Folks, this libertarian Christian conservative is contemplating a move to Honduras. Yes, I realize that it is home to the world’s highest murder rate. Of course, I have heard how one in every four workers is unemployed. No, I’m not into Johnny Knuckles for 10-large. Honduras is now the first place in the world to attempt to build a private city, from scratch. The Honduran government recently agreed to allow a sovereign community to be built, which is not subject to Honduran law, tax policy, or the judiciary system.
Following the model “charter cities” made popular by Paul Romer, an economics professor at New York University, the first step in building this private city will be to create a charter which lays out the raison d’être for the city itself. People will be able to study this charter, determine if it is somewhere they might like to live, and then move there if they so choose. That’s the beauty of the concept: choice. Romer argues that much of the problem with our modern societies is that we have no choices. Rules and laws which were passed in antiquity are seemingly set in stone and we accept them by rote and absorb them into our reality. Why should it be so?
The concept of charter cities shares a lot of ground with the concept of Federalism, which historically made this country so free and great. It says, let each community govern itself. Let them be independent and don’t restrict traffic between communities. This allows each community the freedom to build, tax, grow, regulate, and govern how that community chooses. And it allows citizens the freedom to find a community which suits them, to move to a place which they find attractive, and gives them a wide variety of choices to pick from. It is very similar to how the original colonies/states were configured in our country. If an early American didn’t like how tobacco farming was taxed or regulated in Virginia, he could move to Kentucky, or elsewhere until he found a place which suited him. And the states were allowed to vary in their governance so freely that two states could have had drastically different make-ups.
Modern Americans don’t have this luxury. Sure, we still have superficial differences between the states, but we’ve lost the Federalist ability to fashion our communities in any real meaningful way. Big Brother is simply too powerful and too overweening. We have clearly seen this over the past few years when individual states have passed measures involving illegal immigration, protection of traditional marriage, and abortion. These measures were proposed, inspected, and voted for/against by the communities in which they would be enacted. That should be the end of the story, but it isn’t. The Department of Justice, at the behest of the White House, has decided time and again to put the kibosh on these self-determined measures because they didn’t fit the agenda of the person occupying the White House.
In Honduras, the companies and citizens who invest their time and money into this charter city will be able to create their own community with very little outside involvement. Of course the entire experiment in Honduras could go terribly wrong. The process could be rife with corruption and scandal and could amount to nothing.
But there’s the rub. Who cares? It’s not our money. In a private system, the people in charge of the success of the system are usually those with the most skin in the game. Forgetting for a moment the Bush/Obama Bailouts of the past few years, when the higher-ups of a company in a free-market economy decide to do something and it fails, they are on the hook for the cost of that decision and the market or the shareholders will hold them responsible. That is the genius of the free market system; responsibility is held by those who make the decision, whether the results are positive or negative.
If the construction of a freeway in downtown Chicago is delayed or fails because the construction company is running over-budget and behind-schedule, who pays for it? The citizens of Illinois. Are the salary of the mayor and Illinois’ State Representatives at stake, if the project fails? Not hardly. We’re told that the voters are there to serve as a check and balance to these elected officials, but when some of these voters haven’t been seen above ground since the Carter administration, it’s safe to say the system is broken.
Of course if this initiative succeeds, and there’s little reason why it shouldn’t be a smashing success, it will have leftist moonbats up in arms, the world over. I can already see the misspelled placards, decrying the ills of “social Darwinism”. Isn’t it funny how the only time leftists decry the theory of Darwinism is when they’re trying to smear a free-market conservative? The next time you are called a social Darwinist for demanding accountability in our economic system, simply smile and remind your slanderer that their Death Tax inhibits social descent with modification, rendering the engine of social Darwinism as impotent as Perez Hilton in a Porky’s remake.
Keep an eye on Honduras over the next few years. Latin America in general is going through a remarkable amount of change. We see the return of socialism in Venezuela and Argentina, counterbalanced by this free-market experience in Honduras. Which worldview will win the hearts, minds, and pocketbooks of Latin America’s citizens? If history holds true, it won’t even be a contest. Freedom, liberty, and prosperity trumps the nanny state, every time.
Image: Porfirio Lobo Sosa, President of Honduras