In current times, the mantra might go, ‘on land comes rules, taxes and viruses’. Not all too appealing, which is why the ‘seasteading’ movement is gaining traction. The what, you might be thinking? ‘Seasteading’ is the concept of creating permanent dwellings at sea, outside the territory claimed by any government.
As reported by the Times, more and more tech entrepreneurs and software developers are seeking floating homes away from the ills and distractions of pandemic life, since closed offices have prompted a remote working revolution (and it doesn’t get much more remote than a platform in the sea). The Seasteading Institute in San Francisco has led the charge since 2008, encouraging ‘aquapreneurs’ to make the flashiest designs utilising all of technology’s potential.
A think tank co-founded by Peter Thiel, the billionaire American technology investor, and Patri Friedmad, grandson of Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, promote the movement. Joe Quirk, president of the Seasteading Institute told the Times: ‘The safest place to be in a pandemic is a seastead. The pandemic has definitely accelerated interest.’
A handful of start-ups are hopping aboard the seastead movement, one, aptly called Ocean Builders. According to the Times, these fibreglass pods will cost in the region of £155,000 and will be as futuristic as they come; powered by solar energy, with ‘living walls’ of greenery and ‘smart’ glass that double as a window and a touchscreen computer.
Despite the obvious appeal as a living choice (‘E Mare Libertas’ or ‘From the Sea, Freedom’ is the sealand motto), the seasteads do still have their critics. Some believe that they are just an escape for the super-rich to avoid hefty taxes and social responsibility. Peter Newman, Professor of sustainability at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, is one who shares such thoughts: ‘If they’re floating in international waters, it’s about avoiding tax. Wherever they float them, it’s about avoiding responsibility.’
Floating tax havens are nothing new. The uber wealthy, Sir Philip Green et al, buy yachts to be offshore for just the right amount of time each year. British citizens are classed as non-resident and do not have to pay UK tax on foreign income if they spend fewer than 16 days in the country. Those seeking residence on a seastead would need to ensure that their residence was more than 12 nautical miles off the British coast, putting it in international waters, where there is no tax.
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