Forgoing the plan to build independent floating cities away from chafing laws, some libertarians--led by Milton Friedman’s grandson, no less--have found something better: desperate countries willing to allow the founding of autonomous libertarian cities within their borders.
One potential model is something Friedman calls Appletopia: A corporation, such as Apple, “starts a country as a business. The more desirable the country, the more valuable the real estate,” Friedman says.
Future Cities follows this approach, describing its mission as bringing “Silicon Valley’s spirit of innovation to the implementation of cutting-edge legal systems in new cities," most likely in the role of the cities’ master developer. Citing laissez-faire entrepots such as Hong Kong and Singapore as examples, the company’s founders believe that strong property rights and business-friendly regulation are key to creating jobs, stimulating investment, and lifting millions out of poverty, a la China’s special economic zones. "The evidence is much stronger," Friedman replies when asked if he’s building another libertarian utopia, "that rule of law, fairness, and a lack of corruption leads to more economic growth than low taxes." ..
Instead of seasteading, Future Cities is modeling itself on “charter cities.” The brainchild of New York University economist Paul Romer (read his thoughts on FCI here), a charter city combines a host nation’s vacant land (in this case, Honduras) with the legal system and institutions of another (e.g. Canada) and residents drawn from anywhere. Romer’s central insight is that good governance is transplantable--rather than wait for a basket case nation to come around begging, a charter city could help show it the way, as Hong Kong did for Deng Xiaoping.
"The real audience that matters most is not the Naomi Kleins of the old," Patri Friedman says defiantly, "but the people of Honduras. If we can create jobs" and build a better city than the ones they have, "they’ll be happy."