Political Theory

Imagining a Nation: Geoland Part VI: Immigration and Citizenship

“We asked for workers. We got people instead.” – a character by Max Frisc.

Read Parts I, II, III, IV, and V

In the early days, Geoland won’t have much to offer. Cheap land and low taxes as a result, but zero infrastructure. The Citizen’s Dividend will not be enough to live on in the early days of the nation, and so at first immigration must be fairly open. Hopefully it’ll appeal to the pioneering sort that like the general idea of the nation and want to build it into a prosperous (or at least pleasant) land. But because it’ll be hard in the beginning, we can only offer temporary citizenships at first. Let’s say you have to tough it out for 8 years for the citizenship to become permanent. You can’t just show up, claim a citizenship, and leave other people to do the work to turn the nation into a place you want to return to.

Fast forward to Geoland as a developed nation with a Citizen’s Dividend that one can at least survive off, or maybe thrive on. In an ideal world, we’d say that anyone could come over, the economy and land values would gain from the new people, the tax on the land would go up, and this would balance out the extra payments we’d have to make to the new citizens. But in reality, it wouldn’t necessarily balance out so evenly. The Citizens Dividend might attract people that were a net economic drain, and I hate talking about people as merely economic units, because I’d happily trade 1,000 productive business people for one busking Orpheus, and feel I’d got the better deal. But in thinking about the long-term survival of the nation, I have to take economics into account. And also human nature.

Because if people have struggled to build up the nation (or descend from those who’ve struggled), they’re going to resent people that come along after to take an a share of the profits of that labour. So to that end, the citizens can decide the requirements for whom they allow to immigrate and the citizenship requirements. Again, in the beginning, dual citizenship will be allowed, even for the politicians. But after 30 years or so, the citizens can choose to change that requirement if they so chose. Let’s say they vote on such requirements every 5 years. Seems only fair that the people of a nation get to choose whom they live with, just as the inhabitants of a house get to choose who comes in as a guest or for a long term stay.

One more note, despite its name, the Citizen’s Dividend will also be extended to non-citizen workers. Inviting foreigners to work in our country implies that we’ll give them space to live and space to labour, and the Citizen’s Dividend is the financial equivalent of giving someone land to work on. It also is the main form of worker protection, since it gives all workers an alternate income stream and a degree of choice. The only difference is that the Citizen’s Dividend can be taken away from non-citizens if they are convicted of crimes or something similar, whereas it is forever a right of permanent citizens.

If Geoland runs successfully, hopefully some decent varieties of our system will emigrate to other countries to help them build up their economies and lessen the need for people to abandon their homelands. Although the incessant bombing of certain regions may make that harder for some than others.

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