, you can defend yourself. Most of this should be common sense stuff.

Voluntarism

You will find that when we are not using the initiation of force that we are left to act voluntarily. Voluntary actions and cooperation are usually better than forced actions. People would much rather choose to do things themselves than be forced to do these things.

Private property

On to private property. Private property is another element of a free society that we find necessary. After all, our body is technically private property. We own our body. And because we own our body we are able to build upon our body. If we didn't own our body we wouldn't be an individual and operate according to our own desires. As an extension of our individual body we have various physical elements which can be appropriated as our property as well. When we create a paining that painting is considered our property. We put our energy and effort into taking something that wasn't formed and we added form. Yes, we can get technical on the details of what exactly constitutes "property", but for the most part it is something we appropriate for a use that it was otherwise not doing. This applies to land, or homesteading. When we find a piece of land and use it for something useful we are appropriating the land in a way that we see fit. We are taking something that wasn't in use and putting it to use. This is basically how property comes about.

Once we actually own property we are able to sell, rent or buy more property. If we create a painting and want to transfer our ownership to another party for a set price we can. If we own a piece of land and want to sell it to another person we can. We can transfer property ownership contractually without the initiation of force.

So these are the two main principles when it comes to a free society. Most other topics that come up usually stem from these main, foundational principles.

Free society options

So just to give you an idea of the different possible options for a free society here are a few:

  • Change current government
  • Overthrow government
  • Seasteading
  • Private city

There are obviously a lot more options and it comes down to how creative one can get, but these are a few. Working within the current governmental structure of either changing government or overthrowing it to replace it with another one is rather unsatisfying for my tastes. We've tried that time and time again throughout history. It isn't corrupt government, or bad leaders, or bad types of government or anything like this that is the problem, in my humble opinion... it is government, period. We need to get rid of government. So right off the bat I'm not a big fan of changing government or overthrowing government. We need to change the way we do society. We need to do things in a more rational, wise, thought-out way. That's the purpose of this website!

So we have Seasteading and a private city as other potential options. I'm a fan of both. I lean more towards private city because to me that sounds more realistic. Seasteading seems expensive and limiting with land, although it most certainly has its advantages. Okay, so now that we've got that out of the way let's look a bit more into the private city scenario.

Countries, States, Provinces, Cities, Communities, etc

At the core, there is really no difference between a country or a state or a city or whatever else. These are all the same things with different scale. A country is a big city. A community is a small city. But they all operate similar ways. Yes there are some distinctions to be made with the way we currently have cities, such as...

Power hierarchy

We currently have a hierarchy when it comes to who controls what. A city can only do stuff the state allows. And the state can only do what the country allows. If the city wants to do something that the country doesn't allow they can't. This is a foundational flaw in my view. A city shouldn't have any state or country over it. A city should be at the country level where it is the final say on what it can and can't do. If a city owns their land legally they should be allowed to do whatever they want to do.

Picture each nation on this planet as a city right now, because that's all they basically are. The United States is a city which makes it own rules. Canada is a city which has its own set of rules. China is a city which has its own set of rules. We need to picture ourselves creating a city that acts at the level of a nation. We really shouldn't have countries like The United States or Canada in the world. We should have localized cities that each operate their own way. There are roughly 200 "countries" in the world we now live in -- there should be thousands or even millions because there shouldn't be countries, there should be localized areas of property owners that for the purposes of this article we will call cities. It obviously gets a bit more technical than this because of course cities would merge and partnerships would be created and there would be hierarchies with privately owned cities, but I am simply trying to illustrate a point.

Let me put it another way. Of these 200 countries that we currently have none of them suit my satisfaction. I think they are all flawed, backwards, decadent and limiting. If I don't like the way things are done in America I could move to Canada, but I don't like how things are done there. Maybe I could move somewhere like China. I don't like it there either. What about Iran. I don't like there either. None of the countries operate the way I would like a country to operate. And in business when you are not happy with any of the businesses you start a business yourself. That's what I want to do. I'm not happy with the level of country and of these countries are providing. I see a much better way, and a better path for others to follow. I want to start my own city that people can move to that operates in a way that other people and myself would find much more favorable for living. This is a businessman's dream. We have 200 or so nations which are all doing it wrong. All you have to do is come in there and actually do it right and you will surely succeed.

Monopoly

A big problem with the countries we have now is monopolies. Countries have a monopoly one what money is used. If you use your own money you go to jail. Countries have a monopoly on the military. If you use your own military you go to jail. Countries have a monopoly on police. If you use your own police you go to jail. And on and on and on. We aren't allowed to compete against the government in our current world. It's completely ludicrous if you ask me. Government does a bad job at things and then throws you in jail if you try to do a better job. It's completely backwards thinking. So the nature of government being a monopoly is a big problem with our current countries, states and cities.

Democratic voting

Another important point with how we currently do this is how we actually make decisions for ourselves. Rather than choosing things individually with our money we choose things collectively with our vote. Let me explain.

When we want a service like say police we take all the citizens of a city and pool our money together and then distribute it to a company that the city owns. Why? When we are buying a new pair of shoes why don't all the citizens pool their money together, give it to the city and then let the city provide us with shoes? Where do you draw the line? You draw the line at the beginning. We don't need government to provide us anything and we don't need to vote for anything democratically. We let businesses provide what we need and we vote with our money by purchasing whatever we want with our money. If we want police we vote for it by purchasing a police service individually. If we don't want police protection then we don't have to individually purchase it and we can save our money. We don't have to pool all our money together and force people to pay for things they don't want.

Aggression

Perhaps the largest point to be made against our current form of countries is force. If you do something that the country doesn't like they are able to use force against you. They can break into your house, physically remove you from it and lock you up in jail. If you don't pay your taxes they can physically come after you and force you to pay or lock you away. This is a fundamental flaw in my eyes. We shouldn't be allowed you use force on another person. There are much more creative and effective methods to be used. Seriously.

Advantages to a private city

Can be run like any other business

Cities can be owned by a group of individuals and can be run like any other business. The members of the business may make money whichever way they want to make money, it's up to them. Through technology and innovation it may get to a point where very little money is needed to operate a city and owners simply choose not to make money on the city. Who knows. City owners have a wide variety of ways to handle things, like property for example. Property can be leased, it can be given away for free or whatever other creative methods city owners can think up.

Competition maintains quality and prevents corruption

Competition is one of the best ways to keep quality up while keeping corruption down. One of the main reasons government is so corrupt and so bad at what they do is because they don't have any competition. Government is a monopoly. And when we have a monopoly overseeing all of our cities there is no way we can escape the monopoly. If we want to use money other than Federal Reserve Notes in a city in America we can't. The city doesn't have control over what it chooses to do. The monopoly has the last say in our current structure.

By allowing cities to compete against each other with complete control there is no limit on what a city can do to solve problems. Competition in the free market always makes prices lower for consumers and improves quality. When companies (cities) compete the consumers (citizens) win. Quality of life will only go up through competition.

In regards to corruption, it is much harder for a city to become corrupt if there is competition. If there is just 1 private city it is fairly easy for the owners to manipulate things to their advantage. Since the citizens don't have anywhere else to go they are pretty much stuck with what they got (this is basically how it works in this day and age with our countries). But if a competing city is able to see how another city is taking advantage of the people and screwing them it is a great opportunity for them to show this to the citizens and fix that problem in their city. By doing this they will gain much more customers (citizens) in their city. The more cities that we have competing with each other in this fashion the less corruption there will be.

Transitory stage

I see a private city as a good transition for our current world. It would obviously be easier if there was still unclaimed land and we could just walk into it and start operating there. But there isn't and we can't. We need to acknowledge that there are countries on pretty much every piece of land and we need to figure out how to work through this. The end goal would be to have a world with many different societies each satisfying its citizens through different methods. I don't know if we'll ever get here. But I do, however, think it is possible to at least create one or two or more private cities that do satisfy the needs of their citizens. We may still have the United States doing what it does, Canada doing what it does, China doing what it does and then perhaps a private city doing what it does with a smaller population of happy people not forced to pay taxes, able to use whatever money they want, able to enjoy a much higher quality of life.

Private City Ownership

Okay so let's now talk about the ownership of a city. This is a very interesting topic and probably the most important one. On one side you want to obviously keep the society as free as possible and you don't want to have people pay for anything. But on the other side we need to somehow get to this stage and we are working in a world that will probably require money, and lots of it, to start something like this. We can't just go claim a piece of land for free and be like, alright guys, here is our land. It doesn't work like that in this day and age. And even in the past and today bloody battles have been fought over land. I don't want a bloody battle or violence. I just want something that works in this present day. I think what could work is purchasing land for a free from another nation. I don't know who and I don't know where, but I think this could be possible and should be explored.

With that said, we wouldn't be getting land for free, we would be putting up capital and taking a huge risk on an operation like this. So as the land owners it may be favorable to find favorable ways to generate revenues on this business. There are lots of methods and ways to go about this. Here are a few:

Land fee paid to owners

We could have it where citizens paid some amount of money to the property owners to participate there. This is the closest to they way cities currently operate but it is still almost completely different. So let's say the private city owners did decide to "tax" people to live on this land. They could come up with a price to charge people monthly or yearly to live there and operate on this land. What if somebody lives there and doesn't pay? Well we obviously can't force them to pay so we simply ostracize them from the city. We don't force them to do anything, we just don't allow them to participate in the way they'd like to anymore until they make right their wrong.

Now, keep in mind, most other things would be private. Police would be handled by private businesses. Same with courts. Same with roads. Every type of service we normally pay taxes on right now would just be paid for directly or as an insurance service. We wouldn't have taxes when we buy food. We wouldn't have to file for income taxes every year. We could pay in gold and silver if we wanted to. We wouldn't be taxed on money we make. We wouldn't be taxed on anythign, except the land that we use on the city, and even then, if we didn't pay we couldn't be locked up. We would just be shunned in the city and it would probably be much harder to participate in life.

Again, this is one of the more extreme examples.

Buy out option for citizens

Another method we could do is allow citizens to buy the land. We may buy up 1,000 sq. acres of land and then sell off 1/2 acre lots for a set price. People could buy this land for a set price and then they are the complete owner of it and technically their own country. They don't have property taxes or anything. They could live the rest of their lives without having to pay a dime for anything else outside of their own discretion.

Land split up into multiple areas competing against each other

We could split up the land to instead of it all being 1 city, it could be 10 smaller cities (read countries). Each city would have its own individual sovereignty and would have no central authority over it. This could allow competition between other private cities and may be a favorable avenue.

No land fee

An area of land could be purchased for a set price and then out of the nature of their hearts the owners could choose to let people live there for free. This isn't going to happen, but what could happen is people could crowd fund a land purchase and each individual could own a percentage of land commensurate to their investment. We could have 1,000,000 people each put up $1,000 and possibly purchase an area of land for $1 billion dollars. These citizens would now be the owners here and could operate as they see fit.

If we wanted to we could have the city operate through an online API. We could have everyone access and update the API to manage things. The city could operate as an open source project where everything is public and people are always contributing and updating this code. It totally depends on what people view as the best option for creating a rational, peaceful society within the confines of our current world.

===========
If we look through the financials of most cities you will find that the majority of their revenue is generated through property tax. This is a revenue option that many people would probably be okay paying. If you didn't want them to pay any tax you could figure out another way. Cities don't really have any expenses when you remove police, courts, schools, roads, etc. There isn't much left. The only thing that is left is allowing people to live their lives and staying out of their business.
============

Let's run through a few scenarios

Fee based property

Okay, so let's say we form a company called PIONEER that consists of 10 entrepreneurs and investors. We find a distressed country who is willing to sell off 1,000 sq. miles of land and give us complete control of that territory for a negotiated price. So PIONEER puts together $3 billion and buys an area of land in a cash purchase. Contractually PIONEER now owns this piece of land 100%. As the property owners we don't have to submit to any rules by anyone or any nation as we are now completely independent. Sure, there is always the risk of an attack or an infiltration or something of this nature and those types of things will need to be discussed and dealt with in another discussion.

So we now own a piece of land that is 1,000 sq. miles that we paid $3 billion USD for. Now what? So now we need to distribute property and allow people to move there. We need to figure out how things are going to be ran. We can choose to run them completely open and choose to let people live there for free or we can choose to charge people to live on this property. We decide to allow people to either lease or buy their land from us. After all, we put up $3 billion for this land and put up a huge risk. If you don't like us charging you for it then don't move here, start your own city that doesn't charge.

Okay, we now we charge people to live on this land. We decide that this is how we will make our money and this will be pretty much our only source of revenue. We estimate that we will gross $100 million per year with a population of 100,000 people, or rather $1,000 per year, per person. Yes, it costs $1,000 a year to live in this city. Not too shabby. Where do I sign up? If we had 1,000,000 people, which is possible in this area, we would gross $1 billion a year.

Okay, so what are our expenses? Well, we don't really have any expenses other than our own operation costs. We take individual salaries and pay different contractors to make sure things are clean, functional and people are happy. We don't have any expenses for roads or schools or anything like this because private businesses take care of this and find ways to profit from them. These businesses pay us for the land that they are operating on. We are happy, they are happy and the people are happy.

 Filed under: Philosophy & Spirituality, City

2 Comments

0
TheInkheart: Problems (and praise)
Tue, 07/23/2013 - 23:21

Wow! This was obviously very well thought out, but I wanted to point out a few things that you may have missed without help from the outside. I’m not trying to make you feel bad about your work, because it really is great. I just want to help you to be even better than you already are. Okay, let’s begin!
The first thing I had saw a problem with is Democratic Voting. I’m not sure I totally understood what you were saying, but I’ll tell you what I think (if I missed something here, I apologize in advance for my ignorance). I really like the idea of pooling our money to get the things we need like shoes. My problem is that everyone is going to want the most expensive shoes, so the city will have to buy more of those and might even run out of the money in the collective pool. Maybe you’re thinking of just having all of the same shoes that are practical and not too costly. You’re going to get a lot of crap about this because people need to be able to express themselves and they don’t all want the have to wear the same shoes. Same goes for everything else available for purchase in the world, from TVs to clothes.
And then I just don’t get how we “vote with our money” by purchasing whatever we want. Care to explain in a reply?
Of course, now we reach the whole “If we want police we vote for it by purchasing a police service individually.” Huh? Police services shouldn’t be something that we have to purchase; it should be available to us without question. And I don’t want to have to pay to be protected; it doesn’t seem fair that the rich people would be able to get protection all the time and the poor people left to suffer without it. See what I mean? Just food for thought.
The next problem I had was the Aggression. It’s important to remember that sometimes there isn’t a choice but to use force against someone. If there was a man who had fifteen people hostage and was about to blow them all up, would I shoot him to save the lives of those fifteen people? Absolutely. So, there would need to be some deep discussions about where we’re drawing the line. No, the police shouldn’t be able to barge into your home and arrest you. But what if you just murdered eight people and the police knew that it was you that did it and you refused to come out? You could just wait in your house until they left and then continue to kill others because they weren’t able to use force to get you out of your house and arrested. Are you smelling what I’m cooking here?
Onto the next problem, the concept of Private City Ownership! Purchasing land from a nation would be VERY expensive, and most countries with land with resources are not going to give it up easily. Where are you going to get the money to buy it? The government certainly isn’t going to give it to you; you would be attempting to overthrow their system, and I don’t think they would take too kindly to that. It IS a very difficult problem, but maybe we would be able to talk later and come up with a few ideas on how to fix that.

Buy out option for citizens is only a slight problem. I do believe that some people are going to want to build their house on a piece of land a tad bit bigger than ½ acres, and it would be good to have space in between people. One idea is to build UP instead of across. The idea is almost like an apartment complex, but closer to a skyscraper. Of course, this would probably cost a lot of money to build, but it would be worth it. People could rent/buy any size of apartment they needed, from one room to a VERY large suite. That’s just an idea, of course.
I absolutely LOVE the idea of the land being split up into multiple areas and competing against each other. Like you mentioned before, the more competition the less corruption. It would be a definite win for the people of the city, but you would have to be careful that each area of the city was equal and that a district was becoming an area for a certain group or race (think Chinatown).
The whole “no land fee” idea seems a bit unstable, but I do like the idea of everyone accessing and updating the API to manage things in the private city. It’s definitely something to work on, but it has a lot of potential.

Okay, last thing; the Fee Based property. I see quite a few problems with this one. I understand buying from a distressed country, but that country is obviously distressed for a reason. You’re going to have to choose a place where people are actually going to want to live, even if it costs more. You’ll be grateful you did. And where are you going to get the money to buy this land? As I said earlier, the government isn’t going to give it to you. You’ll have to find some private investors.
At first, you’ll probably have to charge people to live in your city. It can be small, but you should probably pay off that three billion dollar debt pretty soon. The people that now live in your city are going to need some basic things that will cost even more money to have (water, food, etc.). This is one of the reasons I think you should start small. Build an experimental city (closer to the size of a town). See how it works out, fix any kinks that need to be fixed, and try again. Do this until you have everything perfect, and once you have collected enough money from your towns, you can build your first city.

In conclusion, there are some things major and minor things that you would need to work out before building this city. But each problem here has a solution, even if that solution takes a while to discover. Again, I love this entire article and how much thought you put into it. Thank you for your contribution!

P.S. I would love it if you got back to me and tell me what I missed and any new solutions you have. It would be great to talk to each other about this promising idea! Again, sorry if I missed anything or made a false conclusion!

0
Quinton: Thanks for the feedback, it
Wed, 07/24/2013 - 23:45

Thanks for the feedback, it is much appreciated. Just a heads up, this article is actually incomplete and I still have not gotten around to finishing it yet. But with that said it still has a lot of stuff in it and I'll share my thoughts on your response.

Democratic Voting

I think you misunderstood this part. I was actually talking about how we currently have democratic voting and how I am not in favor of it. I think democratic voting is a bad way to go about things because you always have a loser. I would rather have people vote with their money than vote democratically. You vote with your money by buying things that you want directly, rather than voting for them collectively and paying for them with taxes. So rather than having all the people of a city pay 10% in taxes to help pay for police and courts, I would much rather see private police and court businesses that charge people directly. This is what I mean by voting with your money. Rather than pay taxes for a service collectively people should be able to pay for services directly. So instead of paying a 10% tax for police and courts people would pay no tax and instead pay maybe $100/mo in police insurance or $300 if they need court services. Something like this. So rather than using a democratic voting system like we currently use in cities for things, it would be much better, in my opinion, to not have any of that.

The shoe example was actually to show how absurd having the government provide things is. If government provides police, why not clothing? If government provides courts, why not food? It makes no sense to have the government provide some things like courts and police just because they always have. If the government had always provided clothing and food we would also think it was weird to have them suddenly not provide these things. But they currently don't provide clothing and food and we get by every day just fine. Why do we need them to provide police and courts then?

By paying taxes we are already paying for police. Police aren't free, our taxes pay for them. If we didn't have to pay taxes for them we would have money to pay for them individually. And things bought in the free market are almost always higher quality and a cheaper price. So rather than paying say $1,000/yr in taxes to the city for police we may instead pay $500/yr directly in the free market. It would be an overall savings. We would have better service at a cheaper cost. This is why I am in such favor for a free market with no government.

Aggression

Yes, there is a need for aggression: in the case of self-defense. If somebody was holding people hostage, as you outlined, then using violence on the aggressor would be a form of self-defense. Your case would be presented in court and you would be found not guilty because you were acting in self-defense. So violence in the form of self-defense is permissible. Violence in the form of the initiation of force is not permissible.

Let's move on to your 2nd example with you murdering 8 people. Let's say that this is the case and it was proven in court that you are in fact guilty. You would first be asked to reconcile the problem by doing X. If you did X (say 20 years of service to the victim's families) then everything would be fine. If, however, you refused to leave your home and refused to reconcile the court order then it would go to the final stage, ostracization. You would be ostracized from society and you would be unable to participate in society. You would basically be an outlaw. Violence still would not be initiated on you, even though you used violence. You would simply be cut off from society. Good luck finding food. Good luck getting a job. Good luck doing anything. Nobody will work with you because they will know people who refuse to follow their court orders, especially of the magnitude of 8 murders, are not going to be tolerated on any level. You would eventually be forced out of the city. People would know this ahead of time so it would be a great incentive not to do crime. Obviously there are a lot more details for this scenario and this is one of the main questions to be addressed on this site. But again, violence does not need to be used by police to get him. He will simply be non-violently cut off from society. When violence is no longer tolerated it allows for us to come up with more sound, creative alternatives.

Private City

I agree, I think this is probably the most difficult problem. The money would probably come from one of two sources.

  1. Private investment firms who invest in the city as a business venture.
  2. Individuals crowdfund the operation by donating money (similar to a political campaign). If 1,000,000 people donated $1,000 that would be $1 billion dollars. Now we're getting somewhere. How much money do people donate towards political campaigns knowing that they are never going to see any real results? What about when people can see real results in the form of a new country? If we had a real plan, a real team and were taking action on the initial steps I think people would donate. And as we gained more momentum more people would donate.

But I do agree to the problems you address here. It would be very hard to purchase a piece of land, but I do think it is possible. Especially to a struggling government that needs money for whatever reason. There are always opportunities that arise and if we are well prepared I think it could be pulled off. The US purchased a huge chunk of America from the French in the Louisiana Purchase.

Building Up

Building up is a great idea. That's why we have this site, to bring about solutions to problems. I've never considered how important building up would be and it makes perfect sense. Better to have 2 stories on 1 acre than 1 story on 2 acres. I agree with what you're saying about skyscrapers and very large apartment complexes. You could even blend in commercial aspects if need be. I think this makes great sense and would actually be kinda futuristic.

Start small

I totally agree with starting small and working out all the kinks. That is definitely the approach I would like to take. I would also like to "seed" multiple cities in different geographic locations so that the test could run its course under different circumstances with different people. This would help to work out the kinks and would provide competition which would increase innovation and minimize corruption.

Final Thoughts

Thanks for the thoughtful reply and the great points you brought up. Everybody has value and a unique perspective on how to make society better. All I want to do is extract that value from each individual and put it into something we can all benefit from, something that will actually work. Not everyone may be ready for this. Many people still love government, that's okay. This is for people who are past government. This is for people who are ready for the next step. And once we take it perhaps the others will choose to follow along and the world will be transformed.

The idea of government seems so outdated and silly to me. I just can't take it seriously anymore. People need to grow up and move on to the next level of living. We need to live in cooperation and wisdom rather than fear and ignorance. People are so powerful and to keep all that power locked up in governments is just sickening to me. We have so much potential. So much.

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