"Startup Cities," Honduras, and Experiments in Freedom. Professor Tom W. Bell Talks With Reason.

"I often hear friends of liberty, classical liberals, libertarians say bad things about democracy, and I understand why," says Tom W. Bell. "It's not very good at building programs. But it is good at getting rid of things. In a 'corrective democracy,' people only vote against particular laws."

Bell, a law professor at Chapman University and a legal consultant to the Honduran "startup city" project, spoke at Reason's Los Angeles headquarters about why libertarians should be interested in the potential for new forms of governance within the proposed "zones of economic development" (ZEDEs) being pushed in Honduras. He addressed various legal challenges and setbacks that prior efforts faced, such as Paul Romer's failed RED zones.

While remaining cautiously optimistic about the future of Honduran ZEDEs, Bell also discussed other experiments in municipal governance, such as Co-op City in the Bronx and Sandy Springs, GA. He concluded the talk with some theoretical discussion of what a libertarian "startup city" might look like.

Approximately 29 minutes. Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Alex Manning, Sharif Matar, and Tracy Oppenheimer.

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  • anon||

    "It's not very good at building programs. But it is good at getting rid of things. In a 'corrective democracy,' people only vote against particular laws."

    Bull fucking shit. There is absolutely no way to prevent the majority from voting itself whatever it wants from the minority; a "corrective" democracy cannot limit itself to voting to repeal laws.

    "We're against hunger! Lets vote ourselves food!"

  • Almanian!||

    "We're against being overweight. Let's vote ourselves skinny!"

  • Knarf Yenrab (prev. An0nB0t)||

    That's not what a corrective democracy is.

    Corrective democracy has only one role, namely to democratically repeal laws that are undesired by the majority/plurality. A CD has no authority to create law, which would stem from another process (hence Bell talking about plug-and-play common law for startup cities). It's a special-interest-legislation killer, and that's a good thing.

  • Hyperion||

    the potential for new forms of governance within the proposed "zones of economic development"

    I see a big problem for anything like this that actually gets started up. No sooner than it does get started up, the US government will find a terrorist cell there, or make one up.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Barack Obama might allow trade with a free society like that, but only if the trade agreement was approved by environmentalists and the UAW first.

    See the our trade agreements with South Korea and Colombia for examples. But, you're absolutely right that Barack Obama isn't about to sit by and watch free people make choices for themselves.

    ...not without a fight.

  • Hyperion||

    The US has large military presence in both of those countries and they receive huge amounts of dollars from us.

    So, yeah, if the new Libertopia allows the US to install military bases in the city and buy them off as a puppet state, then they won't need to find a terrorist cell, and they will always be happy to engage in some more cronyism.

  • Dweebston||

    Thanks for spoiling what I'd been cautiously hopeful about these past few months. You guys are great.

  • Hyperion||

    We forgot to add that they would attack Libertopia anyway, cause WOD, for the childins.

  • Floridian||

    I prefer a war on children for the drugs.

  • Dweebston||

    They've got all the good stuff.

  • Hyperion||

    It all comes down to this. The statists that control the US government need to keep up the lie that none of us can survive without saviors like them in charge of a big huge government that provides all of our needs and protects us from scary things.

    They cannot have some Libertopias springing up, becoming prosperous, making them look stupid, and giving the sheeples any ideas that there is an alternative to the big statism that they prescribe.

  • VicRattlehead||

    ^this had me laughing so hard i nosed my coffee *clapping* well said sir, well said

  • Cytotoxic||

    No they won't there is no reason to believe any of this happens. Christ your sadsack faux-clairvoyance is a tired schtick.

    The greatest threat to this project comes from regional governments including the host and will into the forseeable future.

  • Hyperion||

    Go away, Tulpa.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Another stinging rebuke from the SadSack Circle Jerk Defence Force.

  • Hyperion||

    No rebuke needed. Everyone here knows here that every once in a while you get off your meds and go Tulpical.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Everyone here knows

    Hyp-ese for 'I can't make my point so I'll bullshit instead'.

  • Hyperion||

    I made my point, dipshit. You're a nationalist warmonger. What other point is there to make? The US of A is actively involved in every type of bullshit that I accuse them of, and no amount of your war-bonerism will change the facts. Every time someone states a fact about how the US bullies everyone around the world for no good reason, you freak out. Take your meds, Tulpa.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "I often hear friends of liberty, classical liberals, libertarians say bad things about democracy, and I understand why," says Tom W. Bell. "It's not very good at building programs. But it is good at getting rid of things. In a 'corrective democracy,' people only vote against particular laws."

    Ultimately, the problem with "democracy" is that representative democracy is insufficiently democratic when compared to markets.

    And, yeah, markets do a better job of respecting the desires of individuals, but being in the minority in a democracy sucks.

  • Dweebston||

    How can you say that? After nearly a century abiding slavery and nearly a century more explicitly or implicitly abiding their second-class citizenship, we finally voted to fix it all with a system of affirmative action and widespread welfarism. Democracy works!

    Yes, I'm being facetious.

  • sarcasmic||

    I note one proposal to make this Congress a two-house body. Excellent — the more impediments to legislation the better. But, instead of following tradition, I suggest one house of legislators, another whose single duty is to repeal laws. Let the legislators pass laws only with a two-thirds majority... while the repealers are able to cancel any law through a mere one-third minority. Preposterous? Think about it. If a bill is so poor that it cannot command two-thirds of your consents, is it not likely that it would make a poor law? And if a law is disliked by as many as one-third is it not likely that you would be better off without it?


    The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Heinlein

  • Hyperion||

    Not sure exactly how we make it work. But if making repealing bad laws a a lot easier than passing new bad laws, then I am totally onboard with that.

  • Hyperion||

    But imagine how that would freak out the proglodytes. OMG! Now our do nothing congress is going to do even less? Anarchy! Wiminz and childins dying in the streets! Dogs and cats sleeping together!, locusts!, fire and brimstone!

  • sarcasmic||

    Yep. And it wouldn't take long before they ruined it. Just as the only check by the states against federal power was removed by the 17A, they'd find a way to end the power of the repealers.

  • VicRattlehead||

    Anarchy would be vastly better than what we have now, which is on the fast path to women and children being executed in the streets by roving gangs of SS troopers kidnapping children through the DSS, and breaking down doors without warrants to find all the freedom loving "terrorists" who don't think the worship of one man or ideology is a very smart decision. nope give me the anarchy any day ill put my money on the one true God to keep things together over the state claiming godhood and imposing tyranny ironically god gives me the option to put my money on him or not, the other one doesn't... sounds a lot like a certain rebellious angel I heard a lot about who was obsessed with dominance, that story ended poorly for him if I am correct

  • sarcasmic||

    It's all about incentives.

    As it is there is no incentive to repeal shitty legislation. There is only an incentive to put your name on a new pieced of shitty legislation. That's how you get into the history books.

  • Hyperion||

    Problem is, and why this will never be in the current cesspool of politics, is: How do you cram tons of give aways for your favorite cronies, into a repeal?

  • sarcasmic||

    How do you cram tons of give aways for your favorite cronies, into a repeal?

    Those independent bus operators need to find some political palms to grease so they can engineer a repeal of laws that harm their business.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The ultimate problems are:

    1) Representative democracy makes representatives unresponsive to individuals.

    2) Representatives are incapable of accounting for the qualitative judgements of individuals.

    So, it's always better if we can represent ourselves--like in a market.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "If a bill is so poor that it cannot command two-thirds of your consents, is it not likely that it would make a poor law?"

    When a majority of people don't like something, it doesn't prevent it from being passed. See TARP and ObamaCare for examples--they were both unpopular. I don't see why being unpopular enough for the two-thirds criteria changes things substantially. Look at California! You need two-thirds there to raise taxes.

    How many Americans like sending money to Egypt? Hell, we're still sending money to Pakistan. When hasn't two-thirds of the American people opposed that?

    There's a disconnect there somewhere, and I think it has to do with the idea that our representatives are in some way responsive to what the American people want. But I see little evidence to support that.

    Politicians use elections to legitimize their power and horrible shit they do--just like Vladamir Putin. Elections do not make our representatives responsive to the American people; elections make the Americans people nice and compliant by granting a facade of legitimacy.

    "And if a law is disliked by as many as one-third is it not likely that you would be better off without it?"

    We can't even get rid of laws that are disliked by the majority! Why would being disliked by only a minority make it any easier for our representatives to stand up for the American people and repeal something?

  • VicRattlehead||

    And instead of electing between ideologies we get a representation based on number of people signed onto an ideology the representatives for that party will be voted in by party members only. so a percentage of total seats is given to each party based on number of registered party members every party is represented and all viewpoints are openly discussed. maybe no new laws will be passed but at least everyone would truly have a say.

  • MappRapp||

    I like the sound of that dude. Makes sesne.

    www.Privacy-Rox.tk

  • ||

    They would take them to arbitration.

    Also, the Honduran government would probably realize that the city's success is due to its independence, and wouldn't want to risk the lost tax revenue by scaring off investors.

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  • y8games||

    It's not very good at building programs. relax with y8 bubbles games

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