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Nearly 150 Companies Show Interest in the Tech Love Boat

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the sealand-with-engines dept.

Businesses 332

New submitter dandv writes with a story from VentureBeat about another entry in the race to escape national jurisdiction by offshoring work — literally offshoring, that is : "Blueseed is a Silicon Valley company that plans on launching a cruise ship 30 minutes from the coast of California, housing startup entrepreneurs from around the world. These startuppers won't need to bother with U.S. visas, because the ship will be in international waters. They'll have to pay tax to whatever country they're incorporated in, though. So far, 146 startups said they'd like to come to the ship."

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332 comments

I fail to see the point (3, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 years ago | (#39926729)

You can remotely access and program pretty much any system you'd ever work on in an offshoring relationshing. Your physical location has little or nothing to do with the ability to provide the contracted services.

While there is demand for at least some of the offshore service provider's staff to be working on-site with the customer companies, you wouldn't be able to do that with this ship. You still wouldn't have a visa, so you still wouldn't be allowed to "land" from the ship for such meetings.

In order to be in international waters, the ship would be what, 200 miles out from shore? That's a pretty long ride for any landbound customers to take in order to come meet with you on the ship. Customers don't tend to meet at provider sites; they expect the provider to come to them.

That being the case, what is the actual purpose served by working on this ship?

Or is this like the old Sealand failure? A great idea in concept that has no practical purpose and few real backers?

I predict another Sealand (5, Informative)

DeathToBill (601486) | about 2 years ago | (#39926801)

The advantage of these ventures is that they're outside national jurisdiction. The problem with these ventures is that they're outside national jurisdiction - and for almost every company out there, they benefit from the protection of a country's laws more than they suffer from them.

Sealand failed because anyone who hosted data there was wide open to the whim of Roy Bates - and if you didn't like his whim, you had no recourse. This will be no different.

A good article on Sealand: http://www.theverge.com/2012/3/28/2909303/sealand-havenco-doomed-data-haven-history [theverge.com]

Re:I fail to see the point (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#39926883)

According to wikipedia, they found a loophole: The temporary, easily-obtained B-visa.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasteading

Re:I fail to see the point (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39927023)

How does that loophole protect them from my pirate ship?

Or the tenants from the captain/landlord?

Re:I fail to see the point (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 2 years ago | (#39927253)

Pirates are seen as a problem by most governments. More so than people skirting tax laws. I suppose the US government would grudgingly deal with your band of scurvy pirates. At least there's a great enough risk that they would as to make it an adequate deterrent.

Does seems a little reprehensible that they'd be taking advantage of US protection and services while paying taxes in some tax haven though.

Re:I fail to see the point (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39927355)

That does not deal with the latter problem.
The minute the captain wants some extra revenue you can pay, or pay the new $10k leaving the boat by other route than the plank fee.

I would hope the US government would at least send them a bill to deal with pirates. If they don't pay just sieze their property.

Re:I fail to see the point (1)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#39927909)

They would be within US waters, so the Coast Guard would still protect them from pirates. The landlord/tenant problem is a big one though since they would need their own police and court system... and we have all seen how well private courts work.

Re:I fail to see the point (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#39926895)

It seems particularly odd when one considers the fact that you don't need to spend months on a boat 200 miles off California to enjoy the privilege of booking a slightly-eyebrow-raising percentage of your profits through an anodyne corporate PO box in some sunny tax haven. You can do that from the comfort of your own home.

Is there a large market of non-US-citizens who can't secure visas(or who find longterm shipboard stays more comfortable than flying out for a meeting?) but desperately crave physical proximity to silicon valley, possibly along with an internet connection to it that is far suckier than a hardline from virtually anywhere in the not-actively-fighting-a-brutal-meatgrinder-bush-war world?

I understand the appeal of tax dodges; but I don't understand what this boat concept brings to the game.

Re:I fail to see the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39926897)

That being the case, what is the actual purpose served by working on this ship?

You get to watch the monkey knife fights in person!

Re:I fail to see the point (4, Informative)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#39926997)

In order to be in international waters, the ship would be what, 200 miles out from shore?

I've looked into cruising and the myriad of laws. First of all you just described the EEZ limit which controls "traditional money making activities and environmental laws" but expressly does not include loitering. So its a fuzzy zone. The coast guard can order you to not discharge your blackwater tanks, cannot tell you not to just sit/anchor there, can tell you not to fish there, and running an office is somewhat vague.

The contiguous zone is 24 miles and you must follow customs laws presumably including visas. This is a recent "American Empire" turn of the century thing and the whole world used to (still does?) respect only 12 miles. In the REALLY olden days before the previous turn of the century it was defined as a cannon shots length, or so I'm told, like a mile or two.

This is very important to cruisers... more than 200 miles away you can technically tell all authorities other than your flag nation to F-off, but you need to stay at least 24 miles away or else have to go thru customs, and in that range from 24 to 200 miles you sorta have to listen to them. Customs is not necessarily the end of the world, but its nice to not even have to think about it. For example, say you were sailing from California to Alaska, it would be extremely advisable to stay at least 24 miles away from the Canadian shore.

Disclaimer, I've done hundreds of hours of sailing on little craft, mostly inland, but never across an ocean.

30 miles in a 150 knot helicopter for the VCs to visit you is what, 12 minutes of flight? I'm not seeing this as a serious issue. Also I can see a pleasure cruise on a well appointed yacht when making visits rather than flying, if they're in the mood for some fun.

Re:I fail to see the point (0)

gumpish (682245) | about 2 years ago | (#39927709)

This is a recent "American Empire" turn of the century thing and the whole world used to (still does?) respect only 12 miles. In the REALLY olden days before the previous turn of the century it was defined as a cannon shots length, or so I'm told, like a mile or two.

Why not use ordinals to fully disambiguate "turn of the century"?

Re:I fail to see the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927979)

30 miles in a 150 knot helicopter for the VCs to visit you is what, 12 minutes of flight?

Considering that the bulk of the reason for the venture is the perception that one could 'save money' by hiring cheap workers, it seems to me that helicopter flights every few hours might get expensive. Sure they take oil workers out to the rigs on them, but those people get paid well and there is generally 'full load' of workers going out for months, not a pair of programmers on a day trip for a 'face to face' for a client who traveled to LA.

Re:I fail to see the point (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 2 years ago | (#39927207)

In order to be in international waters, the ship would be what, 200 miles out from shore?

They said 30 minutes, so they are probably talking about the 12 nautical mile territorial boundary. A cruise ship can probably do 24 knots if it really is going all-out, so while this is a bit of a stretch it is technically correct.

TWELVE (1)

way2trivial (601132) | about 2 years ago | (#39927241)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territorial_waters [wikipedia.org]
Territorial waters, or a territorial sea, as defined by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,[1] is a belt of coastal waters extending at most 12 nautical miles (22 km; 14 mi) from the baseline (usually the mean low-water mark) of a coastal state. The territorial sea is regarded as the sovereign territory of the state, although foreign ships (both military and civilian) are allowed innocent passage through it; this sovereignty also extends to the airspace over and seabed below.

Re:I fail to see the point (3, Interesting)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#39927885)

Well, their plan is they will not be in international waters so the commute is pretty short. Instead they will fly the flag of some minor country and anchor within US waters, which is a legal grey area that in theory should leave them outside US/CA regulation/taxation yet still be able to commute in for meetings.

But as others have pointed out it has many of the same problems as Sealand did. It is a nice concept in theory and in fiction, but in reality such plans have significant issues and, for their customers, end up with the same basic issues that basing out of a major country has with the added problem of not having a robust legal system. If nothing else, one of their big claims is that they avoid the 'immigration' problem.. by implementing their own immigration system. So you still have to go through an immigration process, just an easier to bribe one.

I am skeptical that many of these startups are expressing real 'I would pay' interest or have really thought about the full legal ramifications of such a setup. Blueseed really seems to be more of a scam to get investor money then anything else.

Insurance ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39926745)

How much would be the insurance cost of such a thing ?

Forget insurance ... what about health care? (3, Insightful)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | about 2 years ago | (#39926949)

When the nearest hospital is over 200 miles away, you'd better have helicopters ready to make the jump. And you'd better have them cleared for permission to enter US air space with no notice (like that's going to happen).

This is just another scam. Another variant of the "company town", where they deduct your room and board and other expenses from your pay, and if at some point you don't like it, you can take a long walk off a short plank.

Re:Forget insurance ... what about health care? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#39927091)

When the nearest hospital is over 200 miles away, you'd better have helicopters ready to make the jump. And you'd better have them cleared for permission to enter US air space with no notice (like that's going to happen).

You've just described the situation of an oil platform in the GoM. I'm completely unimpressed. This kind of stuff was figured out 40 or so years ago.

Re:Forget insurance ... what about health care? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39927245)

That oil platform makes money hand over fist and is owned and operated by a company the US government has some say over. If you don't want Government restrictions/protections the situation will be very different.

Re:Forget insurance ... what about health care? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#39927819)

The nationality of the platform and helicopter and hospital could all be different. This is old stuff.
The FAA does not run a credit check on you when you file a flightplan.
It is important to note the profound difference in maritime and aviation regulations WRT to normal daily operations vs declared medical emergencies. Generally in emergencies you have to do less/no paperwork before hand and about three times as much afterward.

It might be awkward or expensive... you might find a coastie or air force aircraft escorting you, there are in some cases fines and penalties to be paid.

But, face it, for some lines of work, emergencies are business as usual... This stuff has all been figured out decades ago and you're not going to be captain of a boat or PIC of a helo, or on the other side, a coastie or air traffic controller, without knowing what to do in an emergency situation. Its all procedural and forms to fill out and stuff. Its a known and predictable expense.

I'm Andrew Ryan... (1, Funny)

virgnarus (1949790) | about 2 years ago | (#39926769)

... and I'm here to ask you a question. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?

'No!' says the man in Washington, 'It belongs to the poor.'

'No!' says the man in the Vatican, 'It belongs to God.'

'No!' says the man in Moscow, 'It belongs to everyone.'

I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose...

Rapture.

Re:I'm Andrew Ryan... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#39926953)

Incidentally, while a good setting for a shooter, an underwater city seems like the least libertarian-friendly habitat one could imagine, at least within earth's gravity well:

Centralized access control, collective dependence on immediately life-critical infrastructure...

Re:I'm Andrew Ryan... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39927109)

Name one place without "collective dependence on immediately life-critical infrastructure". Unless you are your own doctor, road builder, mechanic, own your own fields to grow food, have a well for water, and a lab to produce medicines that is the reality of modern life.

Re:I'm Andrew Ryan... (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#39927309)

Designing an underwater city collectively dependant on a centralized, life-critical infrastructure is completely stupid. You would need to have multiple independent systems in case of failure.

Re:I'm Andrew Ryan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927619)

Incidentally, while a good setting for a shooter, an underwater city seems like the least libertarian-friendly habitat one could imagine, at least within earth's gravity well: Centralized access control, collective dependence on immediately life-critical infrastructure...

Seems to me like that would be a strong incentive for everyone onboard not to fuck up the infrastructure. TANSTAAFL as a guiding principle worked pretty well in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Or not. Since Boom started quite a few young cobbers have gone out to Asteroids. Hear about some nice places out there, not too crowded. My word, I'm not even a hundred yet.

Re:I'm Andrew Ryan... (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39927079)

Nice reference, great game, but here in reality the man did not toil alone. He was not able to produce without the poor being kept away from his warehouse at night, he was not able to risk only his investment by nature but by laws governing incorporation, nor was he able to get it to market without roads. I love how those who have never done a day of physical labor like to talk about sweat, blood and tears though.

As its international waters (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39926777)

they better have a military ready, iam sure there would be a big return on capturing 146 companies on a ship and hold them hostage

now taking bookings !

Re:As its international waters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39926925)

Would be more concerned about tsunamis myself in a boat parked pretty much directly above the San Andreas faultline.

Re:As its international waters (2)

DeathToBill (601486) | about 2 years ago | (#39927125)

Tsunami's not an issue except on the shore - it's pretty rare for a tsunami wave to exceed 1ft on the open sea, but that translates into tens of feet when it reaches the shore.

A tsunami in deep water is a non-event. (2)

ClayJar (126217) | about 2 years ago | (#39927229)

Off-shore in deep water, there is absolutely no danger whatsoever from a tsunami. A tsunami is only a problem as it reaches shore, as it's there that the very long period waves just keep coming and coming and piling up water. In deep water, there's just a very, very long swell of minuscule amplitude.

Storm waves are vastly more significant. Their period is short enough and their amplitude great enough to potentially cause significant damage to oceangoing vessels. Considering also the occasional rogue wave (a wave or short set of waves at several times the amplitude of the prevailing wave conditions at the time), and having lifeboat/evacuation drills every so often would be best practice. At least the area in question is outside the hurricane belt, so hurricane evacuations (such as those from Gulf of Mexico oil rigs) shouldn't be required.

Re:As its international waters (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#39926935)

they better have a military ready, iam sure there would be a big return on capturing 146 companies on a ship and hold them hostage

now taking bookings !

I bet the Somali pirates would do it for at least 30% less than you would. I'm just going to subcontract the hijacking to them.

satellite broadband will suck for some thing like (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#39926793)

satellite broadband will suck for some thing like this. Maybe fixed wifi / RF but even then that is still not as fast.

Re:satellite broadband will suck for some thing li (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#39927021)

It might not be as intensive as you'd expect. This isn't a datacenter, like the failed sealand. It's basically just an office that floats. They'll just have their own servers. All their internet connection is for would be communicating with customers to get specifications and deliver finished data.

Re:satellite broadband will suck for some thing li (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39927273)

So they will have servers but no datacenter?
This will not go well.

Re:satellite broadband will suck for some thing li (1)

mounthood (993037) | about 2 years ago | (#39927029)

satellite broadband will suck for some thing like this. Maybe fixed wifi / RF but even then that is still not as fast.

It'll be the ultimate echo chamber.

The US should provide no protection (4, Insightful)

bstarrfield (761726) | about 2 years ago | (#39926795)

None. The "Tech Love Boat" exists solely as a tax and immigration dodge, and its founders are proud of it. May real pirates raid this libertarian haven; may real storms smash its bow. Let me hazard a guess that they'll incorporate in Antigua, and pay no taxes, and that they'll import slave labor from India to work in the bowels of the ship.

Blueseed wants the benefits of proximity with Silicon Valley, and none of the costs. Why should we give a damn about them?

I'd also like to know who these "entrepreneurs" are. Let them live in their cabins and bar them from the shore. They don't want to pay for civilization, due to their brilliant and stunning gifts. They choose to leave civilization to live in their Brave New Race to the Bottom, _stay there_.

When a crime occurs on the "Love Boat", who will settle that crime? Blueseed? So they'll be a government, too. Hmm, maybe an invasion sounds good..

However, just like Ayn Rand (3, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 2 years ago | (#39926845)

All these Randians will expect the US Government to rescue them when their ship goes tits up. Perhaps the best answer is for the US Coastguard to quote them to provide emergency services - 35% of turnover?

Re:The US should provide no protection (1)

Elfich47 (703900) | about 2 years ago | (#39926867)

It will be interesting to see what the ship will do when it has to dock for maintenance. Or are we going to end up with "The Raft" from Snow Crash?

Re:The US should provide no protection (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about 2 years ago | (#39927685)

Or are we going to end up with "The Raft" from Snow Crash?

Oh boy, I hope so. I think Stephenson's is my favorite future-dystopian society.

what about IP / software piracy? labor laws (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#39926939)

Will they be able to get away with doing software piracy with NO BSA to get in there way?

company store store like times where you in debt paying for high priced fees at the work site.

24/7 working hours with a big trip home fee if you can't keep up?

very low min wage.

ETC?

Re:The US should provide no protection (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927123)

That sounds like a really good response.

If you're a nationalist.

Seriously, it's not a tax dodge, though it is an immigration dodge. It's about startups being able to engage with the tech centre of the world without arbitrary red tape blocking them from doing it on the US mainland.

I don't even understand how you can complain about both immigration and tax avoidance in the same post. If they were allowed to immigrate they would be able to pay tax, if they were allowed to pay tax they'd be able to immigrate. You can't bitch and moan about the two in one sentence, the fact they can't immigrate means they can't pay tax. Whining that people for not paying tax in your country whilst simultaneously implying you don't want them in your country is one of the most laughably irrational arguments I've heard on Slashdot in a while, and in recent months the standard hasn't exactly been particularly high.

The fact that your country is horrendously paranoid, and massively afraid of immigration despite having a relatively tiny population density is why these sorts of far fetched schemes arise in the first place. Of course, none of that would be so bad if it weren't for the fact that your entire nation is built off the back of relatively recent mass immigration.

Re:The US should provide no protection (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 2 years ago | (#39927131)

That was actually my first question : what defensive weapons did they take on-board ? Alternatively, they may negotiate with USA to get protection in exchange of concessions.

There was a thing similar to this that existed once near Italian coasts. It survived for a few years before it was recognized as a mafia operation (I don't know if it started as one, if the mafia took control over it or if it was just an excuse) but the Italian's police (not army) took control of the platform.

Re:The US should provide no protection (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927605)

You're probably thinking of the Republic of Rose Island [wikipedia.org] .

There was also this illegal gambling operation off the coast of California [wikipedia.org] . That didn't end well. In fact, practically all these libertarian paradise offshore independent micronations [wikipedia.org] haven't ended well. Either they never really became self-sufficient, the people who ran them turned out to be more dictator-like than anyone wanted to deal with, or they were only intended as a joke in the first place. Evidently starting your own micronation ("with blackjack, and hookers") isn't so easy.

There's this interesting historical anomaly [wikipedia.org] in what is now New Hampshire, but that was more of a leftover from unresolved disputes than something newly established.

Re:The US should provide no protection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927247)

Nice ship you got there Blueseed, it'd be a shame if something were to happen to it.

Re:The US should provide no protection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927599)

You are not wrong, Andrew Carnegie or John Rockefeller would be so proud of this idea.
If you think that the Corporate world would treat you even as a human being on this ship you are dreaming.

You guys have to realize that anyone advocating this idea has a stake in this slave ship. There is no upside, even shareholders would not have a recourse to criminal activity. Once you boarded the only escape would be to swim.

Maritime law disagrees (3, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | about 2 years ago | (#39927659)

None. The "Tech Love Boat" exists solely as a tax and immigration dodge, and its founders are proud of it. May real pirates raid this libertarian haven

Under international maritime law, all nations have a duty to combat piracy. "Piracy is of note in international law as it is commonly held to represent the earliest invocation of the concept of universal jurisdiction. The crime of piracy is considered a breach of jus cogens, a conventional peremptory international norm that states must uphold. Those committing thefts on the high seas, inhibiting trade, and endangering maritime communication are considered by sovereign states to be hostis humani generis (enemies of humanity)" Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

The bottom line is that it isn't in the interests of the United States to have pirates operating off the U.S. coast, even if they only target vessels of other nations.

When a crime occurs on the "Love Boat", who will settle that crime?

It is exactly the same legal situation as a crime on a cruise ship. The passengers are subject to the legal sysem of their flag nation, and of others that exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction. The U.S. Constitution gives the federal courts jurisdiction over maritime matters, so it is up to the courts to rule on which particular crimes are worthy of extraterritorial jurisdiction. See In international waters, are you beyond the reach of the law? [straightdope.com]

I welcome tax dodging (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927717)

I welcome all forms of tax evasion and "dodging", for the simple fact that less revenue for the business of government means less death, destruction, and injustice.

Rationale: My relationship with government is a net loss. Therefore, tax evasion helps my position, effectively reducing my loss. If your relationship with government is a net gain, then naturally, you have the opposite view. I encourage you to think long and hard about whether your relationship with government is a net loss or gain.

Hey, worked for Sealand (3, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#39926855)

Why is it that every Libertarian seems to think that they can skirt laws just by taking some boat out to international waters? As if the nearby country is going to be like "Damn, we know you committed the murder, but you were JUST over the line into international waters, so we're going to have to let you go!"

Re:Hey, worked for Sealand (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39926951)

"...is going to be like..."?

Jesus. What are you, a fourteen-year-old girl? You sound ridiculous. Speak English.

Re:Hey, worked for Sealand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927121)

"...is going to be like..."?

Jesus. What are you, a fourteen-year-old girl? You sound ridiculous. Speak English.

Interestingly, the average level of conversation on Slashdot is roughly at the level of fourteen-year-old girls in terms of intellectual content and insight. This is particularly ironic given that the majority of people engaging in conversation here are adult males who can't dream of getting any girl, be she 14 or 24 or 34.

Re:Hey, worked for Sealand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927095)

First of all, this isn't really a "Libertarian" concept. Libertarianism is about like minded people willingly associated based on a mutual appreciation of individual liberty and freedom. Essentially it's what it meant to be a Democrat at the turn of the century before the affiliated political entity became a splintered between Socialism, Communism, Progressivism, etc. This cruise ship idea is simply based on the idea of escaping the United States extremely high corporate tax, while staying close enough that business can be conducted in person.... as well as to secure protection of the Coast Guard and medial help if needed. My guess is that if you should have a major medical issue, a cruise ship run by a random start up company probably isn't the best place to get medical attention.

If you look at what actually happens in international waters it is more or less the wild west. The only reason countries can combat things like pirates and the like is because they are interacting with a vessel of another country, who's government has given permission for the assistance. Otherwise the pirates can actually just ride around with their RPGs and machine guns all they want and no one can "legally" do anything about it. Of course, "legal" is all dependent on the country they originate from, some countries may attack simply based on evidence rather than waiting for them to make the first move. Other countries use the international borders as excuses why they don't need to intervene or be involved. Many examples of this have occurred near Italy/North Africa.

Re:Hey, worked for Sealand (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39927399)

This cruise ship idea is simply based on the idea of escaping the United States extremely high corporate tax, while staying close enough that business can be conducted in person.... as well as to secure protection of the Coast Guard and medial help if needed.

So to not pay taxes but to get the benefits that those taxes provide anyway? So they want to be leeches, how wonderful. Typical libertarian behavior.

Re:Hey, worked for Sealand (2)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about 2 years ago | (#39927731)

What, exactly, is so high about an average of 8% tax rate? Mine is at least three times that for personal income tax. Why do these super-rich fools deserve to pay less of that money, even though they have more?

Re:Hey, worked for Sealand (2, Informative)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#39927859)

If you read up on Sealand [wikipedia.org] , my favorite incident is the fire that effectively ended that wackjob dream. Here these are these libertarians screaming that they're an independent country and don't have to pay taxes. But then comes a fire and what's the first thing they do? They start screaming for the British Air Force and Navy to come save them.

Libertarians don't want to pay taxes, but let one of them dial 911 just once and be told "Tough shit. Deal with it yourself" and watch them scream like little girls.

Living on a boat. (2, Insightful)

Plammox (717738) | about 2 years ago | (#39926863)

According to sources near Blueseed, they plan to charter a regular ship, before raising capital for the barge they have concept drawings of. Question 1: Have they ever lived for a prolonged period on board a ship? Not all cabins are presidential suite standards. I suspect cramped compartments with no port holes and the persisting smell of fuel oil will get the better of the inhabitants' productivity. Question 2: Who will enforce (what?) law and order, when a couple of Aussies start to binge drink, plank on the railing and pick a fight with some English, after which they insult a bunch of more conservative-minded Indian IT-workers, causing all hell to break loose. And who says the US of A will tolerate a floating tax haven right off the coast of silicon valley?

Nah. Most of all, this just looks like a anarcho-libertarian's wet dream.

Re:Living on a boat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927339)

Question 1: Have they ever lived for a prolonged period on board a ship? Not all cabins are presidential suite standards. I suspect cramped compartments with no port holes and the persisting smell of fuel oil will get the better of the inhabitants' productivity.

Your description applies to a basement, and god knows techies are quite able to live in a basement.

Re:Living on a boat. (1)

Infernal Device (865066) | about 2 years ago | (#39927895)

There will inevitably be that One Guy who wants to bring his gun collection and may [deity] help the people in the cabins next to him because they will never know a peaceful sleep again.

R&D (1)

lkcl (517947) | about 2 years ago | (#39926873)

i had an idea similar to this, a few years ago - not a single boat but a massive platform, housing and providing the resources for people to carry out public-domain scientific research. if the platform were large enough it would be stable even during large storms. it's therefore very very interesting to hear that someone's actually really going ahead with a small-scale software-based version of that idea.

the only problem that i can forsee however is piracy! not of the software, but *real* piracy. in this case however it wouldn't be the cargo that would be worth stealing, it would be the data on the servers. in the plans that i drew up, the platform had to have its own missile batteries and heavy calibre weaponry: i believe this boat is going to need something similar, because, as it's outside of international waters, it's no longer subject to the protection of any sovereign state - it has to look after itself.

Re:R&D (1)

MrMickS (568778) | about 2 years ago | (#39927287)

It will be afforded the normal protection due to the ships of the flag carrying nation. It doesn't suddenly become the wild uncontrolled seas once you head out into international waters. I wouldn't be surprised if there are reciprocal aggrements in place that would give say Marshall Islands registered ships some protection from the US Coastguard even though they are in international waters.

Re:R&D (1)

nozzo (851371) | about 2 years ago | (#39927891)

When I read the summary I did remember someone having an idea of doing this on some kind of sea platform - was that you? I remember the sign-up page had a fair-few names on it already. _Chris

Wonderful idea, hope it works and takes off (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#39926875)

It's a great idea, totally worth it if it works out, very good.

It just shows to what extent the governments of the world have pushed the people that they are willing to spend time and money into this, leaving their borders, living uncomfortably on a boat (don't tell me it's very comfortable on a boat, you can't escape the walls, it's going to be tight, it's not a nice living, and obviously it's going to be a sausage-fest).

The entrepreneurial spirit lives on beyond and outside of the thieving governments and bread and circuses masses, it's going to be the boats, eventually the islands, underground, underwater cities, who knows. We need new frontiers, and who is better to push the boundaries but people who are thinking of new business opportunities, new ways to make profit.

If the government hundreds of years ago was what it is today, the USA wouldn't have become anything worth noting. The settlers wouldn't have been able to leave, no insurance, no licenses, whatever rules and regulations and taxes, it would have been impossible safe for the wealthiest few.

This is good news.

Re:Wonderful idea, hope it works and takes off (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#39926967)

> living uncomfortably on a boat

There are already ship rats that live on cruise liners because it's cheaper than other alternatives like a nursing home. There are also long term cruises that the lines don't seem to have any trouble selling either.

Compared to living in some overpopulated urban center (NYC,SFO,London,Mumbai,Tokyo) it might not be so bad really.

Re:Wonderful idea, hope it works and takes off (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#39927039)

People have already done this many times. Every migration has its difficulties and down-sides.

USA was populated with white and other people hundreds of years ago because those people wanted to leave their oppressive governments.

At the time those other governments also wanted to dominate the people who moved onto these new territories, so it's nothing new that the more entrepreneurial folks want to move away and something outside of the boundaries of their respective decadent nations, it's just that there is so little land that is actually unoccupied.

Re:Wonderful idea, hope it works and takes off (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927049)

lol, are you drunk?

Re:Wonderful idea, hope it works and takes off (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39927195)

Without the government to ensure contract law, nor protect from pirates this will fail. Your fevered dreams are just that. This is only for the wealthiest few. Without those regulations you hate we would have the age of hundreds of years ago. Rocketing forward economy while those who provide the actual labor are barely above starving to death. Sure the economy will do great, do bad that does not reflect the life of the average man in anyway.

Just remember you will more likely be one who toils for not much more than his daily bread while someone else profits.

Re:Wonderful idea, hope it works and takes off (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#39927495)

Oh yeah? Like the America failed when it fought against the King? Sure, USA is a continent, not a ship, but we don't have more free continents to occupy around. This will have to do for now, until the technology invented on that ship and other ships like it will allow building bigger ships, islands, underwater cities, who knows.

Re:Wonderful idea, hope it works and takes off (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39927613)

What does that have to do with anything? The USA had a war for independence. We call it a revolution when it really wasn't. Not much changed for the common man. Check out who could vote in those first elections. Things did improve over time, but the English also have those same conditions now, and they still have a Queen.

Re:Wonderful idea, hope it works and takes off (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#39927739)

The USA had a war for independence.

- the point exactly.

Not much changed for the common man

- bullshit. The freest country was formed, under the Constitution. It's not free anymore, but it built the wealthiest creditor nation, producing cheap, high quality goods. 1870-1913 was the time when the actual middle class was created on this planet - small, medium sized businessmen and professionals.

The rising tide lifted all boats. You are so eager to denounce people who are looking for more freedoms today, you have completely forgotten why people were escaping from their perspective governments in the past.

Check out who could vote in those first elections

- well, except for the blacks, who obviously were not freed even under the Constitution (the reason I wouldn't have ratified it with that in it), the people who could vote were people who would have voted under the King as well - land owners, because they were the ones actually participating in the economy, bearing the burden of whatever taxes and decisions by the gov't.

The difference between UK and USA was that in UK only a small elite group of aristocrats owned land, in USA about half of the male population ended up as land owners at the time.

AFAIC people who aren't paying federal taxes shouldn't be allowed to vote in federal elections. Women weren't participating in the work force at the time, so that was the reason they couldn't vote and it was not wrong, the moment they actually started owning businesses and paying taxes they also basically got their voting rights.

Re:Wonderful idea, hope it works and takes off (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about 2 years ago | (#39927377)

So in this magical place there are not going to be any disputes between parties? There will be no crime? There will be no external threats?

There will be no restrictions on who or how many can come on board?

There will be no heath or safety rules?

Seems to me if you have any of those (and many more) problems (and you certainly will) you are going to need a way to resolve them. All you will be doing is creating your own government (something you apparently abhor).

Face it, this is not some escape from some supposedly oppressive government, it is a tax dodge and immigration scam.

Re:Wonderful idea, hope it works and takes off (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#39927625)

not going to be any disputes between parties?

- straw man.

There will be no crime?

- straw man.

There will be no external threats?

- straw man.

There will be no restrictions on who or how many can come on board?

- obviously you didn't understand what was written - you pay to get onboard.

There will be no heath or safety rules?

- who gives a rats ass?

Do you know what would have happened if any of this nonsense was present during the days Amercan settlers took off to go West?

Taxes, health inspections, licenses, regulations?

USA would never have become anything if gov't in its current form was present then. It would have been catastrophically impossible to do.

Seems to me if you have any of those (and many more) problems

- it's nonsense, those are not problem, they are only problems in your head. What you call problems are freedoms and opportunity.

Face it, this is not some escape from some supposedly oppressive government, it is a tax dodge and immigration scam.

1. It IS to escape the oppressive governments, otherwise most people wouldn't have came to USA either.

2. There is absolutely NOTHING WRONG with not wanting to pay taxes, especially the taxes that exist today, absolutely insane taxes - income taxes, taxes on work. Regulations, all that nonsense.

3. Immigration scam? Be happy if anybody ever wilfully sets foot onto US soil again for the purposes of working there. There are now more 'illegal migrants' leaving USA to go back to Mexico than to come to US. [washingtonpost.com]

VC Vipers (4, Insightful)

tungstencoil (1016227) | about 2 years ago | (#39926999)

Am I the only one who read this as "VCs will found a way to get cheap offshore talent under their collective wings by purchasing a cruise ship on which to enslave, err, house their startup 'incubators'"?

With Start Up this sounds like bad idea (2)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 2 years ago | (#39927031)

I would only get on a boat like this with people I trust. With a start up there is too much risk that the managers are terrible people. The motivations of a start up are not good either. For a startup it is all about cutting costs. Now if an Google rented the whole boat out to work on a specific project that would be different. Then the motivations would be focus and ease of access to people. I would also prefer the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific ocean. Seems like there would be more to do in the Gulf on weekends.

Re:With Start Up this sounds like bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927917)

> Seems like there would be more to do in the Gulf on weekends.

Big, huge problem with the Gulf: hurricanes. Gulf hurricanes, in particular, can and do spin up unexpectedly and go from "tropical storm" to "category 3+" between breakfast & dinner. They can also wobble around a small area for days at a time. Hurricane season is incredibly disruptive of life in Florida *cities*, let alone a boat in the middle of the body of water where half of America's hurricanes are born or pass through as a visitor.

The Pacific is quite tame by comparison.

Quick primer on the downfall of the US economy (2, Insightful)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 2 years ago | (#39927037)

Late 80's: there were a lot of skilled trades and professional labor in the US. Cars, Steel, Mass production, Agriculture, skilled trades, software development, science, NASA, everything was going pretty well compared to today.

mid 90's: NAFTA [wikipedia.org] took root. Companies began leaving in droves to offshore labor to the far east and Mexico. Many companies who wanted to keep the labor at home, had no choice but to follow the leader because they couldn't compete with such cheap labor.

Late 90's Early 00's: software development, tech support and engineering started heading for India [slashdot.org] and other regions. Workers were told "too bad" and laid off in huge numbers. Corporations were swimming in revenue.

Today: Michigan, the hub of manufacturing in the US has no economy to speak of. Detroit is the most dangerous city to live in [buzzle.com] . The US no longer has much of a Scientific community. It's all been sold off or off-shored. We have no manufacturing to speak of. Most of what people buy now comes out of a Chinese shipping container.

The industry is crying that we have no engineers, software developers or scientific professionals and act like they have no idea why. Now companies want to float a boat out in international waters so they can ship in more cheap labor and not have pay for visas and probably skirt a shitload of tax revenue that would otherwise go into the US economy? Yeah, great idea.

Re:Quick primer on the downfall of the US economy (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39927329)

No manufacturing output? We do about 18% of the worlds total. That is some odd definition you have of none to speak of. We make expensive stuff, we let the chinese make cheap shit.

The industry always wants more labor, too much supply lowers prices. Why would they not want that?

Re:Quick primer on the downfall of the US economy (5, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#39927795)

Exactly. The grandparent is complete bullshit and should be modded down.

The US is the world's largest manufacturing nation in terms of economic output. People seem to forget giant companies like Intel, Caterpillar, Boeing, Cisco, ADM etc. not to mention the pharmaceuticals and the farming industry which are world leading. Not only that but the US does it with a mere 8% of its workforce. The economic output of the average US worker is more than 10 times that of his Chinese equivalent because he's more technically skilled and produces far more valuable products in a highly automated setting.

The Boeing main aircraft assembly building in the Seattle area is the largest manufacturing facility in the world.

http://www.boeing.com/commercial/facilities/ [boeing.com]

It was Boeing who discovered the Y2K problem because they are such a large consumer of aluminum they have to project consumption of aluminum a decade in advance so the aluminum industry can scale their capacity to match their consumption.

I don't know where people get the idea the US isn't competitive in manufacturing. It is a huge force on a global scale in manufacturing, and factors like low energy costs because of the vast natural gas reserves being developed are likely to keep it that way. Anyone writing that the US has no manufacturing capability is full of bullshit.

http://www.shopfloor.org/2011/03/u-s-manufacturing-remains-worlds-largest/18756 [shopfloor.org]

http://business.time.com/2011/03/10/can-china-compete-with-american-manufacturing/ [time.com]

Re:Quick primer on the downfall of the US economy (3, Informative)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#39927411)

Actually we still have the largest manufacturing sector in the entire world by quite a bit.
We have completely and almost totally destroyed our consumer products manufacturing, true. The only thing I've bought in 20 years made in the USA is/was some plastic trash cans and oddly enough a gasket-less aluminum pressure cooker made in Wisconsin.

The whole world depends on the USA either exclusively or as a majority provider for aerospace, mining equipment, heavy stuff like that. To a much lesser extent we still make cranes too. And chemical process equipment although like cranes we're trying to give that away to China as fast as we can. You can almost draw a graph of "unit weight" on the x-axis and percent imported on the y-axis and you'll see damn near a straight line where we import 99% of our kitchenware but we manufacture 99% of the world's production of 100 kiloton and up mining dragline equipment (you know, the things that strip entire mountaintops off?) and practically all mining trucks larger than 100 tons.

Re:Quick primer on the downfall of the US economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927919)

This is indeed the problem; it is cheaper to offshore, so you can sell your products cheaper and people will buy it. But those same people will start to lose jobs, or get lower-rated (and thus lower-paid) jobs. Thus can afford less. It's a downward spiral.

I can understand the boat idea, not for cheaper labor, but so that you can work on your projects without being hit with all kinds of patent infringement and other anti-competitive lawsuits (*) along the way.

(*) these kind of lawsuits are not meant to be won, they are meant to drain the upstart of capital basically suing them to death

Sweat shop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927045)

Certainly puts management in an advantageous bargaining position.

No tax doging here (1)

markdj (691222) | about 2 years ago | (#39927261)

As long as the companies have shared resources: the boat, food, security, IT, etc. - they will be paying some form of taxes even if the boat owners call them fees.

Re:No tax doging here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927513)

Tax is theft.

weird ignorant /.er opinions (4, Funny)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#39927307)

Let me summarize an entire articles worth of weird and ignorant /.er opinions:

1) this is the first boat that is not US flagged to ever sail either in or nearby the USA, and if it docks for repairs it'll be the first time a foreign vessel has ever entered a US port, so no one will have any idea what to do.

2) there exists a single line in the sandy sea bottom, on one side its complete and total utter US control and the other side is all pirates.

3) magically, because this platform has servers instead of oil drilling equipment, decades of regulation and case law from the oil biz could not possibly apply to this biz, just because it makes for a nice sounding argument.

4) no one has ever lived on a boat for an extended length of time, nor is it even theoretically possible, much less comfortable.

5) the relationship must be binary, either a ship and its flag nation must be US lapdogs and hard core statists, or it must be a libertarian paradise, and only one of those possibilities is unrealistic therefore it Must be the other far extreme possibility (laughably goes for both sides arguments)

6) Foreigners and foreign sailors have never been present on a ship entering a us port, so no one will have any idea what to do.

7) Closely tied to #5, There are only binary governments, the hard core statist fascist western govts like the us and our european lapdogs, and pure capitalist anarchy, therefore since its probably going to be flagged out of panama or something, and panama isn't quite the usa, therefore slavery and polygamy will rule the ship. Uh, no. I don't think very many flag nations allow that on their ships. As a wild guess, I've been on cruise ships that are panama registered, if this tub's panama registered it'll be about as wild as a cruise ship... probably a nude tanning deck, a casino to gamble in, no secret police checking to see if couples in bed together are married (to each other) and are of the correct gender, and generally anyone looking "old enough" gets to drink alcohol and smoke tobacco although technically you have to be 18 in Panama (I think). That's probably about as wild as Panama is going to let it get.

8) A crime has never before happened on board a ship, therefore no one will have any idea how to handle a criminal activity if one happens.

Re:weird ignorant /.er opinions (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#39927525)

1. Not at all, nice stawman. The issue are if it is armed, or expects US navy protection without paying for it.

2. No there any many lines, and not that many pirates in that area. This might attract some.

3. Oil rigs are not generally trying to avoid the US government immigration laws like this.

4. It sucks, but people do it.

5. It will surely not be the latter.

6. your own stupid stawman

7. The Western governments are not fascist. You should learn a little more before speaking on that topic. The USA has nude beaches, Casinos, no secret police that check if people are married or correct gendered, alcohol and tobacco laws are enforced by locals not the feds. In short this is more nonsense you are spewing.

8. More of the same idiocy from you. In reality for practical reasons crimes on board ships are often under reported and under investigated. This will happen on this boat as well, if it ever leaves harbor.

Re:weird ignorant /.er opinions (1)

Elfich47 (703900) | about 2 years ago | (#39927913)

I don't think vlm was espousing the list as his opinion, he was just summarizing.
Reality is going to work like this (assuming the boat ever leaves port):
At some point the ship needs to come into port for maintenance, repairs, you name it. DHS and Customs decides on a "Health and Welfare" inspection of a ship entering a US controlled port. At that point the cramped conditions, poor maintenance, foul sanitation, etc etc etc will be found out and the ship will not be allowed to leave port until it cleans up its act. Anybody who has been effectively shang-hai'd into working because they cannot afford to get off will be allowed to escape.
Welcome to Rapture.

Torpedo Away! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927325)

Slashdot Headline: Tech workers of tax dodgers sent to Davey Jones locker.

Re:Torpedo Away! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927563)

Slashdot Headline: Tech workers of tax dodgers sent to Davey Jones locker.

The US blames the Chinese, the Chinese blame the Indians, the Indians blame the Pakistani's, the Pakistani's blame Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda blames the US and all the other Zionists and promptly launches a second major terrorist attack on US soil. The US retaliates against Al Qaeda by invading Norway because they have oil.
And the moral of the story is: I am not quite sure...

The Captain's Word is Law & Storms (1)

mallyn (136041) | about 2 years ago | (#39927521)

Yes, two very important concepts in ship-board life.

Weather.

And 'The Captain's Word is Law'.

Having been raised in a sailing family and having been on a sailing team in high school, I know that these two concepts in boat/shipboard life cannot be overlooked.

Glancing through this article, I see very little attention made to these.

Having been around techies and geeks for my adult life (after my sailing life ended), I see many of my fellow geeks having issues with the concept that on board a ship, there needs to be one dictator, ada, the captain. And that captain's is the law. The captain, who is responsible for the well being of the ship/boat and the people therein, has to have final and dictatorial authority.

Who will be the captain of this ship? Will all the geeks thereupon be willing to accept that his/her word is law? Will they be willing to jump onto lifeboats in the event of a storm/fire/whatever disaster?

What if someone mis-behaves? Will there be a brig on board? Who will adjudicate? On a Navy ship, the captain can order anyone into the brig. I believe the same also goes for the merchant marine? What is the case here?

How will this rig ride storms?

What about seasickness?

What about long periods of time (weather/storms) during which food and supplies cannot be brought out?

doubt this will work with governments (1)

Dan667 (564390) | about 2 years ago | (#39927771)

If governments don't get their cut I could see laws being passed with a 1000% tariff on these organizations.

Why don't they setup in Anguilla, BWI (1)

masonc (125950) | about 2 years ago | (#39927789)

The same companies can set up in Anguilla, be outside the US, have no corporate tax, have real tax treaties and IP treaties, and go to the beach after lunch. Fiber to the US, low latency connections, stable economic situation and no need to rely on the boat owner to keep the thing afloat.
Handled properly, they would have much less hassle.

Pirate Bay / Kim 'Megaupload' Dotcom (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927799)

I can see some entrepreneurs being rejected for fear of a few torpedoes being fired at the boat from a US nuclear submarine.

Crime and security (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 2 years ago | (#39927813)

Crime will happen. Even just low level stuff, like stealing someones wallet. Sorry for all you pie in the sky people, but it will happen. How would rules be enforced? Who? Some onboard constabulary? By what authority? Company rules?
What happens when there are more serious crimes? Rape, assault, etc. Walk the plank? Or just send them home, unpunished?

What do you do when the security forces go bad?

VSat Bandwidth, Latency & Costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39927863)

Good luck with that. VSat is still prohibitively expensive and slow compared to land service.

Just a new sliver of foreign territory (1)

jjo (62046) | about 2 years ago | (#39927925)

What Blueseed is proposing to do is create a new sliver of foreign territory (probably Bahamian or Marshallese) 12 miles outside Silicon Valley. Locating a new business there is no more a tax or immigration dodge than setting up across the Canadian or Mexican border would be. Even though some people might like it otherwise, US tax and immigration law applies only to US territory and US citizens and residents.

The US VC's funding the startups will pay US taxes. US citizens working onboard will pay US taxes. As for the others, why do you think foreigners who work outside the US should pay US taxes and have to get US work visas?

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