Category Archives: Mordan

Radio spectrum in space settlements

The radio spectrum is usually defined as the part of the electromagnetic spectrum between 3 Hz and 300 GHz. The ability to manipulate radio waves enables humans to communicate wireless at long distances. In this article we discuss the use of the radio spectrum within space habitats.

Due to their construction the interior of space habitats is shielded off from most external radio sources. Consequently the radio spectrum inside a space habitat is at the disposal of the inhabitants. This also means the need for regulation for the use of the radio spectrum.

First the transmitter output power has to be capped, in order to keep radiation pressure on the walls of the space habitats below safety limits. Because of the relatively small distances and the fact that straight line communication is always possible in space habitats, minimal output power will be required. Hence limiting transmitter output power shouldn’t be problematic.

A more important issue is the allocation of frequency bands, as a frequency bands can only in use by one user at one time. Further the number of bands is limited, and hence radio frequencies are scarce.

In line with our stance on land value tax, we believe that the radio spectrum should be considered as collective property. Private parties are then able to lease frequency bands, which would raise public revenue. Further public ownership of the radio spectrum allows the authorities to allocate certain frequency bands to specific purposes.

Radio waves are used for several modes of communication, of which radio and television broadcasts, mobile phones, wireless LAN, are probably the most important ones (at least from the perspective of space settlers). For each application specific frequencies are assigned. For technical reasons, we propose to follow traditional allocation schemes.

Certain applications of radio waves can be eliminated within space habitats. Examples are communication with submarines and radar. Additionally communication with satellites is only possible through the external antenna of the settlement, hence the frequencies used in satellite communication become available inside space habitats.

Because radio frequencies are a scarce good, efficient use is essential. Therefore analogue radio and television broadcasts should be prohibited, and be replaced with digital standards such as DAB+, Digital Radio Mondiale, and Digital Video Broadcasting. Not only does digital broadcasting offer better quality, but it also allows more stations within available frequency bands.

Due to multiplexing, multiple stations can be combined into one signal. Each multiplex is subsequently carried on its one frequency. We propose that at least one multiplex to be reserved for public broadcast services, while the others are available for commercial services. We will get to public broadcasting and the restrictions on commercial broadcasting in another article.

We propose to allocate the medium, high and very high frequencies for principal use for radio and television broadcast. Ultra high frequencies will be assigned to use by cell phones and certain short-range applications. Low frequencies will be primarily allocated to radio amateurs.

Consistent with our preference for cooperatives, we propose that only consumer cooperatives can apply for licenses for cell phone operators. This will prevent the acquisition of mobile phone companies by foreign investors with no concern for consumer interests.

Radio amateurs will be required to apply for an amateur radio license, which will only be given to certified radio amateurs. In order to obtain a AR certificate one will need to pass an exam on technical and legal expertise related to radio. The certificate will be valid for a life time, while the license is subject to periodic renewal. For short-range applications, such as family radio services, no license will be required, instead a small levy will be imposed on the purchase.

The Humanist Republic of Mordan

Imagine a continent with many sovereign nations, but one of those countries is frequently referred to with the name of that continent, to much annoyance of the inhabitants of the other countries. Even if that particular country is the most populous on that continent, has the largest armed forces, the largest economy; that country covers only a fraction of the entire continent, and yet the name of the continent has become synonymous with that one country.

Of course, this causes a lot of confusion. After all when does the continent’s name refer to that particular country (or its citizens) and when to the entire continent (and its inhabitants)? A rational reaction would be to avoid such confusion in the first place by not naming a country after the continent, unless it covers the entire continent.

Lagrangia means land of Lagrange. It is a poetic reference to the Lagrange points, a popular destination in space colonization literature. But what is so special about Lagrange points? Joseph-Louis Lagrange discovered, after a thorough analysis of Newtonian physics, that in each system in which an object orbits another; there are five points where the gravity and inertial forces of these objects would cancel each other. The main consequence of these Lagrange points is that an object which is located at such a point, will remain there.

Later analysis demonstrated that the fourth and fifth Lagrange points were even more special. Bodies that are in close proximity of either Lagrange point 4 or 5, will orbit those points. And they will stay there. These properties make the L4 and L5 points interesting for stationing space settlements.

Because L4/L5 cover large  areas, we could compare them with continents. Multiple space settlements could be located there, and hence multiple nations. It is in no way necessary that all space settlements will form a political union. Ideological differences among space settlements might prevent such union.

On a practical note, things are even more complicated. Not only there multiple Lagrange points, but there also more sets of Lagrange points. There are Lagrange points in the Earth-Moon system, in the Sun-Earth system, the Sun-Mars system, the Sun-Jupiter, the Saturn-Titan system. And so on. In fact the Solar System is covered with Lagrange points.

Consequently, using Lagrangia as a reference to the Lagrange points, is quite broad. Maybe too broad. After all to which (set of) Lagrange point(s) are you referring to? And since there are many Lagrange points, where many different Space nations can be located, calling one of those nations Lagrangia, will only cause confusion.

It would be best if no space nation would ever use the name Lagrangia for itself. And contrary to what the title of this site might suggest, we have never intended to call the state we want to found Republic of Lagrangia, which is only the working name of our organization. Instead we intend to name the state we want to found at either SEL-4 or SEL-5, the Humanist Republic of Mordan.

From now on we will use the name Mordan more consistently as the reference to the state we want to establish. However, this does not change anything to our commitment to secularism, (classic) liberalism, humanism and (classic) republicanism.

Foreign policy doctrine

A few years ago I wrote the following memo, which outlines foreign policy. You should compare the doctrine below with the post on Space Settlements and foreign policy. As you will see, the memo does not contain an elaboration on the third principle, but from the context its understanding can be deduced.

The foreign policy of the Humanist Republic of Mordan is based on the following three principles:

I The peaceful coexistence of different cultures, political ideologies and forms of society

II Non-interventionism and strict neutrality

III National Sovereignty is unconditional and nonnegotiable as long the peaceful coexistence among nations is not endangered

These principles have to be understood as complementary to each other, rather than as three stand alone rules. Their unity is the fundamental base of our foreign policy.

The idea behind these principles is the proposition that the primary responsibility of any government are its own citizens. From this very essential proposition it follows that no government should adopt a foreign policy, which unnecessarily risks the lives and security of its citizens, such as by provoking aggression of foreign powers.

Every nation has the right to determine how to organize its own society, so do we. But if we want to organize our society the way we want, we should acknowledge this right to other nations. By accepting differences among societies, we create a base for peaceful coexistence.

The second principle logically follows from the first, the peaceful coexistence among nations cannot be realized if we should interfere with the internal affairs of other nations, and at the other hand our own nation cannot allow any interference by any foreign power in our very own affairs. And there is no general reason for us to interfere with conflicts among other nations, as long as those conflicts are not directly affecting our own interests. Therefore our country should abstain of choosing sides in transnational conflicts which do not directly affect our country.

Language

A long time ago we discussed why space settlement should choose an artificial language as their official language. In short our arguments are as follows.

First the population of space settlements are most likely to be multi-ethnic, and choosing a natural language as the official language will give an unjustifiable advantage to the native speakers of that language. Hence every ethnic group will propose their own language as the official one. Consequently ethnic diversity will lead to ethnic rivalry, which will ultimately undermine social unity in such Space Settlement.

Multilingualism will not solve this problem, since those groups whose language is not recognized will feel alienated and they will start a campaign to have their language recognized. But the more language are given the status of official language, the more the purpose of an official language, enabling mutual communication among citizens, is undermined.

By opting for a single artificial language, which is not associated with any particular ethnic group, as the official language, all this problems are solved.

Secondly there is the issue of cultural identity. Since the purpose of space colonization is the establishment of a new society with desired social reforms. By its choice for an artificial language, a Space Settlement puts emphasis on its independence from other nations and cultures.

If a Space Settlement would opt for an existing natural language, outsiders might associate that Settlement and its policies with a certain culture. A choice for English as official language, would suggest that this Space Settlement is somehow associated with British or American imperialism or its commitment to casino capitalism. For the international reputation of a Space Settlement it is best to avoid any of such associations.

Somewhat ironically this also means that the most known artificial language, Esperanto, is probably a bad choice. The Esperanto-community has developed over the course of more than a century a reasonably large community. Generally Esperantists are highly idealistic and very committed to the language, but the Esperanto community has also developed a certain culture which is treated with a certain disdain by non-Esperantists. Further the emphasis on Esperanto as an international language, is quite at odds with choosing it as a national language for a Space Settlement.

For this reason it’s likely that Space Settlements with different ideologies, will also choose different languages in order to stress their independence from each other.

Though most people will probably agree with these reason, many will remain skeptical whether it the introduction of an artificial language will be successful. The first objection might be that it would require people to learn a new language, but this will also be true in case of a choice for a natural language, at least for those immigrants who aren’t yet affluent in the chosen language.

Further the artificial language could be constructed in such way, that’s it easy to be learned by as much as possible people. Besides learning the official language of a Space Settlement will also serve as a test for the willingness of immigrants to assimilate in this new societies.

One of the more interesting methods to learn a new language is the direct method, which unlike traditional methods does not require any knowledge of the language of the student. This method is suitable for both children and adults, and it allows schools to teach in the official language even if the children have no prior understanding of this language. However, in order to ensure that all children have a sufficient comprehension of the national language at a young age, we suggest to make kindergarten compulsory.

Tourist tax

The regular visitors of Republic of Lagrangia will be aware of our opposition toward income taxes, and instead we advocate the raise of public revenue through the lease of land and radio spectrum frequencies. Additionally we have argued in favour of so-called health taxes on sugar, soda, salt, fat to partially fund a universal single-payer healthcare system (and to reduce the amount of unhealthy ingredients in food).

Mordan citizens and permanent residents will enjoy both free healthcare as well free public transport, which they have paid for through the LVT. However, foreign tourists will also made use of these particular services. It seems reasonable to us if tourists will also contribute to these services. The question is how they can do this.

In the Netherlands there’s a local tax called tourist tax (toeristenbelasting), which local governments are allowed to levy upon tourists from outside their jurisdiction (both domestic and foreign). Usually this tax is charged per night spend at an ad valorem base. If a hotel charge 100 per night, and a tourist has to pay a 5% tourist tax, he will have to pay 105 to the hotels, which will turn 5 to the local government.

We propose to introduce a similar scheme, but with several adaptations. First our tourist tax will be collected by the federal government rather than by local governments. Hence there will be a uniform tariff throughout the nation (in the Netherlands local governments are not obliged to charge tourist tax). Second in our system the tax will only be charged onto foreign tourists, not on domestic ones.

Free Public Transport

We have discussed some ideas on public transportation in space habitats in an earlier post. In this post we will argue in defense of introducing free public transportation in Mordan.

Public transportation is in many developed countries already heavily subsidized, in some cases to such extent that travellers pay no more than 20% of the costs of public transportation. So we might wonder why bothering with charging fares at all? If you believe that people should pay for their own transportation, than you should oppose any subsidies on public transportation. But if you believe that some public subsidies on public transportation are fine, you should explain why we should not subsidize it for 100%.

We believe that freedom of movement is a fundamental right. But freedom of movement is also of great social and economic importance. People have to be able to travel from their homes to their jobs, students to their schools, consumers to the shops and so on. A good and accessible public transportation system will increase economic activity and hence wealth.

Since anyone, workers, employees, businesses, and consumers will gain from public transportation, we believe it will be fair if the government would use public funds to provide free public transportation. In principle the funds needed to finance such free public transportation will be supplied by the revenues generated by the lease of land by the government.

Related topics

The case for universal, single-payer health care

Banking reform

Intro and recapping

In part two of our series on monetary reform we briefly discussed the role of banks within the Mordan banking system. There we argued against fractional reserve banking, and to distinguish between on demand deposits and time deposits. The difference between these two types of deposit, is that in the former case the account holder can withdrawn his money from this deposit at any time, whilst in the latter case the account holder deposits his money to the bank for a certain period of time, during which he can’t withdraw his deposits.

Subsequently, we argued that banks should only allowed to lend the money from the time deposits, but not from the demand deposits. In technical terms we can see that time deposits are loans, more precisely a mutuum, from savers to the bank. And demand deposits are just money given to the bank for save keeping.

In this post we will give a further discussion of the Mordan banking system.

What are banks?

The term “bank” covers a whole lot of different kinds of financial institutions, hence it’s necessary to specify several types of banks. First we should make a distinction between retail and investment banks. Retail banks offer financial services to consumers rather than to corporations. Investment banks are usually involved in raising capital for corporations in other ways than by providing loans.

Retail banks offer a wide ranges of services to consumers and businesses: save keeping of money, facilitating financial transactions, accepting savings from and providing loans to the public. It’s perfectly possible to separate these functions in separate banks, saving banks typically only perform the last two function. And we can also imagine a bank which only accept demand deposits and facilitate transactions (in return for a fee), we could call such bank a transaction bank.

Many retail banks also offer asset management to wealthy clients, but we believe that asset management should be separated from the ordinary banking.

Organization of the new banking system

We propose a strict separation between investment banks and retail banks. This means a total ban on so-called universal banks. Practically investment banks are prohibited from offering retail banking services, and vice versa. In order to maintain this prohibition investment and retail bank should not be allowed to be united in any way.

Besides we also propose a strict separation between banking and insurance companies (we will cover insurances in another post). It’s nowadays a common practice for banks to sell insurance policies in addition to their banking services, this is mostly only for the purpose of raising more revenue for the bank. We believe that it’s in the interest of the consumers if banking and insurances are clearly separated from each other.

Currently most banks are stock companies, owned by their shareholders. Consequently banks have more incentives to serve the interests of their shareholders rather of the interests of their clients. Therefore we propose that all retail banks should be run as consumer cooperatives, i.e. only cooperative should be able to obtain a retail banking license.

Not only is this proposal in line with our commitment to a cooperative economy, but also because a cooperative bank is owned by its own clients, such a bank will pursue the interests of its clients. Additionally cooperative banks are by their very nature protected against hostile take overs. Hostile take overs have a disruptive effect on the financial sector and hence on the economy.

The obligation of being a cooperative will not apply to investment banks or asset managers.

Supervision

Of course these rules have to be enforced, there we propose the establishment of the Mordan Financial Services Authority (MFSA). This supervisory agency will be separate from both the National Monetary Authority and the MFK. The MFSA will supervise the entire Mordan financial sector, it will license banks and can retract those, and quite importantly it will have the authority to arrest bankers for noncompliance with the law.

Related topics

Space settlements and monetary systems. Part 1

Space settlements and monetary systems. Part 2

Space settlements and monetary systems. Part 3

A Cooperative Economy

The Federal Credit Bank

The Problem of Taxation. Part One

The Problem of Taxation. Part Two