Monday, 05 November, 2001

Ramifications of Freedom Ship

Just what would be the international political ramifications of a floating city likeFreedom Ship?  It's not a very effective tax dodge--at least to U.S. citizens--because the IRS expects you to report all of your income worldwide.  And since Freedom Ship won't be a separate country, it's not like you could renounce your U.S. citizenship.  It's interesting to think about children born on the ship, who never leave it until they're adults.  Can you imagine an 18-year-old landing in the U.S. with no driver's license or other means of identification?  Never seen a car.  Never been on land.  It'd be worth studying to get an idea of how people on long space voyages would react to finally arriving at their destinations.

Maritime tradition makes ships at sea subject to the laws of the country of registry.  Could something like Freedom Ship become a floating refuge for criminals?  Mexico, for example, won't extradite anybody who is facing a possible death penalty.  Some other countries won't extradite businessmen accused of embezzlement or bilking the U.S. government.  If Freedom Ship is registered in one of those countries, criminals could run their businesses with impunity, living in the lap of luxury.  Of course, that would probably spawn a small cottage industry of bounty hunters who board Freedom Ship with the express purpose of performing a little unauthorized "extradition."

This is starting to sound like a minor subplot in a Tom Clancy novel.