Could Guantánamo Bay Be The Next Hong Kong?

Could Guantánamo Bay become the next Hong Kong? Yes.

Paul Romer lays out one possible scenario in his TED talk about Charter cities. Romer’s scenario would be dependent on Cuban leadership that was honest as to the limitations and failures of its existing government. We obviously can’t expect to happen with the current regime.

But who knows about the next person in a position of leadership for Cuba. They might be looking for a way out of the Communist albatross without explicitly admitting defeat to the US. Again it’s obviously unlikely, but what a powerful idea. A recap from the post on the most interesting blog on the web – Marginal Revolution:

Imagine that the United States and Cuba agree to disengage by closing the military base and transferring local administrative control to Canada…

To help the city flourish, the Canadians encourage immigration. It is a place with Canadian judges and Mounties that happily accepts millions of immigrants. Some of the new residents could be Cuban émigrés who return from North America. Others might be Haitians who come work in garment factories that firms no longer feel safe bringing into Haiti…

Initially, the government of Cuba lets some of its citizens participate by migrating to the new city. Over time, it encourages citizens to move instead to a new city that it creates in a special economic zone located right outside the charter city, just as the Mainland Chinese let its citizens move into Shenzhen next to Hong Kong.

With clear rules spelled out in the charter and enforced by the Canadian judicial system, all the infrastructure for the new city is financed by private investment. The Canadians pay for the government services they provide (the legal, judicial, and regulatory systems, education, basic health care) out of the gains in the value of the land in the administrative zone. This, of course, creates the right incentives to invest in education and health. Growth in human capital makes income grow very rapidly, which makes the land in the zone even more valuable.

What do bright minds who look around and see the type of governments the world constantly produces wish to do? Here is how Patri Friedman [yes, he of Milton and David lineage] summarizes the libertarian dilemma:

Democracy is rigged against libertarians. Candidates bid for electoral victory partly by selling future political favors to raise funds and votes for their campaigns. Libertarians (and other honest candidates) who will not abuse their office can’t sell favors, thus have fewer resources to campaign with, and so have a huge intrinsic disadvantage in an election.

Libertarians are a minority, and we underperform in elections, so winning electoral victories is a hopeless endeavor.

So what is a libertarian to do? It’s called Seasteading and this is their mission statement:

To further the establishment and growth of permanent, autonomous ocean communities, enabling innovation with new political and social systems. By opening a new frontier, we intend to revolutionize humanity’s capacity to improve quality-of-life worldwide by creating experimentation and competition among governments.

Now this organization has been in the planning for years. But I suspect the current administration is not exactly hurting their recruiting efforts. When I look at the Oasis of the Sea model above, I see people who are doing a lot more than bemoaning the encroachment on their freedoms. I agree with their reasoning, but am not ready to get onboard. Ultimately, we Christians who believe in freedom are called to [the good] fight here on land until the last ACORN drops, or we do.

About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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