Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The most Libertarian place on Earth
February 27, 2008 9:11 AM   Subscribe

If I really wanted to "live free or die," what country/city/region is my best option? Assuming a normal human life with normal services* without purchasing a farm, where does a person on Earth have the most rights? (Electricity, running water, food, internet)
posted by clango to Law & Government (41 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Be a wealthy, well-armed and well connected person in a failed state like Somalia or a breakaway mobocracy such as Trans-Dnestr. The libertarian vision in action.
posted by Abiezer at 9:20 AM on February 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


Do you want practical suggestions where there is a way to get from where you are to there, or are you just interested in absolute suggestions? There have been a few threads (this is the one I can find) that have had decent suggestions that are similar. In terms of practicality, I recall a few themes from those other threads.

1. Being wealthy will give you more "rights" to be left alone most places, this is especially true in the US
2. Australia/NZ is great but running out of water.
3. Countries with smaller government have a tendency to not give you any "rights" at all, but you can take some if you're interested in investing in security services, etc (Central America is a good example for some of this)
4. Countries with more socialized services can be great to live in and have excellet protections for human rights as they are generally understood but are a) expensive and b) leery of just letting any old person from another place settle down there, i.e. they have hurdles you must jump through to legally reside/work there and their taxes are higher.

So, I notice you have "domestic spying" as a tag. While this is a problem in the US, if you're in any country with socialized medicine you are likely to have a national ID card/number. If you are in a country with more lax government you are unlikely to have decent/regular internet and you are more likely to have less in the way of rights granted to you. You may need to clear up the seeming contradiction in your question between having freedom [i.e. the ability to do whatever you want, whenever you want] and having rights [i.e. freedoms that you are LEGALLY given by benefit of participation at some level in a system of governance]. They are two different things.
posted by jessamyn at 9:24 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah I'm not sure I understand the question either. You seem to want to live on and off the grid at the same time...
posted by ob at 9:27 AM on February 27, 2008


Mogadishu.
posted by saladin at 9:28 AM on February 27, 2008


What exactly are you looking for the right to do that you cannot do already?
posted by 1 at 9:31 AM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


That depends a lot on how you define freedom. No taxation, few laws to restrict your actions, and little enforcement, etc. or freedom from people trying to rob or kill you, freedom to drive on public roads, etc.

And by normal human life, do you mean a normal Western middle class life? Does this mean living such a life with infinite funds, with some reasonable amount of savings, or does this also include holding a job?

Could your question be rephrased like so: In which jurisdiction, in which a person could lead a normal Western middle class life, are there the least laws restricting behavior?

If you have a large amount of cash, living on a ship in international waters, with a flag of convenience, is probably the best you can do on that front.
posted by ssg at 9:32 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Could your question be rephrased like so: In which jurisdiction, in which a person could lead a normal Western middle class life, are there the least laws restricting behavior?"

That works. I'm just wondering what the options are as far as freedom and privacy rights. Not interested in digging a hole and brewing my own whiskey in there. Don't care one way or another about guns.
posted by clango at 9:34 AM on February 27, 2008


Ok, I've spent a lot of time working in Sub Saharan Africa and if you've already got money - or a way to earn it - then you'd be fine there. Cost of living is low, property is cheap and human labour (both skilled and unskilled) readily available. Also governments tend to look the other way and not ask too many questions, and if they do then bribes are a very common way to deflect interest in one's private affairs.

That being said, some of the towns, particularly away from the big cities get pretty wild - think 1840's Wild West complete with gunfights - there isn't much law or the law is itself intimidated, so that would be a factor you'd have to consider when selecting a place to park it.

Looking at your profile I see you're American (so am I - hey!) but if you haven't spent time in The Developing World the overall experience might be daunting (myself, I love Africa). And by time I don't mean a two week holiday there but weeks bordering on months, bouncing about the country, seeing the sun rise then looking up a the stars at night, getting to know the rhythms and seasons and weather and the ways of the people. I got injured a few times in Nigeria, once pretty severely, and those experiences told me a lot about the sheer humanness, the compassion of the Nigerian people.

Anyhow, I've been researching this problem myself, for various reasons not germane to your query and as a result of my reading would suggest to achieve maximum privacy (and hence freedom), there isn't really a single place, rather you need three.
  1. A place to make money
  2. A place to park assets - this must be a tax haven
  3. A place to live
It's important to note you shouldn't live where you make your money; if this is done properly you'll minimise (and its possible to spell that as "avoid" in some circumstances e.g, a UK national working in a zero tax locale will pay - uhhm - zero tax) taxes on your earnings. Also your assets should be placed in a tax haven that won't honour foreign judgments, and that has zero taxes itself.

Also be prepared to move often. Typically one incurs local tax liabilities after 182 days or so. I'm familiar with some folks that manage their personal affairs so they simply don't trigger this tax event.
posted by Mutant at 9:47 AM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think the unpopular but true answer to this question is, anywhere in the US.

I don't know of any other country that grants its citizens as many rights. Canada, for example, places significant restrictions on its citizens' freedom of speech. Also being a Subject of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth, nominal or not, is not exactly living free.

So: If you like pot, California. If you like gambling and whores, Nevada.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:58 AM on February 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Canada, for example, places significant restrictions on its citizens' freedom of speech.

As a Canadian, I'm not sure I agree with this. We have the right to protest, free assembly, etc. The only thing that is restricted is Hate Speech with the intent to incite violence.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 10:03 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Since when is access the the Internet counted as a "right"?
posted by gene_machine at 10:03 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


"To" the Internet...
posted by gene_machine at 10:04 AM on February 27, 2008


Also being a Subject of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth, nominal or not, is not exactly living free.

At least we don't have to swear fealty to a piece of fabric. Seriously, how does having a titular head of state effect anyone?

As for having the most rights, I'd say France. I mean, once you get hired, you have a right to keep that job. That's a pretty awesome right. For employers, not so much.
posted by GuyZero at 10:12 AM on February 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


It depends entirely on how much money you have.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:15 AM on February 27, 2008


I'd say France. I mean, once you get hired, you have a right to keep that job.

The downside of which is that it's very difficult to get hired. Plus, I seriously doubt that bit of charming Old World inefficiency/luxury is going to stick around much longer.

I think drjimmy11 is right: if you want modern conveniences as well as liberty, the U.S. is hard to beat. Liberties shrinking lately, of course, but hopefully the next administration will start reversing that.

*knocks wood*
posted by languagehat at 10:19 AM on February 27, 2008


Canada, for example, places significant restrictions on its citizens' freedom of speech.

I'm genuinely intrigued by this statement. I'm a Canadian, and if anything I'd characterize our public discourse and media as far less stifled than that of our Southern neighbours.

What leads you to believe Canada has fewer freedom-of-speech rights than the U.S.?
posted by Shepherd at 10:30 AM on February 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


The downside of which is that it's very difficult to get hired.

He asked where you had the most rights. Most Europeans countries give you plenty of rights - more than the US does. He didn't ask about paying for them.

I think what he really wants is the fewest obligations and not the most rights, but I have to play the questions as they lie (lay?).
posted by GuyZero at 10:32 AM on February 27, 2008


I'm re-reading the thread as the OP has somewhat clarified his question... per jessamyn's comments and the OP's clarification, many EU countries have stricter privacy laws than the US. re: A slightly old MSNBC article detailing some differences between EU and US privacy rights.
posted by GuyZero at 10:39 AM on February 27, 2008


Michael Corleone went to Sicily when he was hiding out. I bet that would work pretty well. (Seriously).
posted by The World Famous at 10:48 AM on February 27, 2008


If all this talk of wild-west-like developing nations makes you nervous, then I'd say Alaska. All the comforts of the US, but considerably less intrusion into your day-to-day life. Alaskans have much more of a live and let live way about them.
posted by clh at 10:52 AM on February 27, 2008


Live somewhere relatively isolated in the United States and research tax shelter options. A lot of things will still be illegal, but who will be around to bother you?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:07 AM on February 27, 2008


As for having the most rights, I'd say France. I mean, once you get hired, you have a right to keep that job. That's a pretty awesome right. For employers, not so much.

That's not a right, that's an entitlement.
posted by 1 at 11:22 AM on February 27, 2008


Spoken like a true libertarian. Where could I go to be free, but also get all of the infrastructures that a civilization has that would never have been built if people were truly in some Randian state of nature? Um, nowhere. That's a utopia in your mind.

You can't buy beer on Sundays in Georgia. So don't move there.

But I bet you a dollar it's a U.S. state. New Hampshire's motto is "Live Free or Die" and lots of Libertarians are moving there so as to begin to influence policy. Fun times.
posted by zpousman at 11:33 AM on February 27, 2008


Movimiento Libertario is a Libertarian political party in Costa Rica which holds roughly 10% of the seats in Costa Rica's national assembly (its legislature). The Movimiento Libertario is considered the first libertarian organization to achieve substantial electoral success at the national level, so you could probably say that Costa Rica is the most libertarian place on Earth.

That said, as of 2007, the party seems to have stopped referring to itself as 'Libertarians' and are moving towards the term liberal, so whether you could still claim that Costa Rica is the most libertarian place on Earth is somewhat debatable now.
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:36 AM on February 27, 2008


Maybe this should split off into Talk, but there are some material produced in the States that can't be legally imported into Canada, usually pornography or hate literature. Another big thing is the way libel law is handled.
posted by RobotHero at 12:02 PM on February 27, 2008


Not endorsing it, by any means, but: Free State Project.
posted by CiaoMela at 12:13 PM on February 27, 2008


As a Canadian, I'm not sure I agree with this. We have the right to protest, free assembly, etc. The only thing that is restricted is Hate Speech with the intent to incite violence.

Yeah, if you don't count the effectively unconstitutional Human Rights Tribunals, which can be used by malicious parties to stifle free speech with incredible ease.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:44 PM on February 27, 2008


Levant has not been stifled. Harassed perhaps, but last I checked there were plently of Americans getting harassed in regular US courts. The human rights case against him has been dropped and he has thrown back just about every legalistic mechanism at the person who filed it in the first place. Don't talk shit about Canadian issues you don't know anything about.
posted by GuyZero at 1:08 PM on February 27, 2008


I literally cant even understand someone sugessted America, LOL.

I would say maybe somewhere in Scandinavia....I cant remember which country but i think it might be Switzerland...I remember reading somewhere about freedom of information and great public services.
posted by Neonshock at 1:15 PM on February 27, 2008


[a few comments removed - please try to keep this on topic and answer the OPs question and not argue with each other about politics of other countries. Take it to MetaTalk if you need to.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:28 PM on February 27, 2008


New Hampshire's motto is "Live Free or Die" and lots of Libertarians are moving there so as to begin to influence policy.

Sigh. It is cool to periodically have a viable 3rd party, and it's nice as a counterweight to immigration from Massachusetts, but sometimes the Libertarians get carried away.

The various comments about being rich are entirely apropos, but for a bargain price I think ssg's point about living on a ship in international waters is the best bet. Or, y'know, an abandoned gun platform in the North Sea.
posted by XMLicious at 1:29 PM on February 27, 2008


I remember reading somewhere about freedom of information and great public services.

"Great public services" = high taxes, which is incompatible with his desire to live as freely as possible.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:10 PM on February 27, 2008


Svalbard. Anyone can move to Svalbard - no visa or work permit needed - as long as you get a job or have money to provide for yourself. The taxes are very low and only support the limited local services. The crime rates are very low, and you'll get good schools and very dependable electricity and internet connections.

The gun laws are quite libertarian, tourists can rent a gun without a prior gun permit:
"(...) you are not permitted to bring weapons into shops, the bank etc. Weapon related crime and incidents are as close to non -existing as it is possible- I've only heard about one guy who brought a shotgun into a pub some years ago. Dedicated lockers are provided for storage of weapons when visiting such places and - as everywere else - weapons and drink dont mix."
posted by iviken at 3:06 PM on February 27, 2008


I literally cant even understand someone sugessted America, LOL.

I would say maybe somewhere in Scandinavia....I cant remember which country but i think it might be Switzerland...I remember reading somewhere about freedom of information and great public services.
posted by Neonshock at 3:15 PM on February 27 [+] [!]
Note: Switzerland not actually in Scandinavia.
posted by jtron at 3:37 PM on February 27, 2008


Note: Not only is Switzerland not in Scandinavia, but it is nowhere near libertarian, especially if you like to drive fast.
posted by The World Famous at 3:49 PM on February 27, 2008


Neonshock: "I literally cant even understand someone sugessted America, LOL."

Why not? Its residents actually enjoy a lot of freedom. Furthermore, libel laws in countries following the British legal system are a lot more restrictive. As a result, there are things about, for example, the British royal family that residents of the UK simply do not know. There are a lot of underreported stories in the US, and this is a sad indictment of our media. But these stories are reported, and there are no limits (that I know of) put on what is reported on in the US, even if you must go to alternative sources to find them.

Furthermore, the OP put "Libertarian" in the title. The US probably fits the bill for that -- while there may be some areas in the world that are more open minded about social mores or more "free" in a philosophical sense, these places are probably in Europe and thus almost certainly require a higher tax burden.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:51 PM on February 27, 2008


Svalbard? Holy crap -- that's at the North end of Greenland! And they speak Norwegian (the devil's tongue, for sure, says this Swedish-speaker).

I recall somebody ("The Sovereign Individual" perhaps?) mentioning that a person could get a diplomatic passport for The Seychelles by investing something like $10 million in the local economy.

And FWIW, the USA doesn't "give" rights to citizens. Constitution and Bill of Rights are restrictions on the government, or at least that was the original intention.
posted by trinity8-director at 5:06 PM on February 27, 2008


The Heritage Foundation has attempted to quantify economic freedom. Don't know much about their methodology, but they sure have some tidy tables.
posted by GPF at 5:58 PM on February 27, 2008


I'm biased, to a degree, but Montana sure comes close to what the OP is looking for, I reckon. Plenty of space to call your own, and you can interact - or not - with people pretty much on your own desires and interests.

Failing that, I'd second Alaska.
posted by davidmsc at 8:46 PM on February 27, 2008


New Zealand, with Australia a close second. Don't worry about running out of water - the world will run out of oil first. New Zealand is probably a tiny bit "freer" (and has better 'net access), but has a higher cost of living.
posted by dg at 12:19 AM on February 28, 2008


Personally, I think gun rights are vital for a country to be considered "libertarian". Setting that aside, this website hasn't been updated in a year or so, but you may find it interesting. They say Estonia, followed by Ireland.
posted by BigSky at 4:01 AM on February 28, 2008


« Older Where can I find "ethical...   |  Oh magnificent Metafilter, ple... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.