I do not necessarily endorse any project mentioned here as reasonable, ethical, relevant, or sane
Hey Scott! Just wanted to keep you abreast of Próspera's progress too (probably not worth mentioning in a post or anything, but I'll drop stuff like this on these model city posts for you as they come up), but we recently signed a deal for several residential towers which is being financed and built by a prominent Honduran developer group. See here: https://prospera.hn/news/press-releases/apolo-group-and-pr%C3%B3spera-team-up-to-address-local-housing-shortage-with-trendy-affordable-residences
Do you think we’ll ever get charter cities in the continental United States? The federal government owns over 1/4 of all US land including basically all of Nevada. I feel like if we really want to be a laboratory of democracy we should have charter cities here.
I just want to note that I really enjoy these charter city posts, and hope they continue.
Restorative Justice is endorsed by the UK Crown Prosecution Service. Describing it as "hippie-ish" seems like you're trying to ridicule the very idea. I get that you're actually linking it to the person behind the project, but it's not a fringe idea.
> there may be opportunities in Somaliland as well
So after years of enduring the taunt that libertarians should move to Somalia, they're actually considering it. And in fact they're doing that one better and considering moving to an unrecognized breakaway region of Somalia.
In all seriousness, I think a post on how cities are founded would be cool. The classic distinction in the US is between Massachusetts Bay and Chesapeake Bay, and how the motivations of early settlers guided entire regional cultures.
> "It’s individually rational, but bad for the charter city movement in general."
If only they had a dominant assurance contract!
The likeliest Latin American country to follow Honduras is just El Salvador, right? They have a culture which is very similar to Honduras's and their government is currently very interested in these sorts of futuristic quirky institution-building efforts (as they've made global headlines for adopting bitcoin as an official currency, AIUI just on paper), so it would make a great deal of sense for the Salvadoran government to see the Honduran government getting some attention/success with their ZEDE effort and try to copy them.
The Nigerian megachurch stuff is fascinating.
Business culture varies. My experience is some cultures have a lot of very public meetings so no one pays attention to any one. In others you keep them private until you have something to announce. But what is common is that businesses are only interested in being well known among their customers. About a third of the economy is not consumer facing. These people don't necessarily hide but they won't spend a single cent to tell you, random person, that they exist. Why would they? You'll never buy anything from them.
I suspect this is the same for charter cities. The ones that will have high public profiles will be the ones that have a reason. Perhaps they need crowdfunding. Maybe they want open recruiting for citizens. Etc. The ones who don't, won't.
As for those mega-churches, the other thing to keep in mind is the networks these people get access to. The GDP per capita is about $2k in Nigeria. Evangelical Churches in the US can send expertise and significant (for Nigeria) money through mission trips that have a huge impact. Plus the converts remain networked with the other churches which creates long term relationships.
It creates a relatively information rich quasi-market mechanism. Pastors compete for donated expert time, for donations both abroad and at home, and for followers. Often judged through personal relationships between people who actually visit in person, make personal friends, and intermarry.
Another example of a religion building utopian centers / cities is the Mormons in Utah.
I wonder if Israel might be a good country for this kind of thing because the kibbutz precedent, obviously not a place for libertarian cities, but there may still be there a variety of intentional communities?
I really liked reading about the mega-churches. Interesting stuff. As a Latter-day Saint I've got some cultural background with planned cities, so it's fun to read about these ideas.
Joseph Smith, when he wasn't running for president or having lots of wives, dabbled in city planning:
Salt Lake is kind of interesting, but a place like Nauvoo is more interesting, and none of them ever reached "Zion" levels of planning. (Just one temple instead of 24, for instance.) The closest thing we've got to a "megachurch" would be the Conference Center in Salt Lake, which seats a little over 20,000, and is more for events, which is smaller No idea where we'd squeeze 1 million people in. That's amazing.
Fun fact, as a missionary for the LDS church was assigned to Ocean Grove, NJ, which is a famous Methodist planned community, and again, nothing like the scale of Redemption Camp. When I was there they still closed the roads and the beach on Sundays.
I ignored my browsers warnings on ZEDE Orquidea website and registered. The only thing they have are 4 normative documents:
Scott please cover Akon City at some point!
I am pretty sure all of these will be somewhere on the fizzle--crash--burn continuum, but it's interesting to hear about them.
Honestly, cute marriage city sounds the most interesting.
Less "We're gonna innovate the future innovatively while respecting everyone's rights but in a capitalist way and also make infinite money ", more "Yo lets try all this rad shit that hasn't been tried yet!"
Alright, first time I'm hearing about dominant assurance contracts, and I don't think the math works out (under assumptions appropriate for large scale). Someone point out where I've gone wrong?
Project either succeeds or fails, and I either contribute or abstain. My personal benefit of the public good is 'g', my contribution is 'c', and the net I'd get refunded if it fails is 'r'.
Construct a payoff matrix: (succeed/contribute) = -c+g, (succeed/abstain) = +g, (fail/contribute) = +r, (fail/abstain) = 0
If I'd personally have only a small chance of affecting the outcome (assumption!), then 'contribute' is just a bet that (c*p(succeed)) < (r*p(fail)). Concretely: if there's a 80% chance that a bridge is built, then I'll only expect to come out ahead if the potential refund is at least 4x the cost of contribution. And it's simple enough to go from here to the idea that it doesn't work out on the guarantor side either -- to balance that risk of paying out 4x the cost of the project, all the contributions would need to go to the guarantor.
Basically, what I'm saying is: *someone* participating in an assurance contract has negative EV, and adding the 'dominant' flavor doesn't fix that -- you'll still end up with free riders. I think adding in the p(success) term is what kills it.
This megachurch stuff gave me nostalgia.
In my childhood there was some partnership between my school (in Russia) and American church-like organisation. This organisation, which, if I remember correctly, used to be called "New Generation", created summer and spring/autumn camps where children from my school (and probably some others schools as well) could spend holidays. It was framed as educational opportunity as there were native english speakers from America who had english lessons with the kids, but quite obviously it was a missionary attempt to spread protestantism amoung Russian children.
It was genuinely great experience. These camps had a feeling of community and niceness. We played games, socialized, had lots of cultural exchange, practised english and had theological discussions which I really enjoyed. I asked lots of tricky questions, found and resolved contradictions in the Bible and was sharing my own takes and religious experiences. I was a really strong believer in God at the time and I was genuinely curious about other people experiences and explanations. This actually gave me a very healthy perspective on religion, became a starting point in my philosophical journey and later allowed to graciously become a very mindfull atheist.
Of course now I'm less happy about the converts that were made in these camps but I still count them as positive utility. Would be great if we had something like that but spreading real instead of imagionary values. Children camps with similar sense of nice community for raising the sanity waterline.
Not exactly a charter city, but it may in some sense be similar enough to be mentioned :->
Love this recurring series
If a charter city is successful, don't we just call it a 'city'? There's probably a negative selection bias at play when studying the history of charter cities.
Maybe choosing between Lagos and the neighboring communities won't be a choice much longer.
> When you’re in a corrupt and dangerous developing country, religious communities are a way for people who are serious about improving themselves and their surroundings to self-segregate and internalize the benefits of their actions.
Sometimes they get into liberation theology (aka Christian socialism), try to reform the society that surrounds them and get tortured and killed by CIA-sponsored death squads!
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"This seems like kind of a weird grab bag of stuff. But it turns out there’s a completely reasonable explanation: the project is run by a husband and wife team. He’s a libertarian cryptocurrency entrepreneur. She’s a hippie alternative medicine practitioner. Their relationship sounds incredibly cute, but maybe not so cute that it needs to be its own city."
My husband grew up near the Chataqua Institution, and one of his favorite anecdotes is that apparently the real Maria Von Trapp spent time there and when she was asked what she liked most she (allegedly) said “The gates... it keeps the unwanteds out.” (So a very non Julie Andrews answer haha).
It's been 40 days: time to check back if there's been any land expropriation.
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