The NYT is beating a relentless drumbeat for government oversight over all things oceanic. Politicians have written public letters mentioning the “The Outlaw Oceans,” with John Kerry describing it in interviews and speeches.
I think we could write “Oceans Of Emergent Law” as a response. Is the following thesis is accurate?
The Earth is currently divided between two philosophies of governance. 55% is claimed by state monopolies based on military control of land. 45% is entirely aquatic and flourishes as a voluntary seavilization well into its Golden Age. Consider that none of the following services at sea involve tax confiscation or armed enforcement:
SEARCH AND RESCUE: Private salvors rescue more ships than the Coast Guard and often rescue military ships who call them for help. Environmental cleanup is often provided by private salvors.
COURTS: Disputes are brought to Lloyd’s private arbitration, who require the disputants employ no lawyers. Lloyd’s has no enforcement mechanism. They simply publish their decisions, and industry participants comply.
FOOD SAFETY: The FDA-- with its staff of over 14,000, plenary powers, budget of over $4 billion, and armed raids-- only inspects 2% of seafood imported from overseas. Why aren’t we poisoned? With a staff of 140 people, The Marine Stewardship Counsel compels the global fishing industry to comply with sustainability and safety standards. They also have no means of force. They simply publish their judgements.
SHIP SAFETY: 50 ship classification societies operate worldwide. They compete to provide optimum codes of construction. 6 compete to provide rules in Singapore, and as far as I can tell there is no state oversight of this.
GOVERNANCE: American institutions emerged from pirate innovations: constitutional democracy, worker compensation, equal pay and rights of former slaves, checks and balances. All these institutions flourished 50 years before Madison put pen to paper. We interviewed Peter Leeson, author of “The Invisible Hook.” The governance innovations we inherited from pirates were as foreign to landlubbers in the eighteenth century as the ocean of emergent law is to land-based citizens of the twenty-first century.
Is a state-free civil society already flourishing at sea?