Thursday, July 11, 2013
The same problem for thousands of years
Land -the kings have it, the serfs don't. Any student of history will notice a common element of uprisings is the demand for land reform. It sucks to be landless. A family with a good piece of land is in charge of their lives. They have food to eat and maybe sell. They have a place to build a shelter. With a piece of land it's possible to be an artisan. Nomads are limited in what they can carry. A land owner has a place for his tools, materials and workshop.
Land is stolen from the little guy in a variety of ways. At the point of a sword is an all time favorite, as is taxes. These days we can add in predatory mortgage companies.
The problem with land is that you can't hide it. It stays right there. The more it's improved, the bigger target it becomes.
Nomads, having no land to steal, have some advantages. However, they have some big negatives too. They can't grow crops and stick around to protect and nurture them. Their home has to be mobile. Time spent traveling cannot be spent on other things.
In some ways, the nomad has worse land problems than the farmer. The farmer only needs a few acres of land. The nomad needs thousands of square miles of unfenced, unclaimed or public land to roam on.
Even today's modern nomad, people who live and travel in RVs, have land issues. Often, they rent land in the form of campgrounds. Maybe they'll “dry camp” in remote public lands, but that's not an option everywhere. Thanks to the power of petroleum, they can carry a lot more than the horse carts of old. Some have complete mobile businesses, artist studios, wood workers, mechanics shops -a whole range of small scale businesses. The problem is that the more business they do, the higher population density is needed. In general, those prime places require high fees to stay there.
The whole RV lifestyle relies on good roads and affordable fuel. I'm not too sure how long those conditions will be around. In some areas, the time has already past.
Even the most mobile of them needs at least a nominal home base. Vehicles have to be registered and inspected. A fair amount of day to day life requires a fixed address, even if the nomad rarely or ever actually goes there. Many who live the RV life are retired and claim their children's fixed address, but that doesn't work for everyone. What if the kids want to turn nomad?
The sea based nomad still needs land bases. Even pirates had safe havens to resupply and do their business. It is possible to live like a sea hobo. Plenty of people are doing it. They tend to be very good at anchoring and strangers to marinas.
One of the more successful sea nomads out there is Dave Z in his Triloboat. He relies on the wind, has no motor so is not tied into that whole system of dependencies. His boat is designed to be beached. Once the tide goes out he can perform inspections, maintenance and repairs that other boats would need done in a well equipped marina.
Dave is lucky enough to have friends and relatives who let him use their land. Boats have to be built somewhere.
The sea hobos need their Tortuga. It's hard to build or repair a boat while clandestinely squatting on someone else's land. They need a place where they won't get kicked out of. Who knows, maybe some abandoned industrial waterfront area or a dying resort town will become their home port. For all I know it's already happened and they are wisely keep their mouths shut about it.
If the seas do rise and coastal cities get abandoned, maybe a sea culture will organize among the flooded skyscrapers.
It seems that everyone needs land, at least some of the time. Control the land and control the people. Some things never change. Maybe I shouldn't say never. Maybe I should say, not yet!