h a l f b a k e r y
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Nations have, traditionally, had areas of land that they owned
(for the most part). The borders of these land areas have
been defined by things like coastlines (which are expensive to
move) or fences with neighbouring nations, which can only be
moved using war.
Like families, nations need
differing amounts of space at
different times in their histories. Populations expand and
contract; people shift from rural areas into cities, then get
broadband and want to move back out to the countryside; the
ebb and flow of desertification can leave a nation with too
little agricable land or too little sand, and so forth.
The solution to all of this is stuningly obvious. Nations should
switch from ownership to rental of land areas. Rents would
be set by market forces so, for example, the south of what is
now France would probably be quite expensive, whereas
Wales or Greenland would be a bargain. Africa might be
really quite expensive, given its mineral reserves.
The transition from ownership to rental would be tricky to
manage. In particular, who would actually own the land, and
therefore be the landlord? We'd start by creating an
international land ownership organization (ILOO). Then, a
round of bidding would determine the market rental value of
each block of land (say, 100km x 100km blocks). The current
owners of the land would then receive credits from ILOO in
proportion to the rentable value of the land they currently
After that, nations could decide what to do with their
credits. They might opt to stay put, in which case they just
pay a yearly rental charge back to the ILOO. Alternatively,
they might choose to move, or to expand, by outbidding
other nations for particular areas of land.
Rented land (ie, all land) could be rented either furnished or
unfurnished, or any intermediate state. "Fully furnished" land
would include all buildings, factories, infrastructure and so
forth. Clearly, it would be in the general interest for most
rentals to be "furnished", to avoid pointless cycles of
demolition and reconstruction. However, some areas might
be rented unfurnished; in these cases, furnishing the land
might add to its rental value, allowing a nation to recoup
some of its costs if it chose to move on.
||Looks a bit like an upwards extension of feudalism, but actually I think there could be some interesting benefits to this. Presumably anyone or anything could come up with cash to bid for an area. So, for example, when the South Downs comes up for lease renewal, an anarchist collective could use its secret stored stash of gold and tinned beans as mortgage collaterral, and outbid the English and French governments who have already secretly agreed between themselves not to have a bidding war over it.
||But the rental agreement would have all sorts of clauses which might annoy the anarchists, e.g. no pets, no loud music after 10pm, no hanging out washing, etc.
||// The current owners of the land would then receive credits from ILOO in proportion to the rentable value of the land//
||Presumably these credits would be issued to individual citizens of each country. The citizens could allocate their credits a bit like voting.
||Over time, the credits would gradually adjust to be equal per capita worldwide, rather than being proportional to population density in a given area.
||The rental agreement analogies used here are for residential property, rather than commercial property, which seems like a more appropriate analogue: if there is a single feudal overlord (the ILOO) you can bet yr balls they will insist on the landleases being on a ful repairing and insuring basis, such that the tenant 'nation' is responsible for all upkeep of the premises and, importantly, handing them back in the same condition that they were let in. This poses problems, primarily due to the effects of nature and the finitity of resources.
||Oh yeah... & in some ways the British crown system, (technically) it all belongs (or did?) to the Queen.