Aside from satisfying some romantic idealism, what would be the real advantages of establishing a new country? And is it possible?
In answering these questions, one comes across many ramifications and many personalities. I've been close to all the groups who have been trying in the past 10 years to get a new nation created—I've worked with some, helped and encouraged others. As I'm no dreamer, but a realist (although a bit of vision adds to both success and enjoyment in life), my motives for participation have been based on the real benefits to be gleaned and the real possibilities of founding a new nation.
Many people make snap judgments of these efforts, and they often go wrong in assuming that everyone has the same motivation. In fact, of 10 average new-nation advocates, I dare say you would find 10 different, separately held reasons for trying to make it succeed. Just as each of us gets different things from a film, a book, a song, a party, so it is with this.
Because some want, for example, the no-tax aspect above all else, it doesn't mean we all do, even though we would all benefit from it. Certainly, most of us believe that government need not and should not confiscate a large portion of our incomes. With some, it goes no further than that belief.
Some of us, however, yearn for the opportunity to prove to other nations that a country doesn't need income-tax money to keep going. All countries claim that they don't like heavy taxation, but, they say, it is nevertheless essential. We contend that this is not only untrue but contradicts masses of evidence. The income tax didn't even come into existence in the United States until the 1900's, by which time that country was a major world power. (Even when the income tax did come around, it only amounted to two percent.) Ironically, that was the peak of U.S. progress—there's been a slow downhill procession since that peak period of 1900 to 1910.
There are other, more equitable, ways to raise money than through income taxes. Moreover, government should not be involved in business and economics, and thus needs little money. Government should be involved only in policing, and everything else should be done privately, from postal delivery to the printing of money. It isn't theory—it's part of history in many places, especially in the United States, where government used to be tiny, but now is monstrous.
New-nationites also feel frustrated that most nations have, like monkeys, mimicked the idiocy of Keynesianism and U.S. bureaucracy, leaving the world without a full-fledged free-enterprise system. We'd like to revert or innovate. Although we would prefer simply to change our own countries, that has apparently proven to be an impossible task. We thus feel forced to find a new place, where we can start with fresh rules—fresh to this century, that is, for they are mostly the same rules the United States ran itself by in the 1800's. It's hard to improve on the ideals of the U.S. Constitution. All of this would mean a country where you don't have government agencies on your back at every turn when you try to run a business.
To some, a new nation is most important in that it means a new passport. We believe that possession of a passport is a right of every citizen, not a privilege granted by the gods in the capital. No government is supreme, only the people are supreme. Citizens should be able to demand passports, not have to ask for them, be put through a grilling to get them, and then act meekly at every border crossing, hoping the border guards will be gracious enough to allow admittance. A new passport means freedom from one's former country, freedom from its agencies and probes and intimidation, from audits, from claims of jurisdiction when you don't even reside there. Passports are merely travel documents and should be seen in that light only.
For a few, a new nation means a place to actually live, while for most it would be primarily a "flag of convenience," like most ocean vessels use, to avoid being taxed out of existence. Those who wish to live in a new nation have a variety of motives, quite apart from the benefits thus far listed. These include: new opportunities in a place where everything would probably be needed, from dentists to plumbers to waiters; a place where their kids could get away from the drug scene in the schools; a place where some pioneering would be needed—which appeals to many; a place where there would be no built-in corruption or political payoff systems, where politics couldn't get dirty because government would hardly exist and would be without fat salaries and porkbarrel opportunities; a place where crime would be as near zero as tough immigration screening could make possible.
In short, people want a new nation for both positive and negative reasons—there are a lot of things they want to get away from (for example, drugs, crime, political corruption) and there are a lot of things they want to get away to (for example, new institutions, systems, businesses). It would be the only country in the world where all your neighbors would be more or less like you, hand-picked, from among those who believe in free enterprise. There would be no one who advocated the initiation of force—no socialists, communists, radicals, junkies, thieves—at least that's the intent of immigration screening. Perhaps that would break down within a generation, but for a couple of decades it ought to be fairly controllable. And the success of the plan should be sufficient motive for it to be continued, just as the success of Hong Kong with free enterprise has led subsequent administrators to keep the same rules, by and large.
There are still other benefits. Like sound money. And that means convertible money. Gold- and silver-based money. Private-bank money, not government money. All this would be a benefit not only internally, but for the example it could set for the rest of the Keynesian world.
Most of all, a new country means a safe political haven—a place where you belong (even if you never go there, not even for a day), a system that would not chase after you to collect taxes or draft you or audit you or send you forms or limit your currency at the border, and yet would protect you and charge you fees only for those services you personally require, not for the education of other people's children or for the roads you don't care to drive on.
There are interesting aspects to the form of government, the form of justice, and how costs are met in a no-tax country. But this is merely an article, not a book. So let me talk briefly about the how of it all.
There are many ways in which a new nation may be founded. There is the Minerva approach, whereby a reef is found and built up into an island. Or the sea city approach, whereby a city of fiberglass is built and floated from a shelf or reef. Or there is the major land approach, whereby an arrangement is made with some government to have, under full or partial sovereignty, a small corner of its country. Or there are variations on these themes. We have been negotiating in these and related ways for years, coming close several times. No one has done this before, so there are no precedents, no rules, and, when achieved, it will be quite an accomplishment. That it is difficult only tends to prove the need and worthiness of the cause.
There are some fairly prominent people involved in these projects. They are not "anti" anyone or any nation. They are merely "pro" liberty in the old-fashioned, U.S. Founding Fathers, sense, but updated to 1976, using modern business methods. It is the antithesis of escapism. In fact, it is tomorrowism. It is an attempt to outwit the socialists, to outmaneuver the bureaucrats, the communists, the fiat money economists.
There is no assurance that we will get a new nation, nor that it will succeed. But the need is so great, the alternative of a growing Big Brother so repulsive, that every one of us should devote a bit of time and a bit of money and a bit of thought and energy to helping the endeavor.
Good luck to us all.
Dr. Harry D. Schultz is publisher of the Harry Schultz Letter of financial advice. He is president of the International Investment Letter Association and coauthors the Gold newsletter and a futurology letter, 2001. He has written a dozen books on money, economics, and related matters. He is the world's highest priced financial consultant, at $1,250 per hour.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "The New Country Approach".