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Microtown - My Initial Thoughts

Crypto currencies have been bringing out a lot of great ideas in other areas of the world (than finance). One of these is the concept of buying some land that we can call our own and create our own governments on. But how viable are these ideas? Will they work out in the short term? How about the long term? That is what I want to look at in this article. Please keep in mind, though, that this is all based on my own personal feelings; you may feel otherwise. That is perfectly fine!

The Cost

I think the first thing to consider is the cost of living in a separate town like this. First of all, you have to buy the land from somewhere (and it has to be land that is not governed, otherwise you are back at square one and the entire project was meaningless). Next, you have to find a way to get homes up on it. These can be houses or large buildings that house many people. In any case, if people are going to live there they are going to need homes. Next, you need to think about necessities. Electricity, water, food, etc. are all important and are needed.

So with this in mind, we start to run in to some problems. First of all, that land may be ridiculously expensive. You can not just go throw yourself on some land and declare it as your own, so that means you are buying it from somewhere. In the case of Microtown and similar projects, the idea is to buy massive plots and then let the village people buy their own pieces of that larger plot. So let us assume that this is handled, and all the land is there and ready.

Now we need to deal with getting homes and other buildings created. This is a pretty involved process. First we need to get the tools we need. Now we need the materials. Then we need the man power to make it happen. On top of this, when buying a massive plot of land there are probably going to be other issues as well: things like needing to flatten the land or take down trees. The more there is that has to happen with the land, the greater the cost is going to be to prepare it for building. Not to mention the increased cost of the building itself as well. While people that are going to be living in the town can probably handle some of this on their own, there is a lot that is going to need outside help. And we are not even getting in to things like septic and such, which can pose even larger problems.

So let us assume that the homes and buildings are now built up and ready to be inhabited. Now we need electricity, water and food. This will either have to come from outside the town or somehow be created inside. Water and electricity can be merged together if you use water to generate the electricity, but that requires a lot of knowledge and research; especially when you want to power an entire town. Solar panels are another way to handle it, although that also comes with pretty large costs. Food is not such a big deal though; this can all be grown on a farm.

The point of all of these things is that there is going to be costs. No matter how much you can do on your own, unless you are planning to spend years trying to prepare the land before moving on to it, there is going to be a need for outside help. There is really just no way around it. This need is further increased when we consider that there are going to be many homes out there. Each one of these increases the need for additional help to get up and running. So, in a sense, this opportunity would only pose itself to those who are rich enough to pay for anything they need.

Creating An Economy

Along with the costs of getting this town set up, there is another thing that has to be dealt with: finding a way to earn money (as in fiat) within it. Even if everyone was able to work for, and earn, Solidcoins or something like that (any type of monetary system that the town itself has set up), that does not help bring in imports from other areas. Without a way for earning actual fiat, no new items could be bought from outside the town. And while I love the concept of having a town that is able to run completely on its own, without any outside interference in any ways, this is simply not feasible. From food to clothing to materials, things have to come from somewhere. You may be able to get a lot of things in the town and make them on your own, but there are always going to be some things that just do not work this way.

To help equate it, it is a lot like Bitcoin. If Bitcoin had no exchanges, it would have little to no value. If I have a Bitcoin and I want to go buy something, that person got the item from someone who (likely) only wanted cash for it. This means that the person I buy the item from needs to have some way to turn that Bitcoin back in to cash, otherwise they would go out of business by accepting them. If they can not turn them back to fiat, they can not buy more items. This leads to them being shut down. Exchanges resolve this by allowing people to turn their coins right back over to fiat, so that the cycle can continue (which goes fiat → Bitcoin → fiat, in a never ending cycle).

The town would run in to the same problem. While people within the town may accept the town's fake coins, that does not mean that people outside of it would as well. What are they going to use it for, if the town is only importing and not exporting? Nothing. So there has to be some economy created within the town to help support itself, and it must involve trades of some sort, whether it is trading for cash or trading for other items that are needed. The town simply can not sustain itself without one of these. At least not with a quality of life that is even near what we currently desire. If someone were open to the idea of really lowering their quality of life to completely go off of the grid and not have to rely on anyone else, it would be possible. I just do not see this being the case with the vast majority of the people that would be interested in this special town to begin with.

The Security

Now we can move on to the security aspect. We have everything up and running, we have people moved in to the town, etc. What happens when someone commits a crime? Wait a minute, what all is a crime anyways? Now we need to get a government set up to determine rules, which will require the help of the people (in a town like this everyone should have a say, rather than just a smaller group of people). I do not think that getting together a government would be too much of a problem, and if people are interviewed prior to joining the town there should be a pretty solid group of people that are interested in working together. As such, this should work out pretty well.

But now we are assuming that the town is going to be “good.” That people are not going to steal or harm one another, and that people will not try to be disruptive. So let us assume that this is perfect and there are never any problems. Does that mean that everyone is secure? Not at all. As of now, we have covered only those that are in the town and that are allowed to live in it. But that is not the only threat that the people face.

The Need for An Army

Well, this one might seem like it is not important, but it is. Each country has an army for a reason; to protect it from other countries. People try to invade each other all the time, whether on their own or with the support of their military. Well, even if this town is great and everyone loves them, that does not mean that another country will never invade to take over. This means that they need to protect themselves, otherwise there is nothing to stop this invasion from taking place and the town can be demolished with no real recourse other than to allow it to happen.

To build up an army takes more than a few people grabbing some type of weapons. It requires a lot of money, and a solid group of individuals that are trained to protect. A small group is probably just not going to cut it, when countries have airplanes and things like that they can attack with. So really, regardless of how the town is being run, there is a high risk to the area. There is just not any protection that would be viable; at least not unless the area was part of another country, of which that would put the town as part of that country's rule and would completely skip over the entire point of separating.

Handling Disasters

Let us assume that there are never any invaders and that people never attack the town. Now we still have to deal with another pretty big problem: natural disasters. Tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, etc. are all prevalent. No matter where you go, you are going to be subjected to at least one of these disaster types; it is impossible to avoid all of them. While this does not mean that you will be hit by a disaster, you are still in the possibility of it. It is just unavoidable.

So what happens when a disaster hits the town (or, if you want to be really optimistic, “if” it happens)? It has to be rebuilt. The money that went in to creating the buildings and getting people settled down has now disappeared, as everything has to be fixed or built back up again. This will again take time and money, much like it did in the very beginning. On top of this, food and water supplies can be cut off. And people could be seriously injured, to the point of needing some type of hospitalization. So the point here? There are a ton of risks, and having a town that is cut off from the rest of the world could cause some really big problems; it reduces the ability to work together for common good, and can lead to complications with even the most important tasks.

Conclusion

I am in no way saying that Microtown and similar projects are not going to work. But I think they need to be evaluated a bit more to see how viable they really are. I love the concept of being able to have a town that can run itself. If nothing else, it would represent something like America when it was founded. It is an awesome social experiment, and I think it could do a lot of good for learning and teaching purposes. But for it to work, it has to be done the right way. Blindly coming up with ideas that do not take in to consideration what is needed for the town to be successful (in both short term and long term goals) will lead to its demise. On top of this, fully planning out the future of the town is of importance in order to counter any unknown variables. There will always be unknown things that happen; much like the natural disasters spoken of, this is just not able to be avoided. As of right now, I just have not seen much more other than ideas of a town; nothing has been said as to how different things will be handled within the town to keep it stable, and if it is going to make it, this all needs to be done prior to moving in or setting anything up.

Economics | Opinions


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