Podcast: The Day Oliver Porter Created a Privately Run City

(joequirk) #1

Got a pad of paper? We need a government for our town. Quick! We’re Sandy Springs, we just gained independence, and we don’t have much time. A hundred thousand citizens are waiting. Go in your basement and write out a charter. We need traffic management, trash pick up, a 911 dispatcher, ambulance services, a jail, new parks and management, and we’re going to need a heck of a lot a roads.

Suppose we handed you a fresh jurisdiction and made this demand. Suppose you had no experience. Do you say yes?

Oliver Porter was a retired corporate executive, painter, and author. He said yes.

Okay, here’s the thing though. We can’t pay you. You’ll have to volunteer. Also, just as an aside, you have no authority. No funds either. And no staff. You don’t even get a City Hall building. Can you do it?

What are the chances you would write up a charter that would execute all city services at half-price your first year? Could you do it with zero debt, no long-term liabilities, and widespread citizen acclaim? Would four other cities in your region ask you for help recreating your model?

Oliver Porter really accomplished all this. He did it by privatizing virtually all government services except police and schools. Oliver reached out to the Seasteading Institute to tell us how it’s done.

What Oliver Porter had to say was so surprising, our volunteer podcast technician Alexander Kosma (after nearly choking on his beverage) joined the discussion and asked pointed questions.

Yes, average people really can do governance better. Oliver Porter wants to show us how.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://www.seasteading.org/2016/07/podcast-day-oliver-porter-privately-run-city/


Nice work. It helps that they had an existing population base and were able to re-appropriate that 15% budgetary base, to work from.

Interesting note about the minimal petition requirement in Texas. If a floating community was formed in the GoMex, within the State waters, they would seem to be closer to forming their own city, than seemingly anywhere else.

I still believe we need a serious means of handling food, energy, communications/IT and wastes while afloat, as well as transportation to and from, and land-services coordination.

Consider, very few of their citizens were employed by the existing local services, and most had outside incomes, and/or jobs to go to.

Sandy Springs did not have to come up with a whole new water supply, food supply, housing, waste disposal systems, etc. Much pre-existing infrastructure became the city.

Mooring such a community would require provisions through the State, US Coast Guard, and US Army Corps of Engineers. The ability to evacuate and/or leave the mooring for storms becomes an issue, as well.

One of the PGS Ramform survey vessels could potentially be modeled as a single structure, covering most of that, as an offshore IMTA, using the current and the line deployment, as a means of spreading a kelp farm, while internally providing almost everything the way it does now. Place that down-current from a number of the commercial fish pods, to provide kelp as fish food, and to mitigate pollution from fish wastes.

Something based off the proposed Physalia floating gardens could potentially provide locally grown crops, fresh water, and waste management as well. Still requires some sort of umbilical system, to transfer the necessary materials back and forth, but potentially achievable.

All of which can be moved to avoid storms, and even potentially be built at a much smaller scale, as a demonstration model, to base a grand proposal on.

Jeff Frusha

(Wilfried Ellmer) #3

Joe, nice work…keep the good stuff coming …

(Wilfried Ellmer) #4

Joe, the blue frontier is not only about the politics of freedom it is also about fast technology development to create sustainability.

(joequirk) #5

All good points, JL_Frusha and ellmur.

(Jill ) #6

There are hundreds of assets wasting away right now, can be bought cheap while the price of oil is low. One of those DP semisubmersible could easily be turned into a floating community. They already have most of the things you mention needing (IT/comms, water, sewage,etc) could be connected to some sort of wave or current energy system instead of running off diesel fuel like they do now.

  1. a) I specified being in BOTH Texas State and US National waters.
    b) The Podcast involving Sandy Springs involved the same principle, on land.
    c) Fewer requirements to become a city, in Texas, is from the Podcast
  2. Under those conditions:
    a) The US Coast Guard and US Navy have jurisdiction, as well as the State of
    Texas, and US Federal Government.
    b) The permanent mooring permits are all processed by the USACE.

Yes, in the US, there are processes to apply for mooring permits and to apply to incorporate a city.

It would involve mapping, through NOAA, especially to avoid both protected waters, such as underwater national parks, avoiding shipping lanes, and avoiding normal commercial fleets, such as the shrimping and fishing industries. In addition, there are Ecological impact studies, and other such assessments to take into consideration. FDA would have some oversight, since I also was specifying commercial food production. EPA and FDA would want routine monitoring and sampling of water and such things as fish, kelp, and shellfish, for public health and safety reasons.

There are a myriad of other things to consider, including existing gas/oil leases, known wrecks that may be considered graves, the current drug interdiction, illegal immigration, and more.

It’s not so much asking permission, as much as meeting conditions and obtaining permits. That process will have similarities in any territorial waters in the world. The ONLY places to avoid that, are the international-water ‘doughnut-holes’, at which distance, it may not be feasible to transport your produce to market, and you STILL need permission to SELL your produce in those ports and markets.

HOWEVER, if, say you were nearly totally self sufficient, had an outside revenue, and a way to moor in those ‘doughnut-holes’ w/o needing to sell anything, then, just maybe, even in today’s world, so long as your passport is up-to-date, you shouldn’t have any real problem.

Jeff Frusha

(Garrett Herschleb) #8

This is truly a great thing. One of the hesitations I have is that a scammer will work his/her way into the power structure of a seastead and ruin everything that’s nice about it, and then property values plummet and the whole movement is set back several decades. This would definitely help mitigate that situation by making the power structure the minimum possible.