I asked him [Blueseed CEO Max Marty] if there wasn't something absurd about Blueseed — the idea of floating human beings outside an arbitrary line in the ocean because of some regulation that would appear to hobble the growth of a vital industry.In New Zealand's days of stupid, entrepreneurs commissioned Japanese TV makers to disassemble fully manufactured TVs and ship them to NZ in parts, there to be re-assembled, because the tariff rate on TV parts was low relative to the tariff on televisions. Bad regulations invite entrepreneurial innovation to route around the stupid and turn deadweight costs into surplus. It's not first best, but it's better. And, by helping to point out just how stupid the stupid is, it can help push us towards the first best.
It seems like something out of science fiction. Does it mean America has become dystopian?
His answer was careful. "I wouldn't say the U.S. is a dystopian society so much as a place that has strayed from the idea of what it is supposed to be."
Marty reminds me Blueseed will be off the coast of California, not South Korea or Singapore or Tokyo, but a fast ferry ride from Silicon Valley. It's because that's where his future clients will want to be.
"Silicon Valley is still a beacon," he says.
The CBC piece does a nice job in pointing out just how stupid the American immigration regs on entrepreneurs are, and in pointing out why things stay as they are: They pull some particular insanity from Wired's comments section (never read comments sections, except at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative):
The lump of labour fallacy is particularly fallacious when applied to entrepreneurs who are trying to start up new businesses. Blueseed will be most successful if there are enough people like those quoted above to keep US immigration law from changing, but not so many as to force regulatory tweaks that would keep Blueseed's residents from easily entering the US. Max, I'd expect, would count himself as more successful if, after the ship's earned enough to provide a nice return to its investors, immigration rules are loosened so the ship is no longer necessary. I wish Max every success.
HT: Erin Crampton