Farms on Land, Sea, or Skyscrapers?

Ayn Rand stamp and Scientific American farm skyscraper illo.A recent WorldChanging article, which came to my attention in this TreeHugger article, complains about the alleged “Dark Side of Transition Thinking,” and thus bashes a growing movement active throughout the world.

The author, Alex Steffen, wrote in “Transition Towns or Bright Green Cities?” that “All over the world, groups of people with graduate degrees, affluence, decades of work experience, varieties of advanced training and technological capacities beyond the imagining of our great-grandparents are coming together, looking into the face of apocalypse… and deciding to start a seed exchange or a kids clothing swap.”

He goes on to complain that these individual efforts, which I guess would include a Green Transition Chico potluck being held today by the Chico Permaculture Guild in one of my old stomping grounds, don’t do important things like starting a credit union or massive political organization.

Maybe they should ape ACORN instead. As if big government and corporations have really been effective lately other than completely wasting our energy and wealth.

Ask anyone who is out of work or soon will be, is having their unemployment run out, their other relief benefits slashed, their businesses bankrupted, their houses foreclosed, their stock prices crashed, and their kids in school dropping out because of the lack of undebased money. With no foreseeable job prospects or purchasing power in the official economy, why bother going into massive debt to pay for an education that used to be affordable by the working class without tax subsidized student loans a generation ago?

In my opinion, if you don’t want to starve, it would be prudent to get out your gardening gloves or be able to trade with your local farmer even if the official currency is worth nothing, there is no traditional job income and no bank credit. The barter and local private party exchanges Steffen thinks are trivial may be the only way trade is done in the not so distant future.

Did the aboveground economy come roaring back when I wasn’t looking? No. Even more job layoffs are projected next year. Start prepping. Learn to do things yourself. Don’t come crying to me when you wake up dead in the food riots thanks to hyperinflation. (Gotta work that “food riots thanks to hyperinflation” thing in every so often).

On a related note, Alongside Night (free download) author and influential Rational Review blogger J. Neil Schulman is speaking at the Karl Hess Club this Monday evening on the 30th anniversary of his novel about America’s collapse.

Back to that ee-vil Alex Steffen, why not add free and open source software that runs most of the world’s Internet servers to the list of things Steffen scoffs at? That’s just little nerdy groups like GNU and individuals like Linus Torvalds and geeky volunteers tinkering around. I bet he hates bunnies, puppies and kittens, too.

Sustainable production methods being tested by the slackers at Open Farm Tech promise to deliver copylefted free technology for building houses, mechanized farm equipment and “China on your desktop” CNC and 3D printing manufacturing systems for many consumer products automatically at one tenth the cost of current prices. These technically adept hobbyists should work for Monsanto getting patents or pay big city rents in a highrise apartment so they can work in a highrise brokerage bilking you out of your life savings. Instead, these layabouts live cheap on Missouri farmland creating their “Resilient Community Construction Set” blueprints for a hungry world, those bums.

Used to be, the Land Question was about collective vs. individual property rights or full plenum allodium title versus the Henry Georgists and the Distributists. Ayn Rand staked out her homestead on an economic position of individualism.

From inside Russia during the dark red dawn at the beginning of the Soviet empire, Rand saw Europe as a bright planet and America as the sun. She admired the skyline of New York as a monument to achievement and eventually made it her home.

The atheist Ayn Rand also wrote about peculiarly defined “altruists” (enemies of individualism ranging from Catholics to Communists) “forcing mankind to unite to form one neck ready for one leash.” What about depending on one city to provide vital services?

Another problem with Steffen and Rand’s love of New York is that living there is not economically sustainable compared to raw land or cheap housing that can be purchased free and clear forever in low tax states for the cost of an amazingly few months rent in the big city. After those few months in the Big Apple, you’d be homeless in the very likely event that you lose your income these days. Didn’t they see Rent for Chrissakes?

Should Scientific American’s farms in skyscrapers feed the millions of tightly packed urban residents in Steffen’s “bright green cities?” Or not? I’m with EcoGeek’s Hank Green on this one, “Let’s Make This Clear: Vertical Farms Don’t Make Sense.”

Can ocean “seasteads” become the new farmland?

Peter Thiel, a PayPal founder and pioneer behind The SeaSteading Institute, has been criticized for his cunning plan of escaping taxes and other irritating regulations by building a gated community in the ocean. Here’s a Cato Unbound article he wrote about his philosophy, “The Education of a Libertarian.”

Such a community might achieve self-sufficiency through solar, wind, and wave power enough to desalinate the seawater for drinking and freshwater floating garden irrigation as well as through ocean aquaculture and deep sea fishing.

A seastead could trade with vessels bringing supplies by providing fresh food, biofuel, hydrogen, or stored electricity and whatever other goods and services are feasible to produce at sea.

Here’s a look at the 1st annual overall seastead design winner at YouTube.

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