Last week thenewgreen posted an article about PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel’s plan to build micro-nations on offshore platforms.
The original article is in Details.
In short, residents of these new micro-nations proposed by Peter Thiel will not be citizens of any other country.
In my opinion, the creation of a new class of citizenship for the wealthy is near.
Very wealthy people tend to own assets and places of residence in multiple countries. These people travel across national boundaries many times a year, if not each month, or each week. These affluent people often have many friends and relations that reside in multiple countries.
Consider what national identity means to these people? Is citizenship a defining factor of their identity, or is it a more a matter of paperwork?
If you are very rich, your citizenship determines the nation to which you pay the majority of your taxes. It also determines the relative difficulty that you have traveling between countries. You do not use or need other characteristics of citizenship such as social services and national defense. In fact, if you are very wealthy, political actions of your home nation (even when carried out in the interest of your nation) can be a liability that affects your interests in other countries.
For the very rich, traditional citizenship is not a valuable asset; it is a problem to be solved.
For such an individual, a type of citizenship that only included other wealthy people would be more valuable. Peter Thiel has suggested a possible route to this new form of citizenship. However, there may be other alternatives.
Unlike the current form of citizenship, this new form of citizenship would be useful to someone that possesses great wealth. Taxes would be very low, as there would be little need of social services, infrastructure, or defense. Furthermore, due to the political influence that comes with wealth, this nation of the rich would have great advantages when forming treaties with traditional nations. In a short time, travel for these citizens would be nearly unlimited. To attract the investment of these citizens, other benefits and incentives would probably follow as well.
Of course, there are hurdles that must be overcome to achieve this new form of citizenship. However, as Peter Thiel demonstrates, these are being worked on at present. Furthermore, as most developed nations currently have high GDP/debt ratios, and as a popular method for reducing this debt is increased taxation on wealthy individuals, the impetus to solve the citizenship problem is rising. As a result, I expect that such a new form of citizenship will arise in the next decade.
What will this new class of citizenship mean for society? I am not sure. However, I expect that the world will go through a period where traditional citizens and these new citizens will live increasingly divergent lifestyles.