Hurricane Irma destroyed Barbuda, forcing evacuation of the island’s 3,000 inhabitants. Media reports suggest that it will cost around $250M to rebuild the tropical paradise. The territory is, of course, part of the country of Antigua and Barbuda, which has a relatively high standard of living.
In lieu of focusing on seasteading, how about a bunch of rich libertarians get together and, though a market solution, try to purchase the island, rehabilitate it, and create a new sovereign state?
Maybe offer $500M to the government of Antigua and Barbuda to cover the costs of permanently accommodating former Barbuda residents on Antigua and to compensate them for the lost territory. Given the country’s fiscal challenges, this could be a nice nest egg, covering about half of the annual government budget [PDF]. Add in the $250M to rebuild Barbuda. (We have little doubt that enterprising, profit-motivated Americans could manage it cheaper.)
Offer, say, $100,000 to compensate each resident of Barbuda who chooses not to return. If half of them take you up on it, that’s $150M. (Better yet, determine the fair value of their private losses and compensate them; we doubt that it would be anything close to an order of magnitude higher than $100K on average.) Invite those who decline the opportunity to return under the new system. Budget $50M to build the hardware and software of a new (minimalist) national government.
So, for less than a billion dollars, we could possibly have a new state. Peter Thiel alone could cover this. The new owners could begin selling parcels of land, privatizing government-type services, and creating a true libertarian paradise. It’s easy to envision them recouping their investment while creating a society that would soon become the richest per capita in the world. Think of the prospects for tourism, retirement homes, and financial services alone. The geography and weather (minus the occasional hurricane) are a good start.
George Clooney just sold his tequila business for a headline-grabbing $1B. It seems plausible that he is building his image for a presidential campaign, and, if so, Republicans should take it seriously.
Although he has spewed the standard Hollywood liberal talking points, he hasn’t come across in the deranged Ashley Judd/Madonna mold. He seems like a serious guy, not an arrogant idiot, who has taken a lower political profile than many of his contemporaries. He’s not even on Twitter, has done interviews with Fox News and Business Insider, and thereby has created space for an image of gravitas that most celebrities have squandered.
His UN “humanitarian” work seems more legitimate, low-key, and serious, than that of most Hollywood grandstanders.
He took another step toward political respectability by marrying not some starlet, but a quintessential liberal pin-up girl: exotic, brown, man-jawed, not too young, with a prestigious-sounding job as a “human rights lawyer” and now having children.
Plenty of people have speculated about a potential run for California or federal office, and he has denied interest. And of course we don’t know how his views would stand up to scrutiny or how he’d do in a debate, but he could be strong candidate. Now that President Trump has broken the glass ceiling of celebrity-type candidates, this could be a trend.
The biggest barrier to his candidacy might be a refusal by the Democratic party to accept a white male nominee.
Could the fix be in to nullify Brexit? We thought it was peculiar that the Conservative Party chose an anti-Brexit candidate, Theresa May, to replace David Cameron as Prime Minister. Now May has called an early election, even though she has a solid majority. Her stated reason is to obtain a larger “mandate” for the U.K. to negotiate the terms of Brexit with the EU. This doesn’t seem convincing given that the party publicly got behind Brexit after it passed and Cameron resigned.
A Prime Minister only calls an early election if the polls suggest that the governing party is likely to increase its majority, of course, and indeed polls so indicated when May called the election a couple of weeks ago. However, under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act passed in 2011, two-thirds of the House of Commons must agree to election prior to expiration of the five-year fixed term.
One obvious question is why a minority party would ever agree if the majority party feels that an early election would be to its advantage. Perhaps in some cases the minority party has its own polling numbers, or an underdog strategy that it is convinced that it can execute. But in this case Parliament approved the early election nearly unanimously: 522-13.
What do all of these MPs know that the Tories, or the rest of us, don’t? Labor could have agreed to an early election to create a pretext to dump Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has never been popular among the caucus, if they lose ground. The Liberal Democrats also mostly supported the early election; perhaps they figured they had nothing left to lose.
Our conspiracy theory is that Theresa May is hoping to lose her majority, or at least have it reduced, in order to sabotage Brexit. Maybe Labor is in on it. We speculated at the time that the establishment would do everything it could to slow-walk and eventually ignore the Brexit vote. This could be part of that strategy; with the media’s help, perhaps May could attribute any result other than a significant gain in Conservative seats as resounding proof that the electorate has changed its mind on Brexit.
Theresa May might envision getting on the cover of Vanity Fair (or whatever the British equivalent is), and then lucrative sinecures on the globalist lecture and think-tank circuits, as the heroic woman who sacrificed her own position and her party’s interest for the good of her country, and indeed the whole world.
The great news just keeps on rolling in after Tuesday. Here are some great (and some not so great) side effects that we can look forward to:
10. The Clinton Foundation will close up shop, since with no influence to peddle no one will donate to it.
9. The media will try to build momentum to elect Hillary Clinton Speaker of the House for the sake of national unity (and since she won the popular vote, dontcha know). President Trump and Vice President Pence will then have to avoid being in the same place for four years.
8. We will never hear the name Alicia Machado again. Or Sidney Blumenthal, Robbie Mook, or Jennifer Palmieri. Or Huma Abedin (unless she ends up in the dock or in the pages of the Federal Register as having been granted a pardon).
7. Ivanka Trump will be America’s first woman president, maybe around 2028 (while the left decries the Trumps for trying to create a dynasty).
6. Democrats will move to abolish the electoral college. Democrats will rediscover the majesty of the filibuster, the perniciousness of the presidential executive order, and the importance of checks and balances.
5. Merrick Garland will resign his judgeship, join the Harvard Law School faculty, and become a bitter old man writing op-eds and appearing on MSNBC panels relentlessly attacking President Trump. He may run for Senate and prove to be just as leftist as Elizabeth Warren.
4. The bubble for firearm and ammunition company stocks will end (though the Soros-funded rioters may keep up demand under they peter out).
3. Chelsea Clinton will run for office (the only way to prevent #10). Kirsten Gillibrand will lose her status as liberal icon and be pressured to make way for Chelsea to take her seat. Ditto for Richard Durbin once Michelle Obama decides that she’s entitled to a senate seat too.
2. James Taranto will grudgingly have to retire his “we blame George W. Bush meme.” Glenn Reynolds will happily have to retire his “TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day XXX” meme. CBS will finally be able to cancel Madam Secretary, which was presumably created as an in-kind donation/hagiography to the Clinton campaign (every time you saw a promo for the show, you were supposed to think of Hillary Clinton).
1. The Trump Organization will have to change its name back to the original German Trumpf to avoid any conflict of interest.
The Muslim terrorist attacks over the weekend in New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota provide another dose of vindication to Donald Trump’s worries about the threats posed by Muslim immigrants. It must be clear to Hillary Clinton that this issue—contrasted by her and her minions’ default nothing-to-see-here responses—could carry Trump to victory.
Could we see Clinton try, perhaps in the presidential debates, to co-opt Trump’s ownership of this issue by finally acknowledging the pattern of Islamic terrorism and recognizing that a specific ideology and specific group of identifiable people are at war with our civilization? It would only take a few words, and Clinton could probably craft an artful paragraph or two to produce the most headline-grabbing news out of a debate.
We know from their words and actions what Hillary Clinton, President Obama, the mainstream media, and the rest of the left think of terrorism:
- The U.S. is an evil hegemon that has oppressed the brown peoples of the world and must repent. Arabs and other Muslims are noble people with admirably exotic [collectivist] views and lifestyles.
- Only a selected few enlightened global visionaries, due to their life experiences and proper educations, have internalized the image of global utopia that is within our grasp, if only they may be allowed to bring to bear their benevolent understanding for the benefit of the rest of us. President Obama, of course, is the quintessential contemporary “Muslimist” (as Steve Sailer has coined) who, while perhaps not Muslim per se, can bridge cultures and allow us to vicariously bask in his understanding of the beauty of Islamic society.
- To fulfill the left’s prime directive of building a multicultural society in the U.S.—to achieve three interrelated goals of uplifting the other peoples of the world, making American society more progressive, and demonstrating our virtue as a people—is the most important movement on which we could embark. Hence a few or a few thousand dead prole Americans is a trivial price to pay to achieve this vision, which of course depends on Clinton’s election.
Bill to allow Americans to sue Saudi Arabia for terrorism is against the rule of law (that it passed unanimously is a telltale sign)
It’s odd that we side with President Obama as he is facing the first veto override of his term. Though the fact that the bill passed both the House and the Senate unanimously is a hint of its perniciousness.
The bill, called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), would allow citizens who can convince a jury that they were victimized by terrorism to sue governments that they believe contributed to the terrorist acts. We agree with the high-minded reasons that both the Obama Administration and some of the Republicans’ best legal and foreign-policy minds put forth in illustrating the bill’s dangers: it undermines sovereign immunity, could prompt retaliatory lawfare from other countries, and could place Americans abroad at risk of being detained by countries where the divide between civil and criminal prosecution is not as clear as in America.
We also fret that—while we are not condoning our supposed allies like Saudi Arabia in creating the environment for and directly supporting attacks on the U.S.—subjecting more defendants to the whims of the U.S.’s tort system is not the definition of justice. Supporters of the bill reflexively cry that “it’s not about the money,” but we’re sure that the tort bar doesn’t see it that way.
The lawsuit industry undermines the U.S. economy every day via “jackpot justice,” in which it’s not that hard to employ emotionally-charged arguments to convince juries that some faceless, deep-pocket foreign defendant should pay up. The preponderance-of-the-evidence standard on such civil matters is a dangerous substitute to deal with complex issues that should be left to the international political process.
The bill, while not unconstitutional, violates the spirit of the American constitution’s visionary prohibition of Bills of Attainder and ex post facto laws. JASTA strikes us as a ham-handed attempt to scapegoat for imprecise reasons a defined boogeyman after the fact—a a sophisticated form of mob rule that these constitutional provisions were designed to deter.
Most bills that pass Congress unanimously are trivial, with the only down-side being wasted legislative resources. When they are not trivial, such laws almost always increase government and erode liberty, as the political class generally agrees on these values as opposed to their converses. Unanimous laws generally fit the pattern of benefiting from emotional resonance—as in the case of JASTA—and being seen as having little down-side.*
JASTA is not trivial and carries significant down-sides, though it does fit the general pattern of feel-good unanimous legislation and all of its ills.
*We would like to see a historian write a book on unanimously-passed legislation and the dissenters (like former Rep. Ron Paul (Tx.)) who have stood alone against them. Such a work would certainly be filled with anecdotes that would educate and often amuse political junkies.