Category Archives: politics

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.

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.

Exit visas and international child abduction

In the modern world only a few countries, mostly with dictatorial governments, require their citizens or residents to buy a visa for leaving the country. Most countries only require foreigners to buy a visa for entering the country.

Since the freedom of movement, including the right of leaving one’s own country at will, is considered a fundamental human right, most civilized nations consider a general restriction on departing one’s country as an abomination. Only in a few serious cases (e.g. of convicted criminals or people awaiting trial), it’s nowadays acceptable for a state to put restrictions on their citizens’ freedom to leave the country.

This is all fine for adults who are capable to decide for their own whether they will leave the country or not. There’s these days, however, a huge problem of international child abduction. It’s our opinion that an exit visa requirement for minors can be an effective measure to combat international child abductions.

In most cases of international child abduction, a non-custodial parent take his or her own child to another country against the will of the custodial parent. Usually the motive is the result of a failed marriage or another intimate relationship and a subsequent custody battle between the parents.

The system we propose will works as follows. All minors, defined as all persons below the age of sixteen years, who will travel to a foreign destination are required to be in the possession of an exit visa. Only the custodial parent is authorized to apply for this exit visa, which does not mean that a child cannot travel with his non-custodial parent, it only ensures the permission of the custodial parent.

On the application form the custodial parent will declare the minor’s destination (multiple destinations are possible), the duration of the stay abroad, whether the child will travel alone or in company of an adult, and in the latter case with whom.

In order to ensure the cooperation of foreign countries, the passport of minors should contain instead of “valid for all countries”, the phrase “valid only with appropriate exit visa”. The subsequent effect of this measure, is that expiration of the exit visa, the minor will automatically remain illegal in the foreign country, and hence the authorities are obliged to extradite the minor back to his or her home country. And the person, mostly the non-custodial parent, can be charged of harboring an illegal immigrant.

A few words on Consumer Cooperatives

In our post A Cooperative Economy we argued that shops with numerous “anonymous” customers are not well suited to be run as consumer cooperatives. A consumer cooperative is a business owned and democratically by its consumers. It’s clear that the anonymity of customers, is a s problem for running a consumer cooperative.

One way to solve this problem, is to restrict access to these shops to members of the cooperative. But this seems to be an inferior solution. Could we design a more satisfying solution?

Most companies handle markup pricing, which is determining prices by adding a markup to the costs of production. An an example: a shop owner buys apples from a farmer for 5 Stella per kilogram, and he sells it for 6 Stella per kilogram in his shop. In this case the cost of production is 5 Stella, and the markup is equal to 1 Stella.

In reality the cost of production includes not only the purchase price for the company, but also additional costs such as salaries, transportation and storage. The markup is simply the profit the shop owner makes if he sells something.

How does this relates to consumer cooperatives? The main objective of a consumer cooperative is to reduce the prices for its members. Ideally, the prices its members should be should be equal to the cost of production. Or in other words, setting the markup at zero. A company knows its costs of production (it has to pay these costs) and their markup (it has to set this one). This allows a consumer cooperative to apply price discrimination, by charging members only the costs of production and non-members also the markup.

Of course, this requires that members of the consumer cooperative has to identify themselves when they make a purchase. The simplest way to arrange this, is by providing membership cards when people join the cooperative, probably after a paying a (one time) membership fee. Those who can’t show a membership card, will have to pay the markup as well.

An interesting question is what to do with the markups paid by non-members? It can be used for investments, to pay a bonus to the employees or it can be donated to charity.

Fines and revenue

But punishment must by definition hurt in some way, be it emotionally, psychologically, monetarily, or physically. Punishment must cause pain. (Peter Moskos 2011, In Defense of Flogging, p.114.)

In modern legal systems fines and imprisonment are the most common penalties which can be imposed on crimes. In classic criminology three functions of punishment have been described since the 18th century: deterrence, rehabilitation and incapacitation. The latter category seeks to disable a criminal from committing another crime in the future, be it through imprisonment or execution. In case of rehabilitation, the aim of “punishment” is to reform the criminal, so he will no longer be willing to commit crimes.

It’s quite obvious that fines or monetary penalties at best can only serve as a deterrent, fines do not incapacitate or reform criminals. Additionally we could argue that fines serve a retributive aim of punishment, as expressed by the quote by Peter Moskos. However, in order to function as a deterrent a punishment should be considered by the would-be criminal as unpleasant.

Deterrence theory is not without severe criticism, but monetary penalties suffer from another “flaw” in this respective. In most legal systems fines are expressed in absolute terms, i.e. the law prescribes a fixed (maximum) sum of money to be paid for a certain offense. The problem of this is, from the perspective of deterrence, is that different people have different levels of wealth.

Suppose that a certain action, say not cleaning up your dog’s feces in public space, is punished with a fine of 50 Stella. Both Alice and Bob have a dog, and as good dog keepers they regularly walk their dogs. But Alice has a monthly income of, say, 5,000 Stella whilst Bon only earns 3,000 Stella. Assuming both person need 1,500 Stella to live from, Alice has 3,500 Stella to spend freely and Bob 1,500.

Now we know that neither of them really like to clean their dog’s feces, and being rational persons they estimate how many times they can afford to pay the fine. Alice can afford 70 fines a month and Bob only 30. Consequently Bob would be more willingly to comply with the law, because one fine constitutes a larger part of his income than it does for Alice. Basically for Alice a fine is (subjectively) cheaper than for Bob.

This example clearly shows a problem with fixed fines from the perspective of deterrence theory: people with higher incomes will be less deterred by fines. At least this would be the case if we assume that deterrence is indeed a valid concept, which is at best only partially the case. But even from a pure retributive point of view, there’s a problem: poorer people are punished more severely by fines than their more affluent fellows. Though fines might be equal to all, but their effects aren’t.

In a normal market this would not be necessarily a bad thing, only criminal law is not meant to be an ordinary market of goods and services. Certain acts are banned because they are harmful to others, and consequently no one is allowed to commit these acts regardless of their wealth. If fines should be part of our legal system, than we should equalize the effects of this kind of punishment. In other words we should make fines dependent on the income of the offender.

One method to establish income dependent fines is by introducing day-unit fines. The basic idea here is: if we put you in jail for one day, you can’t work for a day. Hence you won’t earn any income on that day. More importantly if we put a rich person or a poor person in jail for a day, the unpleasantness for both of them is more or less the same. However instead throwing people in jail, we could just as easily give them a fine equal to their income of one day.

This approach is called the day-fine or unit-fine. One unit is equal to one’s income of one day, and in the law the fine is not expressed in terms of precise monetary amounts, but in terms of such units. In our example this could be for example a fine of unit for not cleaning the feces of your dog, instead of a fine of 50 Stella.

Another important issue related to fines, what to do with the revenues raised by collecting fines? One thing would be to use this money just to fund the government, but this would lead to a perverse incentive to politicians: in order to fill their gaps they will simply resort to increasing fines, regardless of whether this would affect crime in any way.

A better proposal would be in our eyes to put this revenue in a fund for the victims of crimes. This idea is related to the concept of restorative justice. We could use this fund directly to pay financial compensation to crime victims or indirectly. A slightly different idea would be to use this money to undo the effects of crime or to use this money for crime prevention programs.

UN rejects national sovereignty and tries to fustrate democracy

On BBC News we just read the following article, in which the UN argues that Uruguay’s decision to legalize cannabis is in violation of international law. This statement by the UN, is in our eyes once again a reason that space settlements should never join the UN. The United Nations is an organization which is hostile to national sovereignty and democracy.

Republic of Lagrangia supports the decision of the sovereign nation of Uruguay, because the “war on drugs” has utterly failed. And even worse tens of thousands of innocent people have been killed as result of gang wars caused by the criminalization of drugs. By opposing the only way to handle the problem of drug use, legalization and regulation of drugs, the UN is responsible for crimes against humanity.

And we have to keep in mind that UN law is not the same as international law.