Libertarian History/Philosophy

Dilbert Establishes a Charter City?

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this is not Paul Romer

Scott Adams, of Dilbert cartoon fame, stumbles onto—or marches boldly into—the idea of charter cities on his always-fascinating blog today. He calls them "startup countries," but the idea is fundamentally the same as economist Paul Romer's notion of charter cities. Both men envision carve-outs from existing nations where people can shed the burdens of old, bad institutions and establish new rules, systems, and customs.

Adams favors an engineered, top-down approach and he is more specific about what he would like to see:

One of the biggest problems with the world is that we're bound by so many legacy systems….

My idea for today is that established nations could launch startup countries within their own borders, free of all the legacy restrictions in the parent country. The startup country, let's say the size of modern day Israel, would be designed from the ground up for efficiency. Buildings and cars would be so energy efficient that the startup country could generate all the power it needed from sun and wind….The entire banking system would be automated. There would be no cash in the start-up country. You wouldn't need to "apply" for a loan because the virtual bank would always have a current notion of your credit-worthiness….The tax code in the startup country would be simplified to the point where residents might forget it exists….The Fire Department would be tiny. You can design modern homes to be virtually fireproof.

Whereas Romer's approach is less specific than Adams', but powered by the same insight:

Economists tend to assume that societies will naturally adopt good rules. If that were true, societies would put in place the rules needed to get the gains from a city and well-run cities would indeed spring up.

The evidence suggests to the contrary that many societies are stuck with bad rules. Moving from bad rules to better ones may be much harder than most economists have allowed. The construct of a charter city is a suggestion about how we can change the dynamics of rules. It is a way to speed up the rate of improvement in the rules….

The key to the project is a charter city, which starts out as a city-sized piece of uninhabited territory and a charter or constitution specifying the rules that will apply there. If the charter specifies good rules (or in our professional jargon, good institutions) millions of people will come together to build a new city.

For more theoretical underpinnings and practical explorations of this family of ideas, and alternative visions of the cities/countries, check out this slick site with many versions of digestible introduction to charter cities.

NEXT: Jeffrey Lord Defends Himself

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  1. How about we just roll all the “rules” in the US back to 1920 and call it even?

    1. yeah, I’ve been wanting to spray some blacks with firehoses and hire some kids to do dangerous factory work to save some money. LOLOLOLOL!!![cue “We like to party” by “the venga boys”]

      1. Well, yes, let’s not roll EVERYTHING back.

      2. Seriously though, I do really want to hire some preteen kids to do dangerous factory work. Then when they try to unionize I’ll bring in hired thugs to break their backs! Buwahahahaha!

      3. yeah, I’ve been wanting to spray some blacks with firehoses

        Good point, Edwin. Democrats had bad policies even in 1920.

      4. Do you really think the country would re-segregate if all that government disappeared? You think being caught using child labor in a foreign country causes companies enough pain to change policies but domestic child labor would be just fine?

        This is not the world of 1920. Some of the legislation that has accumulated in the last 90 years is valuable, 90% of it is shit.

        1. Child labor is legal and happens all the time. It’s called classwork and homework. Paying a child for labor, now that will get you a ticket to jail.

          1. child labor remains legal in family businesses.

      5. Sure, some labor isn’t suitable for children, but some is. A blanket ban only encourages the economic dependance on children and increases the burden on parents (and educators, at least the better ones). If children were allowed to work they could learn things like the value of money, the effort in entrepreneurship and the ethics of work. We already are suffering as society the consequences that too many people cannot use credit responsibly, too many people prefer to be subsidized than responsible and too many people lash out at businessmen only because they are rich. Having children work wouldn’t be a panacea but would certainly work against these tendencies. A child who worked knows better. There are many harmless jobs they could do without risking their life, health or safety.

        1. and that’s why we don’t have an across-the-board ban, dumbass.

          libertarians are so stuck on their dialogue they assume that all laws are always complete bans on a thing without exception.

          1. How many hours can they work a week (or a day)? How much of their money can they keep and move at will?

            Ah, I thought so.

    2. 1920? Are you mad? Got to go back before the Progressive Era amendments.

      1. Well at least before prohibition. What was I thinking?

        1. I thought it, but I didn’t want to say it.

  2. Don’t be fooled. This is just an excuse to set up a Dogbertatorship.

  3. I was at first interested in the article, then I read his claims of what he thinks is possible and I sort of tuned out. Cars and buildings can’t be as efficient as he proposes.

    I would just like to see more cities with less zoning and land use restrictions.
    And also walking tunnels everywhere so I don’t have to drive and I can just walk anywhere away from bad weather.

    1. “Cars and buildings can’t be as efficient as he proposes.”

      Not only CAN they be, they already exist today. All it takes is money.

      1. Wasting money on efficiency. Oh, the irony.

        1. No, they can’t. Take it from me. I work in the construction industry.

          How much insulation you gonna use? Are you going to build spherical buildings?
          What about water? Sure, you could install water purifiers to reuse water, but those take energy.

    2. The difficulty with his thesis is buying into the idea that the only things stifling these innovations is government regulations. While I do think that there is something to that, I think more of it has to with the technologies being fairly expensive compared to the marginal efficiencies gained.

  4. “The startup country, let’s say the size of modern day Israel, would be designed from the ground up for efficiency.”

    My only problem with this is his notion of top-down planning. Allowing an organic growth would be far more efficient. Central planning leads to the very problems we are now faced with.

    1. He’s a statist. A libertarian approach would be to say, here’s some empty land with no government at all, and we’re gonna keep it that way. You want roads? Build ’em yourself. You want police protection? Start up your own protective service.

  5. OT –

    The Massachusetts Legislature has approved a new law intended to bypass the Electoral College system and ensure that the winner of the presidential election is determined by the national popular vote.

    http://www.boston.com/news/loc…..latur.html

    Seems to me that this is a good one for tomorrow.

    1972 – Nixon wins election with all 50 states giving him their Electoral College votes; Mass. drivers put “Blame Me” bumper stickers on their cars.

    1. The caveat is that some other states that have a combined electoral votes of more than 270 must pass similar legislation as well.

    2. I notice all the states listed are solid blue states. In the “be careful what you wish for” scenario, imagine that with an ongoing war and stagnant economy in 2012, a GOP contender is able to win by huge margins in the red states while narrowly losing the west coast and northeast thus leading to Obama losing the popular vote but winning the Electoral College vote… or would have won if not for all those blue states who now must cast their votes for the GOP. I believe there’s a German word for my amusement at such a scenario.

      But it does highlight an interesting fact. If only blue states pass this legislation, it can only hurt Democrats as they would presumably have gotten the EC votes of those states anyway. To get to a guaranteed majority of EC votes, they are going to have to pick off several battleground states where the GOP has more sway and that seems unlikely. So barring that, they only way their plan ends up making a difference is by handing an EC victory to a Republican who otherwise would have lost.

      1. They would probably repeal the law before the election if it looked like that was going to happen. Heck, I’m not sure they couldn’t get away with repealing it after the election but before the electors are officially counted in December.

      2. And I think the word you’re thinking of is “schadenfreude”.

        1. As long as they are violating the Constitution, they might as well go for it and pass a law saying that all the electoral college votes for that state will always go to the Democratic candidate.

          I foresee a clusterfuck of a legal battle if any states try to implement this law.

          Oh, and Hawaii passed this bad puppy a while ago, along with a statewide card check system. 90% Democrats in the legislature will do that to you.

    3. They still have not gotten over the 2000 election have they? And they still cannot wrap their minds around the notion of how federalism works and that democracy is not an unmitigated good.

      1. They are establishing a more democratic system within the already-extant federal system. And do you really think the 2000 election chose the best man? I mean, seriously, even if you’ve got a hard-on for the GOP, it would have been tactically far better for them if Bush had lost. Democracy is not an unmitigated good – neither is undemocratic federalism.

        1. Given the other man was Al “Sex Poodle” Gore, yeah.

        2. I think a more democratic system is a bad thing. I don’t like mob rule, so I do not make a fetish of pure democracy.

          In the run-up to the 2000 election, the expectation was that Bush would win the popular vote and that Gore might eke out an electoral college victory. If that had happened I would not have liked it, but I would not want to trash the electoral college, as I believe it changes the dynamics of a Presidential election from focusing exclusively on the interests of the most populous states.

    4. Could this work? (I’m asking the lawyers who post here.) I would think that, since the electoral college is created by the federal constitution, the individual states may not dictate its actions.

      1. I think that it would be a huge legal battle, since it basically says that the state will disregard the will of the voters.

        1. It will be a huge legal battle the first time the country’s popular vote requires Massachusetts to seat the GOP slate of electors. Remember how the legislature keeps changing how interim Senators are chosen depending on the immediate needs of the Democrats.

      2. They’re already allowed to require that their electors vote according to the popular vote in the state. I believe that’s been upheld by the Supreme Court – or at least in federal court.

      3. The state legislature does have the power to choose how its electors are chosen. In Nebraska and Maine, for instance, two votes go to the winner of the statewide popular vote while the other votes are awarded to the winner of the popular vote in each congressional district.

        I’m not sure whether it’s constitutional for the system to be completely unmoored from the popular vote in the state as MA is proposing to do.

      4. The state legislatures have the authority to set virtually any criteria for slecting the state slate of electors.

  6. Anyone who is interested in this article may very much like the blog Let A Thousand Nations Bloom (http://athousandnations.com/) which is devoted to the topics of competitive governance and micro-nations. It’s become one of my favorite sites.

  7. My idea for today is that established nations could launch startup countries within their own borders, free of all the legacy restrictions in the parent country.

    I would so go live in his startup country… just so I could carve my own startup out from it, shedding all the legacy crap from Adams’ carve-out! The biggest difference is that I wouldn’t allow carve-outs in my carve-out. (And no fat chicks.)

    1. Can I move there, too?

      1. Well, I got to thinking my vision of a libertarian utopia would be more easily obtained if I was the only one there, but sure, you can crash. (Bring beer.)

  8. DUDE! The cameras-everywhere idea is so crazy it just might work. I’m going to post it on halfbakery later (giving Mr. Adams credit, of course)

  9. Seems like this could be accomplished by secession. It’s rather odd that he favors a top down approach though. Hasn’t that failed countless times before?

    1. Depends what you mean by “could be accomplished.”

  10. I wouldn’t want to live in Adamsville, but I wish him luck. Whatever success he has in trying new ideas should be applicable for others.

  11. The key to the project is a charter city, which starts out as a city-sized piece of uninhabited territory and a charter or constitution specifying the rules that will apply there.

    This has been tried before. Two examples, Brasilia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bras?lia and Cumbernauld http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumbernauld.

    I’ve never been to Brasilia before, but I have (ex-) relations in Cumbernauld and words fail me on how much the places sucks. Few places west of the Elbe suck as bad as Cumbernauld. I’d bet every one of those also are described as a “new town” and heralded as a triumph of central planning.

    But I guess in the case of the Charter Cities, the right people will be in charge and everything will work out ok this time.

    I do have three good things to say about Cumbernauld. 1) It is not Greenock, Scotland 2) It is not Chester, PA 3) It is not Camden, NJ

  12. I plan to build a giant domed city in the Yukon, governed on strictly libertarian principles.

  13. It’s all fine and dandy when you have U.S. hegemony backstopping your mini-country’s security. Way to take a free ride.

    1. Works for Canada, doesn’t it?

      1. truth

    2. Kosovo is doing OK with that strategy. So is the PA.

  14. I say we turn California into Obamastan. He can be their first King, as long as he promises to get the hell out of our country. Extra bonus: Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer are already there.

    1. Don’t forget Dianne Feinstein. They have to keep here too!

      1. Oh, she’s an evil, albeit a lesser one.

  15. It’s rather odd that he favors a top down approach though.

    Why?

    All his work for decades has been slight variations on the same “If people like my delusory self-image as a totally rational mild-mannered science-type dude were runnin’ shit?!” fantasy.

    Dogbert is his id. It’s smarter than he is.

  16. It’s already been done. And it becomes Nevada’s sixth largest city each year for a week. It’s dedicated to preserving as much individual freedom of expression as possible. This year’s theme just happens to be Metropolis. It’s called Black Rock City and is the Burning Man project. You dream. We live it! Join us.

    1. It’s also the ultimate business venture. $10 million in revenue with (I estimate) 1.8-2.4 million in costs, sign me up!

    2. They’re all for the free expression they’re for, yes. Not so much for the freedom of expression they’re not for.

    3. I hear it’s getting crowded.

      1. Only if you call 50,000 a crowd.

  17. If you click through it becomes pretty clear that Adams is advocating for the type of invariably dystopian society that’s the fodder of movies like Brazil, Blade Runner, Minority Report, etc., etc..

    No thanks, I’ll pass. Cameras everywhere? Strict rules on “healthy behavior,” like mandating types of cars and banning cigarettes? Essentially total state control of banking and insurance? Sigh.

    1. Well, you’re right about his version of the “charter city” and I wouldn’t want to live in one that controlled or designed around his idea of “efficiency”, but I do like the concept of allowing such experiments. Let him try his version and let others try their own, including those with less concern with control and dictated efficiency and more concern with individual freedom. It would be a great experiment and very interesting to see which ones would flourish and become the kind of places people would want to live.

      1. To paraphrase Groucho: “I wouldn’t want to live in any city that I planned.”

    2. Think of it as voluntary institutionalization for progressives. We just need to mandate that when people go there, they can’t come back out.

      1. Oh, they can come back out — anyone who leaves there will likely be way less liberal than they were when they entered.

        1. No they won’t. They’ll move to Texas and then bitch that “Well back in Scottopia we did it this way.” Trust me, they never ever learn.

  18. China does this by creating “Special Economic Zones” where the free market can exist in the otherwise authoritarian country. And they were responsible for much of China’s rapid growth.

  19. Don’t libertarians already have teh Somalia?

  20. I’ve been talking about this for the last 5 years. We really need to set up experimental policy shops in cities across the country. Either randomly assign, have voters vote, or pick patches of nothing, implement a set of rules (free market capitalism, statism, socialism, communism, variations of all of these) and see if people move in and develop.

    Alman, Somalia was a failed socialist state…

    1. Yeah – I can never remember which African nation the trolls cite as libertarian heaven…maybe it’s Zimbabwe?

      Meh – we’ll take ’em both. One country for each libertarian – awesome!

    2. Any anarchic region that exists in the future is going to occupy the territory formerly held by a state. So, that excuse simply doesn’t hold water.

      Not to mention that you anarchos haven’t given any reason why an anarchic society following a “failed socialist state” is going to screw things up more than a general anarchic society.

      1. Path dependency. The sudden or relatively fast disappearance of the state doesn’t and didn’t mean that all the accompanying vices and built-in shortcomings would disappear. A bad country usually has a bad society behind (and when it doesn’t, the regime tries to create it for its own benefit), and the bad society stays when the regime falls.

        1. So anarcho-capitalist claims are completely unfalsifiable. The governments of “good” countries aren’t in danger of disappearing, so any failure of a real-world anarchy can be blamed on the “bad” government that preceded it.

          1. It is not unfalsifiable. Build anarchy from the bottom up (yes, it would have to be with land devolved over for that purpose – that is true) with people who are willing to make the experiment, instead of having it fall on a population that has no relevant experience of self-government and a free society (and maybe not even a desire for one, either, though the evidence really is lacking or inconclusive).

          2. Addendum: Somalia, too, like Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine, do prove another point of at least equal importance to libertarians and small-government conservatives: You cannot build a stable or prosperous nation just by pouring money and “Experts”(C) into it. Somalia has seen dozens of serious attempts at “peace-building”, “nation-building” and “state-building” for the last 20 years, from the US, NATO, the UN and the AU. They’re not getting any closer to what the “Experts” in the other side of the world (and even in neighboring Africa) have planned.

  21. Great idea, but that would only work under a nation-state that had no welfare (no incentive to go there and live off others) or had strict immigration rules. And even so, eventually other nations would complain that your tax system is “unfair” competition, or that it is “unfair” because it does not subsidize the rest of the world, and would be bullied into following the policies of the rest of the world. The bullying of tax-heavens is already happening, it would take great skill and determination to pull it off.

  22. The biggest problem with most of these ideas is that the borders are still geography based.

    Free nations from the tyranny of geography!!!!

    1. Partially agree with you. In this modern jet-traveling, networked world the nation-state is obsolete and bloated, and needs to be replaced with something more evolved.

      But, a territorial government something like a city-state still makes sense. People have to physically live somewhere.

    2. Defending the rights of citizens in scattered patches tens of thousands of miles apart, with other nations in between each patch, is simply not practical.

      1. You left off “Yet”.

      2. And when have I ever cared about practicality?

        1. You always have been Faramir to my Boromir, young lad.

      3. Works for me.

      4. Not sure I buy that. Would be difficult if you were trying to protect citizens no matter what hellhole they chose to reside in, but if there was only protection for relatively-safe, “accredited” areas, might not be that big a problem.

        1. It sounds like you’re licking the boot of geography there, Mike.

        2. Yup, I’m in the pocket of Big Geography.

      5. Tell that to people entering McDonalds worldwide. Or to members of the Mormon church. Or …

        It’s only a tiny conceptual step from a corporation without police powers to one with them. Really, was that so hard?

        1. Huh? You’re making less and less sense recently, dude. Selling buns with shit discs in them at locations around the world is a very different task from enforcing laws.

        2. I can’t believe nobody’s brought up Neil Stevenson’s “burbclaves” yet.

          1. I’ve heard allusions to the cities from Stephenson’s novels, but haven’t gotten around to reading anything more than Quicksilver so far. Which novel(s) are they in, again?

  23. Is this not what the Free State Project was trying to accomplish?

    1. They’ve been spending most of their time trying to fuck little boys and dogs.

      1. Edwin, you obviously never learned civility.

        1. How about you actually look them up? I’m exaggerating for comic effect, but they’re pretty fucked.
          Look it up.

          here. Here’s a head start
          http://cdn4.libsyn.com/ftl/FTL…..817e2f03dc

          listen about 2/3 of the way in, when they start talking about kids and sex.

          And that weird little pecker has quite the following.

          1. As a sidenote to history, it is interesting to note that it was during the last decades of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th when ages of sexual majority were raised from usually 10-12 to usually 14-16 (The rise to usually 16-18 happened recently). This also happened under the influence of the Temperance movements, like the alcohol Prohibition. Point being, if legal experimentation became a sustained trend, it will probably eventually include experimenting with lower ages of sexual majority (same as, I guess, with new alcohol Prohibitions). Society wasn’t falling apart back then because people married at 14, and kids these days are having sex earlier anyway.

            1. actually society was pretty shitty back then. Maybe people starting off their lives when they were still 14 and stupid had something to do with it.

              1. That is still beside my point – which was that if ever there is a surge in autonomous communities allowed to introduce any legal innovations they wanted (which is the point of the thread)? then we can expect not just innovation with lower taxes and free markets. There will also be experiments with even more statist societies than we have now (at least in the developed world) – not least because some people seem actually convinced that they would work and be better. In the same way, there will be others that experiment with pre-Victorian ages of sexual majority, and with every other variation you can think about, no matter how illogical or nonsensical it may seem to you (or me).

          2. I’m not clicking some shady-looking link to listen “2/3 of the way” into anything. Either back up your “shocking” claims here or STFU.

            1. OK….. if you’re not going to listen to the clip or just do some quick googling then there’s no way I can show you anything

              1. Googling “Free State Project fuck little boys dogs” yields a bunch of porn sites, and IMDb’s memorable quotes page for “Fight Club” (?!). That’s as far as I’m willing to follow your trail. Why don’t you just state your case rather than waste our time?

                1. Actually, the #1 hit is this here page now…and there’s a Balkoesque story about cops shooting a dog. Maybe there is a connection to libertarianism!

  24. Anyone up for advocating charter cities better get read-up on the debacle happening in Bell, California.

    1. So? Either the voters approved it, or let it sneak by them. Either way, it’s their own fault.

      1. That’s what picthforks and torches are for.

  25. You know, if you were just more selective about which people you let in, you wouldn’t have to worry nearly so much about all those other rules.

  26. The used to have something like this. They were called “Free Cities” in the old Holy Roman Empire. They were cities that were exempt from imperial taxes and rules. And they ended up being wildly wealthy.

    A more modern example would be Hong Kong under the British. It existed without a lot of central control. And it went from being an impoverished rock to one of the richest places on earth in a single generation.

    1. That’s only because it was an island of freedom surrounded by a great land mass of tyranny. HK and Singapore would likely still be impoverished rocks if Malaysia, Indonesia, and China had been economically free countries.

      The point being…if there are charter cities all over the place, the benefits are going to be diluted.

      1. If they had all been free countries, HK and Singapore would probably be exactly as rich as they are. Which would probably be very rich.

        1. Hong Kong was a relatively poor region until the 1949 Chinese revolution, when corporations doing business in China moved there from their former headquarters in Shanghai and Guangzhou out of fear of the Chicomms.

      2. You are right, but not the way you put it. HK and Singapore would still be barren rocks, or almost, because nobody would have moved there, but mainland China, Malaysia and Indonesia would have the standard of living that HK and Singapore have.

      3. Unless you subscribe to the “fixed wealth” school of thought, I’d suggest the benefits would be multiplied, not diluted. The world would be much better off with 100 Hong Kongs (Hongs Kong?) than one.

        1. “Hong Kongs” would be correct. “Hong” is an adjective and “Kong” is a noun.

        2. I agree that the average quality of life is increased by more widespread economic freedom, but you’re not going to have many duplicates of the spectacular growth of Hong Kong. That was created by unique circumstances. For instance, making Omaha into a charter city with a Hong Kong level of economic freedom would probably not cause it to experience the growth HK did. Why? For one, it’s not really located in a geographically important place, and for two, it’s surrounded by a relatively laissez-faire country. It’s not an obvious base of operations if you want to get into the US market.

          1. Hong Kong was located on the shittiest land the Mainland Chinese could find.

            If you make people that free, prosperity will follow. Simple as that.

            1. The British gained HK after they won the First Opium War. So I doubt the Chinese had much of a choice.

              There are far shittier parts of China, of course. An enclave of freedom in Gansu province out in the Gobi, for instance, would not be terribly successful.

              1. If you are arguing that geography matters too, then you are right, but that is not the same as arguing about economic institutions. The comparison, to control for geography, wouldn’t be HK and Singapore vs very inland, far-off cities, but HK vs Macau and Singapore vs Jakarta. They still come out pretty strong.

          2. To put it another way, if Hong Kong had NYC levels of economic regulation, it would have prospered anyway.

    2. In a sense, this is how we got America. Before 1500, the King of England would grant charters to towns that gave them some freedoms to manage their own affairs. It set the preceedent for the colonial charters.

    3. There were also more recently the german city-states, before german unification

  27. This is nothing but Technocracy in new clothes.

    FUHGEDABOUTIT.

    1. sounds awfully like a movie i saw last month on cable at friends house…..starred stallone, jesse james ex-wife, and that tax cheat actor[?]………san angeles was the town.
      i dont know the name of show, i dont own a T.V.

  28. I don’t like his specific city, but shit, let’s get our franchulates on.

    My charter city will have:
    * Allotment of council seats (council activity is part time and compensated as such, aside from a small number of officers selected by the rest of the councilors)
    * Universal police service
    * Absolute transparency (no military or intelligence, so no national security excuse for classification).
    * Cameras in public, open to the public at large, and recordable by anyone as well.
    * Consensual tax system, based on a share auction for multiple budgets.

    You know, technically we have a charter government, it just forgot about the charter.

  29. These places already exist. They are called Hong Kong and Singapore.

    1. Neither of which are “free” in any sense of the word. No thanks – though HK is arguably more tolerable than the grotesquely repressive Singapore.

      1. I think he’s referring to the level of economic freedom.

      2. Hong Kong was free before the Communist government took them over. It’s still doing pretty good despite the Communist’s attempts to fuck up a good deal.

      3. Adams and Romer don’t say the cities have to be uber libertarian.

        “If the charter specifies good rules millions of people will come together to build a new city.”

        Obviously millions of people don’t have the problem with the rules in HK or Singapore that you seem to have.

  30. All they really needed to do to rebuild New Orleans was to make it exempt from federal taxes.

  31. Think of it as evolution in action.

    Oath of Fealty

    Plot summary

    In the near future, a race riot results in the destruction of an area just outside Los Angeles. In order to prevent the area from devolving into a tent slum, the city sells the construction rights to a private company, which then constructs an arcology, named Todos Santos. The higher standard of living enjoyed by Todos Santos residents causes resentment among Angelenos. The arcology dwellers have evolved a different culture, sacrificing privacy – there are cameras (not routinely monitored) even in the private apartments – in exchange for security. The residents are fiercely loyal to the arcology and its management, and the loyalty runs both ways. During the course of the novel, Todos Santos is compared to a feudal society, with loyalty and obligations running both ways, hence the title. The systems at the arcology are run by MILLIE, an advanced computer system, and some high-level executives have direct links to MILLIE via implants in their brains. Other workers in the arcology work by telepresence, including one woman who remotely operates construction equipment on a lunar base.

  32. Scott Adams has become fabulously wealthy by satirizing the incompetence and perverse incentives of organizations full of technically competent people.

    It’s odd that he doesn’t think that will happen in his own city. Maybe he plans to rule his town from the confines of his robot body. Forever.

    1. It?s a question of scale, the bigger the organization the more corrupt it becomes.
      Running things on a local level there is also more accountability, you know your taxes are being spent locally and it?s easier to assess their effectiveness, harder to hoodwinkle voters, no pork barrel politics to bribe politicians to vote for Fed programs.

    1. And I’ve even been using the phrase “startup countries” in talks and such.

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