Paul L. Caron

Saturday, September 2, 2017

WSJ: What Tops The Agenda For A New Space Colony? A Debate Over Taxes

Wall Street Journal, What Tops the Agenda for a New Space Colony? A Debate Over Taxes:

It’s tough enough to create a nation in space. There’s the Earth-orbiting colony to plan, the provisioning to figure out and the technical challenge of launching thousands of people.

On top of that, you have to make folks get along before they even rocket up there.

The scale of the human task is dawning on Russian businessman and scientist Igor Ashurbeyli, who last year drew headlines with his plan for a peaceful democratic utopia dubbed Asgardia above the stratosphere.

More than 300,000 people from 217 countries and territories signed up online to be Asgardians — among them starry-eyed dreamers, sci-fi fans and political idealists — and 110,000 of them are now officially citizens.

While Dr. Ashurbeyli’s lofty plan involves launching “Space Arks” into lower Earth orbit by 2025, he has found himself caught up in earthly debates among his people about pesky details such as the space nation’s constitution and potential taxes.

Not to mention its prospective shortage of women.

Among problems facing Asgardia, “the biggest is self-organization,” said Dr. Ashurbeyli, 53, “because no one has ever tried organizing … what is today 100,000 citizens from 200 countries who don’t know each other and live in different places on Earth.”...

The biggest fault line is Asgardia’s constitution, which Dr. Ashurbeyli and his advisers wrote. Unveiled in June, it met opprobrium from rebellious corners of the would-be nation....

Mr. Hawkes said the constitution accords too much power to Dr. Ashurbeyli by declaring Asgardia a “Space Kingdom”—giving him extensive rights to determine the composition of the powerful Supreme Space Council. “There’s so much mishmash in the constitution,” he said.

Debate raged on other aspects of the constitution, from its minimum age of 40 for parliamentarians to worries that Asgardia would impose taxes before launch.

Such a levy, fretted one Asgardian online, would mean citizens supporting a nation “that has few assets, no territory, no institutions and no international recognition.” The constitution states that paying taxes is voluntary....

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